Category Archives: Health Care

FACT SHEET: Biden Administration Announces COVID-19 Winter Preparedness Plan

Administration focused efforts on making vaccinations, testin, and treatments even more widely available and accessible as COVID-19 cases increase
 

The Biden Administration’s plan to stay ahead of an increase in COVID-19 cases this winter includes working with states, medical providers, businesses, and other groups to expand awareness about updated COVID-19 vaccines, highly effective treatments, and resources to stand up additional vaccination sites and other delivery options to make it easier and more convenient to get vaccinations and treatments. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features

The Biden Administration announced a plan to stay ahead of an increase in COVID-19 cases this winter. While COVID-19 is not the disruptive force it once was, the virus continues to evolve, and cases are on the rise again as families are spending more time indoors and gathering for the holidays. Throughout the COVID-19 response, this Administration has been prepared for whatever the virus throws our way – and this moment is no different.
 
The Administration’s COVID-19 Winter Preparedness Plan includes:
 
Expanding easy access to free COVID-19 testing options in the winter. COVID-19 testing is an important tool to help mitigate and slow the spread of the virus. The Administration is encouraging Americans to use at-home COVID-19 tests when they have symptoms of COVID-19, before and after traveling for the holidays, or visiting indoors with immunocompromised or vulnerable individuals. The Administration has made free COVID-19 testing widely available and easily accessible. This includes providing over 15,000 free community testing sites nationwide, covering over-the-counter tests under Medicare, and requiring all health insurance plans to cover eight free at-home tests per month per individual, which can be easily accessed at local pharmacies and online. Ahead of continued increases in cases, the Administration is taking new action to ensure that all Americans have easy and free access to COVID-19 tests in the winter months.
 

  • Making free at-home, rapid COVID-19 tests available through COVIDTests.govThe Administration is announcing that COVIDTests.gov is open for a limited round of ordering this winter. Starting today, all U.S. households can order a total of four at-home COVID-19 tests that will be mailed directly to them for free. In the absence of Congress providing additional funding for the nation’s COVID-19 response, the Administration has acted with its limited existing funding to add more at-home COVID-19 tests to the nation’s stockpile and support this round of ordering ahead of continued increases in COVID-19 cases. Orders for this round of testing will begin to ship starting the week of December 19th and continue in the weeks ahead. The Administration will also make tests available to individuals who are blind or have low-vision through this program. People who have difficulty accessing the internet or need additional support placing an order can call 1-800-232-0233 (TTY 1-888-720-7489) to get help in English, Spanish, and more than 150 other languages – 8:00 a.m. to midnight E.T., seven days a week. For more information, people can visit www.COVIDTests.gov.  
     
  • Distributing more free tests to Americans at trusted locations. In addition to continuing to support access to free COVID-19 tests in schools, community health centers, rural health clinics, long-term care facilities, and other convenient locations, the Administration is announcing additional distribution programs to reach people with free, at-home tests. This includes distributing free at-home tests at more than 6,500 Department of Housing and Urban Development-assisted rental housing properties serving seniors; and expanding a program to distribute free at-home tests to as many as 500 major food banks for them to distribute to people in their communities.

 
Making vaccinations and treatments readily available to all Americans as cases rise. As we have throughout the pandemic, the federal government continues to leverage all capabilities to support state, local, territorial, and Tribal communities to prepare for, prevent, and respond to increased incidence of COVID-19. That includes working with states, medical providers, businesses, and other groups to expand awareness about updated COVID-19 vaccines, highly effective treatments, and resources to stand up additional vaccination sites and other delivery options to make it easier and more convenient to get vaccinations and treatments. 

  • Offering resources and assistance to increase vaccinations and respond to a possible surge. Today, U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra is sending a letter to all governors outlining key actions that he would like state leaders to take as they prepare for increased cases and hospitalizations this winter, and reminding them of federal supports that are available for their COVID-19 responses. This includes setting up additional mobile and pop-up vaccination sites, surge testing sites, as well as Test to Treat sites where Americans can not only get tested for free, but also can get prescribed and dispensed safe, effective COVID-19 treatments right on site if they test positive and treatment is appropriate for them.
     
  • Collaborating with communities to open pop-up and/or mobile vaccination sites. Communities across the nation are answering the call to expand vaccine access through the increased presence of mobile and pop-up vaccination clinics. This includes efforts in Los Angeles County to open up to 800 pop-up clinics per week; expanded use of mobile vaccination, testing, and treatment units, as well as outbound vaccine and treatment calls to people age 65 and older, at-home administration of vaccines and free home delivery of treatments in New York City; and an increase in Chicago’s at-home vaccine administration program, which provides vaccines for up to 10 people per visit in their place of residence. The Administration has been engaging jurisdictions on the availability of federal resources to continue and increase these efforts, including through use of flexible single-dose vials, and will continue to engage state, local, Tribal, and territorial leaders in the weeks ahead.
     
  • Getting additional resources to community health centers and aging and disability networks to support COVID-19 vaccination efforts. The Administration for Community Living is awarding $125 million to support community-based organizations in the aging and disability networks to hold accessible vaccine clinics and provide in-home vaccinations, transportation, and other supportive services to increase COVID-19 vaccinations for older adults and people with disabilities.

 
Preparing personnel and resources. Together with states, we will monitor the impacts of variants, cases, and hospitalizations on our communities and – should it become necessary – escalate our support to states and communities. The Administration stands ready with federal capabilities to support urgent needs as they present, including through clinical staffing, personal protective equipment and supplies, and technical assistance. 
 
Readying clinical personnel for deployment as needed to support jurisdictions. The Administration continues to make federal teams and medical personnel available to alleviate strains on hospitals and health care systems through the Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS’) Administration for Strategic Preparedness and Response (ASPR), the U.S. Public Health Services Corps, and the Department of Defense. Federal agencies can also help offer support for states to take actions, such as providing more flexibility to hospitals balancing patients and staffing, exercising telemedicine options, pursuing staffing options such as contracts, and employing the National Guard to help alleviate strains on health and medical facilities.  
 

  • Pre-positioning critical supplies from the Strategic National Stockpile. Tanks to the President’s leadership, the U.S. government has hundreds of millions of N-95 masks, billions of gloves, tens of millions of gowns, and over 100,000 ventilators stored in the Strategic National Stockpile—all ready to ship out if and when states need them. The Administration has pre-positioned these supplies in strategic locations across the country so that we can send them to states that need them immediately.
     
  • Closely monitoring emerging variants and assessing their potential impacts on testing, treatments and vaccines. This winter, federal agencies will continue to monitor Omicron subvariants and the spread of any other emerging variants of the virus in the United States. This includes genomic surveillance of specimens from representative populations to detect new variants and to monitor trends in currently circulating variants. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) tracks and reports on genomic sequencing results from a variety of sources, including public health and commercial laboratories.  CDC also recently expanded variant reporting from additional sources, including wastewater and through international air travel. The Traveler-Based Genomic Surveillance Program currently collects samples from international air travelers arriving from more than 25 countries at several major U.S. airports. This data, which provides an early warning system for detection of variants and trends over time, is publicly shared on the CDC COVID-19 Data Tracker.


Focusing on protecting the highest-risk Americans. As we have done since the beginning of the Administration, we remain focused on meeting the needs and protecting Americans at highest risk of severe illness from COVID-19. This includes residents of nursing homes and other congregate care facilities, where we know vaccination rates remain too low. This also includes older Americans, individuals who are immunocompromised, disabled individuals, and others who face a higher risk of severe illness and death from COVID-19.   

  • Releasing a winter playbook for nursing homes and long-term care facilities. The Administration will release a winter playbook for administrators of nursing homes and long-term care facilities that summarizes the actions these facilities should take to reduce serious illness, prevent hospitalizations and deaths, and minimize disruptions in their communities. Nursing homes often serve residents at great risk of severe illness and death from COVID-19, and congregate care settings have an increased risk of spread of respiratory infections. All facilities should take concrete actions to ensure that every resident is educated on and offered an updated COVID-19 shot; that every resident who tests positive for COVID-19 is evaluated and offered treatment; and that every facility is taking steps to improve its indoor air quality.
     
  • Expanding the pool of providers that may administer COVID-19 vaccinations. In addition to working with their partners, staff at nursing homes will now be able to administer COVID-19 vaccines to all residents. HHS will work with states to launch teams and use partner with their Quality Improvement Organizations (QIOs), home health agencies, and Emergency Medical Technicians to deliver vaccines to residents of long-term care facilities. On December 1, 2022, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) also added COVID-19 vaccination rates of health care staff and the residents at these facilities to the “Measures under Consideration” list, the list of measures it will potentially consider for certain Medicare quality payment programs, reinforcing its commitment to increased vaccination and improving outcomes for patients.
     
