Overnight Health Care: With Biden, advocates sense momentum for lifting abortion funding ban | Battle looms over Biden health care plan if Democrats win big | Dozens of public health officials are quitting during pandemic

Overnight Health Care: With Biden, advocates sense momentum for lifting abortion funding ban | Battle looms over Biden health care plan if Democrats win big | Dozens of public health officials are quitting during pandemic
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Welcome to Monday’s Overnight health care. 

It's the first day of the Democratic National Convention. Democrats are facing potential internal battles over health care, but also optimism about what a Biden victory could mean for abortion funding. 

In COVID-19 news, public health officials are quitting, and there's more evidence of health inequalities in workplace infections. 


We'll start at the DNC:

With Biden, advocates sense momentum for lifting abortion funding ban

Abortion rights advocates are pinning their hopes on presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe BidenJoe BidenFacebook, Twitter CEOs to testify before Senate Judiciary Committee on Nov. 17 Sanders hits back at Trump's attack on 'socialized medicine' Senate GOP to drop documentary series days before election hitting China, Democrats over coronavirus MORE to help end a longstanding ban on the use of federal funds for abortion — a policy he supported for more than 40 years.

Biden reversed his position by denouncing the so-called Hyde amendment last year, but its future doesn’t just depend on who wins the White House. Democrats will also need to make major gains in the Senate, keep control of the House and gain the support of more moderate Democratic lawmakers on a divisive issue.

Advocates nonetheless feel there has never been more momentum for ending Hyde, which prevents federal programs like Medicaid from paying for abortions, a restriction that disproportionately affects low-income people and women of color.

“There’s lots of evidence that the current is moving in our direction,” said Ronald Newman, national political director for the American Civil Liberties Union, pointing to growing support among congressional Democrats, Biden’s reversal on the issue and the primary defeats of anti-abortion Democrats such as Rep. Dan Lipinski of Illinois, who supported the ban.

Read more here.


Battle looms over Biden health care plan if Democrats win big

A battle within the Democratic Party is looming on health care if presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden wins and the Senate flips.

In the primary earlier this year, Biden’s plan for a government-run public option for health insurance was seen as the moderate choice, compared with Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersSanders hits back at Trump's attack on 'socialized medicine' Trump's debate performance was too little, too late Final debate: War Admiral vs. Seabiscuit MORE’s (I-Vt.) “Medicare for All.”

But once the arena shifts away from the campaign trail to Congress, where the proposal would have to pass via a narrow margin in the Senate and despite fierce opposition from well-funded industry groups, Biden’s plan would become a daunting challenge to enact.

Surveying this landscape, some Democratic congressional aides and outside health care advisers, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said they expected the party would start next year with a more modest package of fixes to ObamaCare that did not include a public option in an effort to get some early points on the board.

Read more here

In the courts... 

Federal judge blocks Trump transgender health rule from taking effect

A federal judge on Monday temporarily blocked a Trump administration policy that would scrap ObamaCare's nondiscrimination protections for sex and gender identity, one day before it was set to take effect.

According to Judge Frederick Block of the U.S. District Court in Brooklyn, the Trump administration's rule is contrary to a recent Supreme Court ruling that outlawed workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

The rule was issued in mid-June, during Pride Month. 

It made clear that the government's interpretation of sex discrimination would be based on "the plain meaning of the word 'sex' as male or female and as determined by biology."

Reasoning: HHS issued the rule before the Supreme Court ruled that employers are not allowed to discriminate against someone on the basis of sexual identity or sexual orientation. The 6-3 decision came just three days after the HHS policy was announced, and according to Judge Block, it completely contravenes what HHS was trying to do. 

Read more here.


In COVID-19 news:

Dozens of public health officials are quitting during pandemic

Health officials across the country are calling it quits in the midst of a global pandemic as otherwise below-the-radar public servants become the targets of anger and frustration in a hyperpartisan age.

In some cases, government health officials have quit or been removed from their jobs after clashing with elected leaders.

New York City Health Commissioner Oxiris Barbot resigned this month after feuding with Mayor Bill de BlasioBill de BlasioMedian rent in Manhattan falls below ,000 for first time in nearly a decade De Blasio's obsession with racial balance in schools has a clear victim: Asian students Citigroup executive to run for NYC mayor: report MORE (D). Health officials in Texas, Indiana and Montana have quit in recent weeks after politicians overrode their advice on requiring masks and prohibiting public events.

In other states, health officials have been fired for data reporting errors. California’s public health director, Sonia Angell, quit suddenly this month after a software breakdown showed the state may have underreported the number of coronavirus infections. West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice (R) fired his public health commissioner, Cathy Slemp, over another reporting issue.

In the most troubling cases, public health officials have left their jobs after receiving threats.


Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health, told The Hill public health recommendations intended to keep people safe have become politicized. 

Read more here.

Workplace coronavirus outbreaks disproportionately affecting nonwhite workers: CDC

Outbreaks of COVID-19 in workplaces are disproportionately impacting Hispanic and Latino workers, especially those employed in the manufacturing, wholesale trade and construction industries, according to an analysis released Monday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The analysis, which focused on COVID-19 outbreaks in Utah workplaces between March and June, found outbreaks tied to workplaces in 15 industries. 

Of the 277 outbreaks reported to the state in that time period, 210 occurred in workplaces. 

About half of those outbreaks occurred in just three sectors — manufacturing, construction and wholesale trade, which are disproportionately represented by Hispanic workers.


Hispanic, Latino and nonwhite workers accounted for 73 percent of cases, despite representing only 24 percent of workers in the 15 affected industries.

“Systemic social inequities have resulted in the overrepresentation of Hispanic and nonwhite workers in frontline occupations where exposure to SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, might be higher,” the authors of the report wrote. 

Read more here.

On the vaccine front: Novavax coronavirus vaccine candidate begins phase two trials

Novavax on Monday announced it would proceed with phase two clinical trials to determine if its coronavirus vaccine candidate showed positive results for patients.

The Maryland-based firm is one of several companies around the world working to develop a vaccine to protect against COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. Its move to begin the second phase of study comes just weeks after reporting that its vaccine showed promising signs in early trials. 

Phase two trials will be conducted in South Africa, one of the countries experiencing the most pronounced outbreaks amid the pandemic. The phase two trial will evaluate its efficacy, safety and immunogenicity in more than 2,600 healthy adults. The testing will also evaluate safety for hundreds of medically stable, HIV-positive adults, the company added. 

Read more here.

The Hill hosts:


As Election Day approaches, the COVID-19 pandemic remains an ever-present threat. On the sidelines of the 2020 Conventions, The Hill will host a discussion with policymakers and hospital and medical school leaders about lessons learned from the coronavirus pandemic, the importance of research and innovation in battling health care crises, and the value of a resilient and responsive health care ecosystem.

RSVP now to hold your spot!

What we’re reading

Coronavirus is spreading in schools, but no one is tracking all the outbreaks (NBC News)

Federal money slow to trickle to local public health (AP)

Nursing homes with safety problems deploy Trump-connected lobbyists (The New York Times)

Politics slows flow of US pandemic relief funds to public health agencies (Kaiser Health News)

State by state

Texas class action challenges Medicaid Hepatitis C drug policy (Bloomberg)

'Horrifying’ data glitch skews key Iowa coronavirus metrics (AP)

COVID-19 community spread metric hits highest peak in D.C. since May (DCist)

Op-eds in The Hill

The great gamble of COVID-19 vaccine development

Mayors, it's time to step up

For a COVID-19 vaccine to succeed, look to behavioral research