President Biden issues an executive order on reproductive health care, declares monkeypox a public health emergency, and more…
IN THE NEWS
- President Joseph R. Biden signed an executive order to protect access to reproductive health care. President Biden issued the order due to “the continued advancement of restrictive abortion laws” and “numerous reports of women denied health- and life-saving emergency care.” Under the order, President Biden directed the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to consider additional actions to protect reproductive healthcare, such as “through Medicaid for patients traveling across State lines for medical care.” President Biden also asked HHS to promote the use and compliance with non-discrimination laws to protect individuals who are pregnant, have been pregnant or might become pregnant to ensure their access to quality healthcare.
- The Biden Administration declared monkeypox a public health emergency. The declaration comes after weeks of public health experts pressuring the Administration to declare a public health emergency to improve awareness and increase funding for vaccine distribution. In response to the declaration, HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra reportedly said that HHS is “prepared to take our response to the next level in addressing this virus” and that HHS urges “every American to take monkeypox seriously and to take responsibility to help us tackle this virus.”
- The U.S. Department of Justice filed a lawsuit challenging Idaho’s ban on abortions performed after six weeks of pregnancy, with exceptions only for instances of rape, incest, or saving the life of the mother. The Justice Department argued that hospitals that receive federal Medicare funds must comply with the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act by giving patients that go to emergency rooms with medical emergencies “necessary stabilizing treatment.” The Justice Department noted that Idaho’s abortion ban conflicts with the act by preventing doctors from performing abortions even when medically necessary to avoid serious health risks. HHS Secretary Becerra, who is working with the Justice Department on the lawsuit, commented that “federal law is clear: patients have the right to stabilizing hospital emergency room care no matter where they live.”
- Leading a whole-of-government response, HHS released a National Research Action Plan on Long COVID to advance the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of those in the United States suffering from the disease. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that one in five survivors of COVID-19 suffers from long COVID, which “can hinder an individual’s ability to work, attend school, participate in community life, and engage in everyday activities,” according to HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra. The research plan creates four principles to provide better long COVID support and services: orienting research efforts towards improving patient care and outcomes, maintaining health equity, accelerating and expanding current research, and incorporating partner engagement with people living with the disease.
- Following the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to overturn the constitutional right to an abortion, Kansas voters rejected a state constitutional amendment that would have outlawed abortion in the state. Later this year, residents of California and Vermont will also vote on whether to enshrine abortion rights in their state constitutions, whereas residents of Kentucky will vote on whether to amend their state constitution to outlaw abortion explicitly. President Biden commented on the ruling by noting that “this vote makes clear what we know: the majority of Americans agree that women should have access to abortion and should have the right to make their own health care decisions.” The Pew Research Center similarly found that 61 percent of U.S. adults believe abortion should be legal in all or most cases.
- The U.S. Senate passed a bill to expand health care coverage for veterans exposed to toxic burn pits during their service. The bill directs the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to presume that veterans with certain diseases obtained those diseases in connection to their exposures to burn pits to make it easier for veterans to receive medical care. The bill now moves to President Biden, who reportedly stated that he will sign the bill into law “so that veterans and their families and caregivers impacted by toxic exposures finally get the benefits and comprehensive health care they earned and deserve.”
- California and the U.S. Bureau of Land Management reached a settlement that, if a court approves it, would prevent the federal government from opening oil and gas leasing on central California public lands until the government prepares additional environmental impact statements. The Trump Administration previously opened California’s lands for leasing, but environmental nonprofits and California sued to prevent the leases from taking effect. Under the settlement, plaintiffs will still have the right to challenge the adequacy of future environmental impact statements. California Attorney General Rob Bonta commented that the Bureau of Land Management “must reassess this Trump-Era mistake” given the damage that fracking can cause to communities.
- A bipartisan group of Senators introduced a bill to close the regulatory gaps associated with digital commodities markets, such as those surrounding Bitcoin and Ether. The bill would provide the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) with the exclusive authority to regulate trading of digital commodities by amending the definition of “commodity” in the Commodity Exchange Act to include “digital commodities” and requiring companies that offer digital commodity platforms to register with the CFTC. Senator John Boozman (R-Ark.) commented that the new requirements would replace an existing “patchwork of regulations,” leading to “more safeguards for consumers, market integrity and innovation.”
WHAT WE’RE READING THIS WEEK
- In a report for the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law, Korey Silverman-Roati, climate law fellow at the Sabin Center, Romany M. Webb, associate research scholar at Columbia Law School, and Michael Gerrard, founder of the Sabin Center, explored how California could improve its permitting processes for the process of using seaweed as a means of carbon dioxide removal and sequestration. Silverman-Roati, Webb, and Gerrard discussed how California’s permitting process can be expensive for developers and take years to complete but noted in comparison that Maine and Alaska have more expedited permitting processes. Silverman-Roati, Webb, and Gerrard recommended, among other measures, that California streamline permitting with joint multi-agency reviews, develop public interest criteria to align permitting with California Fish and Game Code regulations, and prioritize certain leases for seaweed farms.
- In an article in the Administrative Law Review, Amy Widman, professor of law at Rutgers Law School, argued that federal agencies should consider the access to justice movement to guide administrative reform. Widman explained the access to justice movement aims to empower individuals to “use legal resources to solve problems, reform legal resources to fairly respond to and manage conflict, and repair harm.” Widman elaborated that by incorporating an intentional access to justice design, federal agencies can remedy both the disconnect between their missions and functions and a growing loss of faith in government. Widman applauded for example, a U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development final rule that mandates an equity assessment to ensure the inclusion of individuals historically excluded from access to fair housing into local governments’ Assessment of Fair Housing procedures.
- In a recent National Bureau of Economic Research working paper, Riley K. Acton, assistant professor of economics at Miami University, and her coauthors studied the impacts of vaccine mandates on the spread of disease by examining mandatory COVID-19 vaccine mandates at universities. Acton and her coauthors analyzed data from all U.S. counties with a four-year college that had a COVID-19 vaccine mandate. The researchers found that college vaccine mandates reduced both the spread of COVID-19 and the number of deaths, saving between $9.7 million and $27.4 million per 100,000 residents.
- In an essay for The Regulatory Review, Max Sarinsky, senior attorney at the Institute for Policy Integrity, and Peter Howard, economics director at the Institute for Policy Integrity, analyzed how reducing the amount of U.S. fossil fuel extraction reduces climate pollution. Sarinsky and Howard discussed a common fossil fuel industry argument: If the United States puts restrictions on domestic energy supplies, industry will simply extract fossil fuels abroad, thereby making no effect on the climate crisis. Sarinsky and Howard countered that modeling shows that although industries may move some extractions abroad, U.S. restrictions can still create a 50 percent overall reduction in oil production. Sarinsky and Howard furthermore argued that the United States could further increase this percentage with border adjustments and other trade policy measures, concluding that U.S. restrictions on fossil fuel extraction do have notable impacts on global climate pollution.