  • Reaching out to governors on nursing home vaccinations. In Secretary Becerra’s letter to governors reminding them of available federal COVID-19 supports, he also highlighted how their states are performing as compared to their peers on vaccinating residents of long-term care facilities, and asked governors for their assistance and partnership in increasing COVID-19 vaccination rates for long-term care residents and staff. CMS leadership will also be reaching out to the jurisdictions with the lowest vaccination rates at these long-term care facilities to remind them of what additional steps they can take to increase vaccination rates among seniors and long-term care facility residents.
     
  • Encouraging hospitals to offer COVID-19 vaccinations to patients before discharge. HHS leadership, including Secretary Becerra, has called upon hospitals through direct outreach to vaccinate their unvaccinated patients or make sure they are up-to-date on COVID-19 vaccinations before they are discharged, especially if they are heading to a nursing home.
     
  • Expanding access to high-quality masks in communities. In January 2022, HHS made up to 400 million N-95 respirators from the Strategic National Stockpile available through tens of thousands of locations including pharmacies and grocery stores, so Americans could have convenient, free access to high-quality masks. About 270 million masks were sent out as part of this initiative, with many still available in stores nationwide. To expand access to these high-quality masks, HHS will offer guidance to participating pharmacies and grocery stores on how they can to work with local health clinics, aging and disability networks, community-based organizations, and health departments to distribute these masks more widely, so that any spare inventory can be utilized through distribution to even more locations.
     
  • Ensuring that every individual has a plan for COVID-19 this winter. With updated COVID-19 vaccines, at-home tests, and effective oral antiviral treatments widely available, the Administration encourages every individual American to have a plan for how to prevent and respond to COVID-19 this winter. CDC has launched a COVID-19 Personal Action Plan, an easy-to-use guide for individuals, caregivers, and clinicians that helps guide individuals through making a plan for where to access free tests, the location of their closest Test to Treat site, and what to ask their provider on treatments if they test positive. The Personal Action Plan helps lay these steps out in an easy-to-use template so that all Americans – especially those at highest risk for severe illness – can decrease the risk of COVID-19 and, if they become infected, have a plan to quickly seek out treatment and avoid its worst outcomes.

FACT SHEET: By The Numbers: Millions of Americans Would Lose Health Care Coverage, Benefits, and Protections Under Congressional Republicans’ Plans

This fact sheet on the impact on health care coverage, benefits and protections under the Congressional Republicans’ plans was provided by the White House:

While President Biden has secured a cap on insulin costs at $35/month, a cap on out-of-pocket prescription drug costs to $2000, enabled Medicare for the first time to negotiate drug prices, and lowered the cost of health care premiums, Congressional Republicans have promised to strip Medicare of the right to negotiate drug prices and remove the $2,000 cap on out-of-pocket pharmacy expenses and would  put Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security on the chopping block every five years. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

President Biden’s top priority is to lower costs for the American people. He was proud to sign the Inflation Reduction Act into law, taking on Big Pharma to allow Medicare to negotiate prescription drug costs for the first time, capping seniors’ drug costs at the pharmacy and the cost of insulin, and lowering health insurance premiums for people who get coverage through the Affordable Care Act. President Biden and Congressional Democrats are committed to protecting and strengthening Social Security and Medicare.
 
Congressional Republicans have a very different vision. They have promised to strip Medicare of the right to negotiate drug prices and remove the $2,000 cap on out-of-pocket pharmacy expenses. Florida’s Republican Senator and Chair of the National Republican Senatorial Committee Rick Scott has championed a plan to put Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security on the chopping block every five years. Further, Congressional Republicans have repeatedly pledged to hold the American economy hostage by refusing to raise the debt limit unless they can cut Social Security and Medicare benefits that tens of millions of Americans have already paid into. 
 
Here’s what Congressional Republicans’ plan would mean:

Part I: Putting Bedrock Programs like Social Security and Medicare on the Chopping Block and Threatening the Global Economy Unless Those Programs Are Cut

All Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security beneficiaries would see their benefits threatened under Sen. Rick Scott’s plan to put those programs on the chopping block every five years. Sen. Ron Johnson’s vision of putting them up for a vote every year would make that even worse. 
 
Congressional Republican leaders have also repeatedly said they will use the debt limit as leverage to cut these bedrock programs. Congressional Republicans have supported Medicare and Social Security cuts including:

  • Gradually increasing the Medicare eligibility age to 67 and the Social Security eligibility age to 70. (Republican Study Committee FY 2023 Budget)
     
  • Transforming Medicare benefits into a voucher where seniors would get a fixed amount of money to purchase a private health plan (Better Way Plan) or offering beneficiaries the option to transition to a premium support system (Republican Study Committee FY 2023 Budget) – which could lead to hundreds or thousands of dollars in additional out of pocket costs for seniors throughout the country.


Part II: Repealing the Prescription Drug and Health Care Provisions in the Inflation Reduction Act
 

President Biden has worked for decades to let Medicare negotiate drug prices, and that is finally happening thanks to the Inflation Reduction Act.  This will save billions of dollars for both Medicare beneficiaries, who will see reduced premiums and out-of-pocket costs, and the federal government. Kaiser Family Foundation estimates suggest that some 5 to 7 million beneficiaries each year use the types of high-cost drugs that could be subject to negotiation and will directly face higher cost sharing if these provisions are repealed.

The Inflation Reduction Act also requires prescription drug companies to pay rebates if they increase drug prices faster than inflation. According to an analysis by the Department of Health and Human Services, the cost of 1,200 prescription drugs rose faster than inflation in the last year alone – some prescription drugs increasing by $1000 in just one year. If Congressional Republicans repeal the Inflation Reduction Act, drug companies will be able to continue raising prices without paying a rebate, rather than putting that money back into Americans’ pockets.
 

Before the Inflation Reduction Act, Medicare beneficiaries with conditions like cancer, multiple sclerosis, and lung disease could face thousands of dollars in out-of-pocket prescription drug costs per year. Thanks to President Biden and Congressional Democrats’ Inflation Reduction Act, those costs will be capped at $2,000 per year, saving over 1 million beneficiaries an average of over $1,300 per year. If Congressional Republicans get their way and repeal the law, over 1.4 million Medicare beneficiaries will pay more each year – thousands of dollars more in some cases – for drugs at the pharmacy.
 

Drug manufacturers have raised insulin prices so rapidly over the last few decades that some Medicare beneficiaries struggle to afford this life-saving drug that costs less than $10 a vial to manufacture. Today, Medicare beneficiaries are enrolling in plans that must cap the out-of-pocket cost of insulin at no more than $35 per month per prescription, a protection they will lose if the law is repealed.
 

The Inflation Reduction Act saves 13 million Americans an average of about $800 per year on their health care premiums, by continuing the improvements to Affordable Care Act (ACA) premium tax credits enacted in the American Rescue Plan. By making health care more affordable, these improvements have expanded coverage to millions of people, helping bring the uninsured rate to an all-time low. Starting today, during Open Enrollment season, Americans can choose health insurance plans that lock in the Inflation Reduction Act’s cost savings for 2023. But Congressional Republicans would repeal this assistance, drive premiums higher, and jeopardize the progress the Biden Administration has made in driving the uninsured rate to a historic low. Older Americans would see especially large premium spikes; in most states, annual premiums for a 60-year old making $60,000 would more than double to over $10,000.

Biden Acts to Lower Health Care and Prescription Drug Costs for Americans

This is a fact sheet from the White House on actions President Biden has taken to lower health care and prescription drug costs:

To mark the start of Medicare Open Enrollment season, President Biden highlighted how seniors can take advantage of the Inflation Reduction Act’s cost-saving provisions as they shop for new health insurance plans. The President also signed an Executive Order directing the Department of Health and Human Services to explore additional actions it can take to lower prescription drug costs to build on his Administration’s work lowering costs for working and middle-class families © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

To mark the start of Medicare Open Enrollment season, President Biden highlighted how seniors can take advantage of the Inflation Reduction Act’s cost-saving provisions as they shop for new health insurance plans. The President also signed an Executive Order directing the Department of Health and Human Services to explore additional actions it can take to lower prescription drug costs to build on his Administration’s work lowering costs for working and middle-class families.
 
