What Biden’s latest actions on reproductive health mean

What Biden’s latest actions on reproductive health mean

The Biden administration this week announced measures aimed at increasing access to contraception and emergency abortion, moves that represent The latest effort by Democrats to focus on reproductive health ahead of the 2024 election.

Since then, the government has struggled to find ways to ensure abortion access Roe v. Wade was overturned. About two dozen states ban or restrict abortion, and some hospitals and their staff are hesitant to offer emergency abortions. President Biden has maintained that federal law requires hospitals to provide emergency abortion services, and the Supreme Court is expected to rule on the issue later this year.

Some patients and providers say they continue to encounter barriers to care since the June 2022 Supreme Court decision struck down roe and overturning the constitutional right to abortion. Here’s what the government’s measures mean for consumers.

More free contraceptives under the Affordable Care Act

Most employer and individual health plans are required to cover contraceptives approved or approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration without requiring patients to pay out-of-pocket costs. Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra sent a letter to health insurance companies reminding them that contraceptives are free.

Health plans and providers also continue to complicate patients’ efforts to obtain free contraceptives, the government said. Federal officials this week cited an October 2022 report from House Democrats that analyzed barriers to contraception and found that at least 34 contraceptive products require patients to pay out of pocket.

Some of these products are newer and offer clinical advantages, such as vaginal rings that last a year instead of a month like other products, or progestin-only birth control pills that patients can take at different times of the day instead of just one. Like other products. Same time every day.

The Department of Health and Human Services provides hypothetical examples of ways insurance companies might deny or complicate access to certain drugs, including age restrictions, imposing onerous requirements and requiring patients to pay out-of-pocket for certain services.

Emergency abortion protection

Federal officials have announced they will launch a campaign to highlight existing emergency abortion protections. This includes urging patients and healthcare professionals to report cases where emergency abortions have been refused.

The Biden administration maintains that federal law requires hospitals to perform emergency abortions, including in states that ban or restrict the procedure, although Republicans and some federal courts disagree.

New team will enforce federal rules when hospitals deny emergency abortions

Health officials said they are assembling a dedicated team to work with health care providers to ensure compliance with the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act, a federal law called EMTALA that was passed nearly 40 years ago and requires hospitals to stabilize Healthy treatments are available to all patients, even if the treatment is abortion.

Abortion rights advocates are urging the Biden administration to be more aggressive in declaring and enforcing EMTALA when hospitals and doctors violate it. Supporters argue that federal officials have done too little to respond to state abortion bans. They cited the recent case of an Oklahoma woman who, despite the possibility of life-threatening pregnancy complications, was told to wait in a parking lot until her condition was severe enough to qualify for the state’s near-total abortion ban. qualifications. Federal officials dismissed the woman’s EMTALA complaint and said the hospital did nothing wrong.

Given the often circuitous nature of EMTALA enforcement, the government faces challenges in implementing its strategy. Determining whether violations occurred requires a months-long process that involves investigations by state health agencies in the anti-abortion states where the incidents occurred. Officials said there were numerous opportunities for the process to be undermined, such as state staff being confused about whether incidents constituted EMTALA violations or simply being unwilling to aggressively pursue complaints, The Washington Post previously reported.

Biden and his allies are eager to make abortion a defining debate in the 2024 election cycle, and this week’s announcement is part of a broader political push by Democrats to focus on the issue.

About three-fifths of voters, including one-fifth of Republicans, said they trust Democratic politicians more than Republican leaders when it comes to handling abortion, according to a poll by the health policy research group KFF. The issue has contributed to recent Republican defeats in Kansas, Ohio and other states that favor Republican politicians.

Former President Donald Trump, who is seeking the Republican presidential nomination, said Republicans should consider focusing less on abortion bans. “You have to win elections,” he said at a Fox News town hall in January.

In an effort to defuse the issue, Republican politicians have pointed to Biden’s personal views, noting that he is a devout Catholic who questioned abortion early in his career and believes the Democratic Party is too permissive on abortion.

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