Health Care

Health Care — Voters solidify pro-abortion stance at the polls

Madeline Monroe/Greg Nash/iStock
Madeline Monroe/Greg Nash/iStock

A new video game has officially dropped, and even KFC is excited about it. 

Today in health, we’re looking at the states where abortion access is projected to be enshrined into their respective state constitutions and where anti-abortion measures were shot down. 

Welcome to Overnight Health Care, where we’re following the latest moves on policy and news affecting your health. For The Hill, we’re Nathaniel Weixel and Joseph Choi. Someone forward you this newsletter? 

Voters affirm pro-abortion rights stance across states 

A round of state ballot measures from across the country made it clear that voters are in favor of abortion access in the wake of the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade. 

  • Voters in three states — California, Michigan and Vermont — approved ballot measures that amended their respective state constitutions to enshrine the right to an abortion. 
  • Both California and Vermont saw overwhelming support at the polls for the propositions designed to protect abortion access. Support for abortion access in Michigan was somewhat more modest with 56 percent voting “YES” on the state’s proposition. 
  • Ballot measures in Kentucky and Montana that conversely would have denied constitutional protections for abortions outright or presented challenges for abortion service providers were voted down. 

Planned Parenthood on Tuesday night tweeted that “the message is clear” from voters. 

“The majority of voters don’t want politicians deciding personal medical decisions for them,” the reproductive health care rights group said. 

The ballot votes came amid high-profile Senate and House races, with some candidates running for office across the nation with hard-line views on abortion access. 

Already in post-Roe America, about half of all states have moved to restrict abortion access, even as polls show most Americans approve of the right to abortion. 

Read more here

Voters offer divided opinion on legal weed

Voters offered mixed opinions on recreational marijuana use in five states on Tuesday, with Maryland and Missouri becoming the latest jurisdictions to relax prohibitions on the substance. 

Recreational adult marijuana use will be legal in nearly half the country following the midterm elections, with at least 21 states now poised to make the substance legal for adults aged 21 and older. But voters in three other states rejected proposals. 

  • In Maryland, about two-thirds of voters approved a referendum favoring the legalization of marijuana, which will go into effect on July 1, 2023. 
  • In Missouri, about 53 percent of voters as of early Wednesday morning supported a constitutional amendment to legalize the possession and use of recreational marijuana, with roughly 90 percent of the estimated vote having been counted. 

“This means that the great majority of the 20,000 people who have been arrested year after year in Missouri will no longer be subject to criminal prosecution for victimless marijuana law violations,” said Dan Viets, a co-author of the amendment and state coordinator for the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML). 

No broad consensus: But other states voiced opposition to legalizing the drug recreationally. 

  • A measure in North Dakota that would make the possession and use of marijuana legal was projected to fail, with roughly 55 percent of voters rejecting the ballot measure and 45 percent supporting it. This marked the second time such a ballot measure has failed in the state. 
  • A similar measure in Arkansas that would have legalized the possession and use of marijuana while also authorizing sales of the drug also failed. Medicinal use is already legal in the state. 

Read more here


Tennessee Republicans on Wednesday introduced a measure to prohibit transgender youth under 18 from accessing gender-affirming health care, stating the legislature has a responsibility to “protect the health and welfare of minors.”  The bill, titled the Protecting Children from Gender Mutilation Act, was introduced Wednesday by Tennessee Senate Majority Leader Jack Johnson and House Majority Leader William Lamberth, both of whom won reelection on Tuesday in the midterm elections.  What the bill does: Under the proposed measure, health care providers in Tennessee will be barred from providing gender-affirming medical care to minors “for the purpose of enabling a minor to identify with, or live as, a purported identity inconsistent with the minor’s sex.” 

The measure includes exceptions for youth that require treatments like puberty blockers, hormones and surgeries for reasons other than the treatment of gender dysphoria or “mental condition, disorder, disability, or abnormality.” 

“Cultural forces from the left would like us to accept an alarming new myth; that gender is not a biological reality,” Lamberth wrote in an October op-ed in the Tennessean announcing his intent to introduce the bill. 

Read more here.


An eight-week mindfulness meditation program is as effective as the common antidepressant escitalopram (Lexapro) at treating anxiety disorders among adults, according to new results of a randomized clinical trial.   

The trial was the first of its kind to directly compare the guided mindfulness-based intervention with a first-line medication for anxiety.  “

A big advantage of mindfulness meditation is that it doesn’t require a clinical degree to train someone to become a mindfulness facilitator. Additionally, sessions can be done outside of a medical setting, such as at a school or community center,” she continued.

Hoge is director of the Anxiety Disorders Research Program and associate professor of psychiatry at Georgetown University.   

Findings were published in JAMA Psychiatry and reflect data on 102 adults treated for their anxiety with a mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) program and 106 patients who received 10 to 20 mg of Lexapro.   

Lexapro is a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor — a common type of antidepressant drug — that was first introduced in the late 1980s.  

Read more here.

South Dakota votes to expand Medicaid coverage

South Dakota on Tuesday became the seventh GOP-led state to expand Medicaid coverage by ballot initiative. More than 42,000 additional people stand to gain coverage, according to state estimates. 

The measure was passed with 56.2 percent support and 43.8 percent in opposition with 97 percent of precincts reporting, according to The Associated Press. 

State Republicans like Gov. Kristi Noem opposed the measure, though Noem has said she would accept the results and work to implement expansion if the measure passed. 

  • Under the Affordable Care Act, the federal government will cover 90 percent of the costs for states to expand Medicaid coverage. To date, just 12 states have refused to do so. 
  • Six other states — Idaho, Maine, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Utah — have passed propositions similar to the one passed in South Dakota. 

Throughout the 2022 campaign season, Republican candidates largely held off from commenting on healthcare issues, with many contenders dropping the long-held promise to repeal the Affordable Care Act. 

Read more here


  • Abortion Issue Helps Limit Democrats’ Losses in Midterms (Kaiser Health News
  • Medication treatment for addiction is shorter for Black and Hispanic patients, study finds (The New York Times
  • Keeping your blood pressure below this number reduces risk of severe Covid, study finds (CNN


  • California bans flavored tobacco products, including vapes (Stat
  • Rhode Island pediatric beds are 100% full amid surge in respiratory viruses (NBC News
  • Alabama health providers warn of unusually early flu activity (WBHM

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.

Tags abortion Marijuana Medicaid Roe v. Wade

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