Americans are squeezed by the cost of living – that’s been true for years and is a key reason the President ran. Health care costs in particular are driving inflation. Too many Americans face challenges paying for prescription drugs. On average, Americans pay two to three times as much as people in other countries for prescription drugs, and one in four Americans who take prescription drugs struggle to afford their medications. Nearly three in ten American adults who take prescription drugs say that they have skipped doses, cut pills in half, or not filled prescriptions due to cost.
 
The Inflation Reduction Act – which President Biden and Congressional Democrats delivered – tackles that problem and locks in on average $800 per year lower health care premiums for 13 million families, lowers seniors’ prescription drug prices, and caps their out of pocket expenses for prescription drugs at $2,000 per year. The Inflation Reduction Act protects Medicare beneficiaries from catastrophic drug costs by phasing in a cap for out-of-pocket costs at the pharmacy, establishing a $35 monthly cap per prescription of insulin, requiring companies who raise prices faster than inflation to pay Medicare a rebate, and allowing Medicare to negotiate prices for high-cost prescription drugs for the first time ever. Republicans in Congress, meanwhile, have said their top priority is to repeal the Inflation Reduction Act, ending these cost-saving provisions and raising prices for tens of millions of Americans.
 
To further lower health care costs, earlier this week, the Treasury Department took action to fix the so-called “family glitch” rule that was making it harder for families to afford health care coverage for their spouse or child. About 1 million Americans will either gain coverage or see their insurance become more affordable as a result of the new rule.
 
Lowering Medicare Costs This Open Enrollment Season
 
Starting this January, seniors and other Medicare beneficiaries will begin to see the benefits of these cost-saving measures. Because of the Inflation Reduction Act:

  • A month’s supply of insulin will be capped at $35 starting on January 1, 2023.
  • Medicare beneficiaries will pay $0 out of pocket for recommended adult vaccines covered by their Part D plan, including the shingles vaccine – which costs seniors up to $200.
  • Prescription drug companies that try to raise their prices faster than inflation will be required to pay Medicare a rebate. 

Earlier this year, HHS released a report showing that the price of 1,200 prescription drugs rose faster than inflation in just the last year. For example, one manufacturer of a drug used to treat high blood pressure and heart failure, used by millions of Medicare beneficiaries, increased the drug’s price by nearly 540 percent in 2022. Another drug used to treat autoimmune conditions increased by $1000 just this year.
 
During Medicare Open Enrollment – running from October 15 to December 7 – seniors and other beneficiaries will be able to choose drug coverage that reflects these new cost-savings, putting money back into their pockets.
 
Medicare beneficiaries should visit Medicare.gov or call 1-800-MEDICARE to review their options for the coming year, and make sure their health and prescription drug coverage is right for them. 
 
Using HHS’ Innovation Center to Further Bring Down Costs
 
As the Biden-Harris Administration works to implement the Inflation Reduction Act, President Biden will sign an Executive Order today directing the Department of Health and Human Services to consider additional actions to further drive down prescription drug costs. That includes leveraging the “Innovation Center” at HHS, created by the Affordable Care Act, which has authority to test new ways of paying for Medicare services that improve the quality of care while lowering costs. 
 
Under the Executive Order, HHS will have 90 days to submit a formal report outlining any plans to use the Innovation Center’s authorities to lower drug costs and promote access to innovative drug therapies for Medicare beneficiaries. This action would build on the Inflation Reduction Act’s landmark drug pricing reforms and help provide additional breathing room for American families.

FACT SHEET: Biden Takes Action to Lower Health Care and Prescription Drug Costs for Americans

President Biden Signs Executive Order Directing HHS to Explore Additional Actions to Lower Prescription Drug Costs

Starting this January, seniors and other Medicare beneficiaries will begin to see the benefits of these cost-saving measures. Because of the Inflation Reduction Act: a month’s supply of insulin will be capped at $35; Medicare beneficiaries will pay $0 out of pocket for recommended adult vaccines covered by their Part D plan, including the shingles vaccine – which costs seniors up to $200; Prescription drug companies that try to raise their prices faster than inflation will be required to pay Medicare a rebate © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

This fact sheet about actions that President Biden is taking to lower health care and prescription drug costs was provided by the White House:

To mark the start of Medicare Open Enrollment season, President Biden is highlighting how seniors can take advantage of the Inflation Reduction Act’s cost-saving provisions as they shop for new health insurance plans. The President  also signed an Executive Order directing the Department of Health and Human Services to explore additional actions it can take to lower prescription drug costs to build on his Administration’s work lowering costs for working and middle-class families.

Americans are squeezed by the cost of living – that’s been true for years and is a key reason the President ran. Health care costs in particular are driving inflation. Too many Americans face challenges paying for prescription drugs. On average, Americans pay two to three times as much as people in other countries for prescription drugs, and one in four Americans who take prescription drugs struggle to afford their medications. Nearly three in ten American adults who take prescription drugs say that they have skipped doses, cut pills in half, or not filled prescriptions due to cost. 

The Inflation Reduction Act – which President Biden and Congressional Democrats delivered – tackles that problem and locks in on average $800 per year lower health care premiums for 13 million families, lowers seniors’ prescription drug prices, and caps their out of pocket expenses for prescription drugs at $2,000 per year. The Inflation Reduction Act protects Medicare beneficiaries from catastrophic drug costs by phasing in a cap for out-of-pocket costs at the pharmacy, establishing a $35 monthly cap per prescription of insulin, requiring companies who raise prices faster than inflation to pay Medicare a rebate, and allowing Medicare to negotiate prices for high-cost prescription drugs for the first time ever. Republicans in Congress, meanwhile, have said their top priority is to repeal the Inflation Reduction Act, ending these cost-saving provisions and raising prices for tens of millions of Americans. 

To further lower health care costs, earlier this week, the Treasury Department took action to fix the so-called “family glitch” rule that was making it harder for families to afford health care coverage for their spouse or child. About 1 million Americans will either gain coverage or see their insurance become more affordable as a result of the new rule.

Lowering Medicare Costs This Open Enrollment Season

Starting this January, seniors and other Medicare beneficiaries will begin to see the benefits of these cost-saving measures. Because of the Inflation Reduction Act:

• A month’s supply of insulin will be capped at $35 starting on January 1, 2023. 

• Medicare beneficiaries will pay $0 out of pocket for recommended adult vaccines covered by their Part D plan, including the shingles vaccine – which costs seniors up to $200. 

• Prescription drug companies that try to raise their prices faster than inflation will be required to pay Medicare a rebate. 

Earlier this year, HHS released a report showing that the price of 1,200 prescription drugs rose faster than inflation in just the last year. For example, one manufacturer of a drug used to treat high blood pressure and heart failure, used by millions of Medicare beneficiaries, increased the drug’s price by nearly 540 percent in 2022. Another drug used to treat autoimmune conditions increased by $1000 just this year.

During Medicare Open Enrollment – running from October 15 to December 7 – seniors and other beneficiaries will be able to choose drug coverage that reflects these new cost-savings, putting money back into their pockets. 

Medicare beneficiaries should visit Medicare.gov or call 1-800-MEDICARE to review their options for the coming year, and make sure their health and prescription drug coverage is right for them.  

Using HHS’ Innovation Center to Further Bring Down Costs

As the Biden-Harris Administration works to implement the Inflation Reduction Act, President Biden signed an Executive Order directing the Department of Health and Human Services to consider additional actions to further drive down prescription drug costs. That includes leveraging the “Innovation Center” at HHS, created by the Affordable Care Act, which has authority to test new ways of paying for Medicare services thatimprove the quality of care while lowering costs.  

Under Executive Order XX, HHS will have 90 days to submit a formal report outlining any plans to use the Innovation Center’s authorities to lower drug costs and promote access to innovative drug therapies for Medicare beneficiaries. This action would build on the Inflation Reduction Act’s landmark drug pricing reforms and help provide additional breathing room for American families.

