People who pay attention to the Supreme Court expected the justices to curtail abortion rights when they rule on a Mississippi abortion law by the end of the current session. What no one expected was that a draft of this advice – which called for a complete reversal of the nearly 50-year-old man Roe vs. Wade decision – would be disclosed to Politico. The reaction has been swift and vocal on both sides of the divisive debate that could affect the upcoming midterm elections.
Meanwhile, the FDA is proposing to ban menthol flavors in cigarettes and cigars, sparking a debate over whether the move disproportionately hurts or helps African Americans, who use menthol-flavored products. at higher rates than others.
This week’s panelists are Julie Rovner from KHN, Joanne Kenen from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and Politico, Shefali Luthra from 19andand Jessie Hellmann of CQ Roll Call.
Among the takeaways from this week’s episode:
If the Supreme Court overturned deer, abortion would not immediately become illegal. Instead, the decision whether or not to ban abortion would be left to state legislators. Abortion rights advocates say that right now at least 18 or 19 states likely have laws in place making abortion illegal and several more should act quickly if deer falls.
- Leak of Judge Samuel Alito’s Draft Opinion Risks Serious Repercussions for Court; Chief Justice John Roberts called it a betrayal of the judges’ process. It became, of course, a big guessing game in Washington about who leaked it and why, and plausible theories about conservative and progressive motives were floated.
- Although Politico, which published the draft notice, reports that Alito has four other judges backing his call to overturn deer, votes change in the process of opinion writing and lobbying by the judges. That draft is from February, so the thinking on the bench may have changed a bit, and Roberts, as the only curator who hadn’t taken on the draft, could work to change the final position.
- Nevertheless, it seems clear that deer will not come out of this case unscathed.
- Alito goes all the way in his plan to say that the court’s reasoning in this case will not affect other rights the court has granted on the basis of privacy, such as the use of contraception . But many constitutional law experts say that might not be true, and anti-abortion groups seem keen to legally codify the idea that human life begins at conception. Such a decision could affect access to contraception.
- Despite much angst, Democrats have no easy way to preserve abortion rights if deer is overturned. Congressional action is sure to be thwarted by Republicans and a few anti-abortion Democrats, including Sen. Joe Manchin (DW.Va.).
- Some large companies are joining the debate by offering workers travel coverage if they have to travel to another state to have an abortion.
- The number of abortions in the United States has dropped dramatically in recent years. But it’s unclear whether this is due to better contraception or because states have limited access. And the growing use of medical abortions, in which prescription drugs are used to terminate a pregnancy within the first few weeks, may also change the landscape.
- Suggestions made in the past to eliminate menthol from smoking products have prompted complaints of racial targeting. Black community health officials are divided on the issue.
- Biogen, the maker of controversial Alzheimer’s disease drug Aduhelm, is in shock after numerous doctors and safety experts raised concerns about the drug and Medicare refused to cover it unless a patient did. is enrolled in a clinical trial looking at the long-lasting effects of the drug. The drugmaker announced this week that its CEO is stepping down and the company is giving up most of the marketing for the drug.
- A federal watchdog has found that private Medicare Advantage plans often deny beneficiaries needed services. The plans, which are alternatives to traditional paid health insurance, typically provide consumers with additional benefits such as dental or vision services and high-cost protection. But the health and social services inspector general said Medicare should provide greater oversight because of widespread problems with inappropriate denial of care.
Also this week, Rovner interviews KHN’s Paula Andalo, who reported on and wrote KHN-NPR’s latest “Bill of the Month” article about a family whose medical debt drove them to seek treatment south of the border. If you have an outrageous medical bill that you would like to share with us, you can do so here.
Plus, for extra credit, the panelists recommend their favorite health policy stories of the week that they think you should also read:
Julie Rovner: “Meet Mother Jones Abortion Bans’ New Best Friend – Your Phone” by Lil Kalish
Joanne Kenen: “Dispute over online Adderall prescriptions raises new telehealth questions” from Stat, by Mohana Ravindranath
Jesse Hellman: “Oregon, Kentucky Dust Off an Obama-Era Policy to Expand Health Insurance” by Politico, by Megan Messerly
Shefali Lutra: The 19and‘s “Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito has argued that abortion is not an economic problem. But is it true?” by Chabeli Carrazana
Also discussed on this week’s podcast:
“Politico Supreme Court Voted to Strike Down Abortion Rights, Opinion Show Projects”, by Josh Gerstein and Alexander Ward
Historic KHN ‘Breach’ Puts Abortion Rights Supporters and Opponents on Alert for the Coming Earthquake”, by Julie Rovner
This article was reprinted from khn.org with permission from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. Kaiser Health News, an editorially independent news service, is a program of the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan health policy research organization not affiliated with Kaiser Permanente.