A Senate committee last week voted to send the nomination of Dr. Scott Gottlieb as head of the Food and Drug Administration to the full Senate. Members of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee voted 14-9 to advance Gottlieb’s nomination as FDA commissioner. All Republicans and two Democrats— Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) and Michael Bennet (D-Colo.)—voted in favor of Gottlieb. The Senate committee vote was postponed by a day after Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) requested more time to review documents related to Gottlieb’s financial interests. Murray has been highly critical of Gottlieb’s ties to pharmaceutical companies.
One of Boston’s most prestigious teaching hospitals is offering voluntary buyouts to 1,600 employees as a way to rein in costs during a period of uncertainty in healthcare. Brigham and Women’s Hospital announced it is offering buyouts because expenses continue to rise and “constraints by government and payers” are keeping revenue flat, “negatively affecting” the hospital’s finances. Officials say layoffs are possible depending on how many people accept a buyout. Physicians, faculty and research staff are excluded from the offer. Brigham and Women’s, an affiliate of Harvard Medical School, is a founding member of Partners HealthCare System, the largest health network in Massachusetts. It employs about 16,000.
Insurers last week pushed back against a series of tweets from President Donald Trump that used cost-sharing subsidies as a cudgel against Democrats in Congress. Trump tweeted last week: “Democrats are trying to bail out insurance companies from disastrous #ObamaCare, and Puerto Rico with your tax dollars. Sad!” He continued to hammer Democrats throughout last week via social media. One of those three tweets asked: “What’s more important? Rebuilding our military—or bailing out insurance companies? Ask the Democrats.” Democrats have pushed for Congress to appropriate funds for costsharing reductions, which are currently paid directly by HHS.