Tagged Courts

Activists Challenge Law In Maine Allowing Physician-Only Abortions

ACLU attorney Julia Kaye says the law is a hardship on rural women because it requires them to travel several hours to receive services, but defenders of the law say there is little evidence to support that charge. Dozens of states have similar restrictions. News on abortion comes out of Georgia, as well.

Woman Going To Jail Sues For Access To Methadone Treatment: ‘I Will Lose Control Of My Addiction… I Will Die.’

The federal prison does not allow anti-craving medications as ongoing treatment for opioid addiction except for pregnant women, who can take methadone. Meanwhile, Massachusetts advocates want hope to revolutionize the way the criminal justice system treats people who are addicted.

Woman Going To Jail Sues For Access To Methadone Treatment: ‘I Will Lose Control Of My Addiction… I Will Die.’

The federal prison does not allow anti-craving medications as ongoing treatment for opioid addiction except for pregnant women, who can take methadone. Meanwhile, Massachusetts advocates want hope to revolutionize the way the criminal justice system treats people who are addicted.

FDA Orders European Seller Of Online Abortion Bills To Immediately Cease Delivery To U.S. Customers

The FDA says the “unapproved new drugs pose an inherent risk to consumers.” In other news on abortion: Tennessee judge rebuked for denying a women on house arrest to travel to get an abortion; Indiana takes steps toward allowing nurses and physician assistants to object to playing role in abortion procedure; and Maine governor wants to allow medical professionals besides doctors to be able to provide the service.

FDA Orders European Seller Of Online Abortion Pills To Immediately Cease Delivery To U.S. Customers

The FDA says the “unapproved new drugs pose an inherent risk to consumers.” In other news on abortion: Tennessee judge rebuked for denying a women on house arrest to travel to get an abortion; Indiana takes steps toward allowing nurses and physician assistants to object to playing role in abortion procedure; and Maine governor wants to allow medical professionals besides doctors to be able to provide the service.

Hidden Cost Of Immigration Enforcement Battle: Veterans Drug Court Could Become Casualty In Sanctuary City Standoff

The Trump administration in 2017 threatened to withhold law enforcement grants from 29 cities, counties or states it viewed as having “sanctuary” policies that limit cooperation with federal immigration agents. Today, all those jurisdictions have received or been cleared to get the money, except Oregon, which is battling for the funds in federal court. Some of that money is slated for veterans courts that help servicemen and women who are addicted to drugs get help.

Hidden Cost Of Immigration Enforcement Battle: Veterans Drug Court Could Become Casualty In Sanctuary City Standoff

The Trump administration in 2017 threatened to withhold law enforcement grants from 29 cities, counties or states it viewed as having “sanctuary” policies that limit cooperation with federal immigration agents. Today, all those jurisdictions have received or been cleared to get the money, except Oregon, which is battling for the funds in federal court. Some of that money is slated for veterans courts that help servicemen and women who are addicted to drugs get help.

Must-Reads Of The Week From Brianna Labuskes

Happy Friday! Has everyone recovered from their daylight saving time jet lag? Every year we get a whole host of articles about why changing the clocks is outdated, terrible and really quite bad for our health, and yet! Here were are, still grumpy and tired. But it’s almost the weekend, so let’s soldier on.

Here’s what you may have missed in your spring-forward daze.

President Donald Trump released his $4.75 trillion budget plan this week, which included a big increase in military funding and deep cuts to other domestic spending. Although the proposal will be dead on arrival in Congress, it still serves as a good road map for the administration’s priorities and Trump’s re-election campaign.

There were some health care wins, but there were also some blows, as well. At the heart of it all, critics say, are contradictions that undercut Trump’s talk about supporting certain public health causes. Take the $291 million budgeted for HIV, for example. Trump’s proposal allocates hundreds of millions toward the cause domestically, but then cuts global aid and chips away at programs like Medicaid, which HIV patients rely on.

Some of the health care highlights in the budget:

• Shaving $818 billion from projected spending on Medicare over 10 years and calling for belt-tightening within the popular program to combat “waste, fraud and abuse”;

• Cutting nearly $1.5 trillion from projected spending on Medicaid and transforming the program into a block grant system (a controversial idea that has received a lot of criticism in the past, even from Republican governors);

• Slashing spending on the National Institutes of Health, a longtime favorite of lawmakers of both parties, by $4.5 billion, with the National Cancer Institute absorbing the largest chunk of that cut;

• Increasing funding for pediatric cancer research by $50 million;

• Cutting HHS funding to $87.1 billion, which would be 12 percent less than in the spending plan Congress adopted for this fiscal year;

• Charging the e-cigarette industry $100 million a year in user fees that would go toward the FDA and its oversight efforts;

• And raising funding for VA medical care by nearly 10 percent.

