The War on Women Continues Apace

Via the WaPo:

Trump administration narrows Affordable Care Act’s contraception mandate

The Trump administration issued a rule Friday that sharply limits the Affordable Care Act’s contraception coverage mandate, a move that could mean many American women would no longer have access to birth control free of charge.

The new regulation, issued by the Health and Human Services Department, allows a much broader group of employers and insurers to exempt themselves from covering contraceptives such as birth control pills on religious or moral grounds. The decision, anticipated from the Trump administration for months, is the latest twist in a seesawing legal and ideological fight that has surrounded this aspect of the 2010 health-care law nearly from the start.

What’s to stop corporate persons from declaring themselves Christian Scientists and exempting themselves from providing any coverage at all?

Open thread, I guess.



Thursday Morning Open Thread: Because of Wow / Because of Uh-Oh…


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What’s on the agenda for the new (hopefully less news-intensive) day?

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Hate to bring this up first thing in the morning, but the Balloon Juice demographic (including me) often depends on the miracles of modern medicine. Personal miracles which may, unfortunately, be impacted by the disaster in Puerto Rico:

Federal officials and major drugmakers are scrambling to prevent national shortages of critical drugs for treating cancer, diabetes and heart disease, as well as medical devices and supplies, that are manufactured at 80 plants in hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico.

Pharmaceuticals and medical devices are the island’s leading exports, and Puerto Rico has become one of the world’s biggest centers for pharmaceutical manufacturing. Its factories make 13 of the world’s top-selling brand-name drugs, from Humira, the rheumatoid arthritis treatment, to Xarelto, a blood thinner used to prevent stroke, according to a report released last year.

With business of nearly $15 billion a year at stake in Puerto Rico, drug companies and device makers are confronting a range of obstacles on the island: locating enough diesel fuel for generators to run their factories; helping their employees get to work from areas where roads are damaged and blocked, electricity is down and phones don’t work. Companies have taken out radio ads pleading with workers to check in. The pharmaceutical and device industries contribute to the employment of nearly 100,000 people on the island, according to trade groups.

“Some of these products are critical to Americans,” Scott Gottlieb, the commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, told a congressional panel this week. “A loss of access could have significant public health consequences.”

Dr. Gottlieb, who visited F.D.A. staff in Puerto Rico last week, told the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s subcommittee on Health: “We have a list of about 40 drugs that we’re very concerned about. It reflects maybe about 10 firms.”

Thirteen of the drugs, Dr. Gottlieb said, are “sole-source,” meaning the product is made only by one company. Those include H.I.V. medications, injectable drugs and sophisticated medical devices, although he did not name the products. The biggest problem, he said, was not damage to the factories, but the instability of the electric supply. Manufacturers are worried that a long-term lack of connection to a major power grid could jeopardize their products, and are also wary of relying on the more limited electrical grids that the territory is likely to activate as a first step to restoring power…

As someone who takes several old-fat-person medications every day, I’ve been trying to keep an eye on this, but the Trickster-God-blessed megacorps who profit from such drugs are making it very very difficult. There’s one DailyKos poster who’s put up a partial list, which also includes such “everyday” (heavily advertised, often prescribed) brand names as Crestor, Invokana, Eliquis, Lyrica… and Viagra. (Maybe more Repubs should be quietly informed about a potential shortage of that one.)

The DKos poster suggests that anyone taking any of these drugs would be well advised to consult their doctor(s) now, and that seems like a wise precaution to me.



Heartbreaking Read(s): The Participant Who’ll Never Tell Us His Story

A news story about a police officer (in Salt Lake City!) manhandling an ER nurse for RESISTING HIS AUTHORITAY!!! seemed almost too on-the-nose as an analogy for life during the Trump Occupancy. But there are real people at the heart of this metaphor, and the Washington Post followed up:

William Gray, a commercial truck driver and reserve police officer, died late Monday of the injuries he suffered when a fiery July 26 crash left him with burns over nearly half his body, University of Utah Health spokeswoman Suzanne Winchester said.

Gray was unconscious at the Salt Lake City hospital when police detective Jeff Payne asked to draw his blood hours after the crash.

Nurse Alex Wubbels refused because hospital policy required a warrant or patient consent. Payne handcuffed her and dragged her outside.

Gray was hauling a load of sand in northern Utah when a pickup truck speeding away from police crossed the center line and hit his truck head-on, causing an explosion. State police had been trying to pull over the pickup driver after several people called 911 to report he was driving recklessly.

Gray was not suspected of wrongdoing.

The pickup driver, Marcos Torres, 26, died in the crash, and Utah police routinely collect such evidence from everyone involved in fatal crashes.

Dramatic video of Wubbels’ arrest caught widespread attention online amid national scrutiny of police use of force. Payne and the supervisor who backed him, Lt. James Tracy, were placed on leave amid internal and criminal investigations…

Gray, 43, served with police in the southeastern Idaho city of Rigby. Chief Sam Tower said he was dedicated to the community of about 4,000 people and plowed snow from a sidewalk last winter so neighborhood kids wouldn’t have to walk in the street.

