KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Senate Dems Aim To Reverse Hobby Lobby Decision, Undermine State Abortion Restrictions

Democrats have scheduled a Senate vote Wednesday on legislation offered to respond to the Supreme Court's recent ruling. And, on Tuesday, the Senate Judiciary Committee heard testimony about another measure that would void some state abortion restrictions.   

Los Angeles Times: Senate Democrats Move To Prevent State Restrictions On Abortion
Democrats say the bill would prevent states from singling out abortions and protect women’s reproductive rights. The Women’s Health Protection Act comes in response to the recent push in some states to impose new limits on the practice. These restrictions include requiring that doctors who perform abortions have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals, curtailing training for abortion services and limiting the remote prescription of drugs to end a pregnancy without a doctor’s visit (Levine, 7/15).

Kaiser Health News: Senate Democrats Launch Fight To Reverse Supreme Court, State Abortion Restrictions
Most of the momentum in fights over birth control and abortion has been in the direction of opponents of late. But you wouldn’t know that by watching the U.S. Senate. Democrats who control the chamber have scheduled a vote for Wednesday on a bill that would effectively reverse the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby ruling regarding contraceptive requirements in the Affordable Care Act. And on Tuesday the Judiciary Committee heard testimony on a separate, sweeping measure that would invalidate many state abortion restrictions (Rovner, 7/15). 

Associated Press: Dems Seek Political Edge in Contraception Ruling
Democrats see a political winner in the stinging defeat they suffered when the Supreme Court ruled that businesses with religious objections may deny coverage for contraceptives under President Barack Obama's health care law. A four-term senator — Washington state's Patty Murray — and a vulnerable freshman — Mark Udall of Colorado — have pushed legislation that would counter last month's court ruling and reinstate free contraception for women who are on health insurance plans of objecting companies. The Senate was expected to vote Wednesday on moving ahead on the bill, which backers have dubbed the "Not My Boss' Business Act." Republicans who have endorsed the court's decision as upholding the constitutional right of religious freedom are expected to block the measure. (Cassata, 7/16).

CBS News: Republicans Pounce on Democrats’ Bill To Reverse Hobby Lobby Ruling
Senate Republicans sent a message to their Democratic counterparts: you won't be the only party ready to respond in the wake of a Supreme Court decision on contraception coverage. Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., denounced her Democratic colleagues Tuesday for what she calls a "misrepresentations" of a recent Supreme Court rulingthat closely-held companies like Hobby Lobby don't have to follow the Obamacare mandate requiring large firms to help pay for their employees' birth control. In response, she said, Republicans will be introducing a bill that "will make very clear that women have the same rights today to access contraception as they did before Obamacare was passed and before the Hobby Lobby decision" (Kaplan, 7/15).

CQ Healthbeat: State Abortion Restrictions Roil Senate Judiciary Hearing
At a contentious Tuesday hearing on a bill that would overturn state laws deemed restrictive enough that they interfere with access to abortion, about all that Democrats and Republicans found any agreement on were tactics. Each side accused the other of playing politics, pushing policies that endanger the health of women and trying to subvert the Constitution. Opponents on the issue also largely agree on the facts surrounding the bill, although they differ wildly in their interpretation of them. And while the legislation is unlikely to make it into law this year given opposition from House Republicans, the hearing enabled both sides to air their views on a relatively new development in abortion policy in advance of the mid-term elections. The past several years have seen the emergence of hundreds of state laws affecting abortion providers, including waiting period and ultrasound requirement statutes, as well as requirements that abortion clinics have configurations and capabilities similar to hospitals or surgical clinics (Margetta, 7/15).

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