Another interesting tidbit comes out of Politico’s reporting: HHS would be directed to steer $20 million toward a small children’s health program sought by one of Trump’s golfing buddies, Jack Nicklaus.

The New York Times: Trump Proposes a Record $4.75 Trillion Budget

The Washington Post: Springing Forward to Daylight Saving Time Is Obsolete, Confusing and Unhealthy, Critics Say

The Washington Post: Trump Pledges Support for Health Programs but His Budget Takes ‘Legs Out From Underneath the System’

Politico: Trump’s Budget Would Steer $20M to Jack Nicklaus-Backed Hospital Project

Democrats were less than pleased with the suggested budget. Lawmakers warned HHS Secretary Alex Azar — who bore the brunt of their ire at a hearing on Tuesday — that if Medicaid were transformed into a block grant system the change would face “a firestorm” of opposition.

The New York Times: Congress Warns Against Medicaid Cuts: ‘You Just Wait for the Firestorm’

Meanwhile, the “Mediscare” game went another round with Democrats saying that the “unbelievable” cuts fulfill long-standing Republican ambitions “to make Medicare wither on the vine.” If the accusations sound familiar to ones you’ve heard in the past, you’re not mistaken. They just might have been coming from Republicans. The Washington Post Fact Checker untangles it all to show that everyone is guilty of playing this particular scare game.

The Washington Post Fact Checker: Democrats Engage in ‘Mediscare’ Spin on the Trump Budget


Following FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb’s surprise resignation announcement, Dr. Ned Sharpless has been named as the acting chief of the agency. Sharpless’ current work as the director of the National Cancer Institute has focused on the relationship between aging and cancer, and the development of new treatments for melanoma, lung cancer and breast cancer.

The appointment was a bit of a curveball for some agency watchers. Some Republicans had been chafing at the way Gottlieb embraced his pro-regulation side as commissioner and were hoping for a sea change. But Sharpless is a Democrat who has spoken out before about how his worries over the e-cigarette industry keep him up at night, so the direction of the agency may not be changing soon. (HHS Secretary Alex Azar has said this is a temporary appointment and the search for a permanent commissioner is underway, but there are also hints that Sharpless could step into the role.)

Colleagues were quick to praise the cancer doctor and research veteran for his breadth of experience and his “approachable, objective” demeanor.

Stat: How Ned Sharpless, Biotech Veteran, Vaulted to the Top of the FDA

No one can accuse Gottlieb of getting whatever the professional version of “senioritis” is, despite the fact that he’ll be departing in a few weeks. The FDA has issued a proposal that would sequester flavored e-cigarettes to areas off-limits to anyone under age 18. The stores can still sell tobacco, mint and menthol e-cigarettes, which the FDA says are more popular among adults than minors.

The New York Times: F.D.A. Moves to Restrict Flavored E-Cigarette Sales to Teenagers


Beto O’Rourke is the latest Democrat to throw his hat in the ring for 2020, but can the moderate Texan overcome his baggage when it comes to his past opposition to the Affordable Care Act? In terms of his current stance, he has said that he supports universal health care, but has, like other moderates in the race, taken pains not to name “Medicare-for-all” in particular.

The Wall Street Journal: Beto O’Rourke’s Past GOP Ties Could Complicate Primary Run


The Connecticut Supreme Court has now cleared the way for Sandy Hook families to sue gunmakers over wrongful marketing. In the lawsuit, the families pointed out ads with slogans like “Consider your man card reissued,” which they say is specifically targeted for troubled young men like Adam Lanza. The ruling is fairly narrow and limited to marketing — the justices dismissed other aspects of the lawsuits — but could have far-reaching ramifications because it strips away some of the blanket immunity offered to gun manufacturers by Congress.

The New York Times: Sandy Hook Massacre: Remington and Other Gun Companies Lose Major Ruling Over Liability


Lawyers are starting to warn their clients who have filed disability claims with the government to clean up their social media because Uncle Sam might start snooping for fraud. “You don’t want anything on there that shows you out playing Frisbee,” one said. Advocates for people with disabilities say using social media sites in such a way would be irresponsible, as it’s impossible to gauge just from the pictures people post if they need disability aid.

