Overnight Health Care: Biden to face pressure on 'Medicare for All' | Kansas Supreme Court issues ruling protecting abortion rights | Judge gives Trump six months to identify separated children | Trump urges parents to vaccinate kids
Welcome to Friday’s Overnight Health Care.
Today, new 2020 contender Joe BidenJoseph (Joe) Robinette BidenTrump defends Charlottesville comments Trump: ‘I am a young, vibrant man’ The Hill’s Morning Report — Biden takes aim at Trump, early battlegrounds MORE is facing pressure from the left about “Medicare for All,” the Trump administration has only six months to identify tens of thousands of potentially separated migrant children, the Kansas Supreme Court delivered a big ruling on abortion, and a Senate drug pricing bill is coming this summer.
We’ll start with Biden:
Biden to face pressure on Medicare for All
Former Vice President Joe Biden’s entry into the 2020 race is putting a renewed focus on the sharp divide between Democratic candidates who want to strengthen ObamaCare and those who prefer to make the leap to “Medicare for All.”
For Biden, questions will center on whether he sticks exclusively with ObamaCare and his promise to improve on it or if he gives in to pressure from the left and gravitates toward Medicare for All, the progressive proposal backed by many of his opponents.
Questions about Biden’s stance: Biden hasn’t publicly spoken about Medicare for All or related proposals. But he stumped for House Democrats during the 2018 midterms and touted the benefits of the 2010 Affordable Care Act (ACA), warning of efforts by Trump and Republicans to repeal it.
On his campaign website, Biden says his vision on health care is to make sure the “peace of mind of health insurance is a right, not a privilege,” and that he will “defend and build upon” the ACA.
Why it matters: When Biden last ran for president, Medicare for All or single-payer wasn’t taken seriously. But now Biden must reckon with the fact that most of his competitors in the primary support it, as do a growing section of the American public.
What to watch for: It’s only day two of his campaign, but we’re watching to see what he says about the push for single-payer, and his ideas for improving the ACA. It’s likely Biden could support a public option on the exchanges or allowing people to buy into Medicare after 55.
Read more about Biden on health care here.
Judge gives Trump administration six months to identify separated children
A federal judge ruled late Thursday that the Trump administration has six months to identify potentially thousands of children that officials separated from families at the country’s southern border.
The government initially said it could take up to two years to identify as many as 47,000 children who were separated from their parents and taken into custody between July 1, 2017 and June 26, 2018.
The backstory: The Department of Health and Human Services has worked since June 2018 to reunite the more than 2,700 children separated under the administration’s “zero tolerance” policy; those reunifications are largely finished.
But in January, an internal government watchdog reported that thousands more children may have been separated during a migrant influx that began in 2017, even before the “zero tolerance” policy was enacted. The department’s inspector general said the precise number of separated children was unknown, and HHS officials initially argued it would be too difficult to identify all of them. But the same federal judge ordered the administration to come up with a plan.
What’s next: A status update is due by May 16, and another status hearing will be held May 17. The administration’s deadline is Oct. 25.
The politics: The administration’s family separation policy has been under intense scrutiny from House Democrats, who have vowed to investigate. The first subpoena issued this Congress by the House Oversight Committee sought documents from the heads of the Departments of Justice, Homeland Security and Health and Human Services, asking for the locations where children were being held, whether their parents were deported, and any efforts to reunite the children with parents.
Read more on the judge’s ruling here.
Kansas Supreme Court rules state constitution protects right to abortion
Big news for abortion-rights supporters out of Kansas: the state’s Supreme Court on Friday ruled 6-1 that the state’s constitution protects a woman’s right to access an abortion.
The case centered on a 2015 Kansas law that banned a second-trimester abortion procedure called “dilation and evacuation.”
The statute banned those types of abortions except when necessary to preserve the life of the mother, prevent impairment of a major bodily function of the mother or if the fetus is already dead.
Key excerpts: “Among the rights is the right of personal autonomy,” the justices wrote. “This right allows a woman to make her own decisions regarding her body, health, family formation, and family life–decisions that can include whether to continue a pregnancy.”
The justices ruled that the ability to control one’s own body is protected under the state constitution’s rights to liberty and pursuit of happiness.
“Pregnant women, like men, possess these rights,” they wrote.
