Daily on Healthcare: Psychiatrists to use Mueller report to argue Trump is mentally unfit

By | July 22, 2019

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PSYCHIATRISTS TO USE MUELLER REPORT TO ARGUE TRUMP IS MENTALLY UNFIT: House Democrats are eager to hear from former special counsel Robert Mueller about his investigation into Russian election interference and whether President Trump obstructed justice, but a group of mental health experts who view the president as dangerous see another angle.

In an online town hall Tuesday, they will make the case that Trump is mentally unsound and will urge lawmakers to ask Mueller questions that seek to glean more information about the president’s mental capacity. The event, which will kick off at 5 p.m., will allow viewers to submit questions anonymously.

The town hall, called “Critical Mental Health Questions for Robert Mueller,” will be led by Dr. Bandy Lee, a psychiatrist at Yale School of Medicine. Others set to present are Edwin Fisher, clinical psychologist from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, and psychiatrists Drs. Leonard Glass of Harvard Medical School, James Merikangas of George Washington University, and James Gilligan of New York University.

Lee is editor of The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump, a book the other panelists also authored that argues psychiatrists have a responsibility to warn the public when a president is dangerous. The position is controversial because psychiatric associations urge members never to diagnose patients they haven’t personally evaluated, saying it undermines the scientific rigor of the profession.

But Lee and others who agree with her stance say that their description of the president’s behavior is different from a diagnosis. The assessment they issued about the Mueller report, for instance, says Trump has an “inability to take in critical information and advice,” “loss of impulse control, recklessness, and ability to consider likely consequences,” and “proneness to placing himself and others in danger.”

“The signs are so glaring and somebody has to speak the truth,” Lee told the Washington Examiner.

The event initially had been set to occur on Capitol Hill last week, but was rescheduled and will now only take place online after the congressional committees moved back the Mueller testimony by a week. Tuesday’s forum is separate from another Capitol Hill event that has been in the works, whose exact timing will be revisited in the fall, Lee said.

The panelists won’t be keeping track of which lawmakers tune in to view the 5 p.m. event. They also are hosting a conference call at 3 p.m. that will only be for members of Congress and their staff, which is closed to the press and will allow participants to be anonymous. Lee said she hoped both Republicans and Democrats would be open to hearing about the findings.

Read more about what to expect.

Good morning and welcome to the Washington Examiner’s Daily on Healthcare! This newsletter is written by senior healthcare reporter Kimberly Leonard (@LeonardKL) and healthcare reporter Cassidy Morrison (@CassMorrison94). You can reach us with tips, calendar items, or suggestions at dailyonhealthcare@washingtonexaminer.com. If someone forwarded you this email and you’d like to receive it regularly, you can subscribe here.

FIRST MUSTARD GAS TREATMENT GETS APPROVAL: The Food and Drug Administration has approved a product called Silverlon that helps to manage burns caused by mustard gas. The government’s Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority developed the product to protect against a potential biochemical weapon. Silverlon is manufactured by Argentum Medical, and has already been approved and used by first responders as well as the military to treat wounds from burns and blasts.

VERMA SLAMS ‘MEDICARE FOR ALL,’ PUBLIC OPTION HEALTH PLANS: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator Seema Verma slammed both proposals as means to use “the force of government to strong-arm doctors and hospitals into accepting below-market payment rates” in a speech Monday at the Better Medicare Alliance Medicare Advantage Summit. She said that history has shown through the flaws of Obamacare that the proposals would disrupt a “well-functioning market,” in which insurers “can on price and quality.” Introducing further government-funded options, in which competition is discouraged, is not the answer, she said.

DEMOCRATIC VOTERS FAVOR PUBLIC OPTION OVER SINGULAR GOVERNMENT PLAN: POLL: Most Democratic voters would like to have the option to buy into a government plan rather than be forced off private health insurance into one, suggests a CBS News battleground tracker of Democratic primary voters published by YouGov. Of those polled, 63% said a national health insurance plan would work better if it “competed with private health insurance, as a choice for those who wanted it.”

