Health Care — Biden tells Senate to move on health bill

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Tiger Woods missed the cut at the British Open, but received a thunderous ovation from the crowd at his final hole — possibly his final time playing competitively at the iconic St. Andrews course.

Today we’ll look at President Biden’s call for senators to pass a health care-only reconciliation bill after Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) once again dashed Democrats’ hopes of including tax and climate provisions.

Welcome to Overnight Health Care, where we’re following the latest moves on policy and news affecting your health. For The Hill, we’re Peter Sullivan, Nathaniel Weixel and Joseph Choi. Subscribe here.

Biden to Senate: Pass health bill; I’ll tackle climate

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) dealt some big blows to President Biden’s agenda, but it looks like health care is the area that might actually still happen.

Biden on Friday told senators to move forward with a slimmed-down, health care-only reconciliation package before their August recess after Manchin struck a blow to his agenda over its tax and climate provisions, which Biden said he will address through executive action.

“After decades of fierce opposition from powerful special interests, Democrats have come together, beaten back the pharmaceutical industry and are prepared to give Medicare the power to negotiate lower drug prices and to prevent an increase in health insurance premiums for millions of families with coverage under the Affordable Care Act,” Biden said in a statement.

The emerging package: Manchin told Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) on Thursday that if Democrats move the budget reconciliation bill before August, he will only support two provisions:

  • Lower prescription drug prices (by allowing Medicare to negotiate on a subset of drugs) 

  • A two-year extension of expiring enhanced health insurance subsidies under the Affordable Care Act

Manchin said he’d reject the climate spending and tax hikes on the wealthy in the package, only supporting a narrow budget reconciliation package before Labor Day.

“Action on climate change and clean energy remains more urgent than ever,” said Biden. “So let me be clear: if the Senate will not move to tackle the climate crisis and strengthen our domestic clean energy industry, I will take strong executive action to meet this moment.”

Read more here.

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House passes bills to protect abortion access

The House on Friday passed two bills aimed at protecting access to abortion, marking the chamber’s first legislative attempts at safeguarding the procedure after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade last month.


The first bill — the Women’s Health Protection Act — passed in a 219-210 vote, clearing the House for a second time in the past year. The lower chamber previously approved the measure in September, but it was twice blocked in the Senate.

Texas Rep. Henry Cuellar was the only Democrat to vote against the bill, which all Republicans present opposed as well. He also opposed the measure when it was brought up for a vote in September.

The legislation seeks to ensure that people have access to abortion nationwide by codifying the right to the medical procedure into federal law.


Not going far in the Senate: 
The measure, however, will likely face headwinds in the Senate. Republicans and Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin (W.Va.) blocked the bill in the upper chamber in February and May when it was brought up for consideration.

  • The House passed the second bill — titled the Ensuring Access to Abortion Act — in a 223-205 vote. Three GOP lawmakers supported the measure: Reps. Adam Kinzinger (Ill.), Brian Fitzpatrick (Pa.) and Fred Upton (Mich.). Cuellar also voted in favor of the measure.

  • The legislation protects women who travel to another state to receive an abortion if their home state prohibits the medical procedure. And in states where abortion is lawful, the bill seeks to make it illegal for facilities to limit access to the medical procedure for individuals who arrived from out of state.

Read more here.

EMPLOYER: INDIANA DOCTOR DIDN’T VIOLATE PRIVACY LAWS

The employer for the Indiana doctor who provided abortion services to a 10-year-old rape victim pushed back against accusations that she had violated privacy laws, saying it had found no evidence of this after conducting its own investigation.

Indiana OB-GYN Caitlin Bernard made national news earlier this month after she spoke with The Indianapolis Star about providing abortion services to a 10-year-old Ohio girl who had been denied an abortion after she was raped because her pregnancy had passed the six-week mark by a few days.

Indiana’s Attorney General Todd Rokita (R) said this week that he would be looking into Bernard’s licensure and whether she had violated Indiana’s abortion reporting laws. Rokita claimed that Bernard had a history of failing to report abortions.

In a statement, Indiana University Health, Bernard’s employer, said it had conducted its own review into the matter which it added is done “routinely.”

“Pursuant to its policy, IU Health conducted an investigation with the full cooperation of Dr. Bernard and other IU Health team members. IU Health’s investigation found Dr. Bernard in compliance with privacy laws,” said IU Health.

Read more here.

CDC STUDY: METEORIC RISE IN NUMBER OF AMERICANS INJECTING DRUGS

recently released study by the Coalition for Applied Modeling for Prevention (CAMP) and funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) highlights the colossal rise in injection drug use (IDU) in the U.S. in recent years.

  • CAMP’s study estimates that in the last decade, IDU has gone up exponentially.

  • The most recent data, from 2018, estimated that approximately 4 million Americans injected drugs. This is a fivefold increase from the last approximation, in 2011.

What the numbers say: The burden of fatal and nonfatal overdoses among those who inject drugs has also gone up sharply, according to CAMP’s research. Injection-related overdose deaths tripled from 2007 to 2018. Data also shows that there are about 40 nonfatal overdoses for every fatal overdose of IDU.

“Our estimate of the number of people who inject drugs in the U.S. indicates that services need to be substantially expanded — this includes services to meet harm-reduction needs and efforts to reduce escalating rates of overdose mortality, as well as services to address the spread of infectious diseases,” said Heather Bradley, a lead author of a study that CAMP cited in its findings.

Read more here.

House OKs bill to temporarily suspend baby formula tariffs

The House passed a bill on Friday to temporarily suspend tariffs on baby formula imports, a move that some are hoping will help parents and families as they continue to struggle with formula shortages.

The legislation, titled the Formula Act, passed in a 421-2 vote, with Republican Reps. Rick Allen (Ga.) and Louie Gohmert (Texas) opposing the measure. All Democrats present supported the measure. Six Republicans and one Democrat did not vote.

The bill calls for suspending tariffs on imports of baby formula through the end of December by amending the Harmonized Tariff Schedule. The office of Rep. Suzan DelBene (D-Wash.), the sponsor of the legislation, said the measure will decrease the cost of baby formula brought into the U.S.

Parents and families in the U.S. have been struggling with a shortage of baby formula for months. The closure of an Abbott Nutrition manufacturing plant was partially responsible for the scarcity. It shuttered operations after four infants who consumed its formula had a rare bacterial infection and were hospitalized.

The factory, however, quietly resumed production earlier this month.

Read more here.

WHAT WE’RE READING

  • The omicron subvariant dominating U.S. COVID-19 cases is more vaccine-resistant (NPR)

  • Sharp drop in childhood vaccinations threatens millions of lives (The New York Times)

  • UnitedHealthcare to offer $0 insulin, Epi-Pens, but only for some members (Stat)

STATE BY STATE

  • California’s public health tax is dead for the year (Kaiser Health News)

  • Texas hospitals fearing abortion law delay pregnant women’s care, medical association says (The Dallas Morning News)

  • Illinois expands health care coverage for immigrants 42 and up (KHQA)

OP-EDS IN THE HILL

With 9-8-8 mental health hotline about to launch, massive funding gaps remain


That’s it for today, thanks for reading. Check out The Hill’s Health Care page for the latest news and coverage. See you next week.

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