Will They or Won’t They (Block the Abortion Pill)?

by | Apr 20, 2023 | Health

The Host

Supreme Court justices could act at any moment on access to the abortion pill mifepristone. Beyond reproductive health, their ruling could carry significant implications for states’ rights and FDA independence and integrity. For now, though, observers are unsure what the court will do — or what exactly prompted justices to again delay their decision this week.

At the Capitol, lawmakers grumbled, scoffed, and bickered this week as House Speaker Kevin McCarthy revealed the Republican proposal to cut government spending. The package would be dead-on-arrival in the Democratic-controlled Senate. But of note is the pushback from within McCarthy’s own caucus, with some hard-right conservatives pressing to go further by demanding the repeal of the Inflation Reduction Act in exchange for raising the debt ceiling.

And President Joe Biden pursued new efforts to grant legal status to young immigrants living in the country illegally who were brought here as children, sometimes called “Dreamers,” as his administration announced a plan to grant them access to government-funded health coverage.

This week’s panelists are Mary Agnes Carey of KFF Health News, Rachel Cohrs of Stat, Sandhya Raman of CQ Roll Call, and Joanne Kenen of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and Politico.

Among the takeaways from this week’s episode:

The Supreme Court extended its stay on the use of mifepristone through Friday, giving justices longer to act on a major, complicated case with nationwide implications for reproductive health. It is unclear what the court will do, though there are several actions it could take — including sending the case back to the lower courts or again extending the stay and buying justices even more time to come to agreement or pen dissents.

GenBioPro, which produces the generic version of mifepristone, sued the FDA on Wednesday, attempting to preserve access to the drug. About two-thirds of the mifepristone currently used in the United States is generic.

In congressional news, House Speaker McCarthy released what is effectively Republicans’ opening offer in the fight over raising the debt ceiling. The package includes GOP health priorities that would not garner needed support in the Senate, like work requirements for Medicaid and the clawback of unspent covid-19 pandemic funds.

While health costs are high across government programs, Medicaid takes the big hit in the Republican proposal to cut federal spending. Republicans have embraced work requirements for government assistance …

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