Welcome to Tuesday’s Overnight Health Care. Most attention has gone to Jeff BezosJeffrey (Jeff) Preston BezosWhy Democrats opposing Biden's tax plan have it wrong Equilibrium/Sustainability — Presented by The American Petroleum Institute — Climate change turning US into coffee country Foundations pledge billion in record funding for biodiversity MORE for his space trip. But 82-year-old Wally Funk made history too by becoming the oldest person to launch into space on the Blue Origin.
Today: Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulGOP political operatives indicted over illegal campaign contribution from Russian national in 2016 White House debates vaccines for air travel Senate lawmakers let frustration show with Blinken MORE escalated his feud with Anthony FauciAnthony FauciOvernight Health Care — Presented by Indivior — CDC panel approves boosters for some, but not based on jobs Fauci: 'Worst time' for a government shutdown is in middle of pandemic The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Alibaba - Government shutdown fears increase as leaders dig in MORE, New York settled with opioid distributors, and the delta variant has fully taken hold of the country.
We'll start with Fauci:
Fauci v. Paul series continues: Fauci says Paul doesn't know what he's talking about 'and I want to say that officially'
Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) on Tuesday escalated his ongoing feud with the nation's top infectious diseases doctor Anthony Fauci about the role the National Institutes of Health (NIH) played in funding controversial research in Wuhan, China.
The two traded barbs during a tense exchange, triggering a shouting match in which Fauci accused Paul of lying in order to further his agenda.
During a Senate Health Committee hearing about the federal COVID-19 response, Paul said the NIH funded illegal gain-of-function research at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, which created a highly dangerous and transmissible virus able to infect humans. Gain-of-function is a controversial method where researchers make a pathogen more infectious, often to develop more effective treatments and vaccines.
It’s an unsubstantiated accusation Paul has made before, and one Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has denied.
It's not unusual for conservative Republicans and allies of former President TrumpDonald TrumpJulian Castro knocks Biden administration over refugee policy Overnight Energy & Environment — League of Conservation Voters — Climate summit chief says US needs to 'show progress' on environment Five takeaways from Arizona's audit results MORE to clash with Fauci during hearings; Paul has done so on numerous occasions, as has Rep. Jim JordanJames (Jim) Daniel JordanAllies see rising prospect of Trump 2024 White House bid Republican leaders misjudged Jan. 6 committee Watchdog group seeks ethics probe over McCarthy's Jan. 6 comments MORE (R-Ohio).
Paul’s accusations: But on Tuesday, Paul stepped up his fight, implying that Fauci had lied to Congress, and that he was fully aware of what the Wuhan lab was doing with grant money that came from NIH.
He also suggested that Fauci and the NIH could be partly responsible for the pandemic and the deaths of 4 million people worldwide.
Fauci responds: “You are implying that what we did was responsible for the deaths of individuals. I totally resent that,” Fauci said. “And if anybody is lying here senator, it is you,” he added, pointing a finger at Paul.
New York reaches $1.1B settlement with opioid distributors
The state of New York has reached a $1.1 billion settlement agreement with three of the nation’s largest drug distributors after the state accused the companies of contributing to the opioid crisis.
New York Attorney General Letitia James (D) released the settlement obtained with the McKesson Corporation, Cardinal Health Inc. and AmerisourceBergen Drug Corporation on Tuesday, saying the state is holding the distributors “accountable” for their alleged role in the epidemic.
The three distributors will pay the $1.1 billion to New York state, with more than $1 billion of that being designated to opioid treatment, recovery and prevention. The payments will start in two months and continue over 17 years.
In exchange, New York will file to remove McKesson, Cardinal and AmerisourceBergen from its continuing opioid trial in Suffolk County State Supreme Court.
“While no amount of money will ever compensate for the millions of addictions, the hundreds of thousands of deaths, or the countless communities decimated by opioids, this money will be vital in preventing any future devastation,” James said in a statement.
Distributor response: In a joint statement, McKesson, Cardinal and AmerisourceBergen said they saw the settlement as “an important step toward finalizing a broad settlement with states, counties, and political subdivisions.”
“While the companies strongly dispute the allegations at issue in the trial, they believe this resolution will allow the companies to focus their attention and resources on the safe and secure delivery of medications and therapies while delivering meaningful relief to affected communities, and will also support efforts to achieve a broad resolution under the previously disclosed framework,” the distributors said in a joint release.
Delta takes stronger hold: CDC director says delta variant accounts for 83 percent of all COVID-19 cases in US
The delta variant of the novel coronavirus is now responsible for 83 percent of all sequenced COVID-19 cases in the United States, CDC Director Rochelle WalenskyRochelle WalenskyOvernight Health Care — Presented by Indivior — Walensky gives green light for boosters Biden urges all eligible Americans to get a booster shot CDC director partially overrules panel, signs off on boosters MORE said Tuesday.
That estimate is a major increase from just over two weeks ago. For cases tallied during the week of July 3, the CDC estimated the delta variant accounted for about 50 percent of new infections.
Walensky told the Senate Health Committee that in some parts of the country with low vaccination rates, the percentages are even higher. Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, noted that the delta variant could be responsible for up to 90 percent of cases in some areas.
Arkansas, Missouri, Florida and Louisiana are the four states with the highest per capita new cases per day, according to data from the Covid Act Now tracking site.