BIDEN WON’T PROMISE HIS HEALTHCARE PLAN WILL LET PEOPLE KEEP THEIR DOCTORS: 2020 presidential contender Joe Biden was hard-pressed to promise Americans what former President Obama promised in 2009 about Obamacare: If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor, a statement later deemed lie of the year by Politifact in 2013. On a Las Vegas campaign stop Saturday, Biden said he couldn’t promise that private insurers wouldn’t drop certain doctors if they have to compete with government-funded healthcare. The remarks stand in contrast to Biden’s comments last week that people could keep their private health insurance, comments he later amended by adding the caveat, “if your employer is still prepared to pay for the insurance.”

JUDGE RULES IN FAVOR OF CHEAPER SHORT-TERM INSURANCE PLANS: Federal Judge Richard Leon ruled Friday that the Trump administration can sell short-term insurance plans that can be renewed up to two times for a total of 36 months. The plans, which opponents call “junk insurance,” aren’t required to include benefits for mental health or maternity care, or to cover pre-existing conditions. Leon ruled that the “benefits are undeniable,” for those who are priced out of the market. March of Dimes said Monday that the organization is “disappointed in the court’s decision to allow… limited-duration health insurance plans. We’re concerned these plans destabilize insurance markets, forcing people to pay more in premiums or be unable to obtain insurance entirely.” Similarly, Margaret Murray, CEO of the Association for Community Affiliated Plans said Friday, “We remain firm in our contention that the Trump administration’s decision to expand dramatically the sale of junk insurance violates the Affordable Care Act and is arbitrary and capricious.”

FORMER PLANNED PARENTHOOD CEO SAYS SHE WAS OUSTED FOR TRYING TO ‘DEPOLITICIZE’ ORGANIZATION: Dr. Leana Wen, who, as of last week, was the president of Planned Parenthood, said she was removed from the organization for trying to put more focus on women’s health rather than politics. In a New York Times op-ed published Friday, Wen said she wanted to promote Planned Parenthood’s healthcare services to counter the criticism that the organization is primarily geared toward providing abortions and lobbying for abortion rights.

THE MEASLES COUNT RISES AGAIN: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Monday that as of July 18 confirmed measles cases in 30 states had risen to 1,148, an increase of 25 cases since the previous week.

The Rundown

The Baltimore Sun Talk of massive settlement begins as lawsuits against opioid industry mount in Maryland and elsewhere

Stat On Alzheimer’s, scientists head back to the drawing board — and once-shunned ideas get an audience

North Carolina Health News Eastern NC mental health unit slated for closure

The New York Times Health facts aren’t enough. Should persuasion become a priority?

Kaiser Health News How the eastern Cherokee took control of their healthcare

The Hill Bullock: I would not have endorsed healthcare for undocumented immigrants on debate stage


MONDAY | July 22

July 22-23. Better Medicare Alliance Medicare Advantage Summit. Details.

Congress in session.

TUESDAY | July 23

11 a.m. Philbrick v. Azar oral arguments in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. The lawsuit challenges Medicaid work requirements in New Hampshire.

Noon. Longworth 1310. American Action Forum on “Arbitration and Drug Pricing.” Details.

5 p.m. Online town hall on “Critical Mental Health Questions for Robert Mueller.” Details.


9 a.m. 2359 Rayburn. House Committee on Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies hearing on “Oversight of the Unaccompanied Children Program: Ensuring the Safety of Children in HHS Care.” Details.

9 a.m. 2154 Rayburn. House Committee on Oversight and Reform hearing on “Examining JUUL’s Role in the Youth Nicotine Epidemic: Part I.” Details.

9:30 a.m. Alliance for Health Policy webinar on “Legislative Outlook – What’s Ahead for Comparative Effective Research?” Details.

THURSDAY | July 25

8 a.m. 1777 F St. NW. The Hill event on “Policy Prescriptions: Lowering Drug Prices.” Details.

10 a.m. 1225 I St. NW. Bipartisan Policy Center event on “Improving Care for Individuals with Complex Needs.” Details.

2 p.m. Rayburn 2154. Examining JUUL’s Role in the Youth Nicotine Epidemic: Part II.” Details.

FRIDAY | July 26

9:30 a.m. Rayburn 2154. House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing on “The Patient Perspective: The Devastating Impacts of Skyrocketing Drug Prices on American Families.” Details.