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ARE HOUSE DEMOCRATS PREPARED TO MAKE HYDE AN ISSUE IN THE SPENDING BILL? Democrats have an opportunity as early as this week to demonstrate their commitment to gutting the decadeslong rider that generally bans government funding for abortions.
Last week, Democratic presidential candidates came out strongly in support of repealing the Hyde Amendment, the rider that has been attached to spending bills for decades to prevent Medicaid, which covers low-income people, from paying for abortions except in the cases of rape, incest, or when a woman’s pregnancy threatens her life.
The timing, after former Vice President Joe Biden flipped on the issue, puts Democrats in the House in a tough spot over abortion rights. This week, they’re planning to take up the spending bill to fund the Department of Health and Human Services, with debate beginning on the floor Wednesday.
The current bill has the abortion funding ban attached, and sending it to the Republican-controlled Senate and the Democratic-controlled House without it would be a surefire way to put a halt to spending negotiations. At stake are billions of dollars in government health spending. On the other hand, leaving the language in the bill opens Democrats up to attacks from Republicans who will say that their actions indicate Hyde has broad public support and should continue to be the mainstay.
It’s not clear whether Democrats would have the votes to strike Hyde: 130 House members have co-sponsored the EACH Woman Act, a bill that would take the ban out, and 218 votes are needed to pass the spending bill.
“There has been an amendment submitted to strike Hyde, but it is not in compliance with House rules and would trigger a point of order,” Evan Hollander, spokesman for Nita Lowey, D-N.Y., Appropriations Committee chairwoman, said in an email. “Other than that, no, there has been no talk of removing it.”
Planned Parenthood President Leana Wen, in an interview Friday on C-SPAN that she did with me and with Los Angeles Times reporter Jennifer Haberkorn, wouldn’t say — even when pressed on the matter — whether she wants Democrats to vote “no” on the spending bills, and possibly shut down the government if the ban stays in place. She did, however, call for a “bold stance” on the matter.
“The Hyde Amendment is one more bad policy that specifically siloes out, stigmatizes and treats reproductive healthcare in a different category than the rest of healthcare,” she said. “I think it’s time for our lawmakers to take a bold stance on Hyde, on Title X, and on all these issues that are facing Americans.”
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MORE HIGHLIGHTS FROM WEN’S C-SPAN INTERVIEW:
She thinks Biden is genuine in his support for Hyde: “I take him at his word now that he has heard the will of the people,” Wen said.
She wouldn’t say whether Planned Parenthood would endorse in the primary: “We have so many exceptional candidates that it’s too early for us to say about endorsement, but here is what we will say: That our expectation is that every candidate will stand strongly with us to protect the right to safe, legal abortion access and who will speak with us with one voice that abortion care is healthcare and healthcare is a fundamental human right,” she said. Planned Parenthood will endorse in the general election.
She evaded a question about when Planned Parenthood believes life begins: “There is no medical or scientific consensus on this issue,” she said.
She evaded a question about whether Democrats should refuse to support candidates who support abortion rights: “I don’t think this is about Democrats or Republicans,” she said. “We would not want any of our elected officials … to support policies that would take away people’s access to healthcare … We are not the ones that have made abortion care political.”
MCCONNELL VOWS ANTI-ABORTION VOTE: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., vowed last week to bring anti-abortion bills to the floor, telling EWTN’s “Pro-Life Weekly” that, “We probably will have an opportunity again to vote on some kind of legislation related to Planned Parenthood.” He didn’t specify which legislation would get a vote.
CALIFORNIA LEGISLATURE APPROVES PLAN TO EXTEND GOVERNMENT HEALTHCARE TO ILLEGAL MIGRANTS: California state lawmakers agreed Sunday on a measure to pay for an estimated 90,000 people who are in the country illegally to receive healthcare coverage, at a cost of roughly $ 98 million a year. The agreement would cover people between the ages of 19-25 under Medicaid whose incomes are low enough to quality.
A second part of the deal would extend subsidies to people on Obamacare making 600% of the federal poverty level. Both of these would be paid in part through a state tax on people who are uninsured. The budget must be approved by midnight June 15.
NEW INITIATIVE TO HIGHLIGHT MENTAL HEALTH LEGISLATION: Nine mental health and addiction advocacy groups launched Mental Health for US on Monday to make mental healthcare a key 2020 campaign issue.
ALEXANDER-MURRAY PLAN TO LOWER HEALTHCARE COSTS RECEIVES 400 COMMENTS FROM PUBLIC: Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., tweeted Friday that his bipartisan draft to end surprise medical billing, lower drug costs, increase transparency, and improve public health and electronic medical records received 400 comments about how to improve the plan. Alexander, alongside Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., released the plans May 23, and said the public’s feedback will help them draft a Senate bill by the end of the month.
