Overnight Healthcare

Overnight Health Care: Democratic bill would require insurance to cover OTC birth control | House Dems vote to overturn ban on fetal tissue research | New rule aims to expand health choices for small businesses

Welcome to Thursday's Overnight Health Care.

In today's health care news, Democrats want insurance to cover over-the-counter birth control, the House voted to overturn the administration's ban on fetal tissue research, and Mitt Romney wants to ban vaping in schools.

We'll start with a new Democratic bill.


Democrats roll out proposal requiring insurance to cover OTC birth control

House and Senate Democrats rolled out a proposal Thursday that would require insurance companies to cover over-the-counter birth control at no cost to patients.

The measure, introduced by Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) and Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), would ensure birth control that is available to women without a prescription is covered by insurance companies.

Currently, there's only one oral contraception available over the counter, without a prescription: Plan B, commonly referred to as the morning after pill. Because it's available without a prescription, it's often not covered by insurance companies.

One key detail: This bill would not make birth control available over the counter. Only the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has the authority to do so. It only requires that insurance companies pay for over-the-counter birth control if it is ever approved by the FDA.

Context: While over the counter birth control is widely available in other countries, it's not in the U.S.  A drug manufacturer would have to petition the FDA to approve their product for sale over the counter. No drug makers have done this, though at least two have expressed interest.

Bipartisanship? The bill is co-sponsored by Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and Katie Hill (D-Calif.). Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) this week agreed with a tweet from Ocasio-Cortez saying birth control should be available over the counter. Pressley then encouraged Cruz to sign on to her bill, but he didn't respond. 

Read more here.


Trump officials issue new rule aimed at expanding health choices for small business

There's a new Trump administration health care move.

Officials issued a rule aimed at expanding health insurance options for small businesses and others, part of President Trump's health care executive order from 2017.

The White House framed the move as part of their efforts to expand choices for people in health care, now that their efforts to repeal ObamaCare have come up short.

"This new rule gives businesses a better way to offer health insurance to employees and allows workers to select coverage that best fits their and their families' needs," Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement.

The rule allows employers to use tax-exempted funds, known as Health Reimbursement Arrangements (HRAs), to give to workers for purchasing coverage in the individual market.

The politics: This rule is a little less controversial than other Trump administration health care moves.

Read more here.


House Democrats vote to overturn Trump ban on fetal tissue research

House Democrats on Thursday voted to block the Trump administration's recent ban on using federal funds to conduct medical research that relies on material collected from elective abortions.

An amendment from House Progressive Caucus co-chair Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Wis.) and Rep. Ted Deutch (D-Fla.) to a broader health care spending package passed 225-193, largely along party lines.

Three Democrats broke with their party and voted with Republicans: Reps. Collin Peterson (Minn.), Daniel Lipinski (Ill.) and Ben McAdams (Utah).

The amendment would overturn a decision the administration announced last week that scientists said dealt a blow to vital research. The move to tighten federal restrictions on the use of fetal tissue was a victory for the anti-abortion movement, and one the White House said was made by President Trump alone.

Will it hold? The House vote is likely just a symbolic one, as the Senate is controlled by Republicans, and Trump is not likely to sign a spending bill that would overturn his own policy.

Read more on the vote here.


Bipartisan senators introduce bill banning vaping in schools

Sens. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) and Tom Udall (D-N.M.) introduced a bill Thursday that would ban e-cigarette use in educational and childcare facilities. The bill would explicitly include e-cigarettes in the smoking ban currently in place in educational and childcare facilities. It comes amid a massive increase in youth vaping, and the lawmakers noted that federal agencies have more work to do to study the health risks of nicotine use and addiction among youth.

Check out the bill here.


The Hill event

On Tuesday, June 25th, The Hill will host Cost, Quality and Care: The Medicare Equation at the Newseum in Washington, DC. The Hill's Editor-at-Large Steve Clemons and Editor-in-Chief Bob Cusack will sit down with Reps. Brett Guthrie (R-Ky.) and Doris Matsui (D-Calif.) and an expert panel for a discussion on how leaders in Washington and the health industry can bring down drug costs for Medicare patients while continuing to ensure quality of care for those who depend on the program. RSVP here.


Also today...

Actress Jessica Biel is facing criticism across social media after she made an appearance at the California State Assembly alongside known anti-vaccine advocate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. to lobby against a vaccination bill.

The New York state Senate is poised to advance legislation Thursday to end religious exemptions for vaccines and to raise awareness about the importance of immunizations as the state grapples with a rising number of measles cases.

Mailchimp is blocking anti-vaccination content from its platform, calling the spread of misinformation a "serious threat to public health."

Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) opened up about her own abortion in a column for The New York Times.

Prosecutors have said they are dismissing all criminal charges against eight people who were charged in the Flint, Mich., water crisis and are restarting their investigation into one of the worst manmade public health crises in U.S. history.

A Planned Parenthood clinic in Austin, Texas, is set to remain open until 2039 despite a new state law that prevents local governments from doing business with the organization.


What we're reading

Does Medicare for All cover undocumented immigrants? Depends on who you ask (CBS News)

Higher health insurance deductibles a sickening trend for Americans (CBS News)  

The U.S. Is Purging Chinese Cancer Researchers From Top Institutions (Bloomberg)


State by state

What Abortion Access Looks Like in Mississippi: One Person at a Time (New York Times)

New campaign in Oklahoma seeks to put Medicaid expansion up for a vote (Associated Press)


From The Hill's Opinion page

Democrats constantly overlook conservative solutions to fix our broken health care

Insurers must do more to prevent surprise medical bills