NYS Makes Significant Investment in Feinstein Institutes to Make Long Island a Life Sciences Global Leader 

New York State Governor Kathy Hochul at Northwell Health on Long Island announces new funding for the Feinstein Institutes for Medical Research’s Center for Bioelectronic Medicine and funding to expand life sciences on Long Island, including a $50 million competition to incentivize commercialization of new discoveries © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

By Karen Rubin, News-Photos-Features.com

New York State Governor Kathy Hochul today announced the $350 million Long Island Investment Fund awarded its first grant to the The Feinstein Institutes for Medical Research to construct 40,000 square feet of new state-of-the-art labs to support medical and infectious disease research. The $10 million Long Island Investment Fund grant complements an additional $30 million in State support previously awarded to the Feinstein Institutes to modernize 20,000 square feet of its Institute of Bioelectronic Medicine, which Governor Hochul opened today. New York State’s assistance is part of an $85 million modernization effort at the Feinstein Institutes for Medical Research in Manhasset, Nassau County, and a broader initiative to highlight the growing life science industry on Long Island. The Feinstein Institutes is the research arm of Northwell Health and is one of the leading laboratory and research centers in the country, conducting cutting-edge studies that seek to cure diseases.

“New York is leading the way in medical innovation, and the Long Island Investment Fund will support life-saving research on the cutting edge of the life sciences industry,” Governor Hochul said.”Our investment in the Institute of Bioelectronic Medicine is already improving the lives of everyday New Yorkers, and the additional Long Island Investment Fund award announced today reaffirms our commitment to remaining a national leader in the health and medical research fields. I am proud to support the Feinstein Institutes and their research, which will lead to life-changing medicine and treatments that will improve the lives of New Yorkers on Long Island and across the State.”

The field of bioelectronic medicine was born here, she said, thanks to the pioneering work of Dr. Kevin J. Tracey, President and CEO of Feinstein Institutes, and the funding will enable this work to be greatly expanded, attracting top scientists from around the world.

Included as part of Governor Hochul’s FY 2023 Enacted Budget, the Long Island Investment Fund focuses on projects that will support and grow the regional economy, enhance communities, and have lasting economic impacts across Long Island. The Fund’s $10 million award to the Feinstein Institutes for Medical Research will support the renovation and construction of 26 new state-of-the-art research labs on two floors as well as the hiring of 10 new principal investigators and 60 research employees. These modernized labs will advance research efforts to develop novel therapies for cancer, diabetes, obesity, lupus, and other conditions.

Long Island has become a life sciences hub, with a defined corridor that links Stony Brook University, Brookhaven National Labs (energy), Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (genomics) and Northwell’s Feinstein Institutes.

The state is also launching a $50 million life science business competition on Long Island, in order to bridge the divide between research and commercialization, and bring the innovations to market with start-ups, many of which may well come out of the four research institutions.

In all, New York is investing $620 million in life sciences sector, statewide.

New York State Governor Kathy Hochul with Empire State Development’s President, CEO and Commissioner Hope Knight and Chairman Kevin Law, announce the $350 million Long Island Investment Fund, which will focus largely on developing life sciences research and businesses © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

“The Long Island Investment Fund represents a strategic investment to further enhance the region as a powerhouse for the life sciences industry, which is an important driver of New York State’s economy,” Empire State Development President, CEO and Commissioner Hope Knight said. “The Feinstein Institutes play a critical role in life-changing medical discoveries and therapeutics that can improve our everyday lives. ESD is proud to support the growth of visionary life sciences companies like the Feinstein Institutes, whose work is crucial to building a healthier and stronger Empire State.”

The Feinstein Institutes is the global scientific home of bioelectronic medicine, a growing scientific field that uses technology to read and modulate electrical activity within the body’s nervous system. The new, modernized labs at the Institute of Bioelectronic Medicine will support discoveries to find cures that will reduce the need for drugs, reduce painful side effects, and give life back to people who are suffering. Early discoveries have emerged from its labs, opening new treatment options for patients with diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, paralysis, and even cancer. Clinical studies in bioelectronic medicine have already yielded results with those who are paralyzed: recent research utilizing an over-the-skin spinal cord stimulation patch has allowed participants to regain their ability to move and feel. 

Governor Hochul acknowledged that the new technology could also help in the state’s effort to diagnose and treat Long COVID which is afflicting so many New Yorkers.

The Institute of Bioelectronic Medicine’s renovation includes wet-lab bench space, multiple tissue culture rooms, cold storage rooms, workstations for researchers, and a brand-new Biosafety Level 3 facility to allow new research into infectious diseases and other complex viruses, such as COVID-19. The expansion also supports the hiring of 13 new principal investigators and 100 new research employees.

Dr. Kevin J. Tracey, President and CEO of Feinstein Institutes, in one of the new labs devoted to making breakthroughs in bioelectronic medicine. The facilities are expected to attract world-class researchers © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

The Feinstein Institutes President and CEO Dr. Kevin Tracey said, “At the Feinstein Institutes, scientific progress is made every day. With the proper facilities and tools, we can help advance that progress even further. We are thankful to the Governor and Empire State Development for their funding of our new space, and we look forward to continuing our breakthrough medical research that will benefit our Long Island communities and beyond.”

Northwell Health’s President and CEO, Michael Dowling said,”This new facility and its resources, made possible by Governor Hochul and the Empire State Development, will allow our researchers at The Feinstein Institutes – Northwell’s home of research and the global scientific home of bioelectronic medicine – to pursue their mission of discovering new treatments to cure disease and improve the health of the communities we serve.”

Long Island is at the forefront of the life sciences industry as new research and discoveries in bioelectronic medicine – a new scientific field born and bred on Long Island – will attract the best and brightest researchers and world-leading strategic partners to create the cures that can transform lives. The life sciences industry has become a powerful engine of economic growth and innovation for New York, turning key regions of the State into dynamic life science hubs. Investing in life sciences is crucial to identify the next scientific or medical breakthrough that will develop new life-saving technologies. Through its support of the Feinstein Institutes’ growth, New York is expanding its ability to commercialize research and spur the growth of a world-class life science industry on Long Island and across the State.

“Under Governor Hochul’s leadership, New York is making smart investments to catalyze economic growth on Long Island. The Long Island Investment Fund will help the region thrive and strengthen New York’s leadership in the global innovation economy,” Empire State Development Board Chairman Kevin Law said. “The Fund’s $10 million award to the Feinstein Institutes reaffirms our commitment to the growing life sciences ecosystem that will support the advancement of game-changing medical discoveries.”

“Thanks to smart investments by the State of New York in partnership with the private sector, Long Island’s life sciences industry is growing and thriving, bringing great jobs to our community, and driving innovation that will make our world a better place,” State Senator Anna M. Kaplan said. “I fought for the Long Island Investment Fund to be included in this year’s state budget because we need to continue making smart investments in our community that build on our many strengths and make our region more attractive for private investors and job creators to set up shop and expand their operations locally. I’m thrilled that, thanks to this fund, the world-class Feinstein Institute for Medical Research right here in Manhasset will be able to modernize their Institute of Bioelectronic Medicine that’s doing incredible work to cure diseases and change the world.”

Dr. Kevin J. Tracey President and CEO of Feinstein Institutes discusses the breakthrough science of bioelectronic medicine © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

During a walk-through of the new and renovated labs, Dr. Tracey explained how bioelectric medicine involves building devices to control nerves, to treat disease. “Pick a disease, pick target, figure out the  neural signals to control target.” The technology can be used to activate immune system to intercept a disease. “Send the right neural signal to the right nerve to trigger immune system.” It can be used to create new neural pathways to restore function to stroke victims, and has application to rehabilitation, such as the loss of hand function after a car accident.

But, he adds, you can’t treat a disease until you understand its mechanism, which is why mental illness is not on the list at this time.

“Things are happening fast,” he said, The FDA granted the technology “breakthrough” designation, which means the innovations can be fast tracked.

Devices invented at the Institute of Bioelectronic Medicine at Feinstein are used to track neural impulses sent to specific disease targets © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

In the bioengineering lab, he points to the “wireless mouse” – not the computer device, but devices that can be inserted into a mouse to receive signals to stimulate specific nerves, and send the nerve recording back. A mouse is important for research because scientists can create disease in the mouse genetically, locate it, and generate the evidence that can be used to treat humans.

Investing in the Future of Long Island

The $10 million Long Island Investment Fund grant announced today complements historic initiatives and investments for Long Island:

  • $157 million investment — repaving 300 lane miles of state highways to date.
  • More than $457 million for school aid – a 12.7 percent increase compared to FY 2022.
  • $63 million for addiction treatment, recovery and prevention services.
  • The homeowner Tax Rebate Credit, with an average benefit of $1,300 for 494,000 Long Island homeowners.
  • $500 million to develop New York’s offshore wind infrastructure and supply chain – ultimately creating more than 2,000 green jobs.
  • Completing Long Island Rail Road’s historic Third Track project, allowing trains to run more often and creating a smoother ride for LIRR commuters.

