Overnight Health Care: Juul’s lobbying efforts fall short as Trump moves to ban flavored e-cigarettes | Facebook removes fact check from anti-abortion video after criticism | Poll: Most Democrats want presidential candidate who would build on ObamaCare

Welcome to Thursday’s Overnight Health Care.

The administration’s move to ban flavored vaping is bad news for Juul; a poll finds Democrats support building on ObamaCare; and Facebook removed a fact-check from an anti-abortion video.

We’ll start with some fallout from yesterday’s vaping news:

Juul’s lobbying efforts fall short as Trump moves to ban flavored e-cigarettes

A recent lobbying and spending blitz by Juul Labs was dealt a serious blow this week when the Trump administration announced it would move to ban flavored e-cigarettes.

The company spent $1.95 million on lobbying in the first two quarters of 2019, surpassing last year’s total of $1.64 million.

Juul’s PAC has donated more than $64,000 to Democratic candidates and $105,000 to Republicans so far in 2019, according to Federal Election Commission figures.

The company has also gone on a hiring spree of former lawmakers, staffers, and government regulators. Among the big-name hires: 

  • Josh Raffel, a former Trump White House deputy communications director
  • Tevi Troy, George W. Bush’s deputy secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)
  • Jim Esquea, an assistant HHS secretary during the Obama administration
  • Jerry Masoudi, a former chief counsel for the Food and Drug Administration under Bush

So is there a lesson to be learned?

“It shows you that just spending money on lobbying doesn’t create magic results. This is an un-exact science when it comes to lobbying and Juul has found that out. Anything can happen at any time no matter how many resources you put into lobbying,” said David Williams, president of the Taxpayers Protection Alliance.

No love lost: The American Vaping Association, a nonprofit that advocates for sensible regulation of vaping products, had harsh words for Juul.

“JUUL behaved like spineless losers desperately searching for any sort of friendship and they were treated like losers by elected officials in D.C. as a result. No politician wants to stand up for a company that has shown time and time again that they will fold and sell their customers down the river when things get tough,” President Gregory Conley told The Hill.

President Trump‘s announcement from the Oval Office on Wednesday came on the heels of new data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which found that nearly 1 of every 5 high school students reported in 2018 that they used electronic cigarettes in the past 30 days—an increase from just 1.5 percent in 2011. 

Read more here

Meanwhile, a bipartisan group of senators met with FDA’s acting commissioner Ned Sharpless on Thursday to keep pressure on the agency. 

Led by Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), the senators pressed Sharpless to ensure that e-cigarette flavors are removed from the market without delay, and to use his authority to immediately remove illegal vaping devices from the market.

Lawmakers largely applauded the announcement yesterday that the FDA intends to ban flavored e-cigarettes. Members of Congress have been pressuring the agency to act in the wake of a record number of underage teens using e-cigarettes, and want to make sure FDA follows through quickly. Many said the ban is long overdue, and may be coming too late to stop a new generation from becoming addicted to e-cigarettes. 

“Yesterday’s e-cigarette flavor ban announcement out of FDA was welcome news, but they should have acted years ago to get these flavors and illegal devices off the market,” Durbin said.

Others in the meeting: Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), Mitt Romney (R-Utah), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.)



Facebook removes fact check from anti-abortion video after criticism

A controversy at the intersection of technology policy and the divisive issue of abortion: Facebook’s fact-checking of abortion claims. 

Facebook has removed a fact check from a video posted by an anti-abortion group after Republican senators accused the platform of censorship.

The moves comes after the group, Live Action, as well as Republican lawmakers, complained after Facebook’s third-party fact-checkers deemed that a video in which the group’s president, Lila Rose, claims that “abortion is never medically necessary” was inaccurate.

They argued that the fact check was not impartial because two of the physicians involved in reviewing the claim had ties to abortion rights groups.

After a group of Republican senators, including Sens. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) and Ted Cruz (R-Texas), wrote to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg on Wednesday with accusations of politically motivated censorship, the social media company removed the fact check from Live Action’s posts.

The GOP senators had argued that the incident fit a “pattern of censorship” from Facebook, echoing the Republican Party’s unproven accusations that the company and other social media platforms are seeking to silence right-wing voices.

Read more on the claims here



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Poll: Most Democrats want presidential candidate who would build on ObamaCare

A majority of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents said they would prefer to vote for a presidential candidate who wants to build on ObamaCare rather than replace it with “Medicare for All,” according to a survey released Thursday. 

The Kaiser Family Foundation poll found 40 percent of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents prefer to vote for presidential candidates who would replace ObamaCare with “Medicare for All,” while 55 percent said they prefer to support candidates who would build on ObamaCare.

And of the 40 percent who said they prefer to vote for a Medicare for All supporter, only 14 percent said they would only vote for such a candidate. 

Why it matters: The issue is all but certain to come up in the Democratic Party’s presidential debate Thursday night, with front-runner former Vice President Joe Biden in favor of building on ObamaCare, and Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) supporting Medicare for All, which would replace all private insurance with a single plan run by the government.

The poll showed 69 percent of the public supports a public option — a proposal similar to Biden’s that would add a government-sponsored plan to compete with private insurance. 

Medicare for All has the support of 53 percent of the public, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation poll. 

Read more here.

What we’re reading

Historians push to create public archive of documents from massive opioid litigation (Stat News

Would a ‘Medicare for All’ plan help you save money on your family’s health-care costs? It’s complicated (CNBC)

Carcinogens have infiltrated the generic drug supply in the U.S (Bloomberg)

State by state

Missouri governor won’t ‘necessarily’ sign Medicaid petition, but expects question on 2020 ballot (St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Group aims to stop Illinois from becoming the “abortion capital of the Midwest” (CBS News

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy creates task force to investigate vaping health concerns (NBC Philadelphia)

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