Welcome to Tuesday’s Overnight Health Care. Two studies published Tuesday show youth vaping rates are up, with teens favoring Juul products and mint flavors. Sen. Gary Peters (D-Mich.), a top GOP target for 2020, is launching a probe into high drug prices, joining many other members of Congress who already have similar ongoing efforts. Let’s starting with the latest vaping news:
Studies show teen e-cigarette users favor Juul products, mint flavors as Trump considers ban
Most kids who vape use Juul products and say fruit, mint and menthol are among their favorite flavors, according to two studies published Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
The studies come as the Trump administration prepares a ban on the sale of flavored vaping products to combat record-high vaping rates among teenagers. Vaping advocates are pushing the administration to exempt mint and menthol flavors from the ban, which is expected to be released any day now.
An estimated 27.5 percent of high school students, and 10.5 percent of middle school students, said they had used e-cigarettes in the past month, according to one of the studies conducted by government researchers.
That study, conducted by researchers at the Food and Drug Administration and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, also showed that:
- Among those that said they used e-cigarettes, 59 percent of high school students and 54 percent of middle school students said Juul was their “usual” brand.
- An estimated 4.1 million high school students, and 1.2 million middle school students, currently use e-cigarettes.
- Of high school students who use e-cigarettes, 66 percent reported use of fruit-flavored products. 57 percent said they used mint or menthol flavored products.
The second study, conducted by researchers at the University of Southern California, the University of Michigan and the University of Minnesota, found mint was the top flavor for 12th and 10th graders, while menthol was one of the least popular flavors.
Why it matters: The Trump administration is close to rolling out a ban on the sale of flavored e-cigarette products.
The White House review of the FDA guidance was completed Monday, indicating it could be released any day. Planned meetings with stakeholders were also canceled, angering vaping advocates. But it’s not clear if the ban will include mint or menthol.
Some vaping advocates are pushing for exemptions of those flavors. But anti-tobacco advocates who want all flavors banned argue teens would switch to menthol if mint were banned because the flavors are so similar.
“The new JAMA studies leave no doubt that the youth e-cigarette epidemic is getting worse and it is being driven by Juul and its flavored products, especially mint,” said Matthew Myers, president of the Campaign for Tobacco- Kids.
“These findings underscore why the Trump Administration must stand strong and implement its plan to clear the market of all flavored e-cigarettes. If menthol or any other flavors are left on the market, the evidence is clear that kids will move to them and this epidemic will continue.”
Warren unveils plan to address veteran suicide rates, mental health
White House hopeful Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) on Tuesday set a goal of cutting the rate of veteran suicides in half during her first term as part of a sprawling plan to improve their lives.
“Every single one of these deaths is a tragedy that could have been prevented,” Warren said on a webpage outlining the plan. “As President, I will set a goal of cutting veteran suicides in half within my first term — and pursue a suite of concrete policies to make sure we get there.”
In order to accomplish this, Warren proposed more research into the causes of suicide, focusing on factors that are military-specific, improving access to health care services and annual mental health exams for service members.
Peters to probe high drug prices
Sen. Gary Peters (D-Mich.), a top GOP target for 2020, announced Tuesday he will investigate the sources of rising drug prices and drug shortages.
Peters, the top Democrat on the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, will look into potential solutions to address rising costs, the effect of drug shortages on patient care and the national security implications of the U.S.’s “growing reliance” on drugs manufactured in China and India.
“Families should never be forced to choose between paying their bills or getting the medication they need, and doctors should never have to worry they won’t have the right medicine when their patients need it most,” Peters said in a statement.
Why it matters: Peters is up for reelection in 2020, and his seat is a target for Republicans looking to win more seats in the Senate. Drug pricing is a bipartisan issue a lot of incumbent senators are looking at to shore up support. Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) began a push for patent reform this year. Sen. Cory Gardner, a vulnerable Republican up for reelection in Colorado, also introduced a drug pricing bill in May.
AP: White House official says Pelosi drug price plan is ‘unworkable’
Context: The White House was already distancing itself from Pelosi’s plan after months of talks, but this comment, albeit anonymous, goes even farther.
The White House said last week that it was still talking to Pelosi’s office but that it was pushing for a bipartisan Senate bill instead.
Now, it seems the White House might be outright rejecting Pelosi’s approach.
“House Democrats are taking the bold action to negotiate lower drug prices that President Trump always claimed was necessary, and working people won’t like it if he sells them out on one of the most important kitchen table issues in America right now,” Pelosi spokesman Henry Connell responded to the AP.
What we’re reading:
The metapolitics of Medicare-for-all (Vox.com)
Warren’s plan to pay for Medicare-for-all: Does it add up? (Washington Post)
Juul disregarded early evidence it was hooking teens (Reuters)
State by state:
To end surprise medical bills, New York tried arbitration. health care costs went up (NPR)
Man who shut down Oregon Medicaid computers gets home detention (Associated Press)
The Hill op-ed