Health care: Justice Department dives into abortion lawsuits

In pop culture news, Monica Lewinsky would rather Beyoncé don’t refer to it in one of his songs.

In health news, the Justice Department has filed its first lawsuit against a state law in the wake of a Supreme Court decision that allows states to ban or severely restrict abortion.

Welcome to Night Medical Care, where we follow the latest trends in policies and news that affect your health. For The Hill, we are Peter Sullivan, Nathaniel Weixel and Joseph Choi. Did someone forward this newsletter to you? Sign up here.

US sues Idaho over six-week abortion ban

The Department of Justice (DOJ) filed a lawsuit Tuesday challenging Idaho’s six-week abortion ban.

The department argued that the Idaho law conflicts with the federal Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA), a law that requires providers to offer medically stabilizing treatment in an emergency, even if that attention is an abortion.

The lawsuit seeks an injunction to prevent the application of the law in situations where an abortion is necessary to stabilize the treatment of an emergency medical condition.

The Justice Department said the law will likely force providers to withhold care based on a “well-founded fear of criminal prosecution.”

The law would subject doctors to arrest and criminal prosecution for performing an abortion, even if a patient is suffering from a medical emergency such as an ectopic pregnancy, miscarriage complications or severe pre-eclampsia.

  • “We will use every tool at our disposal to ensure that pregnant women receive the emergency medical treatment they are entitled to under federal law,” said Attorney General Merrick Garland.

Activation law: Idaho’s “activation” law is one of dozens of complete or near-total abortion bans taking effect in the wake of the Supreme Court ruling that overturned Roe v. Wade, the landmark case that granted the constitutional right to abortion.

Meaning: The lawsuit marks the first major litigation against a state abortion ban since the Supreme Court struck down Roe.

  • It is not clear if the case is a harbinger of future actions. Garland indicated that this case is straightforward and strictly focused on EMTALA’s preference.

Read more here.

White House selects monkeypox response coordinator

The White House on Tuesday named a Federal Emergency Management Agency official as the monkeypox response coordinator, as the virus spreads across the United States.

The appointment of a national coordinator for the monkeypox response, Robert Fenton, comes as the Biden administration seeks to step up its response to the virus.

An official from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), demeter Daskalakis, will act as deputy coordinator. Fenton brings operational experience and Daskalakis’ public health expertise.

The move comes amid criticism: The move to better coordinate response efforts comes as the administration has faced some criticism for not acting quickly enough in its response to monkeypox, with the first US case confirmed in May.

“Our country’s response to monkeypox has been plagued by the same shortcomings that we had with Covid-19,” said former Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb. wrote in The New York Times this week, noting, for example, a slow implementation of the tests.

  • Fenton previously worked on setting up mass vaccination sites in response to COVID-19.
  • The White House said Daskalakis is “widely known as a national expert on health issues affecting LGBTQIA+ communities,” who have been particularly hard hit by the monkeypox outbreak.

read more here.

US UNINSURED RATE REACHES RECORD LOW: REPORT

The US uninsured rate fell to a record low of 8 percent in the first quarter of 2022, according to a new report from the Biden administration.

President Biden touted the number Tuesday, saying it showed the success of his efforts to develop the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

“This progress did not happen by accident,” Biden said in a statement. “More than
35 million Americans are enrolled in coverage related to the Affordable Care Act, the highest total on record.”

Two contributing factors:

  • The American Bailout Plan that Biden signed in early 2021 included increased financial assistance to help ACA members pay their premiums.
  • A provision put in place at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic prevented most people from being disenrolled from Medicaid. That freeze will end when the Biden administration ends the COVID-19 public health emergency.

the published report Tuesday from the Department of Health and Human Services finds that 5.2 million people got health coverage since 2020.

However, there were still 26.4 million people without insurance at the beginning of 2022, according to the report. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and other progressives have pointed to the millions who remain uninsured as fuel to call for “Medicare for All.”

read more here.

THE GOP AGREES TO DEAL WITH THE VETERANS PROJECT

Senate Republicans have reached an agreement to pass legislation expanding benefits for veterans suffering from illnesses due to toxic exposures, after they blocked the bill last week and sparked outrage from the veterans community and comedian John Stewart.

“We hope to have an agreement on the PACT Act with amendments,” said Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (DN.Y.). “I think it will happen and it will happen tonight. So that’s very good news.”

The deal comes as Republicans have been trying to find a way to end a standoff over the bill after blocking the measure by 55 to 42 votes last Wednesday.

Twenty-five Republicans who initially voted to promote the bill in June changed their votes.

Republicans have said they are not opposed to the original substance of the bill, but rather to a “budget trick” that would designate $400 billion spent by the Department of Veterans Affairs as mandatory spending. This expense would not be subject to the annual appropriations process like discretionary spending.

Veterans have been camping out in front of the Capitol since last Thursday in an attempt to pressure senators to change their minds on the measure.

read more here.

Democrats Introduce Legislation Protecting Abortion Providers

A group of Senate Democrats introduced legislation Tuesday that would protect doctors who provide abortion services in states where abortions are still legal from what one of the lawmakers called “continued attacks from Republicans.”

Democratic Sens. Patty Murray (Wash.), Ben Ray Luján (NM), Alex Padilla (California) and Jacky Rosen (Nev.) said in a statement that they will seek unanimous consent this week to pass the Let Doctors Provide Reproductive Law. Health.

  • The bill would protect health care providers in states where abortion is still legal from being subject to laws that would prevent them from providing reproductive health care services or make them liable for providing such services to patients in other states.
  • Additionally, it would prevent federal funds from being used to take legal action against such physicians and would establish federal grants to support reproductive health providers.

“Doctors should not be punished for providing their patients with legal abortion services, full stop. The ongoing legal threats, intimidation and attacks by Republicans against abortion providers are unacceptable and Democrats are fighting back,” Murray said.

read more here.

WHAT WE ARE READING

  • Cities are lobbying to host the ARPA-H headquarters. Experts do not understand why (Statistics)
  • More students are likely to get pregnant after Roe. Who will support them? (the 19)
  • In cities plagued by raw sewage, the EPA promises relief (Associated Press)

STATE BY STATE

  • The abortion issue has the nation’s eyes in Kansas ahead of the August 2 primary (KWCH)
  • They lost Medicaid when the paperwork was sent to a pasture, signaling disaster to come (NPR)
  • Pregnant? Georgia says that the fetus counts as a dependent on your taxes (NPR)
  • Marked disparities persist in Missouri’s maternal mortality rate, state board finds (Missouri Independent)

That’s all for today, thanks for reading. Take a look at The Hill’s Health care page for the latest news and coverage. See you tomorrow.

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