Healthcare – Judge rejects ObamaCare insurance for HIV drugs

Former President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama unveiled their official portraits at the White House today. The latter’s portrait featured the former first lady, who, according to her husband, was “good looking”.

A Texas judge ruled Wednesday that provisions of the Affordable Care Act that require employer health plans to cover drugs used to prevent HIV violate freedom of religion laws.

Welcome to overnight health care, where we follow the latest developments in policies and news affecting your health. For The Hill we are Nathaniel Weixel and Joseph Choi. Subscribe here.

Federal judge rules against ObamaCare provisions

A federal judge in Texas on Wednesday ruled that key parts of the Affordable Care Act, which require insurers to cover many preventive care services for free, are unconstitutional.

Judge Reed O’Connor — who struck down the entire ObamaCare bill in 2018 — also ruled that the legal requirement that health plans cover HIV prevention drugs violates a Christian-owned company’s religious freedom.

The Texas employers who challenged the provision argued that it violated the Religious Freedom Restoration Act by forcing people to pay for coverage that contradicts their beliefs and personal values.

In particular, they said paying for health plans that cover HIV prevention drugs, known as PrEP, makes them “competent in facilitating homosexual behavior, drug use and sexual activity outside of marriage between a man and a woman.”

Stand out: Under ObamaCare, any service or medication rated “A” or “B” by the US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) must be automatically added to this list of free services.

  • But O’Connor ruled that all services recommended by members of the USPSTF were invalid because they were “unconstitutionally appointed.”
  • Insurers could charge for cancer screening, substance abuse treatment, colonoscopy, depression testing and many other services if the ruling stands.

Known name: The ruling came in response to a lawsuit filed by Jonathan Mitchell, a former Texas Attorney General. Mitchell is the architect of the Texas abortion law, which offers a $10,000 reward to individuals who successfully sue abortion providers.

Read more here.

Hochul lifts the mask requirement in local transport

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) announced Wednesday that the state’s health department will lift its mask mandate for public transportation, emergency shelters and correctional facilities.

Hochul declared the move “a new normal” in the state’s fight against COVID-19, adding that officials will continue to encourage mask-wearing in transit and the mandate for health facilities remains in effect.

“Getting vaccinated is our best bet, but we also need to bring some normality back into our lives,” Hochul said at a news conference. “And so, starting today, we’re going to be talking about a new normal.”

  • The mask requirement remains in healthcare facilities such as hospitals and nursing homes.
  • The state’s public transit mask mandate has been in effect since April 2020. State and local officials have gradually scaled back New York’s original requirement to wear face coverings in public when social distancing has not been possible as the pandemic has progressed.

Hochul said Wednesday she expects many would still wear masks on public transport and urged the public to follow newly put up signs in subway stations that read: “Let’s respect the choices of others.”

Following Hochul’s announcement, the New York City Taxi and Limo Commission also relaxed mask rules in yellow cabs and ridesharing services.

Read more here.


Three Democratic senators have announced positive COVID-19 diagnoses so far this week, with one lawmaker quarantined abroad due to his infection.

  • Sen. Bob Menendez (DN.J.) announced his positive test Wednesday afternoon and said he had “mild” symptoms.
  • Sen. Jon Osoff (D-Ga.) announced he tested positive earlier Wednesday during a planned eight-day trip as part of a business delegation in India. His office said Ossoff will be isolating in the country and expects to return to the United States next week.
  • Sen. Jackie Rosen (D-Nev.) announced Tuesday that she has also tested positive and will be working remotely throughout the week.

The split vote: With the Senate’s 50-50 composition, any absence can affect the chances of a bill passing if lawmakers vote strictly along party lines.

Republican Sen. Richard Burr (NC) also announced that he tested positive for the coronavirus earlier this week.

The chamber is scheduled to hold multiple votes on President Biden’s justice nominees this week.

Read more here.


According to recently released data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nearly a quarter of all young adults received mental health treatment in the past year.

Observed trends:

  • The number of adults ages 18 to 44 who sought mental health care in the past 12 months saw the largest increase from 2019, rising from 18.5 percent to 23.2 percent. The proportion of all adults receiving psychiatric treatment also increased from 19.2 percent in 2019 to 21.6 percent in 2021.
  • The percentage of adults aged 45 to 64 treated saw a more moderate increase from 20.2 percent to 21.2 percent, while the percentage of adults aged 65 and older increased slightly from 19.4 percent to 18.9 percent went back.

Who was counted: The CDC considered adults to be mentally treated if they reported taking prescription medication for their mental health, received counseling or therapy from a psychiatrist, or both.

Non-Hispanic Asian adults remained the least likely to receive treatment in each of the three years studied.

Read more here.

Me. Judge declares 1931 abortion ban unconstitutional

A Michigan judge ruled Wednesday that a state law passed in 1931 that prohibited abortions cannot be enforced can be enforced, citing the state’s constitution and the right to privacy it provides.

  • Planned Parenthood of Michigan filed a lawsuit against the Michigan state government in April to prevent a near-total abortion ban from going into effect.
  • The 1931 Act, enacted after the Supreme Court Roe v. Wade banned all abortions except in situations where the mother’s life was endangered by her pregnancy. The ban does not include exceptions for incest or rape.

The regulation: Chief Justice of the Michigan Court of Claims Elizabeth Gleicher wrote in her decision that the law “violates the due process and equal protection clauses of the Michigan Constitution.” She found the law unconstitutional because it “would deprive women of their right to physical integrity and autonomy and equal protection under the law.”

“This is the legal landscape against which the court must assess the undisputed evidence in this case,” Gleicher wrote, adding that the law “would endanger the health and lives of women attempting to exercise their constitutional right to abortion.” .”

The defense in the lawsuit had argued that an abortion ban had nothing to do with bodily integrity because pregnancy did not involve “non-consensual entry into the body.”

“When pregnancy is desired, the word ‘intrusion’ is probably at the bottom of a mother’s list of descriptions of the process. But when pregnancy is undesirable, dangerous, or likely to have negative health consequences, it is indeed a ‘physical intervention,'” wrote Gleicher.

Read more here.


  • Senator Burr cited COVID as he dumped stocks before the stock market crash, according to FBI records (ProPublica).
  • Doctors take it upon themselves to figure out the long Covid (Politico).
  • Tobacco giant Philip Morris is investing billions in healthcare. Critics Say It Sells Cures For Its Own Poison (Statistics)


  • Pregnant women held in Alabama jail for months to protect fetuses from drugs (
  • South Dakota DSS, Department of Health and Human Services Raising Awareness for the Avoid Opioid (KTIV) Campaign
  • Oregon Health Authority to update COVID data less frequently and release more about monkeypox (Oregon Public Broadcasting)


It is up to the states to take the lead on paid leave

That’s it for today, thanks for reading. Visit The Hill’s Health Care page for the latest news and reports. See you tomorrow.


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