____________________

© 2022 News & Photo Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. For editorial feature and photo information, go to www.news-photos-features.com, email [email protected]. Blogging at www.dailykos.com/blogs/NewsPhotosFeatures. ‘Like’ us on facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures, Tweet @KarenBRubin

Biden Signs Historic Inflation Reduction Act:  ‘It’s about tomorrow. It’s about delivering progress and prosperity to American families’

Here is an edited, highlighted transcript of President Joe Biden’s remarks as he signed the Inflation Reduction Act, with historic investments in climate action, long-fought improvements in health care and prescription drug affordability, tax reform and deficit reduction, and in the immortal words of Biden as Obama’s VP, a “BFD.” –Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

President Joe Biden signs the historic, transformative Inflation Reduction Act, saying “It’s about tomorrow. It’s about delivering progress and prosperity to American families.” The act makes historic investments in climate action, long-fought improvements in health care and prescription drug affordability, tax reform and deficit reduction, and in the immortal words of Biden as Obama’s VP, a “BFD.” (via C-Span)

I’m about to sign the Inflation Reduction Act into law, one of the most significant laws in our history.  Let me say from the start: With this law, the American people won and the special interests lost.  The American people won and the special interests lost. 

For a while, people doubted whether any of that was going to happen. But we are in a season of substance.  This administration began amid a dark time in America — as Jim said, “a once-in-a-century pandemic” — devastating joblessness, clear and present threats to democracy and the rule of law, doubts about America’s future itself.  

And yet, we’ve not wavered.  We’ve not flinched.  And we’ve not given in.  Instead, we’re delivering results for the American people.  We didn’t tear down; we built up.  We didn’t look back; we looked forward.

And today — today offers further proof that the soul of America is vibrant, the future of America is bright, and the promise of America is real and just beginning.  (Applause.) 

Look, the bill I’m about to sign is not just about today, it’s about tomorrow.  It’s about delivering progress and prosperity to American families.

It’s about showing the American and the American people that democracy still works in America — notwithstanding all the — all the talk of its demise — not just for the privileged few, but for all of us.

You know, I swore an oath of office to you and to God to faithfully execute the duties of this sacred office.

To me, the critical duty — the critical duty of the presidency is to defend what is best about America.  And that’s not hyperbole.  Defend what’s best about America.  To pursue justice, to ensure fairness, and to deliver results that create possibilities — possibilities that all of us — all of us can live a life of consequence and prosperity in a nation that’s safe and secure.  That’s the job.  

Fulfilling that pledge to you guides me every single hour of every single day in this job.  

You know, presidents should be judged not only by our words, but by our deeds; not by our rhetoric, but by our actions; not by our promise, but by reality.  

And today is part of an extraordinary story that’s being written by this administration and our brave allies in the Congress.

This law — this law that I’m about to sign finally delivers on a promise that Washington has made for decades to the American people.  

I got here as a 29-year-old kid.  We were promising to make sure that Medicare would have the power to negotiate lower drug prices back then — back then — prescription drug prices.  

But guess what?  We’re giving Medicare the power to negotiate those prices now, on some drugs.

This means seniors are going to pay less for their prescription drugs while we’re changing circumstances for people on Medicare by putting a cap — a cap of a maximum of $2,000 a year on their prescription drug costs, no matter what the reason for those prescriptions are.

That means if you’re on Medicare, you’ll never have to pay more than $2,000 a year no matter how many prescriptions you have, whether it’s for cancer or any other disease.  No more than $2,000 a year.

And you all know it because a lot of you come from families that need this.  This is a Godsend.  This is a Godsend to many families and so, so long overdue. 


The Inflation Reduction Act locks in place lower healthcare premiums for millions of families who get their coverage under the Affordable Care Act.  

Last year, a family of four saved on average $2,400 through the American Rescue Plan that I signed into law that Congress voted in place.

In the years ahead, thanks to the Inflation Reduction Act, 13 million people are going to continue — continue to save an average of $800 a year on health insurance.

The Inflation Reduction Act invests $369 billion to take the most aggressive action ever — ever, ever, ever — in confronting the climate crisis and strengthening our economic — our energy security.

It’s going to offer working families thousands of dollars in savings by providing them rebates to buy new and efficient appliances, weatherize their homes, get tax credit for purchasing heat pumps and rooftop solar, electric stoves, ovens, dryers.
 
It gives consumers a tax credit to buy electric vehicles or fuel cell vehicles, new or used.  And it gives them a credit — a tax credit of up to $7,500 if those vehicles were made in America. 

American auto companies, along with American labor, are committing their treasure and their talent — billions of dollars in investment — to make electric vehicles and battery and electric charging stations all across America, made in America.  All of it made in America.

This new law also provides tax credits that’s going to create tens of thousands of good-paying jobs and clean energy manufacturing jobs, solar factories in the Midwest and the South, wind farms across the plains and off our shores, clean hydrogen projects and more — all across America, every part of America.

This bill is the biggest step forward on climate ever — ever — and it’s going to allow us to boldly take additional steps toward meeting all of my climate goals — the ones we set out when we ran.

It includes ensuring that we create clean energy opportunities in frontline and fence-line communities that have been smothered — smothered by the legacy of pollution, and fight environmental injustice that’s been going on for so long.

And here’s another win for the American people: In addition to cutting the deficit by $350 billion last year, in my first year in office, and cutting it $1.7 trillion this year, this fiscal year, we’re going to cut the deficit — I point out — by another $300 billion with the Inflation Reduction Act over the next decade.

We’re cutting deficit to fight inflation by having the wealthy and big corporations finally begin to pay part of their fair share.

Big corporations will now pay a minimum 15 percent tax instead of 55 of them got away with paying zero dollars in federal income tax on $40 billion in profit. 

And I’m keeping my campaign commitment: No one — let me emphasize — no one earning less than $400,000 a year will pay a penny more in federal taxes.  (Applause.) 

Folks, the Inflation Reduction Act does so many things that, for so many years, so many of us have fought to make happen.

And let’s be clear: In this historic moment, Democrats sided with the American people, and every single Republican in the Congress sided with the special interests in this vote — every single one.

In fact, the big drug companies spent nearly $100 million to defeat this bill.  A hundred million dollars.

And remember: Every single Republican in Congress voted against this bill. 

Every single Republican in Congress voted against lowering prescription drug prices, against lowering healthcare costs, against a fairer tax system.

Every single Republican — every single one — voted against tackling the climate crisis, against lowering our energy costs, against creating good-paying jobs.

My fellow Americans, that’s the choice we face: We can protect the already-powerful or show the courage to build a future where everybody has an even shot.

That’s the America I believe in.  (Applause.)  That’s what I believe in. 

And today — and today, we’ve come a step closer to making that America real.

Today, too often we confuse noise with substance.  Too often we confuse setbacks with defeat.  Too often we hand the biggest microphone to the critics and the cynics who delight in declaring failure while those committed to making real progress do the hard work of governing.


Making progress in this country as big and complicated as ours clearly is not easy.  It’s never been easy.

But with unwavering conviction, commitment, and patience, progress does come…

And when it does, like today, people’s lives are made better and the future becomes brighter, and a nation can be transformed.

That’s what’s happening now.  From the American Rescue Plan that helped create nearly 10 million new jobs, to a once-in-a-generation infrastructure law that will rebuild America’s roads, bridges, ports; deliver clean water, high-speed Internet to every American; to the first meaningful gun safety law in 30 years — and if I have anything to do with it, we’re still going to have an assault weapons ban, but that’s another story.  And to get significant veterans’ healthcare law in decades, for the first time; to a groundbreaking CHIPS and Science Law that’s going to ensure that technologies and jobs of the future are made here in America — in America.

(Applause.) 

And all this progress is part of our vision and plan and determined effort to get the job done for the American people, so they can look their child in the eye and say, “Honey, it’s going to be okay. Everything is going to be okay.”

Everything is going to make sure that democracy delivers for your generation.  Because I think that’s at stake.

And, now, I know there are those here today who hold a dark and despairing view of this country.  I’m not one of them.

I believe in the promise of America.  I believe in the future of this country.  I believe in the very soul of this nation.  And most of all, I believe in you, the American people.

I believe to my core there isn’t a single thing this country cannot do when we put our mind to it.  We just have to remember who we are.  We are the United States of America.

There is nothing nothing beyond our capacity. That’s why so many foreign companies decided to invest their — make chips in America. Billions of dollars.  We’re the best.  We have to believe in ourselves again.

