Overnight Health Care — Texas abortion providers dealt critical blow
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One new rule buried in baseball’s new agreement: The All-Star Game will now be decided by a home run derby if it is tied after nine innings, The Associated Press reports. This time it … still doesn’t count.
The Texas Supreme Court handed a new defeat to abortion providers in the battle over the state’s controversial abortion law.
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Court rebuffs abortion providers’ challenge
The Texas Supreme Court on Friday ruled that state licensing officials lack authority to enforce the state’s six-week abortion ban, handing a major defeat to abortion providers in their legal challenge to the restrictive law.
The unanimous 23-page ruling eliminated the final legal avenue providers had pursued in their bid to obtain a federal court order blocking state officials from enforcing Texas’s S.B. 8, the nation’s strictest abortion measure.
The ruling effectively determined that the last remaining group of state officials who were named as defendants are beyond the reach of federal courts in the case. Essentially, since state officials don’t enforce the law, there’s nobody left to sue.
“With this ruling, the sliver of this case that we were left with is gone,” said Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights, one of the challengers in the case. “An unconstitutional ban on abortion after six weeks continues unchecked in the state of Texas. The courts have allowed Texas to nullify a constitutional right.”
In December, the Supreme Court in a 5-4 decision carved a narrow path for a federal court challenge to proceed against S.B. 8, ruling that abortion providers could sue only one group of state defendants in federal court: Texas licensing officials.
But if the justices’ December ruling left the doors to the federal courthouse cracked open, the Friday ruling by the Texas Supreme Court slammed them shut.
“It ends the abortion providers lawsuit against S.B. 8 and underscores that the Supreme Court allowed states to write and enforce laws that nullify constitutional rights — without having to defend those laws in court,” said Leah Litman, a law professor at the University of Michigan.
Funding fight threatens future efforts
There’s still no clear path forward for COVID-19 funds the White House says are badly needed.
That risks shortages of supplies like tests or treatments if a new variant hits again.
“It’s absolutely devastating,” Jennifer Nuzzo, a senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, said of the funding being stripped.
“It’s not like you go through a hurricane in Florida and think you’re never going to experience that again,” she said. “What more is it going to take for us to realize that preparedness is cheaper than response?”
Asked about the White House’s dire warnings if the funding is not provided, Sen. John Thune (S.D.), the No. 2 Senate Republican, noted it was House Democrats who removed the money.
“It was their play,” he said. “It was in there, and all they had to do was produce the votes on their side to keep it in.”
Senate outlook: “There are a handful of our members who are interested in some of the things that are in there, but I don’t think [it can pass] unless it’s fully offset,” he added.
From Dems: “The Republicans who blocked this funding are going to have to stand up in front of the American people and explain why they think we shouldn’t be prepared for the next COVID variant,” said Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.).
GLOBAL COVID DEATHS MAY BE TRIPLE OFFICIAL REPORTS
Global COVID-19 deaths may be triple that of official reports, according to a study published in The Lancet Thursday.
Currently, the global death rate is at 6 million for COVID-19, but the study says the true count could be at 18.2 million deaths across the globe.
The study takes into account a broader measure of deaths from the pandemic, including direct deaths from the disease and indirect deaths from the pandemic such as a spike in anxiety and depression that could have led to an increase in suicides.
“The magnitude of disease burden might have changed for many causes of death during the pandemic period due to both direct effects of lockdowns and the resulting economic turmoil,” the study says.
SINGLE WOMEN SPEND MORE ON HEALTH INSURANCE THAN MEN: STUDY
If you’re a single woman living in the United States, chances are you’re paying more than single men of the same age for your health insurance.
According to a new ValuePenguin analysis of U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data, single women in the U.S. consistently pay more, both in money and a percentage of their salary, for health insurance.
In 2020, single women put an average of 6.8 percent of their annual pretax salary toward their health insurance, while men put an average of 3.9 percent. This averages to $2,406 for single women, compared to $1,896 for single men.
The gap doesn’t disappear with age, in fact, it widens. Single women in every age group pay more for their health insurance than their male counterparts. In 2020, single women ages 55 to 64 were paying 4.8 percent of their annual income for health insurance, compared to single men of the same age, who paid only 3.6 percent. By the time they reached 65 or older, women were paying 11.7 percent while men paid 8.4 percent.
Insurance companies have often cited “health risks” as a main component of this determination.
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A quarter of Congress has had COVID-19
More than one-quarter of all House and Senate lawmakers reported having COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic nearly two years ago, according to data analyzed by The Hill.
In total, 152 lawmakers, which includes seven who reported having antibodies and two presumed cases, had COVID-19 since January 2020.
Republicans made up 82 of those individuals, while 69 Democrats and one independent made up the rest. The majority of infections in the House occurred among GOP lawmakers at 67 infections compared to 60 Democrats in that chamber.
In the Senate, 15 Republicans, nine Democrats and one independent reported having COVID-19 since 2020.
Court rulings add pressure on Biden
The Biden administration is under increasing pressure to drop a key Trump-era border policy in the wake of seemingly contradictory court rulings on how to implement the measure amid loosening COVID-19 precautions.
Immigrant advocates have long called for the end of Title 42, which allows for swiftly expelling migrants and blocks them from seeking asylum. The Biden administration retained the policy, with officials consistently arguing the measure is necessary to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
Former president Donald Trump first cited Title 42 as a way to contain the virus by expelling immigrants at the border and blocking them from access to the US asylum system.
But two Trump-appointed judges recently authored dueling opinions on Title 42, with one ordering an expansion of the policy and the other imposing new limitations.
While the conflicting rulings could hasten the end of the policy, it’s not yet clear if the Biden administration will challenge the rulings or try to comply with them.
Still, the complexities of the two court cases have reinvigorated Democrats and advocates who have long lost patience with the Biden administration for holding onto the Trump-era directive and who see an opening for the administration to finally nix the policy.
WHAT WE’RE READING
- Covid was declared a pandemic two years ago and now we’re finally moving on — but public health experts say it’s not over (CNBC)
- The risk of ignoring long COVID (The Atlantic)
- Pandemic medical innovations leave behind people with disabilities (Kaiser Health News)
STATE BY STATE
- Texas’ already high uninsured rate could increase next year. Here’s why. (Houston Chronicle)
- Massachusetts redefines COVID-19 death definition after ‘significant overcount’ (NBC 10)
- Planned Parenthood sues Missouri social services agency over restricted Medicaid funds (Missouri Independent)
That’s it for today, thanks for reading. Check out The Hill’s health care page for the latest news and coverage. See you Monday.
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