What this means: The decision is not subject to appeal. Abortion is officially the law of the land in Kansas. Even if the Supreme Court eventually overturns Roe v. Wade (and some conservative states are passing anti-abortion laws to try to make this possible), abortion rights would be protected in Kansas.
So what happens next: Abortion-rights advocates said the ruling could pave the way for litigation challenging restrictions in other states. And in Kansas, some of the state’s other restrictions on abortion may be challenged as well, like the requirement for a woman to undergo an ultrasound before having an abortion. But on the other side, anti-abortion lawmakers are reportedly trying to amend the state constitution.
Read more about the decision here.
Trump implores parents to have children get measles shots
President TrumpDonald John TrumpPresenting the 2020 Democratic bracket The time has come for the Democrats to act, finally DHS expedites border wall replacement in Arizona, Texas MORE urged parents to vaccinate their children against measles.
“They have to get the shots. The vaccinations are so important,” Trump told reporters at the White House. “This is really going around now. They have to get their shots.”
His comments come as the country is in the midst of a major measles epidemic. The year isn’t even half over, yet there have already been a record number of measles cases reported. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are nearly 700 cases spread across 22 states, the most since measles was declared eliminated in 2000.
Why this was notable: A president speaking out about a public health crisis should not be a major event. But until Friday, Trump had remained silent, and his comments differed from what he’s said in the past. In 2014, he questioned why children were getting “pumped” with vaccines. And at a Republican presidential primary debate on CNN in 2015, Trump again voiced support for the debunked theory that vaccines are linked to an increase in autism diagnoses.
Read more about Trump’s remarks here.
Grassley working on bipartisan drug price bill for mid-June
Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyRepublican senators request briefing on DOJ ‘spying’ probe House to vote on bipartisan retirement bill in May Sanders, Klobuchar among five most popular senators: poll MORE (R-Iowa) gave some hints on his drug pricing bill this week, saying the measure would be introduced by mid-June. And he is working with the panel’s top Democrat, Sen. Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenHouse to vote on bipartisan retirement bill in May Congress can retire the retirement crisis Dems accuse White House of caving to Trump’s ‘ego’ on Russian meddling MORE (Ore.).
“We are writing legislation to address some of the systemic problems that make prescription drugs unaffordable for some Americans,” Grassley said in a speech in Iowa. “I expect that legislation to be ready for introduction in mid-June of this year.”
The big question: What exactly will this legislation do? Grassley is well known for his willingness to support some legislation opposed by the pharmaceutical industry, but he has so far stopped short of endorsing Democrats’ No. 1 priority on the issue: allowing Medicare to negotiate drug prices.
There are, of course, other steps short of that, but it remains to be seen how far the legislation will go.
Read more here.
Activist Ady Barkan added to Medicare for All hearing
House Democrats have added health care activist Ady Barkan, who is dying of ALS, as a witness at Tuesday’s House Rules Committee hearing on Medicare for All.
A spokesman for Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy Patricia D'Alesandro PelosiPresenting the 2020 Democratic bracket Some Dem chairmen have changed tune on Trump impeachment On The Money: House to vote on bipartisan retirement bill in May | Mexico now biggest US trading partner | Mulvaney defends record on cutting spending MORE (D-Calif.) said Barkan, a well-known supporter of Medicare for All, texted Pelosi on Wednesday to ask to testify. Pelosi then called Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.), the chairman of the committee, who invited Barkan to testify.
The announcement of Barkan’s testimony also comes one day after HuffPost published a story reporting that some Medicare for All supporters worried that there would not be a strong supporter of Medicare for All testifying at the hearing.
What we’re reading
Trump renews vow to repeal Affordable Care Act weeks after GOP leaders urge caution on the issue (The Washington Post)
Pharma-funded charity touted ‘higher profits’ for drugmakers (Bloomberg)
The health care industry is betting on Joe Biden in its war against Medicare for All (Vox.com)
State by state
Hurricane Maria’s legacy: Thousands of Puerto Rican students show PTSD symptoms (Kaiser Health News)
Georgia governor could model state Medicaid waiver off Grady program (Atlanta Journal Constitution)
Iowa Senate Republicans propose banning use of Medicaid dollars on transgender surgery (Des Moines Register)