Vaccination has been uneven across states, and only about half of all eligible people nationwide are fully vaccinated.
Health officials have described the latest stage of the coronavirus as a "pandemic of the unvaccinated" while emphasizing that those who have had their shots are relatively safe.
Abortion rights group endorsing 12 House Democrats ahead of midterms
NARAL Pro-Choice America has endorsed 12 House Democrats for reelection ahead of the 2022 midterm races.
The abortion rights group said in a statement that the incumbents have “demonstrated their unwavering commitment to fighting for reproductive freedom.”
“We know these leaders will fight to safeguard abortion access and take bold action to make sure all of our families and communities thrive,” Christian LoBue, NARAL Pro-Choice America chief campaigns and advocacy officer, said in a statement.
Who’s endorsed: NARAL endorsed Georgia Democratic Reps. Lucy McBathLucia (Lucy) Kay McBathKatie Hill launches effort to protect Democratic majority in House Anti-abortion group targets Democrats ahead of 2022 Moderates revolt on infrastructure in new challenge for Pelosi MORE and Carolyn Bourdeaux, as well as Texas Democratic Reps. Colin Allred and Lizzie Fletcher and California Reps. Katie Porter (D) and Mike Levin (D).
The group also backs Reps. Cindy AxneCindy AxneKoch-backed group launches 7-figure ad blitz opposing .5T bill Watchdog: 7 members of Congress allegedly failed to disclose stock trades Business groups create new headache for Pelosi MORE (D-Iowa), Haley StevensHaley Maria StevensWHIP LIST: How House Democrats say they'll vote on infrastructure bill Katie Hill launches effort to protect Democratic majority in House Biden approval ratings drop in seven key congressional districts: GOP-aligned poll MORE (D-Mich.), Susie LeeSuzanne (Susie) Kelley LeeMORE (D-Nev.), Susan WildSusan WildLawmakers say Biden must do more on global vaccines Katie Hill launches effort to protect Democratic majority in House Medicare should be able to negotiate drug prices — congressional leaders to allow it MORE (D-Pa.), Kim SchrierKimberly (Kim) Merle SchrierKatie Hill launches effort to protect Democratic majority in House Overnight Health Care: Fauci clashes with Paul - again | New York reaches .1B settlement with opioid distributors | Delta variant accounts for 83 percent of US COVID-19 cases Abortion rights group endorsing 12 House Democrats ahead of midterms MORE (D-Wash.) and Peter DeFazioPeter Anthony DeFazioOregon legislature on the brink as Democrats push gerrymandered maps The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Biden sticks to his Afghanistan deadline Biden commends Pelosi for 'masterful' leadership MORE (D-Ore.)
Background: Abortion rights are front and center in the midterms as GOP-led states consider hundreds of bills rolling back abortion access.
These legislatures have pushed for bills restricting abortion in the hopes of getting the conservative majority in the Supreme Court to override Roe v. Wade.
Duckworth, Pressley introduce bill to provide paid family leave for those who experience miscarriage
Sen. Tammy DuckworthLadda (Tammy) Tammy DuckworthDems punch back over GOP holdup of Biden SBA nominee Top Republican: General told senators he opposed Afghanistan withdrawal Democrats brace for battle on Biden's .5 trillion spending plan MORE (D-Ill.) and Rep. Ayanna PressleyAyanna PressleyHolding back on defensive systems for Israel could have dangerous consequences Warren, Bush offer bill to give HHS power to impose eviction moratorium Haitians stuck in Texas extend Biden's immigration woes MORE (D-Mass.) introduced a bill on Tuesday that calls for employers to provide at least three days of paid leave for workers who experience a miscarriage.
The bill, dubbed the Support Through Loss Act, aims to invest $45 million a year to the National Institutes of Health for federal research into miscarriages and pregnancy loss.
It would also require that the Department of Health and Human Services, including the CDC, develop and spread public information regarding pregnancy loss, such as statistics on the matter and treatment options.
According to the CDC, about one in 100 pregnancies at 20 weeks of carrying and later are affected by stillbirth. Roughly 24,000 babies are stillborn in the U.S. per year.
The lawmakers wrote that while pregnancy loss is “an experience shared across communities,” it can sometimes feel like an “isolating experience” because of the lack of truthful information.
“Our bill sends a message to families that they are not alone, and would support those experiencing the loss of a pregnancy by providing them with the resources, workforce supports, and care necessary to recover and heal,” Pressley said in a statement.
What we’re reading
Sen. Wyden: $3.5T budget may have to trim but it can set a path to ‘ambitious goals’ (Kaiser Health News)
States are sitting on millions of surplus Covid-19 vaccine doses as expiration dates approach (STAT)
Summer travel options outside the U.S. are still up in the air as COVID cases rise (NPR)
State by state
California makes it easier for low-income residents to get and keep free health coverage (Kaiser Health News)
‘COVID-19 is unfortunately here to stay’: Experts say they suspect Delta variant is driving large number of breakthrough cases in Provincetown (Boston Globe)
Overdose deaths in Washington expected to break record in 2021 (KATU)
The demise of Cardinal Innovations: How a state-mandated mental health organization failed in slow motion. (North Carolina Health News)
Op-eds in The Hill