HEALTH CARE BRIEFING: Bipartisan Roe Bill Still Has Uphill Fight
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A bipartisan Senate group introduced legislation to codify Roe v. Wade, which would safeguard abortion rights and contraception access.
The group includes Sens. Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska). Read text of the legislation here.
The four senators hope to sell their new legislation as returning the country to the status quo before June, when the US Supreme Court—in its ruling on Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health—overturned the Roe standard that established a constitutional right to abortion in 1973. Justice Clarence Thomas further said the 1965 Griswold v. Connecticut ruling, which protected Americans’ right to contraception, should be revisited.
The Supreme Court’s “abandonment of longstanding precedent erodes the reproductive rights on which women have relied for half a century,” Collins said in a statement on Monday. Murkowski in a statement said: “Reproductive health care decisions were centered with the individual—we cannot go back in time in limiting personal freedoms for women.”
Still, the bipartisan measure—titled the ‘‘Reproductive Freedom for All Act”—isn’t likely to have the 60 votes needed to pass most bills in the Senate. Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) hasn’t yet said whether the chamber would vote on the bill.
NARAL Pro-Choice America President Mini Timmaraju in a statement called the bill a “political stunt” and added that “unless these senators are willing to end the filibuster to pass this measure, there’s no reason to take it seriously.”
Another bill from Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) to shield abortion rights failed to pass the chamber in May, amid unanimous Republican opposition as well as a no-vote from Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.). That bill (S. 4132) would have banned states from enacting any restrictions on abortion, which Manchin said went too far. He instead said he would have supported a more limited bill (S. 3713) from Murkowski and Collins.
- Abortion Travel Protections: Separately today, Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Chairwoman Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and other Democratic senators will push for passage of legislation meant to shield doctors from liability for providing abortions to people from states where it is illegal. The lawmakers will deliver remarks at 10:15 a.m.
Happening on the Hill
Democrats Search for a Covid Funding Vehicle: Senate appropriators released a $21 billion supplemental spending measure last week to provide more Covid vaccines, therapeutics, tests, and other resources. Senate Democratic appropriators didn’t rule out attaching the measure to the reconciliation bill including tax and spending measures, which only needs a simple majority to pass the Senate. They also didn’t rule out attaching it to a stopgap measure that’ll be needed to fund the government beyond Sept. 30, Jack Fitzpatrick reports.
GOP Plans to Deploy Obscure Rule as Weapon Against Spending Bill: Republicans are using an obscure rule named for the Senate’s longest-serving member—Robert Byrd—to challenge provisions of the Democrats’ deal in the hopes of whittling down the reconciliation legislation. Senator Bill Cassidy, a Louisiana Republican, said measures related to lowering prescription drug prices was “going to be Byrd-able.” Read more from Ari Natter.
Lawmakers Seek Probe of Monkeypox Response: House Homeland Security Chair Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) and two other Democrats called on the Government Accountability Office to “examine the adequacy of the Federal response to the monkeypox outbreak” and make recommendations for ongoing and future preparedness efforts, according to a statement on Monday. They added that they are concerned by the slow pace of the government’s response to the issue. Read the letter here.
- Biden named FEMA’s Robert Fenton as the White House national Monkeypox response coordinator, according to a statement, Sarah Jacob reports. Dr. Demetre Daskalakis was named deputy coordinator. Fenton and Daskalakis will lead the administration’s strategy and operations to combat the current monkeypox outbreak, including equitably increasing the availability of tests, vaccinations and treatments.
What Else to Know Today
Hospitals, Employers Spar Over Transparency Push: Employers offering health coverage are closely analyzing hospital pricing data to get better prices for their employees, leading to tensions with hospitals. Hospital spending made up the largest share of American health expenditures at $1.3 trillion in 2020, and employers paid much of the nearly $409 billion of that spent by private insurers, according to the most recent data from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Data showing that firms pay hospitals significantly more than Medicare pays is resulting in employers pushing back on hospitals to rein in their prices. Sara Hansard has more.
USDA Labels Salmonella ‘Adulterant’: The Agriculture Department will test for and regulate salmonella in raw chicken products as the federal government tries to curb infections from the bacteria. The agency announced Monday it will declare salmonella an adulterant in breaded and stuffed raw chicken products, meaning these food products will be subject to regulation if they exceed a low level of the bacteria. This is just one piece of the agency’s push to crack down on salmonella in poultry, Sandra Eskin, deputy under secretary for Food Safety, said. Maeve Sheehey and Elizabeth Elkin have more.
DOJ Targets UnitedHealth Deal: UnitedHealth will gain access to “vast amounts of data” on how rival insurers do business if its proposed acquisition of Change Healthcare goes through, the Justice Department said during opening arguments in a trial challenging the deal. UnitedHealth countered that it already has data on competitors through its Optum services unit and has a track record of treating the information appropriately. Read more from Leah Nylen.
MORE LEGAL & REGULATORY NEWS
- N.Y. Vaccine Exemption: A group of parents of children in New York lost their fight against narrower medical exemptions for school immunizations because the state’s new regulations are rationally related to legitimate state interests, under an opinion from the Second Circuit. Read more from Mary Anne Pazanowski.
- Medicaid Home Benefit: The US published guidance on a new Medicaid health home benefit to help state programs offer children with complex medical conditions with person-centered care management, care coordination, and family support, according to an HHS statement. Read more from Bloomberg Law.
- Hospice Medicare Case: The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services correctly implemented an across-the-board federal spending cut by reducing hospice providers’ Medicare payments by 2% after calculating their annual reimbursement limits for 2013 and 2014, the Ninth Circuit said. Mary Anne Pazanowski reports.
- PPE Lawsuit Verdict: The Federal Trade Commission scored summary judgments in cases against American Screening and QYK Brands for allegedly not delivering on personal protective equipment orders during the Covid-19 pandemic, according to a Monday news release. Read more from Bloomberg Law.
With assistance from Alex Ruoff
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