And now I’m going to take action that I’ve been looking forward to doing for 18 months.  (Laughter and applause.)  I’m going to sign the Inflation Reduction Law.  (Applause.)

Okay.  Here you go. (The bill is signed.)

LEADER SCHUMER:  It’s now law.

(Applause.)

The Inflation Reduction Act by the Numbers: What it Means to You

As part of the Inflation Reduction Act’s effort to transition the economy to clean, renewable energy, families that take advantage of clean energy and electric vehicle tax credits will save more than $1,000 per year. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

President Joe Biden will sign the Inflation Reduction Act today, a distillation of what Americans have been clamoring for, for the past 30 years. It includes the most significant investment in climate action, plus health care and tax reform while also amazingly reducing the deficit. Here’s what the Inflation Reduction Act will mean to you, by the numbers. This is from the White House:

The Inflation Reduction Act will lower costs for families, combat the climate crisis, reduce the deficit, and finally ask the largest corporations to pay their fair share. President Biden and Congressional Democrats have worked together to deliver a historic legislative achievement that defeats special interests, delivers for American families, and grows the economy from the bottom up and middle out.
 
Here’s how the Inflation Reduction Act impacts Americans by the numbers:
 
HEALTH CARE
 
Cutting Prescription Drug Costs

  • Today, Americans pay two to three times what citizens of other countries pay for prescription drugs
  • 5-7 million Medicare beneficiaries could see their prescription drug costs go down because of the provision allowing Medicare to negotiate prescription drug costs.
  • 50 million Americans with Medicare Part D will have the peace of mind knowing their costs at the pharmacy are capped at $2,000 per year, directly benefiting about 1.4 million beneficiaries each year.
  • 3.3 million Medicare beneficiaries with diabetes will benefit from a guarantee that their insulin costs are capped at $35 for a month’s supply.

 
Lowering Health Care Costs

  • 13 million Americans will continue to save an average of $800 per year on health insurance premiums
  • 3 million more Americans will have health insurance than without the law.
  • The uninsured rate is at an all-time low of 8%, which the historic law will build on.

 
Defeating Special Interests

  • $187 million: The amount the Pharmaceutical industry has spent on lobbying in 2022.
  • 1,600: number of lobbyists the pharmaceutical companies had in 2021 – three times the number of Members of Congress
  • 33 years: the amount of time Congressional Democrats have been trying to lower prescription drug costs by allowing Medicare to negotiate drug prices.
  • 19 years: number of years Medicare has been blocked from negotiating prescription drug costs

 
CLEAN ENERGY
 
Lowering Energy Costs

  • Families that take advantage of clean energy and electric vehicle tax credits will save more than $1,000 per year.
  • $14,000 in direct consumer rebates for families to buy heat pumps or other energy efficient home appliances, saving families at least $350 per year.
  • 7.5 million more families will be able install solar on their roofs with a 30% tax credit, saving families $9,000 over the life of the system or at least $300 per year.
  • Up to $7,500 in tax credits for new electric vehicles and $4,000 for used electric vehicles, helping families save $950 per year.
  • Putting America on track to meet President Biden’s climate goals, which will save every family an average of $500 per year on their energy costs.

 
Building a Clean Energy Economy

  • Power homes, businesses, and communities with much more clean energy by 2030, including:
    • 950 million solar panels
    • 120,000 wind turbines
    • 2,300 grid-scale battery plants
  • Advance cost-saving clean energy projects at rural electric cooperatives serving 42 million people.
  • Strengthen climate resilience and protect nearly 2 million acres of national forests.
  • Creating millions of good-paying jobs making clean energy in America.

 
Reducing Harmful Pollution

  • Reduce greenhouse gas emissions by about 1 gigaton in 2030, or a billion metric tons – 10 times more climate impact than any other single piece of legislation ever enacted.
  • Deploy clean energy and reduce particle pollution from fossil fuels to avoid up to 3,900 premature deaths and up to 100,000 asthma attacks annually by 2030.

 
TAXES
 
Making the Tax Code Fairer

  • $0: how much some of largest, profitable corporations pay in federal income tax.
  • 55: the number of America’s largest, wealthiest corporations that got away without paying a cent in federal income taxes in 2020.
  • $160 billon: how much the top 1 percent of earners is estimated to evade each year in taxes.
  • 15%: the minimum tax on corporate profits the Inflation Reduction Act imposes on the largest, most profitable corporations.
  • $124 billion: savings over 10 years the Inflation Reduction Act will generate from collecting taxes already owed by wealthy people and large corporations, according to the Congressional Budget Office.
  • And no family making less than $400,000 will see their taxes go up a penny.

 
Reducing the Deficit

  • The Inflation Act will achieve hundreds of billions in deficit reduction.
  • The deficit is projected to fall by more than $1.5 trillion this year after falling by more than $350 billion last year.
  • 126 leading economists – including 7 Nobel Laureates, 2 former Treasury Secretaries, 2 former Fed Vice Chairs and 2 former CEA Chairs – have said reducing the deficit will help fight inflation and support strong, stable economic growth.

Justice Department Sues Idaho to Protect Reproductive Rights

Complaint Alleges Idaho Law Violates the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act
 

Protesting for reproductive rights © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

The Justice Department today filed a lawsuit to protect the rights of patients to access emergency medical care guaranteed by federal law. The suit challenges Idaho Code § 18-622 (§ 18-622), which is set to go into effect on Aug. 25 and imposes a near-total ban on abortion.

The complaint seeks a declaratory judgment that § 18-622 conflicts with, and is preempted by, the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA) in situations where an abortion is necessary stabilizing treatment for an emergency medical condition. The United States also seeks an order permanently enjoining the Idaho law to the extent it conflicts with EMTALA.

“On the day Roe and Casey were overturned, we promised that the Justice Department would work tirelessly to protect and advance reproductive freedom,” said Attorney General Merrick B. Garland.  “That is what we are doing, and that is what we will continue to do. We will use every tool at our disposal to ensure that pregnant women get the emergency medical treatment to which they are entitled under federal law. And we will closely scrutinize state abortion laws to ensure that they comply with federal law.” 

“Federal law is clear: patients have the right to stabilizing hospital emergency room care no matter where they live,” said Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra. “Women should not have to be near death to get care. The Department of Health and Human Services will continue its work with the Department of Justice to enforce federal law protecting access to health care, including abortions.”

“One critical focus of the Reproductive Rights Task Force has been assessing the fast-changing landscape of state laws and evaluating potential legal responses to infringements on federal protections,” said Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta. “Today’s lawsuit against the State of Idaho for its near-absolute abortion ban is the first public example of this work in action. We know that these are frightening and uncertain times for pregnant women and their providers, and the Justice Department, through the Task Force’s work, is committed to doing everything we can to ensure continued lawful access to reproductive services.”

EMTALA requires hospitals that receive federal Medicare funds to provide necessary stabilizing treatment to patients who arrive at their emergency departments while experiencing a medical emergency. When a physician reasonably determines that the necessary stabilizing treatment is an abortion, state law cannot prohibit the provision of that care. The statute defines necessary stabilizing treatment to include all treatment needed to ensure that a patient will not have her health placed in serious jeopardy, have her bodily functions seriously impaired, or suffer serious dysfunction of any bodily organ or part.

As explained in the complaint, once § 18-622 enters into effect in Idaho, a prosecutor can indict, arrest and prosecute a physician merely by showing that an abortion has been performed, without regard to the circumstances. A physician who provides an abortion in Idaho can ultimately avoid criminal liability only by establishing as an affirmative defense that “the abortion was necessary to prevent the death of the pregnant woman” or that, before performing the abortion, the pregnant patient (or, in some circumstances, their parent or guardian) reported an “act of rape or incest” against the patient to a specified agency and provided a copy of the report to the physician. The law provides no defense for an abortion necessary to protect the health of the pregnant patient. 

Idaho’s criminal prohibition of all abortions, subject only to the statute’s two limited affirmative defenses, directly conflicts with EMTALA and stands as an obstacle to the accomplishment of EMTALA’s federal objectives of providing stabilizing care and treatment to anyone who needs it. The Justice Department is committed to protecting access to reproductive services. Following the Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs, the Justice Department established the Reproductive Rights Task Force, chaired by Associate Attorney General Gupta. The Task Force is charged with protecting access to reproductive freedom under federal law. For additional information on the work of the Task Force visit www.justice.gov/reproductive-rights.