ACTIVISTS HOLD ‘DIE-IN’ TO PROTEST AMA’S OPPOSITION TO MEDICARE FOR ALL: More than 40 health policy advocacy group members held a ‘die-in’ Saturday outside the American Medical Association conference in protest of the association’s participation in a lobbying group that opposes single-payer healthcare, the Partnership for America’s Health Care Future. Healthcare professionals and activists from groups including People’s Action and The People’s Lobby are urging the AMA to support “Medicare for All” proposals and to leave the partnership.
MORE PARENTS ARE SPACING OUT VACCINES, WHICH DOCTORS SAY MAY BE RISKY: More and more parents are choosing to alter the vaccine schedule recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in hopes of not overwhelming their childrens’ immune systems, a practice doctors say could be just as risky as not vaccinating at all. Dr. Paul Offit, Director of the Vaccine Education Center at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, said delaying vaccines doesn’t lessen any possible side effects from vaccines themselves, but rather that “it increases the amount of time that your child is vulnerable.”
BETO O’ROURKE: CLOSING ABORTION CLINICS A ‘LIFE-AND-DEATH MATTER’: Presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke said Sunday that the closing of Texas family planning clinics, which often offer abortions, is a “life-and-death matter” because it has put pregnant women at risk of possibly fatal pregnancy complications. In 2011, the Texas state legislature approved $ 73 million in spending cuts to family planning services over the next two years, which led to the closure of 25% of Texas clinics by 2015.
UNIVERSITY OF ALABAMA TO RETURN $ 26.5 MILLION TO DONOR AFTER ABORTION COMMENTS: The University of Alabama’s 15-member board of trustees voted Friday to return a $ 26.5 million gift after the donor, Hugh F. Culverhouse Jr., criticized Alabama’s abortion law and discouraged women from attending the University of Alabam’s law school. “I don’t want anybody to go to that law school, especially women, until the state gets its act together,” Culverhouse said to the Associated Press.
CNBC Jack Dorsey, Emily Weiss and more than 170 CEOs sign letter calling abortion bans ‘bad for business’
Kaiser Health News How measles detectives work to contain an outbreak
Kansas City Star Other states changed their constitutions to limit abortion. Will Kansas soon follow?
The Washington Post Your longtime doctor moves. Will you lose that physician because of a noncompete clause?
The Columbus Dispatch Drug middlemen name own prices, methodology goes unchallenged
MONDAY | June 10
June 8-12. Chicago. American Medical Association annual meeting. Details.
House and Senate in session.
TUESDAY | June 11
8:30 a.m. Columbus Club at Union Station. Alliance for Health Policy half-day summit on “What’s Next on Social Determinants of Health Summit.” Details.
4 p.m. Washington Post Live Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases; and Dr. Scott Gottlieb, former Commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration. Details.
WEDNESDAY | June 12
8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. 1330 G St. NW. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services event on “A Conversation on Maternal Health Care in Rural Communities: Charting a Path to Improved Access, Quality and Outcomes.” Details.
9:30 a.m. 1225 I St. NW. Bipartisan Policy Center event on “Rural Health Task Force Kick-Off Event and Poll Results.” Details.
10 a.m. 2123 Rayburn. House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Health Subcommittee hearing on “No More Surprises: Protecting Patients from Surprise Medical Bills.” Details.
10 a.m. 1100 Longworth. House Ways and Means Committee hearing on “Pathways to Universal Coverage.” Details.
10 a.m. 2318 Rayburn. House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology hearing on “Combatting Sexual Harassment in Science.” Details.
10:15 a.m. HVC 210. House Veterans Affairs Committee’s Subcommittee on Technology Modernization hearing on “Implementation of Electronic Health Record Systems at the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Department of Defense.” Details.
11:30 a.m. 2360 Rayburn. Committee on Small Business hearing on “The Doctor is Out. Rising Student Loan Debt and the Decline of the Small Medical Practice.” Details.
2:30 p.m. Dirksen 226. Senate Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition Policy, and Consumer Rights hearing on “Your Doctor/Pharmacist/Insurer Will See You Now: Competitive Implications of Vertical Consolidation in the Healthcare Industry.” Details.
THURSDAY | June 13
June 13-15. Hyatt Regency Washington. Mental Health America annual conference on “Dueling Diagnoses: Mental Health and Chronic Conditions in Children and Adults.” Agenda.