Overnight Health Care — Sponsored by Amgen — Supreme Court sides with Planned Parenthood, declines to take funding case | NIH to fund research into fetal tissue alternatives | Oklahoma seeks Trump approval for Medicaid work requirements

Welcome to Monday's Overnight Health Care.

The Supreme Court declined to hear from states that tried to defund Planned Parenthood, the deadline for the Trump administration's controversial public charge rule is today, and the National Institutes of Health will fund research into fetal tissue alternatives.

It's been a busy day. We'll start at the Supreme Court:

 

Supreme Court sides with Planned Parenthood, declines to take case

The Supreme Court on Monday refused appeals from two states looking to end funding to Planned Parenthood, striking a blow to abortion foes.

The decision leaves in place lower court rulings that blocked Louisiana and Kansas from banning Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers from the states' Medicaid programs.

Why it matters: By refusing to hear the cases, the Supreme Court is avoiding a contentious and high-profile battle over abortion.

Opponents and supporters of abortion both saw new Supreme Court Justice Brett KavanaughBrett Michael KavanaughTrump urged to hire chief strategist for impeachment fight Anita Hill: Kavanaugh's confirmation filled me with 'profound sadness and disappointment' Majority disapprove of Trump Supreme Court nominations, says poll MORE as a vote against abortion rights. But he sided with Chief Justice John Roberts and the court's four liberal justices.

From the dissent: Justice Clarence Thomas, joined by Justices Neil Gorsuch and Samuel Alito, issued a scathing dissent, writing that the court is refusing to do its job by not hearing the cases.

"I suspect it has something to do with the fact that some respondents in these cases are named 'Planned Parenthood," Thomas wrote.

Anti-abortion groups expressed disappointment Monday and urged the Trump administration to instead go after other funding Planned Parenthood gets from the federal government.

From Planned Parenthood: "We are pleased that lower court rulings protecting patients remain in place," said Dr. Leana Wen, Planned Parenthood's president. "Every person has a fundamental right to health care, no matter who they are, where they live, or how much they earn."

From the Susan B. Anthony List: "We are disappointed the Supreme Court declined to hear this case," said SBA List President Marjorie Dannenfelser.

"The pro-life citizens of states like Kansas and Louisiana, through their elected representatives, have clearly expressed their will: they do not want Medicaid tax dollars used to prop up abortion businesses like Planned Parenthood... We urge the Trump Administration to quickly finalize the Protect Life Rule, which would prevent taxpayer funding of the abortion industry under Title X, Planned Parenthood's second biggest stream of taxpayer revenue after Medicaid."

Read more here.

 

 

NIH to fund research into fetal tissue alternatives

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) is looking for alternatives to fetal tissue in research projects after facing pressure from anti-abortion groups.

NIH announced Monday a new program that would spend up to $20 million over two years to find and develop alternatives to using fetal tissue in research projects.

It said it will solicit applications soon to "develop" or "further refine" human tissue models that can model human biology, like the immune system, without relying on the "use of human fetal tissue obtained from elective abortions."

Why it matters: The announcement from NIH comes amid a pressure campaign led by anti-abortion groups.

Groups like the Susan B. Anthony List and March for Life are demanding that the Trump administration end funding for research projects that use fetal tissue, mostly at NIH, arguing that there are more ethical alternatives.

Context: The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is still conducting a review of more than $100 million in federal funding of these projects, and is expected to reach a decision in the coming months.

More here on the NIH move.

 

Health groups, Democrats decry proposed "public charge" rule

Advocacy groups and Democrats are raising the alarm over the administration's proposed "public charge" rule on the last day of public comments.

The proposal would allow immigration officials to refuse admission and deny extensions to those who might become "public charges." The list of benefits that would be considered include Medicaid, the Medicare Part D Low-Income Subsidy Program, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and several housing programs.

The fear among health groups is that immigrants will be too afraid to use the services necessary to keep them healthy. If patients don't get treated, it can exacerbate medical conditions, leading to them being sicker and a higher reliance on hospital emergency departments. More than 189,000 comments have been received on the proposal.

 

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D), Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson (D), and City of Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan (D): "Over 140,000 Washington residents could lose health insurance because of the Proposed Rules. Women will lose routine reproductive care services, resulting in more unintended pregnancies, more high-risk deliveries, and increased costs for newborns whose health is compromised by the lack of adequate prenatal care. Washingtonians will be forced into emergency rooms for routine medical care, jeopardizing our State's success in reducing uncompensated care and driving up state-funded alien emergency medical care."

America's Health Insurance Plans: "Based on our industry's experience, we believe such changes would have serious negative consequences for public health and the U.S. economy, including: sicker people, including seniors and children; weaker communities, resulting from sicker populations and weakened hospital systems; weaker American businesses, resulting from a sicker employee base; and higher taxes, as federal and state costs increase for emergency care and premiums go up for everyone."

Congressional Democrats: Energy and Commerce Ranking Member Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-N.J.) and Ways & Means Committee Ranking Member Richard NealRichard Edmund NealHouse progressives to push for floor amendments on Pelosi drug price bill Overnight Health Care — Presented by Partnership for America's Health Care Future — Four companies reach 0M settlement in opioid lawsuit | Deal opens door to larger settlements | House panel to consider vaping tax | Drug pricing markup tomorrow House Democrats ask judge to dismiss Trump lawsuit over NY tax return law MORE (D-Mass.) said that among other concerns, they opposed the inclusion of Medicaid as a public charge determination. They called on the administration to withdraw the proposal.

 

Oklahoma seeks Trump approval on Medicaid work requirements

The Trump administration is set to consider Oklahoma's plan for work requirements in its Medicaid program, as the state formally submitted its request on Friday.

If the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services approves the request, certain "able-bodied" Medicaid beneficiaries will be required to work, volunteer, or go to school for 80 hours a month beginning Feb. 1. If they fail to meet the requirements for three months, they will have their coverage removed until the requirements are met.

People younger than 19 and older than 50 would be exempt, as would pregnant women, parents of children younger than 6 and people who can prove a disability. The state estimated that only about 6,000 people would be impacted by the requirements, but still projected that the number of people enrolled in Medicaid would drop.

Why are so few people impacted? Oklahoma did not take federal money to expand Medicaid under ObamaCare, and has one of the strictest eligibility levels in the country. So, parents are eligible for Medicaid if the family income is less than $9,351 per year for a family of three. A family of two (one parent and one child) would be ineligible if they earned more than $6,750 a year.

Will it get approved? Most likely. Oklahoma would be the second non-expansion state after Wisconsin to get work requirements approved. In previous cases, the administration expressed concern over what advocates called a "Catch-22" of non-expansion states: people who don't work will lose coverage, but the people who do work will likely earn too much money in order to qualify under the state's strict requirements, and will not be offered employer-sponsored insurance. Wisconsin found a way around the issue, and it's likely Oklahoma did too.

More here.

 

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has confirmed a record number of cases for a polio-like illness in 2018.

So far this year, the CDC has confirmed 158 cases of acute flaccid myelitis (AFM), a polio-like illness that primarily strikes children. The CDC is investigating an additional 153 cases.

That's the highest number of cases of AFM since the CDC began tracking it in 2014.

In 2015, the CDC confirmed 22 cases, and 149 in 2016. In 2017, the CDC confirmed 35 cases.

AFM is still rare, but is a serious condition that affects the nervous system, the CDC says.

Most AFM patients had a mild respiratory illness or fever consistent with a viral infection before developing AFM.

The CDC still does not know the cause of AFM, however.

"As a mom, I know what it's like to be scared for our children and I understand parents want answers," Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director of the CDC's National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, said in a press call with reporters last month.

"Right now science doesn't give us an answer. That's why we at the CDC and all our partners will keep looking for answers."

Read the full report here.

 

On tap later this week:

The House will vote on the Preventing Maternal Deaths Act of 2018, sponsored by Rep. Jaime Herrera BeutlerJaime Lynn Herrera BeutlerGOP lawmakers offer new election security measure GOP group calls out five House Republicans to speak up on Ukraine Dems push to revive Congress' tech office MORE (R-Wash.).

The House Energy & Commerce Committee will hold a hearing Tuesday at 10:15 a.m. on implementing the 21st Century Cures Act.

The committee will also hold a hearing on Wednesday at 10 a.m. on "examining the availability of SAFE kits in the United States."

The House Oversight Committee's Subcommittee on Healthcare, Benefits and Administrative Rules will hold a hearing at 10 a.m. Thursday on alternatives to fetal tissue research.

 

What we're reading

Short-term plans and no penalty highlight ObamaCare sign-up period (Kaiser Health News)

Investigation of generic 'cartel' expands to 300 drugs (The Washington Post)

The drug industry is headed back to Congress to make its case. Will Democrats keep the door open? (Stat News)

 

State by state

Fired after criticizing Bevin Medicaid plan, University of Kentucky professor to get $620K (Louisville Courier-Journal)

Planned Parenthood, the only abortion provider left in Nashville, suspends abortion services (The Tennessean)

 

From The Hill's opinion page

The Civil War over prescription opioids

What impact does migration have on the health of societies?