Overnight Healthcare

Health Care — Dems dig in their heels on abortion access

Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.)
Greg Nash
Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) addresses reporters during a press event on Tuesday, January 24, 2023 to discuss abortion access and rights.

Today in health, Senate Democrats affirmed their stance on working against Republican-led efforts to limit abortion access. 

Meanwhile, the CDC is rolling out a slew of organizational changes following waves of criticism regarding its actions, or lack thereof, during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Welcome to The Hill’s Health Care roundup, where we’re following the latest moves on policy and news affecting your health. I’m Joseph Choi.

Senate Dems set on fighting GOP abortion agenda

Senate Democrats on Tuesday marked what would have been the 50th anniversary of the landmark Roe v. Wade Supreme Court ruling by declaring they will not back down against Republican efforts to restrict or limit access to abortions. 

A group of Democratic senators, including Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (N.Y.) and Sens. Patty Murray (Wash.), Debbie Stabenow (Mich.) and Dick Durbin (Ill.), gathered outside the Supreme Court to decry the overturning of Roe last year as well as the ongoing actions by GOP lawmakers at both the state and federal level to limit or block abortion access. 

  • “On Sunday, what should have been the celebration of the 50th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, America mourned instead,” Schumer said. “We mourn the fact that millions of women and girls now have fewer rights than their mothers and grandmothers. We mourn the loss of individual freedom. We mourn the loss of a woman’s right to choose.” 
  • “The American people said hell no to efforts to undermine abortion access in the country. As the last election showed, America is on our side completely,” said Schumer. 

Reproductive rights activists also added their voices to the lawmakers’ criticisms. Mini Timmaraju, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, accused Republicans of being out of step with the majority of Americans who support abortion access. 

“GOP continues to ignore us despite how loud and clear Americans have made themselves. They would rather put our lives in danger than to give up on their selfish quest for power,” said Timmaraju. “Just a reminder, we are the majority.” 

The new GOP majority in the House earlier this month passed its first abortion-related bill, the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act, which requires that infants born after attempted abortions receive medical care. 

Read more here. 

CDC informs staff of structural changes 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) informed its staff on Tuesday of several changes the agency will be making to its internal structure, with some offices merging their responsibilities and new offices being created.

Remember: This agency reorganization comes months after CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said her agency “did not reliably meet expectations” during the COVID-19 pandemic and would be undergoing an overhaul as a result. 

“For 75 years, CDC and public health have been preparing for COVID-19, and in our big moment, our performance did not reliably meet expectations,” Walensky said in August. “As a long-time admirer of this agency and a champion for public health, I want us all to do better, and it starts with CDC leading the way.” 

According to a CDC staff member familiar with the announcement, the majority of the organization will now report directly to the Immediate Office of the Director, moving away from what they referred to as a “Community of Practice structure” that had been employed before. 

  • The Center for Surveillance, Epidemiology, and Laboratory Services and the Center for State, Tribal, Local, and Territorial Support will be combined into a new agency entity called the National Center for State, Tribal, Local, and Territorial Public Health Infrastructure and Workforce. 
  • The Center for Preparedness and Response will now be renamed the Office of Readiness and Response. 
  • Several new offices will also be created including the Office of Health Equity and the Office of Public Health Data, Surveillance, and Technology. Regarding the latter, the CDC staffer said it was part of the agency’s aim to “build the data infrastructure necessary to connect all levels of public health with the critical data needed for action.” 

Read more here. 

STEUBE RECOVERING FROM SERIOUS INJURIES AFTER FALL  

Rep. Greg Steube (R-Fla.) said he suffered a fractured pelvis, a punctured lung and several torn ligaments in his neck after falling 25 feet from a ladder on his property in Sarasota, Fla., last week. 

“I am blessed to have a great support team in my wife Jennifer as well as numerous friends and family, including the Steube pups!” Steube said in a tweet, featuring a photo of the recovering congressman and his dogs. “Grateful for everyone’s prayers and well-wishes as I recover.” 

Steube was cutting tree limbs at his Sarasota property last Wednesday, when he was knocked off a ladder and fell about 25 feet, his office said. The congressman spent the night in the ICU and was eventually released from the hospital on Saturday.  

The Florida Republican noted that he will be unable to return to Washington for several weeks as he recovers. 

“While I will be sidelined in Sarasota for several weeks, I will be carrying out as many of my congressional duties as possible, and our DC and district staff continue to be readily available to assist Floridians in FL-17,” he added on Twitter. “I’m eager to rejoin my colleagues in Washington as soon as possible!” 

Read more here. 

MENTAL HEALTH TOPS PARENTAL CONCERNS ABOUT CHILDREN: SURVEY   

A Pew Research Center survey of 3,757 parents with children younger than 18 years of age found that 4 out of 10 parents are “extremely” or “very” worried that their kid will suffer from anxiety or depression in the future.   

Mothers are more likely than fathers to worry about their children’s mental health, the report found. Almost half of mothers surveyed, or 46 percent, said they are “extremely” or “very” worried that their children will develop anxiety or depression at some point in their lives. 

Meanwhile, 32 percent of fathers surveyed said the same thing.

Demographic breakdown: 

  • White and Hispanic parents are the most likely to worry about their children’s mental health. Out of all surveyed parents, 42 percent of White parents and 43 percent of Hispanic parents said they are “extremely” or “very” worried that their children might struggle with anxiety or depression.  
     
  • Low-income parents were more likely to be concerned about their children developing mental health issues or being bullied.   

Read more here. 

FDA looks to reduce lead exposure in baby food

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has released new proposed guidelines for the amount of lead that can be in processed food for babies and small children under the age of 2, a move the agency says would result in significant reductions in the exposure to the toxic metal. 

The new guidance includes a limit of 10 parts per billion of lead in fruits, some vegetables and yogurts and 20 parts per billion in root vegetables and dry cereals. FDA Commissioner Robert Califf said the new standards could result in a 24 percent to 27 percent reduction in exposure to lead from the foods. 

  • “The proposed action levels announced today, along with our continued work with our state and federal partners, and with industry and growers to identify mitigation strategies, will result in long-term, meaningful and sustainable reductions in the exposure to this contaminant from foods,” Califf said in a statement announcing the new regulations. 
  • These foods absorb vital nutrients from the environment, which also means they absorb toxins such as lead that can be harmful to people when consumed, the agency explained in the announcement. It is not possible to entirely eliminate such contaminants from the food supply. 

The new guidance from the agency comes as a 2022 study found that nearly all homemade and prepackaged baby foods contained some levels of toxic heavy metals such as lead and arsenic. 

Read more here. 

WHAT WE’RE READING

  • Health systems have much higher prices, only marginally better quality, new study finds (Stat
  • Emailing your doctor may carry a fee (The New York Times
  • Many women underestimate breast density as a risk factor for breast cancer, study shows (CNN

STATE BY STATE

  • At OHSU, researchers test a promising Alzheimer’s drug — and search for a cause (Oregon Public Broadcasting
  • Florida nursing home workers say they’re not getting minimum wage (Tampa Bay Times
  • Report reveals Wisconsin doesn’t have enough mental health professionals for children (WSAW

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 Charles Schumer Patty Murray Rochelle Walensky
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