Overnight Health Care: Trump creates new religious protections for health workers | Dems turn black maternal deaths into powerful 2020 issue | CBO estimates 7M more uninsured by ObamaCare mandate repeal

Overnight Health Care: Trump creates new religious protections for health workers | Dems turn black maternal deaths into powerful 2020 issue | CBO estimates 7M more uninsured by ObamaCare mandate repeal
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Welcome to Thursday's Overnight Health Care.

The Trump administration strengthened rules to protect religious health workers, Democrats are looking to turn black maternal mortality into a major campaign issue, and CBO has new uninsured estimates.  

We'll start with religious protections...


Trump administration creates new religious, moral protections for health workers

Health care providers will be allowed to refuse to perform abortions, assisted suicide and other procedures if they have religious objections under new rules released by the Trump administration.

The new rules aim to strengthen the rights of religious health care workers, whom the administration said were not being protected enough.

"Conscience and religious freedom promotes diversity in healthcare. This rule will ensure government and government entities don't bully providers out of the practice of medicine," said Roger Severino, the head of the Department of Health and Human Services' Office of Civil Rights. "Conscience and religious freedom has been given second class treatment for too long."


President TrumpDonald John TrumpO'Rourke: Trump driving global, U.S. economy into recession Manchin: Trump has 'golden opportunity' on gun reforms Objections to Trump's new immigration rule wildly exaggerated MORE announced the new rules during a speech in the Rose Garden during a ceremony for the National Day of Prayer.

"And just today we finalized new protections of conscience rights for physicians, pharmacists, nurses, teachers, students and faith-based charities. They've been wanting to do that for a long time," Trump said. Trump also alluded to the fact that Vice President Mike PenceMichael (Mike) Richard PenceFEC chair calls on Trump to provide evidence of NH voter fraud Five years after Yazidi genocide, US warns ISIS is rebounding Log Cabin Republicans endorse Trump MORE has been a driving force behind promoting faith-based policies.

Who wins: The rule represents a major victory for Christian and anti-abortion groups that are close allies of the administration. The rules also align with the new mission statement of the Department of Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights (OCR), which was revised this week to emphasize a focus on protecting "conscience and religious freedom."

Who loses: Patient advocates said the rule will make it harder for women to receive lifesaving care, like an emergency abortion. They also said the rule amounts to legalized discrimination.

"In allowing doctors, nurses, and even receptionists to deny care to patients, the Trump-Pence administration is providing legal cover for discrimination," said Leana Wen, president of Planned Parenthood. "This will widen health care disparities and worsen health outcomes for those who already face too many barriers to care."  

What's next: The conscience protection rules were first proposed over a year ago, but they are just one part of the administration's anticipated policies on religious providers. New rules are expected to be released in the coming days that would roll back existing health care protections for transgender people.

Read more on the rules here.


Dems turn black maternal deaths into powerful 2020 issue

An issue that is not usually at the center of presidential politics is emerging as a major focus in the Democratic primary: black maternal deaths.

Sens. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenPossible GOP challenger says Trump doesn't doesn't deserve reelection, but would vote for him over Democrat Joe Biden faces an uncertain path The Memo: Trump pushes back amid signs of economic slowdown MORE (D-Mass.) and Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisJoe Biden faces an uncertain path Biden: 'There's an awful lot of really good Republicans out there' Fighter pilot vs. astronaut match-up in Arizona could determine control of Senate MORE (D-Calif.) have made addressing the issue a core part of their platforms, appealing to black women whose support is critical to winning the Democratic primary.

"We are facing a maternal mortality crisis in America," Warren wrote in an op-ed published Wednesday in Essence, a magazine geared toward black women. "And for Black moms, particularly those living in rural areas, it's an epidemic."

Background: The U.S. has the highest rate of pregnancy-related deaths among industrialized countries, partly because of the prevalence of C-sections that can lead to life-threatening complications and underlying, chronic health conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes and obesity. And black women in the U.S. are three to four times more likely to die from pregnancy-related issues than white women, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

The politics: Presidential candidates are also drawing attention to it as they aggressively court the African American vote, particularly in key primary states like South Carolina.

Some states key to winning the Democratic nomination in 2020 also have the highest maternal mortality rates -- including South Carolina, Florida, Michigan and Iowa.

Black women were a key voting bloc in the 2018 midterms, helping to launch House Democrats back into the majority, with exit polls showing 94 percent voted for Democrats.

More on the issue here.


CBO: 7 million more uninsured by ObamaCare mandate repeal

The repeal of ObamaCare's individual mandate will result in 7 million more people without health insurance by 2021, according to new estimates from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO).

That number is far lower than the agency's 2017 estimate that 13 million people would be uninsured by 2027, which came as Congress was debating the GOP tax bill.

Still, the CBO projected the number of people without insurance will continue to increase. In 2019, 30 million people under age 65 are projected to be uninsured, an increase from 29 million in 2018 and 28 million in 2017. By 2020, the CBO projected 32 million to be uninsured. By 2029, the number of uninsured people is projected to grow to 35 million,

Why so many: The CBO said the increase in the uninsured is the result of the elimination of the mandate penalty, rising health insurance premiums and more people enrolling in plans that don't meet the CBO's definition of health insurance, such as short-term plans.


What we're reading

Tobacco company Reynolds blames teen vaping crisis on Juul in fighting FDA plan to rein in e-cigarettes (CNBC)

The biggest health insurers in America are taking 'Medicare for All' very seriously (Business Insider)

'Medicare for All' gets much-awaited report. Both sides can claim victory. (The New York Times)

Parents of babies too young to vaccinate feel trapped by measles outbreak (The New York Times)


State by state

Wisconsin governor says he's not giving up on Medicaid expansion (Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel)

Maine Senate votes to preserve religious exemptions to vaccines (Portland Press Herald)

For sale in the pot industry: political influence (Boston Globe)


From The Hill's opinion page

CDC: Herd immunity helps to protect the entire community