“Bill was truly the best of mankind,” Rigby police said in a Facebook post. “Always willing to help, always willing to go the extra mile. Bill was a big man, with a bigger heart. Everything about him was generous and kind.”…

Amy Davidson Sorkin, in the New Yorker, explains “What the Utah Good-Nurse, Bad-Cop Video Says About Medical Privacy”:

The story began on July 26th. That day, the police had engaged in a high-speed chase on a highway that ended with a deadly multi-vehicle crash. But this was not a cinematic case of, say, fugitive armed robbers. It began around 2 P.M., when the police received reports of a Chevrolet Silverado driving erratically. As the officers began their pursuit, the Silverado, now on US-89/91, swerved into a semi truck that happened to be on the road, causing an explosion. The driver of the Silverado, Marco Torres, who was twenty-six, was killed instantly. The truck driver, William Gray—who, in one of this story’s many byways, was a reserve police officer in Rigby, Idaho—staggered out of his semi, his clothes and body on fire. He was airlifted to the burn unit. One might wonder why the police wanted his blood, when he was, essentially, a bystander. The Utah police have said that it was meant for Gray’s protection, but Payne, in his report on the incident, obtained by the Salt Lake Tribune, said that the officers who were dealing with the crash wanted to know whether Gray had any “chemical substances” in his system. Another, troubling possibility could be that they were looking for something that might place some of the responsibility for the crash on Gray, in case he complained that the police had been reckless in their pursuit.
Read more



Tuesday Morning Open Thread: Watch & Enjoy


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The clip is from Chris Hayes’ interview with Hillary Clinton last night. Well worth watching!

So I spent last week helling around with my old friend, and only skimmed the news. My mood is much better, but it’ll take me a while to catch up on all the current outrages…

Sounds like the latest attempt to gut Obamacare may be (no so) quietly being put to rest, so that’s one good thing, yes?

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What else is on the agenda for the new day?
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Monday Morning Open Thread: Once More Unto the Breech

Jack Ohman via Gocomics.com
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Per the Washington Post:

The Republican senators at the forefront of the latest effort to undo the Affordable Care Act plan to release a revised version of their bill Monday sending more health-care dollars to the states of key holdouts, as hardening resistance from several GOP senators left their proposal on the verge of collapse.

According to a summary obtained by The Washington Post, Sens. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) and Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) will propose giving Alaska and Maine more funding than initially offered. Those states are represented by Republican Sens. Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) and Susan Collins (Maine), who have expressed concerns about the bill but have yet to say how they would vote…

The plan was distributed among Republicans late Sunday, with party leaders just one “no” vote away from defeat and as Republican senators from across the political spectrum were distancing themselves from the prior draft…

Although the CBO plans to release a “preliminary assessment” early this week, officials there have said they will not be able to provide estimates of how Cassidy-Graham would affect insurance premiums or the number of people with coverage “for at least several weeks.” Trump and McConnell are trying to bring the bill to a vote by the end of this week to take advantage of a procedural rule allowing the plan to pass with just 51 votes.

It remained far from clear Sunday that they could get close to that number…

Walt Handelsman via Gocomics.com
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On the other hand, if we can prevent this latest attempt…

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Apart from the Repubs’ never-ending efforts to make everybody elses’ lives worse, what’s on the agenda as we start a fresh week?



Saturday Morning Open Thread: Truth Is On Our Side

From the Washington Post:

With just eight days to go before Sept. 30, the deadline after which Republicans will lose the ability to pass an ACA replacement with a simple majority, activists working to save the law were markedly cautious. Days of action — Saturday rallies organized by MoveOn, Monday rallies by Indivisible — would continue. So would calls to senators. Having been caught unaware in May and last week, when Republicans revived “Trumpcare,” activists said they would keep pounding until the deadline had passed.

“You don’t want to leave anything to chance,” said Ben Wikler, the Washington director of MoveOn. “If more senators come out in opposition to the bill this week, that makes it less likely that they can credibly come back and support another repeal vote. It needs to be totally clear to them that electoral disaster would come from keeping their horrible campaign promise.”…

Apart from cautious optimism, what’s on the agenda for the day?
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Late Night Horrorshow Open Thread: Interesting Analogy…

The story Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Bill Cassidy (R-La.) tell about their legislation during speeches and news conferences is a straightforward, seemingly innocuous one ― that they are simply transferring money and authority away from the federal government.

To their colleagues in the Senate, Graham and Cassidy make a different, more nuanced pitch. With key Republicans nervous about what the bill would mean for coverage of their constituents, Graham and Cassidy are promising the vast majority of Republican states would end up with more money, not less, if the proposal becomes law.

The story Graham and Cassidy are telling the public is a vast over-simplification, one that leaves out the bill’s most important elements. And the story they are peddling to colleagues? That’s even more misleading…

ETA: