Overnight Health Care: Top Trump official privately warned against ObamaCare changes | Drugmakers sue over TV ad rule | Court rules against Trump policy on abortions for undocumented teens
Overnight Health Care — Presented by Campaign for Accountability — Alabama bill heats up fight over abortion | 2020 Dems blast bill | ACLU challenges Ohio abortion law | NC sues e-cig maker Juul | Flurry of activity on surprise medical bills
Welcome to Wednesday's Overnight Health Care
2020 Democratic presidential candidates are slamming Alabama's abortion ban bill, North Carolina is suing Juul, and there's lawmakers are offering legislation on surprise medical bills in both chambers.
Alabama abortion bill sends shockwaves
The bill banning almost all abortions in Alabama passed Tuesday night provoked a flurry of reactions on Wednesday.
Democratic presidential candidates in particular slammed the bill. A sampling:
Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.): "Outrageous news coming out of Alabama. This law would effectively ban abortions in the state and criminalize doctors for doing their jobs - providing health care to women."
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.): "This is a war on women, and it is time to fight like hell."
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.): "This ban is dangerous and exceptionally cruel--and the bill's authors want to use it to overturn Roe v. Wade. I've lived in that America and let me tell you: We are not going back--not now, not ever."
The big question: When new restrictive abortion laws, in Alabama and other states, are inevitably challenged in court, it will present the Supreme Court with the question of whether it will overturn Roe v. Wade. And that decision could come in the middle of 2020 in the runup to the presidential election. The justices will need to decide if they want to take up such a political football..
Meanwhile an update on another state's abortion law...
ACLU files lawsuit challenging Ohio 'heartbeat' abortion law
The American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit Wednesday challenging an Ohio law that would ban most abortions after about six weeks of pregnancy.
Republican Gov. Mike DeWine (R) signed a bill into law last month banning abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected, which usually occurs six weeks after a woman becomes pregnant. The law has no exemptions for rape or incest.
"Simply put, the Ohio law we're challenging today flies in the face of the Constitution," said Elizabeth Watson, staff attorney for the ACLU's Reproductive Freedom Project.
The ACLU of Ohio and Planned Parenthood joined the ACLU in filing the lawsuit.
Similar laws have passed this year in Mississippi and Georgia, while another in Kentucky was blocked in court earlier this year.
North Carolina sues e-cigarette maker Juul
North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein (D) filed a lawsuit Wednesday against e-cigarette maker Juul, arguing the company deliberately targeted young people, and misrepresented the potency and danger of nicotine in its products.
North Carolina is the first state to take action against Juul, which is also facing pressure from federal regulators amidst an unprecedented spike in teen vaping.
The suit, which was filed in state court, alleges that JUUL deliberately designed flavors, the product, and its chemical composition to appeal to young people.
"JUUL targeted young people as customers. As a result, vaping has become an epidemic among minors," Stein said in a statement. "JUUL's business practices are not only reckless, they're illegal. And I intend to put a stop to them. We cannot allow another generation of young people to become addicted to nicotine."
According to Stein, the company marketed its products to youth on social media platforms and through the use of youth-oriented sponsors and social media influencers. He said Juul used lax age verification techniques for online purchases that allowed people to avoid or circumvent age requirements.
Push for tougher restrictions: The Food and Drug Administration is proposing to restrict sales of flavored Juul products in stores, but Stein wants the court to go further. Under FDA's proposal, Juul can still sell flavors online with appropriate age verification. The suit called on the court to stop Juul from selling any flavors online to people in North Carolina, except tobacco and menthol.
Flurry of activity on stopping surprise medical bills
There's a whole lot of legislation coming to address surprise medical bills, an issue President Trump also called for action on last week.
- House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Frank Pallone Jr. (D-N.J.) and top Republican Rep. Greg Walden (Ore.) on Tuesday released a draft bill.
- A bipartisan group of lawmakers in the upper chamber, led by Sens. Bill Cassidy (R-La.), Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.) and Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), plan to release their own legislation this week.
- And Senate health committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), along with Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), are working on their own measure as part of a broader package to lower health care costs.
The question: While there is clearly bipartisan momentum, can lawmakers bridge the varying approaches and overcome industry jockeying to get something signed into law?
Birth rates for teens, women in their 20s hit record lows
U.S. birth rates hit their lowest point in 32 years in 2018, according to data released Wednesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
This included record lows for women in their teens and in their 20s.
The provisional report, based on over 99 percent of U.S. birth records, indicates there were 3.788 million births in the U.S. last year, the lowest total since 1986 and the fourth consecutive year the number of births has declined.
Births to teenagers fell 8 percent, to 179,607.
Women in their late 30s and in their early 40s were the only groups with slightly higher birth rates in 2018, according to the report. The fertility rate, 1.7 births per woman, was also down 2 percent, indicating the current generation is not having enough babies to replace itself.
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The Trump administration is quietly giving away millions of dollars intended for family planning services to a religious organization that refuses to provide contraception. Learn more.
What we're reading
Experimental brain-controlled hearing aid can pick out voices in a crowd (Stat News)
Investors bet on opioid fallout sinking drug companies' stocks (The Wall Street Journal)
The Trump administration is scrubbing ObamaCare from government sites (Wired)
Reynolds, with an eye on Juul, wades into social media (The Wall Street Journal)
State by state
Nearly 30K Utahns enrolled in newly expanded Medicaid but some left uninsured after feds refused to extend ObamaCare signup period (Salt Lake Tribune)
Idaho awaits word on Medicaid expansion plan (Lewiston Tribune)
California governor wants to help more buy health insurance (Associated Press)