Latest Morning Briefing Stories

Opioid Case Against Walmart Was Quashed By DOJ Officials Appointed By Trump: Report

KHN Morning Briefing

During the height of the opioid epidemic, Walmart kept filling suspicious prescriptions despite protests from its own pharmacists. Justice Department prosecutors were prepared to file criminal indictments against the company, ProPublica found in its investigation. Walmart executives escalated concerns to political appointees at the agency though, who then ordered attorneys to stand down. In other news, PBS NewsHour reports on the difficulties of pain management in the coronavirus era.

Coronavirus Upends Day-To-Day Operation Of Criminal Justice System

KHN Morning Briefing

“The new normal is complete chaos right now,” said Steven Halpert, juvenile division chief for the public defender’s office in Harris County, Texas. Meanwhile, advocates ask for the release of inmates amid fears that the outbreak could spread like wildfire in the nation’s jails.

Swing-Vote Roberts Focuses On Precedent, Narrow Scope Of Laws In Louisiana Abortion Case’s Oral Arguments

KHN Morning Briefing

Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Brett Kavanaugh, the two votes to watch in the highly anticipated abortion case, focused on whether the benefits from the legislation–which requires abortion providers to have hospital admitting privileges–would be the same in all states. The question hearkens back to the Texas measure that was knocked down by the Supreme Court in 2016. Meanwhile, Roberts took the unusual step of chastising Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) for saying that the Supreme Court justices will pay the price for their decisions.

Louisiana Anti-Abortion Case Goes Before More Conservative Supreme Court

KHN Morning Briefing

The realigned Supreme Court could erode Roe v. Wade with a decision on a law requiring abortion providers to obtain admitting privileges to nearby hospitals. Opponents say complications are extremely rare. News on the health issue is from Mississippi and Ohio, as well.

West Virginia Reaches Opioid Settlement Deal With Most Drug Companies For $1.25B

KHN Morning Briefing

This would be the first deal among about 3,000 lawsuits that exist nationwide. Details must still be resolved on payments to local, state groups as well as hospitals and others. The plan also does not apply to two key drugmakers, Purdue Pharma and Mallinckrodt. News on the national drug epidemic is from California, as well.

Supreme Court To Take Up Health Law Case To Dems Delight, But Don’t Expect Decision Before The Election

KHN Morning Briefing

The Trump administration said it was premature for the Supreme Court to get involved in the case, but the justices agreed to add it to their docket. While the decision itself isn’t likely to come before the November elections, Democrats are excited that the issue — something these see as a winning topic for themselves — will be kept front of mind voters.

The Hidden ‘Abortion Tax’: Extra Fees, Unexpected Costs Take Toll On Clinics’ Budgets

KHN Morning Briefing

Among the costs abortion clinics have to carry: security to protect staff and patients; airfare to get doctors to areas lacking trained physicians willing to perform abortions; higher rates for contractors concerned about protesters and boycotts; more stringent loan terms; insurance that can be canceled unexpectedly; and for some clinic owners, legal fees for defending the constitutionality of the procedure.

Immigration Advocates Braced As ‘Public Charge’ Rule Goes Into Effect

KHN Morning Briefing

The Trump administration rolled out a rule on Monday that advocates say will have a chilling effect on immigrants seeking needed help through programs like Medicaid and food stamps. “It’s sending a message that says, ‘you’re not welcome,’” said Marty Martinez, Boston’s chief of health and human services.

Appeals Court Upholds Trump Administration’s Abortion Referral Ban For Clinics Receiving Family-Planning Funding

KHN Morning Briefing

Monday’s majority opinion noted that since Title X began in 1970, its rules regarding abortion referrals have seesawed back and forth, depending on the political party of the administration in power, and that the Trump administration’s rule is slightly less restrictive than a 1988 version upheld by the Supreme Court. Lower courts have deemed the rule “an arrogant assumption that the government is better suited to direct women’s health care than their providers.”

Supreme Court Lifts Final Barrier To ‘Public Charge’ Immigration Policy Going Into Effect On Monday

KHN Morning Briefing

The Supreme Court on Friday lifted a lower court injunction against the rule, which will allow immigration officials to consider whether a green card applicant would ever make even temporary use of public safety nets like Medicaid. Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote a scathing dissent in which she said the Trump administration has abused its ability to seek the Supreme Court’s decision when a lower court issues a stay against one of its policies.