Monday, September 26

Health Care — Draft Supreme Court opinion sets off uproar


AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin

A wild fox broke into the National Zoo and killed 25 flamingos. The zoo said it was “devastated.” 

Today in health care, we’re diving into the repercussions of the bombshell leaked draft Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade.  

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 Sullivan, Nathaniel Weixel and Joseph Choi. Someone forward you this newsletter? Subscribe here.

Biden: Right to abortion ‘fundamental’ 

President Biden declared Tuesday that a woman’s right to have an abortion is “fundamental” and called on voters to elect more pro-abortion rights officials at the federal level in November so that Democrats can pass legislation protecting abortion rights.   

“I believe that a woman’s right to choose is fundamental, Roe has been the law of the land for almost fifty years, and basic fairness and the stability of our law demand that it not be overturned,” Biden said in a statement.

Biden’s statement came in response to the shocking leak of a Supreme Court draft opinion suggesting the high court is poised to overturn the decision in Roe v. Wade.  

“If the Court does overturn Roeit will fall on our nation’s elected officials at all levels of government to protect a woman’s right to choose,” Biden continued. “And it will fall on voters to elect pro-choice officials this November.” 

Biden also noted that the White House counsel’s office and the Gender Policy Council have been working on options to respond to potential outcomes in the Supreme Court case, work that began in the wake of bills restricting abortions in states like Texas. 

Biden said the bills represent a “continued attack on abortion and reproductive rights,” a notable line given that official Biden White House statements have often veered away from using the word “abortion.” 

Read more here. 

Leaked draft abortion opinion could change midterms

The leak of a Supreme Court draft opinion overturning Roe v. Wade could mark a seismic change in the national political landscape, giving Democrats an opportunity to shift their midterm strategy in what is expected to be a brutal election year.  

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Liberals at the state and federal level are rushing to harness the anger and energy of abortion rights supporters while candidates across the spectrum are retooling their messaging that until Monday night was expected to focus on economic issues such as inflation. 

Within hours of Politico publishing its report on the leaked draft, activists had taken to the steps of the Supreme Court in protest, while operatives flooded inboxes seeking to position the potential ruling as a choice on how to vote in November. 

Democratic National Committee Chair Jaime Harrison tweeted that “2022 IS THE MOST IMPORTANT ELECTION of OUR LIFETIME!” 

“To change this we MUST GROW our Senate majority! Codify Roe! Codify VRA! Support incumbents in AZ (Kelly), NM (Cortez Masto), GA (Warnock), NH (Hassan), & CO (Bennett) Look at races in: VT, NC, PA, WI, FL, OH, IA, MO, KY, LA, UT, SC,” he continued in a lengthy thread. 

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) said in its own statement that the “Republican attack on abortion access, birth control and women’s health care has dramatically escalated the stakes of the 2022 election.” 

Read more here.  

MURKOWSKI: OPINION ‘ROCKS MY CONFIDENCE’ IN COURT 

Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) told reporters Tuesday that if a leaked opinion striking down Roe v. Wade represents a Supreme Court majority, it “rocks my confidence in the court.” 

She also suggested it would mean that conservative nominees gave her the wrong impression about whether they would uphold the right to an abortion.  

“If it goes it goes in the direction that this leaked copy has indicated, I will just tell you that it rocks my confidence in the court right now,” she said. 

Murkowski said Republican-nominated justices she met with during the Senate confirmation process told her that they viewed Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 Supreme Court case that established the right to an abortion, as settled law and precedent and gave her the impression they would uphold it.   

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 “I think there were some representations made with regards to precedent and settled [law],” she said, declining to reveal which justices she had in mind. “Comments were made to me and to others about Roe being settled and precedent.”   

Fellow centrist Republican Sen. Susan Collins (Maine) released a statement earlier in the day saying that if Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh voted to strike down Roe v. Wade it would be “completely inconsistent” with how they told her they viewed the decision during their Senate confirmation processes. 

Read more here.  

BIOGEN CEO STEPPING DOWN AFTER DECISION ON ALZHEIMER’S DRUG 

Biogen CEO Michel Vounatsos will be stepping down from his position after more than five years at the helm, with this development coming not long after Medicare decided to limit coverage of his company’s Alzheimer’s drug Aduhelm. 

In an earnings report, Biogen said a new CEO has yet to be appointed. Vounatsos will stay on as CEO until his replacement is found. 

“It has been an honor to lead this outstanding Company during such a challenging period and to work closely with so many dedicated and talented colleagues,” Vounatsos said. “I am very proud of Biogen’s unparalleled capabilities in neuroscience, a complex field with tremendous unmet medical need, and of the novel medicines and benefits we have brought to patients.” 

Early last month, the Biden administration finalized its decision to limit Medicare coverage of Aduhelm to people who are participating in a clinical trial of the drug. 

Vounatsos said the company was “disappointed by the recent Medicare coverage decision.” 

Read more here. 

Dems consider tying Ukraine aid to COVID package

Democrats are mulling whether to link further Ukraine assistance with coronavirus aid as a way out of an entrenched stalemate with Republicans. 

Democrats are eager to pass President Biden’s latest Ukraine assistance request quickly, bringing it up in the Senate as soon as next week. But using that aid as a vehicle for the stalemated $10 billion coronavirus package has the backing of both the White House and Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). 

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Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) is keeping a tight lid on how he will bring up the package, which could come to the floor as soon as next week. 

“It is my hope that a bipartisan agreement can be reached very soon and that the Senate can begin processing this aid package as early as next week. Quickly approving this emergency funding for Ukraine is essential to help the people of Ukraine in their fight against Russia,” Schumer said from the Senate floor.  

Democrats will meet as a group on Tuesday, where they are expected to discuss the path forward on Ukraine funding. Members of Democratic leadership indicated after a meeting on Monday that there wasn’t yet a decision.  

Sen. Debbie Stabenow (Mich.), a member of Democratic leadership, told The Hill that there are ongoing discussions about if the two issues should be linked.  

“Both are critically important,” she said. “They are both emergencies.” 

Read more here. 

WHAT WE’RE READING

  • More uniformly infectious, more treatable, more genetically predictable: How coronavirus is getting closer to flu (Stat)  
  • What Would the End of Roe Mean? Key Questions and Answers. (The New York Times) 
  • After leak of draft abortion decision, advocates react with emotion (The Washington Post)  

STATE BY STATE

  • States Watching as Massachusetts Takes Aim at Hospital Building Boom and Costs (Kaiser Health News) 
  • Map: 23 states would ban abortion in a post-Roe America (NBC) 
  • States Aren’t Waiting For The Supreme Court To Rule On Abortion (FiveThirtyEight)  

OP-EDS IN THE HILL

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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