Health care — Democrats gripe about abortion access

Today on health care, Senate Democrats reaffirmed their position to work against Republican-led efforts to limit access to abortion.

Meanwhile, the CDC is making a slew of organizational changes after waves of criticism over its actions, or lack thereof, during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Welcome in The Hill’s Health Care Review, where we keep track of the latest policy moves and news affecting your health. I’m Joseph Choi.

Senate lawmakers are taking on the GOP’s anti-abortion agenda

On Tuesday, Senate Democrats marked the 50th anniversary of the Supreme Court’s landmark Roe v. Wade decision by announcing they would not back down against Republican efforts to restrict or limit access to abortion.

A group of Democratic senators, including Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (N-Y) and Sens. Patty Murray (Washington), Debbie Stabenow (Michigan) and Dick Durbin (Illinois), gathered outside the Supreme Court to condemn the repeal of Roe last year , as well as ongoing actions by GOP lawmakers at both the state and federal levels to limit or block access to abortion.

  • “On Sunday, what should have been a celebration of the 50th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, America mourned instead,” Schumer said. “We mourn the fact that millions of women and girls now have fewer rights than their mothers and grandmothers. We mourn the loss of personal freedom. We mourn the loss of a woman’s right to choose.”
  • “The American people said ‘hell no’ to efforts to undermine access to abortion in the country. As the last election showed, America is completely on our side,” Schumer said.

Reproductive rights activists also added their voices to the lawmakers’ criticism. Mini Timmaraju, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, accused Republicans of being out of step with the majority of Americans who support abortion access.

“The GOP continues to ignore us, despite how loud and clear Americans have been. They would rather put our lives in danger than give up their selfish pursuit of power,” Thimaraju said. “Just a reminder, we are the majority.”

The new GOP majority in the House earlier this month passed its first abortion-related bill, the Abortion Survivors Protection Act, which requires babies born after attempted abortions to receive medical care.

Read more here.

CDC informs staff of structural changes

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) briefed its staff on Tuesday about several changes the agency will make to its internal structure, with some offices merging their responsibilities and creating new offices.

I remember: This reorganization of the agency comes months after CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said her agency “failed to reliably meet expectations” during the COVID-19 pandemic and will undergo an overhaul as a result.

“For 75 years, CDC and public health have been preparing for COVID-19, and in our big moment, our performance has not reliably met expectations,” Walensky said in August. “As a longtime admirer of this agency and public health advocate, I want us all to do better, and it all starts with CDC leading the way.”

According to a CDC staff member familiar with the announcement, most of the organization will now report directly to the director’s office, moving away from what they call the “community of practice structure” that was used previously .

  • The Center for Surveillance, Epidemiology, and Laboratory Services and the Center for State, Tribal, Local, and Territorial Support Services will be merged into a new agency called the National Center for State, Tribal, Local, and Territorial Public Health Infrastructure and Workforce.
  • The Preparedness and Response Center will be renamed the Preparedness and Response Management.
  • Several new offices will also be created, including the Office of Health Equity and the Office of Public Health Data, Surveillance, and Technology. Regarding the latter, the CDC official said it’s part of the agency’s goal to “build the data infrastructure needed to connect all levels of public health with the critical data needed for action.”

Read more here.

STEUBE RECOVERING SERIOUS INJURIES AFTER FALL

Rep. Greg Steube (R-Fla.) said he suffered a fractured pelvis, a punctured lung and several torn ligaments in his neck after falling 25 feet from a pole on his Sarasota, Fla., property last week.

“I’m blessed to have a great support team in my wife, Jennifer, as well as numerous friends and family, including the little Steubes!” Steube said in a tweet that included a photo of the recovering congressman and his dogs. “I am grateful for everyone’s prayers and well wishes as I recover.”

Steube was cutting tree limbs on his Sarasota property last Wednesday when he was knocked off a ladder and fell about 25 feet, his office said. The congressman spent the night in the intensive care unit and was eventually released from the hospital on Saturday.

The Florida Republican noted that he will not be able to return to Washington for several weeks while he recovers.

“While I will be sidelined in Sarasota for several weeks, I will be fulfilling as many of my congressional duties as possible, and our D.C. and District staff continue to be available to assist Florida residents in FL-17,” he added he on Twitter. “I look forward to rejoining my colleagues in Washington as soon as possible!”

Read more here.

MENTAL HEALTH LEADS TO PARENTAL CONCERNS FOR CHILDREN: A STUDY

A Pew Research Center survey of 3,757 parents with children under the age of 18 found that 4 in 10 parents are “extremely” or “very” worried that their child will suffer from anxiety or depression in the future.

Mothers are more likely than fathers to worry about their children’s mental health, the report found. Almost half of mothers surveyed, or 46 percent, said they were “extremely” or “very” worried that their children would develop anxiety or depression at some point in their lives.

Meanwhile, 32 percent of fathers surveyed said the same.

Demographic breakdown:

  • White and Hispanic parents are most likely to worry about their children’s mental health. Of all parents surveyed, 42 percent of white parents and 43 percent of Hispanic parents said they were “extremely” or “very” worried that their children might struggle with anxiety or depression.
  • Low-income parents are more likely to worry about their children developing mental health problems or being bullied.

Read more here.

FDA seeks to reduce lead exposure in baby food

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has released new proposed guidelines for the amount of lead that can be in processed food for babies and toddlers under the age of 2, a move the agency says will significantly reduce exposure to the toxic metal.

The new guidance includes a limit of 10 parts per billion of lead in fruit, some vegetables and yogurt, and 20 parts per billion in root vegetables and dry grains. FDA Commissioner Robert Califf said the new standards could result in a 24 percent to 27 percent reduction in lead exposure from food.

  • “The proposed action levels announced today, along with our continued work with our state and federal partners, as well as industry and manufacturers to identify mitigation strategies, will result in long-term, significant and sustainable reductions in exposure to this food contaminant ,” Calif said in a statement announcing the new regulations.
  • These foods absorb vital nutrients from the environment, which also means they absorb toxins such as lead that can be harmful to humans when consumed, the agency explained in the release. It is not possible to completely eliminate such contaminants from the food supply.

The agency’s new guidelines come after a 2022 study found that nearly all homemade and prepackaged baby foods contain certain levels of toxic heavy metals such as lead and arsenic.

Read more here.

WHAT WE READ

  • Health systems have much higher prices, only marginally better quality, new study finds (Stat)
  • Emailing Your Doctor May Have a Fee (The New York Times)
  • Many women underestimate breast density as a risk factor for breast cancer, study shows (CNN)

STATE BY STATE

  • At OHSU, researchers test promising Alzheimer’s drug — and look for a reason (Oregon Public Broadcasting)
  • Florida nursing home workers say they are not being paid minimum wage (Tampa Bay Times)
  • Report reveals Wisconsin doesn’t have enough mental health professionals for children (WSAW)

That’s it for today, thanks for reading. See The Hill’s Health Care page for the latest news and coverage. I’ll see you tomorrow.

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