Health Care — Republicans face complicated reality post-Roe

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Heads up drivers in D.C.: A section of a major road into the city will be closed through the morning because of a so-called work zone fail; cars were getting stuck in wet tar. 

Republicans are celebrating the Supreme Court’s ruling to overturn Roe v. Wade, but it may not be the massive political win some hope.  

Welcome to Overnight Health Care, where we’re following the latest moves on policy and news affecting your health. For The Hill, we’re Peter SullivanNathaniel Weixel and Joseph Choi. Someone forward you this newsletter? Subscribe here.

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GOP walks tightrope on abortion

The Supreme Court’s decision to strike down decades of precedent protecting access to an abortion was hailed as a win for conservatives, but the political reality for Republicans is likely to be far more complicated. 

Polling has shown a majority of the American public disapproves of the Supreme Court’s position, and prominent Republicans have tip-toed around calls from some conservatives for stricter abortion laws around the nation. 

Shifting conversation from economy: John Thomas, a Republican strategist who has worked on House campaigns, expected Democrats to see: 

  • A spike in small-dollar donations  
  • A distraction from the economic woes that have sunk President Biden’s approval ratings and been a central focus of Republicans on the campaign trail. 

“In terms of the short term, this is a winning conversation for Democrats, particularly vulnerable Democrats where there are lots of college educated white women,” Thomas said. “This gives them a bit of a reprieve from what was otherwise considered just a brutal conversation on almost every front.” 

Risks going forward: The risk, strategists say, lies in how vigorously Republican state legislatures and governors push for abortion bans and how Republicans handle the issue if they retake the majorities in Congress. 

Aggressively pursuing abortion bans could backfire, given polling shows Roe was broadly popular. 

Read more here.

Governors urge Congress to avert ‘disastrous’ hike

There’s more pressure on congressional Democrats to act on ObamaCare premium hikes, this time from a group of governors.  

A group of Democratic governors is calling on Congress to avert what they call “disastrous” ObamaCare premium increases for next year as lawmakers search for a solution in their economic package.   

  • The letter from 14 Democratic governors to congressional leaders calls for extending enhanced Affordable Care Act subsidies enacted last year as part of President Biden’s American Rescue Plan (ARP) but which are currently set to expire at the end of this year.   
  • “We urge you to take action immediately to make the ARP expanded subsidies permanent to prevent a disastrous erosion of health insurance coverage,” write the state leaders, including Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker, California Gov. Gavin Newsom, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy. 

Manchin the big question: Democrats in Congress have also been calling for extending the enhanced subsidies, but their fate largely depends on Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), the key vote on Biden’s party-line economic package.   

Manchin has not given a clear answer on whether he supports extending the enhanced subsidies. In one interview with Insider this month, he suggested he could support an extension if the financial assistance was further “means-tested,” meaning help was reduced for people with higher incomes. 

Read more here.

OFFICIALS: TEACHERS SHOULD PROMOTE KIDS’ COVID VACCINES

Two Biden administration officials released a letter on Wednesday calling on teachers to help encourage parents to get their children vaccinated against COVID-19 now that vaccines are available to nearly all children. 

In a “Dear Colleagues” letter provided to The Hill, Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra and Education Secretary Miguel Cardona called on the staff for early childhood education (ECE) programs to help in getting more children vaccinated. 

“We appreciate your leadership, dedication, perseverance, and resilience, and honor your efforts that consistently put the needs of children first,” Becerra and Cardona said. 

  • Earlier this month, the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention cleared the way for children older than 6 months and under the age of 5 years to receive COVID-19 vaccines from both Pfizer and Moderna. 
  • The two secretaries called on ECE staffers to do three things: encourage parents to connect with health care providers, share information about COVID-19 vaccines with families with eligible children and partner with local health care providers to host vaccination clinics at their facilities or neighborhoods. 

Read more here.

WARREN CALLS FOR VOTER REGISTRATION THROUGH HEALTHCARE.GOV

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) is calling on the Biden administration to provide access to voter registration services through healthcare.gov, where Americans can apply for health insurance through the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). 

Warren urged HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra to make changes to healthcare.gov that could lead to millions of Americans registering to vote, especially those living below the federal poverty level, according to a letter first obtained by The Hill. 

  • She pointed to President Biden’s executive order on promoting access to voting that came out in March 2021 and a recent update from the administration that all agencies, including HHS, said they were making progress on enhancing access to voter registration.
  • “But HHS can do more to fulfill its commitments under the President’s Voting EO. In particular, it should expeditiously implement changes to HealthCare.gov to facilitate access to voter registration services for millions of Americans,” she said in the letter.
  • She asked Becerra to send a detailed report of HHS’s progress on implementing voter registration access through healthcare.gov by July 12. 

Read more here.

Fauci experiencing ‘rebound’ of symptoms after treatment

Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious diseases doctor, said he is experiencing a rebound of COVID-19 symptoms after taking Pfizer’s antiviral drug Paxlovid. 

  • Fauci, 81, contracted COVID-19 earlier this month, and while his symptoms were initially “minimal,” because of his age he was prescribed a five-day course of Paxlovid when they worsened.
  • Speaking during a Foreign Policy global health summit on Tuesday, Fauci said he tested negative for three days in a row after he finished taking Paxlovid. 
  • But then on the fourth day, Fauci said he tested positive again, a phenomenon that’s referred to as a “Paxlovid rebound.”  

Increasingly common: As more doses of Paxlovid are prescribed, scores of patients are reporting a similar experience. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention last month warned health providers to be on the lookout for a “rebound” in Paxlovid patients between two and eight days after an initial recovery. 

Just because a patient experienced a “rebound” does not mean Paxlovid didn’t work, or that the patient was reinfected.  

Unconventional step: Fauci said he started a second course of Paxlovid, and as of Tuesday was on the fourth day of treatment.  

While information about Paxlovid rebound is limited, both the CDC and the Food and Drug Administration say there’s no evidence a second treatment course is needed.   

Read more here.

WHAT WE’RE READING

  • In a doctor’s suspicion after a miscarriage, a glimpse of expanding medical mistrust (Stat
  • Covid falls off world leaders’ agenda despite remaining threat from the virus (NBC
  • Abortion pill maker plans multistate legal action to preserve drug access (Politico)

STATE BY STATE

  • Kansas City area health system stops providing Plan B in Missouri because of abortion ban (Kansas City Star
  • Thousands of Oregonians will gain free health care coverage starting in July (Oregon Capital Chronicle
  • Yet another attempt to expand Medicaid in NC (NC Health News)

That’s it for today, thanks for reading. Check out The Hill’s Health Care page for the latest news and coverage. See you tomorrow.

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