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HOUSE POISED TO PASS VAPING RESTRICTION: The House is expected to pass a bill Monday to restrict online sales of e-cigarettes.
The bipartisan Preventing Online Sales of E-Cigarettes to Children Act, from Democrat Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut and Republican Kelly Armstrong of North Dakota, would require mail couriers to check people’s IDs when they deliver e-cigarettes and other vapor products.
An adult would need to sign for the package, and there may be different restrictions in states depending on whether it is illegal to sell nicotine to people under the age of 18 or 21.
Proponents of the legislation say that it must pass because government data show more and more teens are vaping, and many of them are getting the devices online or from friends. But the latest outbreak of lung injuries, known as EVALI, are what have catalyzed action that Congress previously eschewed. Vaping has been rising among teens for years, and this isn’t the first time that the legislation has come up. DeLauro first introduced a similar bill in 2015.
It’s not clear yet whether the restrictions would be able to make a dent in the EVALI outbreak that has sickened at least 1,604 people and killed 34, though health officials say it might be starting to level off. The illnesses appear to be linked to THC, the high-inducing chemical in marijuana, and to come from products that were obtained illicitly, sometimes online.
The quick action by Congress, and the fact that the House vote will happen under suspension of the rules, shows how much lawmakers are paying attention to the issue. There’s a companion bill in the Senate from Democrats Dianne Feinstein of California and Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, and Republican John Cornyn of Texas.
On top of this, lawmakers have been pressuring the Food and Drug Administration to begin the process of banning flavored e-cigarettes. Right now the agency is up against a major deadline elsewhere: Acting Administrator Dr. Ned Sharpless’ time in the role expires Friday, and President Trump is due to nominate someone to lead the agency.
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PUSH TO DELAY THE HEALTH INSURANCE TAX (AGAIN): More than 45 healthcare groups have signed a letter calling for another two-year delay for the Obamacare tax on insurers. The tax was already suspended by Congress in 2017 and 2019, and is set to take effect on Jan. 1, 2020, unless Congress acts. Groups that urged repeal warned it could increase patients’ health costs by up to $ 20 billion.
WARREN ASKS FOR A ‘LITTLE TIME’ TO FIGURE OUT ‘MEDICARE FOR ALL’ FINANCING: Democratic candidate Elizabeth Warren told a crowd of around 300 people at a South Carolina town hall Saturday that her “Medicare for all” plan, the funding mechanism for which she has yet to release, will not decimate the federal budget. “You don’t just get to do what the Republicans did, and that is just blow another hole in the budget,” Warren said. “We actually need to think through this stuff, and I’m there. So, we’re going to have a plan on this very soon.”
The big question that Warren has so far refused to answer specifically is whether she will raise taxes on the middle class to foot the bill. Most estimates put the additional cost of the plan to the federal government at about $ 32 trillion over 10 years. Warren told Saturday’s crowd: “What I’m going to have to do here is I’m going to have to say, give me a little time as we work through this.”
HEALTHCARE FUELED THE LARGEST DEFICIT SINCE 2012: Federal spending increased to $ 4.45 trillion in fiscal year 2019, contributing to the highest deficit since 2012 at $ 984 billion. Much of this spending was on government programs, including Medicare and Medicaid.
HARRIS STUMPS FOR VIRGINIA DEMOCRAT IN SUPPORT OF THIRD-TRIMESTER ABORTION: Presidential hopeful Kamala Harris took a break from the campaign trail to gin up support for Virginia Democrat Kathy Tran, who is running for reelection in the Virginia House of Delegates and believes third-trimester abortion should be easily accessible for women. Harris praised Tran, one of the Virginia legislature’s first Asian-American delegates, for introducing controversial legislation called the Repeal Act, proposing to loosen restrictions on abortions in Virginia. Harris said Sunday: “You know she’s taken on huge fights, in particular for the women of Virginia and the families that love them, saying it’s not about what’s popular at the moment. It’s about what’s right.” Virginians will head to the polls Nov. 4 to cast their ballots for state delegates.
BIDEN MAY STICK AROUND FOR JUST ONE TERM IN OFFICE BECAUSE OF HIS AGE: If elected president, Joe Biden, 76, may not seek a second term because of his old age. He’s been the subject of some scrutiny about his age and fitness for office, but on Saturday in South Carolina he told the Associated Press: “I feel good, and all I can say is, watch me, you’ll see…It doesn’t mean I would run a second term. I’m not going to make that judgment at this moment.”
Many voters view Biden’s age as a negative, preferring to see a fresh face on the ticket. His supporters, though, consider it an asset. Biden has over four decades of government work under his belt, and says that experience is an advantage to his campaign. “Right now, my age has brought with it a significant amount of experience in government and hopefully wisdom and some sound judgment,” Biden said.
PEDIATRICIANS ADVOCATE FOR WEIGHT LOSS SURGERY FOR KIDS: The American Academy of Pediatricians said Sunday that young people should have access to bariatric surgery meant for severely obese people due to a pediatric obesity “epidemic.” People under 18 with a body mass index above 35 should consider the surgery if lifestyle changes including exercise and diet changes haven’t worked. Dr. Sarah Armstrong, member of the Executive Committee of the AAP Section on Obesity, said: “The last decade of evidence has shown surgery is safe and effective when performed in high-quality centers, with the primary care pediatrician and family in a shared decision-making process. Unfortunately, we see significant disparities in which patients have access to bariatric surgery.”
New Hampshire Union Leader Catching patients off guard: a call for greater transparency for ‘facility fees’
The New York Times It’s Halloween. Beware urban legends (and cars).
San Francisco Chronicle For SF meth users, a sobering center is planned. What would that look like?
NBC News Sex-selective abortions: reproductive rights are being pitted against gender equality
Miami Herald Nationwide recall of Xanax that has the ‘potential presence of a foreign substance’
NPR Some pregnant women use weed for morning sickness but FDA cautions against it
WEDNESDAY | Oct. 30
9 a.m. Bipartisan Policy Center. 1225 I St NW. Event on surprise medical billing. Details.
10 a.m. National Press Club. 529 14th St. NW. Physician organizations will call for tighter regulations on e-cigarettes. Details.
10 a.m. Rayburn 2123. House Energy and Commerce’s Health Subcommittee to hold hearing on “Safeguarding Global Pharmaceutical Supply Chains in a Global Economy.” Details.
2 p.m. 215 Dirksen. Senate Finance Health Subcommittee hearing on “Medicaid: Compliance with Eligibility Requirements.” Details.
THURSDAY | Oct. 31
9 a.m.-6 p.m. 1615 H St. NW. U.S. Chamber of Commerce event on “The Business of Health: Transforming with Transparency.” Details.
FRIDAY | Nov. 1
House in recess.
MONDAY | Nov. 4
Nov. 4-5. Capital Hilton. Patient-Centered Primary Care Collaborative Annual Conference. Details.