Health Care — Bipartisan senators aim to protect abortion rights

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Happy Spider-Man Day everyone! As journalists, we’ll be observing this holiday by trying to get pictures of Spidey for the newspaper.

In health care news, a bipartisan group of senators want to codify abortion rights into law, after a Democratic-only effort failed.

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. Someone forward you this newsletter? Subscribe here.

Senators introduce bill to codify abortion rights

A bipartisan group of senators on Monday introduced legislation that would codify the right to an abortion into federal law, but it faces an uncertain future.

The bill from Sens. Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) comes after the Supreme Court in June overturned Roe v. Wade, the landmark abortion rights case, and left the authority to regulate the procedure to individual states.

Details: The bill aims to prevent states from enacting laws that impose an “undue burden” on access to pre-viability abortions, while also allowing some “reasonable” limits on post-viability abortions, so long as they don’t impact the life and health of the mother.

  • The bill does not define viability, or what would constitute a danger to the life and health of a mother. That’s up to the patient’s medical provider

Probability of success: Not promising.

The bipartisan legislation is an attempt to find a middle ground on abortion rights after a Democratic-only effort, the Women’s Health Protection Act, failed twice on the Senate floor this year. But it’s not likely to get 10 GOP co-sponsors.

Read more here.

Manchin will talk health, climate deal with Sinema

All eyes are on Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) to determine the fate of Democrats’ sweeping package on health care, climate and taxes, as it heads toward a possible vote this week.

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) said Monday he will talk to fellow centrist Sinema about supporting the bill.

Sinema has kept silent about whether she will support the deal, which needs the votes of all 50 members of the Senate Democratic caucus to pass.

Taxes might be the holdup: The Arizona senator expressed opposition last year to closing the carried interest tax loophole for asset managers, something that Manchin insisted be part of the deal.

Manchin said he didn’t keep Sinema in the loop during his talks with Schumer because he didn’t know if a deal was possible, but he said he plans to speak with her Monday afternoon, when the Senate is scheduled to vote on a judicial nominee to Virginia’s eastern district court.

Manchin said last week that he was “adamant” about keeping a proposal to close the carried interest loophole, which lets money managers pay a capital gains tax rate on the income they earn from profitable investments.

Sinema’s staff said the senator is reviewing the legislation.

On drug prices: Sinema helped craft a deal on the drug pricing section months ago, which has largely stayed in tact since then.

Read more here.

WHITE HOUSE IDS CLOSE CONTACTS OF BIDEN’S REBOUND COVID

The White House has identified six additional close contacts of President Biden connected to his rebound case of COVID-19, press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Monday.

There were 17 close contacts tied to Biden’s original positive test after he returned from a trip to Israel and Saudi Arabia. None of those individuals have since tested positive for COVID-19, Jean-Pierre said.

Biden is feeling well, Jean-Pierre said, adding that the president was not experiencing any “recurring” symptoms like fatigue or aches while acknowledging that he has a lingering cough. She noted that the president has often exhibited a cough regardless of his COVID-19 diagnosis.

  • “Many of us have had Covid, and they tend to be lingering symptoms and that’s what I’m talking about,” Jean-Pierre said. 

  • “He has been working 8+ hours a day,” she added. “That is a schedule he continues to keep. Instead of doing it in the Oval Office, he’s doing it in the residence.”

Biden tested positive on Saturday for COVID-19, three days after he had tested negative and emerged from isolation after his original positive test.

Read more here.

CORNYN TESTS POSITIVE FOR COVID

Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) announced on Monday that he had tested positive for COVID-19, which could further complicate the math of floor votes for Republicans and Democrats at the start of a busy week for the Senate.

  • “After dodging it for 2+ years I’ve tested positive for COVID-19,” Cornyn wrote on Twitter

  • “I’m fully vaccinated and boosted, and doing fine,” he said. “While quarantining I’ll continue to fight Chuck Schumer and Joe Manchin’s massive tax increase on working families remotely, consistent with CDC [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] guidelines.”

Senate Democrats this week are hoping to pass their multibillion-dollar climate, tax and health care package, which was announced by Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) on Wednesday. Republicans are expected to unanimously oppose the measure, and the GOP has criticized the West Virginia Democrat for backing it.

Schumer and Manchin are aiming to pass the package under reconciliation, an arcane budget rule that avoids the Senate’s 60-vote threshold required for most bills.

Read more here.

Federal, local officials lay blame over monkeypox

Local health authorities and lawmakers have repeatedly called on the Biden administration to take more action in response to the monkeypox outbreak. Now, the White House appears to be pushing back by attempting to spread the blame to include state and local governments.

  • Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra said during a Thursday press briefing on monkeypox that state and local governments “ultimately are the ones that determine how health care is administered in their jurisdictions.”

He further stated that the federal government does not control public health in “territories and in the tribal jurisdiction.”

“They need to work with us,” said Becerra.

What local health care organizations have to say: Marcus Plescia, chief medical officer of the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials, said he and his organization were “a little surprised” by what Becerra said.

Adriane Casalotti, chief of public and government affairs for the National Association of County and City Health Officials, said local health departments are still reliant on other parts of the U.S. public health system to properly act against monkeypox.

“For example, other than about five cities, no local health departments are getting direct — most of our partners are not getting direct allocation of vaccines,” Casalotti said.

Read more here.

WHAT WE’RE READING

  • From low pay to workplace culture, obstacles litter the path to diversity in EMS (Stat)

  • How the U.S. let 20 million doses of monkeypox vaccine expire (New York Times)

  • Critics say ‘monkeypox’ is a racist name. But it’s not going away anytime soon (NPR)

  • Biden covid case highlights confusing CDC guidance on ending isolation (Washington Post)


STATE BY STATE

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

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