President Joe Biden is the latest senior Washington official to test positive for covid-19, following Vice President Kamala Harris, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer. But work continues, particularly on a Senate bill that could, for the first time, allow Medicare to negotiate prescription drug prices and cap drug costs for seniors.
Meanwhile, proponents and opponents of abortion rights are struggling to find their footing in the wake of the Supreme Court’s strikedown of the federal abortion right in Roe vs. Wade.
This week’s panelists are Julie Rovner from KHN, Shefali Luthra from The 19th, Joanne Kenen from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and Politico, and Rachel Cohrs from Stat.
Among the takeaways from this week’s episode:
- Although some Democrats and many political pundits criticize the Senate for downgrading the President’s Build Back Better agenda to being primarily a health care bill, the proposal in that bill to allow Medicare to negotiate the prices of certain drugs would be a major change that drugmakers have fought successfully for two decades.
- The bill, which has not been released in full, will only include provisions that were approved by Sen. Joe Manchin (DW.Va.), as the 50 Democratic caucus members in the Senate will be needed to pass The bill. In addition to allowing price negotiations on 10 drugs in the first year, the legislation would penalize drugmakers who raise prices above the rate of inflation and limit drug spending for Medicare beneficiaries to $2,000 per year. year.
- The bill is also expected to include provisions to extend the Affordable Care Act’s enhanced subsidies for premiums on market-purchased health policies for an additional two years. Those details have yet to be released.
- Progressives have been appalled by the administration’s lackluster response to the Supreme Court’s ruling overturning Deer. Even though the White House notes that there are limits to what the president can do, the administration has been more careful than many expected in announcing how it plans to respond. For example, immediately after the Supreme Court released the ruling, the administration said it would protect women’s access to medical abortions — but there was little follow-up.
- Indiana doctor who treated 10-year-old rape victim seeking abortion threatens to sue state attorney general for libel, who falsely told national TV she didn’t file the necessary documents.
- The 10-year-old’s case has put anti-abortion groups on the defensive and suggested they are divided on how to handle situations like this. Some leaders suggest the child should have gone ahead with the pregnancy, while other groups have said people who have been raped should not have to carry a baby to term.
- Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is continuing his efforts to restrict abortion. The state essentially ended most abortions last September with a strict law that allows community members to sue doctors and others who help a woman have an abortion beyond six weeks of pregnancy. Now, Paxton is challenging the Biden administration’s statement that federal law allows people seeking emergency care due to pregnancy issues to have abortions. Paxton said the federal law does not preempt state restrictions.
- Texas’ hard line on abortion could have an economic impact within the state. Some young people and businesses are not supportive of abortion policies and some are threatening to leave the state.
Also this week, Rovner interviews Dr. Jack Resneck Jr., a California dermatologist who is the new president of the American Medical Association.
Plus, for extra credit, the panelists recommend their favorite health policy stories of the week that they think you should also read:
Julie Rovner: KHN’s “Conservative Blocs Unleash Litigation to Limit Public Health Powers”, by Lauren Weber and Anna Maria Barry-Jester
Shefali Lutra: “Health Care’s Big Players: As the Pandemic Rages, CEO Earnings Soared,” from Stat, by Bob Herman, Kate Sheridan, J. Emory Parker, Adam Feuerstein, and Mohana Ravindranath
Rachel Cohrs: “Anthony Fauci wants to put the politicization of Covid behind him” from Politico, by Sarah Owermohle
Joanne Kenen: Inside Climate News “When the power goes out, who suffers? Climate epidemiologists are now trying to figure this out”, by Laura Baisas
Also mentioned in this week’s podcast:
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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.