Biden Administration’s DoJ, HHS Work to Protect Reproductive Freedom Under Federal Law

Long Islanders react to Supreme Court overturning Roe’s constitutional protections of reproductive freedom. The Biden Administration is setting up a task force within the Justice Department to insure rights are protected, and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is issuing guidance to roughly 60,000 U.S. retail pharmacies, reminding them of their obligations under federal civil rights laws. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Justice Department Announces Reproductive Rights Task Force

The Task Force Formalizes the Department’s Ongoing Work to Protect Reproductive Freedom Under Federal Law

The Justice Department announced today the establishment of the Reproductive Rights Task Force. The Task Force formalizes an existing working group and efforts by the Department over the last several months to identify ways to protect access to reproductive health care in anticipation of the possibility of the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey. Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta will chair the Task Force, which will consist of representatives from the Department’s Civil Division, Civil Rights Division, U.S. Attorney community, Office of the Solicitor General, Office for Access to Justice, Office of Legal Counsel, Office of Legal Policy, Office of Legislative Affairs, Office of the Associate Attorney General, Office of the Deputy Attorney General and Office of the Attorney General and will be supported by dedicated staff.

“As Attorney General Garland has said, the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision is a devastating blow to reproductive freedom in the United States,” said Associate Attorney General Gupta. “The Court abandoned 50 years of precedent and took away the constitutional right to abortion, preventing women all over the country from being able to make critical decisions about our bodies, our health, and our futures. The Justice Department is committed to protecting access to reproductive services.”

The Task Force will monitor and evaluate all state and local legislation and enforcement actions that threaten to:

  • Infringe on federal legal protections relating to the provision or pursuit of reproductive care;
  • Impair women’s ability to seek reproductive care in states where it is legal;
  • Impair individuals’ ability to inform and counsel each other about the reproductive care that is available in other states;
  • Ban Mifepristone based on disagreement with the FDA’s expert judgment about its safety and efficacy; or
  • Impose criminal or civil liability on federal employees who provide reproductive health services in a manner authorized by federal law.

The Task Force will identify such actions and coordinate appropriate federal government responses, including proactive and defensive legal action where appropriate. The Task Force will work with agencies across the federal government to support their work on issues relating to reproductive rights and access to reproductive healthcare. 

The Justice Department is working with external stakeholders such as reproductive services providers, advocates and state attorneys general. The Task Force will continue this important effort. It will also work with the Office of Counsel to the President to convene a meeting of private pro bono attorneys, bar associations and public interest organizations in order to encourage lawyers to represent and assist patients, providers and third parties lawfully seeking reproductive health services throughout the country. In order to assist attorneys working to protect access to comprehensive reproductive health services, the Task Force will centralize online legal resources, such as filed Justice Department legal briefs and information about the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act.

Recognizing that the best way to protect reproductive freedom is through congressional action, the Task Force will also coordinate providing technical assistance to Congress in connection with federal legislation to codify reproductive rights and ensure access to comprehensive reproductive services. It will also coordinate the provision of technical assistance concerning Federal constitutional protections to states seeking to afford legal protection to out-of-state patients and providers who offer legal reproductive healthcare.

HHS Issues Guidance to the Nation’s Retail Pharmacies Clarifying Their Obligations to Ensure Access to Comprehensive Reproductive Health Care Services
 

Today, following President Biden’s Executive Order on ensuring access to reproductive health care, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is issuing guidance to roughly 60,000 U.S. retail pharmacies, reminding them of their obligations under federal civil rights laws. The guidance makes clear that as recipients of federal financial assistance, including Medicare and Medicaid payments, pharmacies are prohibited under law from discriminating based on race, color, national origin, sex, age, and disability in their programs and activities. This includes supplying prescribed medications; making determinations regarding the suitability of prescribed medications for a patient; and advising a patient about prescribed medications and how to take them.  The action is the latest step in the HHS’ response to protect reproductive health care.

“We are committed to ensuring that everyone can access health care, free of discrimination,” said Secretary Becerra. “This includes access to prescription medications for reproductive health and other types of care.”

Under Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act (Section 1557), 42 U.S.C. 18116, recipients of federal financial assistance cannot exclude an individual from participation in, denying them the benefits of, or otherwise subjecting them to discrimination based on sex and other bases (i.e., race, color, national origin, age, and disability) in their programs and activities. Under federal civil rights law, pregnancy discrimination includes discrimination based on current pregnancy, past pregnancy, potential or intended pregnancy, and medical conditions related to pregnancy or childbirth.

Read the guidance here: https://www.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/pharmacies-guidance.pdf.

HHS is committed to ensuring that people can access reproductive health care, free from discrimination. If you believe that your or another person’s civil rights have been violated, you can file a complaint with HHS at: https://www.hhs.gov/ocr/complaints/index.html.

Below are a list of actions HHS has taken in the days following the Supreme Court’s ruling to ensure access to reproductive health care:

  • Launched the ReproductiveRights.gov public awareness website, which includes a know-your-rights patient fact sheet;
  • Convened a meeting with health insurers, and sent them a letter, calling on the industry to commit to meeting their obligations to provide coverage for contraceptive services at no cost as required by the Affordable Care Act; 
  • Issued guidance to patients and providers that addresses the extent to which federal law and regulations protect individuals’ private medical information when it comes to seeking abortion and other forms of reproductive health care, as well as when it comes to using health information apps on smartphones;
  • Announced nearly $3 million in new funding to bolster training and technical assistance for the nationwide network of Title X family planning providers; 
  • Met with Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, Oregon Governor Kate Brown, and Maine Governor Janet Mills and state attorneys general to discuss state-specific concerns;
  • Issued guidance on the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act (EMTALA) reaffirming that it protects providers when offering legally-mandated, life- or health-saving abortion services in emergency situations.

Biden Signs EO Protecting Access to Reproductive Healthcare Citing ‘An Out of Control Court’ Calls on Women to Exercise their Voting Power

New Yorkers protest for reproductive freedom. President Joe Biden is taking actions he can to protect access to reproductive health care services in light of the Supreme Court overturning the constitutional protections afforded by Roe v. Wade and multiple states immediately implementing bans on abortion rights, in most cases even in the case of rape, incest or the life of the mother. But the President noted that there is only so much he could do by Executive Order or that his administration can do, and exhorted women to take action at the ballot box, elect representatives to local, state and federal office who will protect their personal freedom, liberty and autonomy. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

President Joe Biden delivered a speech on July 8 on actions he is taking to protect access to reproductive health care services in light of the Supreme Court overturning the constitutional protections afforded by Roe v. Wade and multiple states immediately implementing bans on abortion rights, in most cases even in the case of rape, incest or the life of the mother. But the President noted that there is only so much he could do by Executive Order or that his administration can do, and exhorted women to take action at the ballot box, elect representatives to local, state and federal office who will protect their personal freedom, liberty and autonomy. Here is a highlighted transcript of his remarks: — Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Now, with the Vice President, Secretary Becerra, and Deputy Attorney General Monaco, I want to talk about an executive order I’m signing to protect reproductive rights of women in the aftermath of the Supreme Court’s terrible, extreme, and, I think, so totally wrongheaded decision to overturn Roe v. Wade.
 
[It] both formalized actions I announced right after the decision, as well as adding new measures today.
 
Let’s be clear about something from the very start.  This was not a decision driven by the Constitution.  Let me say it again: This was not a decision driven by the Constitution.  And despite what those justices in the majority said, this was not a decision driven by history.
 
You’ve all probably had a chance to the read the decision and the dissent.
 
The majority rattles off laws from the 19th century to support the idea that Roe was historic- — was a historical anomaly because states outlawed abortion in the 1880s, toward the end.  But that’s just wrong.
 
The truth is today’s Supreme Court majority that is playing fast and loose with the facts.  Even 150 years ago, the common law and many state laws did not criminalize abortion early in pregnancy, which is very similar to the viability line drawn by Roe.
 
But the Dobbs majority ignores that fact.  And the Dobbs majority ignores that many laws were enacted to protect women at the time when they were dying from unsafe abortions.
 
This is the horrific reality that Roe sought to end.  The practice of medicine should not — emphasize — should not be frozen in the 19th century.
 
So, what happened?
 
The dissenting opinion says it as clear as you can possibly say it.  And here’s the quote: “Neither law nor facts nor attitudes have provided any new reason to reach a different result than Roe and Casey did.”  And that’s has changed — excuse me — and “All that has changed is this Court.”  End of quote.  “All that has changed is this Court.”
 
That wasn’t about the Constitution or the law.
 
It was about a deep, long-seething antipathy towards Roe and the broader right to privacy.  As the justices wrote in their dissent, and I quote, “The majority has overruled Roe and Casey for one and only one reason: because it has always despised them, and now it has the votes to discard them.”  End of quote.
 
So, what we’re witnessing wasn’t a constitutional judgment.  It was an exercise in raw political power.  On the day the Dobbs decision came down, I immediately announced what I would do.
 
But I also made it clear, based on the reasoning of the Court, there is no constitutional right to choose.  Only the way — the only way to fulfill and restore that right for women in this country is by voting, by exercising the power at the ballot box.
 
Let me explain.  We need two additional pro-choice senators and a pro-choice House to codify Roe as federal law.  Your vote can make that a reality.
 
I know it’s frustrating and it made a lot of people very angry.  But the truth is this — and it’s not just me saying it; it’s what the Court said: When you read the decision, the Court has made clear it will not protect the rights of women.  Period.  Period.
 
After having made the decision based on a reading of a document that was frozen in time in the 1860s, when women didn’t even have the right to vote, the Court now — now — practically dares the women of America to go to the ballot box and restore the very rights they’ve just taken away.
 
One of the most extraordinary parts of the decision, in my view, is the majority writes, and I quote, “Women…” — it’s a quote now, from the majority — “Women are not without electoral or political power.  It is noteworthy that the percentage of women who registered to vote and cast a ballot is consistently higher than the percentage of the men who do so.”  End of quote…
 
 
That’s another way of saying that you, the women of America, can determine the outcome of this issue. 
 
I don’t think the Court or, for that matter, the Republicans who for decades have pushed their extreme agenda have a clue about the power of American women.  But they’re about to find out, in my view.
 
It’s my hope and strong belief that women will, in fact, turn out in record numbers to reclaim the rights that have taken from them by the Court.
 
And let me be clear: While I wish it had not come to this, this is the fastest route available.  I’m just stating a basic, fundamental notion.
 
The fastest way to restore Roe is to pass a national law codifying Roe, which I will sign immediately upon its passage at my desk.
 
And we can’t wait.  Extreme Republican governors, extreme Republican state legislatures, and Republican extremists in the Congress overall — all of them have not only fought to take away the right — our rights — but they’re now determined to go as far as they can.  
 
Now the most extreme Republican governors and state legislatures have taken the Court’s decision as a green light to impose some of the harshest and most restrictive laws seen in this country in a long time.  These are the laws that not only put women’s lives at risk, these are the laws that will cost lives. 
 
What we’re witnessing is a giant step backwards in much of our country.  Already, the bans are in effect in 13 states.   Twelve additional states are likely to ban choice in the coming weeks.  And in a number of these states, the laws are so extreme they have raised the threat of criminal penalties for doctors and healthcare providers.  They’re so extreme that many don’t allow for exceptions, even for rape or incest.  Let me say that again: Some of the states don’t allow for exceptions for rape or incest. 
 
This isn’t some imagined horror.  It’s already happening.  Just last week, it was reported that a 10-year-old girl was a rape victim in Ohio — 10 years old — and she was forced to have to travel out of the state, to Indiana, to seek to terminate the [pregnancy] and maybe save her life.  That’s — the last part is my judgment.  Ten years old.  Ten years old.  Raped, six weeks pregnant.  Already traumatized.  Was forced to travel to another state.  Imagine being that little girl.  Just — I’m serious — just imagine being that little girl.  Ten years old.
 
Does anyone believe that it’s the highest majority view that that should not be able to be dealt with, or in any other state in the nation?  A 10-year-old girl should be forced to give birth to a rapist’s child?  I can tell you what: I don’t.  I can’t think of anything as much more extreme.
 
The Court’s decision has also been received by Republicans in Congress as a green light to go further and pass a national ban.  A national ban.  Remember what they’re saying.  They’re saying there’s no right to privacy, so therefore it’s not protected by the Constitution, so leave it up to the state and the Congress, what they want to do. 
 
And now my Republican friends are talking about getting the Congress to pass a national ban.  The extreme positions that they’re taking in some of these states.  That will mean the right to choose will be illegal nationwide if, in fact, they succeed.  Let me tell you something: As long as I’m President, it won’t happen, because I’ll veto it.  
 
So the choice is clear.  If you want to change the circumstances for women and even little girls in this country, please go out and vote.  When tens of millions of women vote this year, they won’t be alone.  Millions and millions of men will be taking up the fight alongside them to restore the right to choose and the broader right to privacy in this nation, which they denied existed.  And the challenge from the Court to the American women and men — this is a nation.  The challenge is: Go out and vote.  Well, for God’s sake, there’s an election in November.  Vote, vote, vote, vote.  Consider the challenge accepted, Court. 
 
But in the meantime, I’m signing this important executive order.  I’m asking the Justice Department that, much like they did in the Civil Rights era, to do something — do everything in their power to protect these women seeking to invoke their right: 
 
In states where clinics are still open, to protect them from intimidation. 
 
To protect the right of women to travel from a state that prohibits seeking the medical attention that she needs to a state to provide that care. 
 
To protect a woman’s right to the FDA-approved — Federal Drug Administration-approved medication that’s been available for over 20 years. 
 
The executive order provides safeguards to access care.  A patient comes into the emergency room in any state in the union.  She’s expressing and experiencing a life-threatening miscarriage, but the doctor is going to be so concerned about being criminalized for treating her, they delay treatment to call the hospital lawyer who is concerned the hospital will be penalized if a doctor provides the lifesaving care.  It’s outrageous.  I don’t care what your position is.  It’s outrageous, and it’s dangerous. 
 
That’s why this executive order directs the Department of Health and Human Services — HHS — to ensure all patients, including pregnant women and girls experience pregnant — experiencing pregnancy loss get emergency care they need under federal law, and that doctors have clear guidance on their own responsibilities and protections no matter what the state — no matter what state they’re in.  
 
The executive order protects access to contraception — that I’m about to sign. 

 
Justice Thomas himself said that under the reasoning of this decision — this is what Justice Thomas said in his concurring opinion — that the Court “should reconsider the constitutional right to contraception — to use contraception even among married couples. 
 
What century are they in?  There used to be a case called –[Griswold v. Connecticut], which was declared unconstitutional in the late ‘60s.  It said a married couple in the privacy of their bedroom could not decide to use contraception.

Right now, in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, the Affordable Care Act guarantees insurance coverage for women’s health services, including — including free birth control.  The executive order directs HHS to identify ways to expand access to reproductive health services, like IUDs, birth control pills, emergency contraception. 
 
And equally important, this executive order protects patient privacy and access to information,
which looking at the press assembled before me, probably know more about it than I do.  I’m not a tech guy.  I’m learning.

But right now, when you use a search engine or the app on your phone, companies collect your data, they sell it to other companies, and they even share it with law enforcement.  There’s an increasing concern that extremist governors and others will try to get that data off of your phone, which is out there in the ether, to find what you’re seeking, where you’re going, and what you’re doing with regard to your healthcare. 

Talk about no privacy — no privacy in the Constitution.  There’s no privacy, period.

This executive order asks the FTC to crack down on data brokers that sell private information to extreme groups or, in my view, sell private information to anybody.
 
It provides private health information — it protects private health information in states with extreme laws.  

And the executive order strengthens coordination at a federal level.  It establishes a task force, led by the White House Department — and the Department of Human Services, focused specifically on using every federal tool available to protect access to reproductive healthcare.

You know, let me close with this: The Court and its allies are committed to moving America backward with fewer rights, less autonomy, and politicians invading the most personal of decisions.  Remember the reasoning of this decision has an impact much beyond Roe and the right to privacy generally. 

Marriage equality, contraception, and so much more is at risk.  This decision affects everyone — unrelated to choice — beyond choice.  We cannot allow an out-of-control Supreme Court, working in conjunction with the extremist elements of the Republican Party, to take away freedoms and our personal autonomy. 

The choice we face as a nation is between the mainstream and the extreme, between moving forward and moving backwards, between allowing politicians to enter the most personal parts of our lives and protecting the right to privacy — yes, yes — embedded in our Constitution.  
 
This is a choice.  This is a moment — the moment — the moment to restore the rights that have been taken away from us and the moment to protect our nation from an extremist agenda that is antithetical to everything we believe as Americans. 
 
Now, I’m going to sign this executive order. 

The executive order is “Protecting Access to Reproductive Health Care Services.”

(The executive order is signed.)