The New York Times: On Disability and on Facebook? Uncle Sam Wants to Watch What You Post


In the miscellaneous file for the week:

• Calls for a worldwide moratorium on gene-editing human embryos expose the ethical divide over the research, which has been thrust into the spotlight following a Chinese scientist’s shocking and unexpected revelation that he successfully accomplished the feat.

Reuters: Experts Call for Halt to Gene Editing That Results in ‘Designer Babies’

• An entrenched culture of sexism at VA facilities has led female veterans to forgo needed care in order to avoid harassment. “It’s like a construction site,” said Rep. John Carter (R-Texas).

The New York Times: Treated Like a ‘Piece Of Meat’: Female Veterans Endure Harassment at the V.A.

• Court filings detail Johnson & Johnson’s role in the opioid epidemic, including accusations that the company operated like a drug “kingpin … profiting at every stage.’’

Bloomberg: US Opioid Drug Epidemic: J&J Called ‘Kingpin’ by Oklahoma

• The cost of this Oregon child not getting vaccinations? $800,000 in medical bills and 57 days in the hospital. The terrifying ordeal shows how quickly a small cut can spiral into a devastating emergency.

The New York Times: An Unvaccinated Boy Got Tetanus. His Oregon Hospital Stay: 57 Days and $800,000.

• Medical ethicists were given a lot to think about this week: In this case, it’s examining the tough decisions that come from deciding to extract sperm from a deceased loved one. While some support the choice if it’s a spouse, what happens if it’s the parents who are making the call?

Stat: Efforts to Save the Sperm of the Dead Bring Heartache and Tough Questions

• Is there a chilling effect on disease research when social media activists engage in thought-policing? Scientists say yes, and that, ultimately, the patients are the ones getting hurt.

Reuters: Special Report: Online Activists Are Silencing Us, Scientists Say


Doctors say our oversanitized culture does no favors to our immune system. (I have been pounding this drum for years, so I had to include this story.) The next time you drop some food on the floor, apparently the right move is to embrace the three-second rule and eat it. Have a great weekend!

Must-Reads Of The Week From Brianna Labuskes

Happy Friday! Has everyone recovered from their daylight saving time jet lag? Every year we get a whole host of articles about why changing the clocks is outdated, terrible and really quite bad for our health, and yet! Here were are, still grumpy and tired. But it’s almost the weekend, so let’s soldier on.

Here’s what you may have missed in your spring-forward daze.

President Donald Trump released his $4.75 trillion budget plan this week, which included a big increase in military funding and deep cuts to other domestic spending. Although the proposal will be dead on arrival in Congress, it still serves as a good road map for the administration’s priorities and Trump’s re-election campaign.

There were some health care wins, but there were also some blows, as well. At the heart of it all, critics say, are contradictions that undercut Trump’s talk about supporting certain public health causes. Take the $291 million budgeted for HIV, for example. Trump’s proposal allocates hundreds of millions toward the cause domestically, but then cuts global aid and chips away at programs like Medicaid, which HIV patients rely on.

Some of the health care highlights in the budget:

• Shaving $818 billion from projected spending on Medicare over 10 years and calling for belt-tightening within the popular program to combat “waste, fraud and abuse”;

• Cutting nearly $1.5 trillion from projected spending on Medicaid and transforming the program into a block grant system (a controversial idea that has received a lot of criticism in the past, even from Republican governors);

• Slashing spending on the National Institutes of Health, a longtime favorite of lawmakers of both parties, by $4.5 billion, with the National Cancer Institute absorbing the largest chunk of that cut;

• Increasing funding for pediatric cancer research by $50 million;

• Cutting HHS funding to $87.1 billion, which would be 12 percent less than in the spending plan Congress adopted for this fiscal year;

• Charging the e-cigarette industry $100 million a year in user fees that would go toward the FDA and its oversight efforts;

• And raising funding for VA medical care by nearly 10 percent.

Another interesting tidbit comes out of Politico’s reporting: HHS would be directed to steer $20 million toward a small children’s health program sought by one of Trump’s golfing buddies, Jack Nicklaus.

The New York Times: Trump Proposes a Record $4.75 Trillion Budget

The Washington Post: Springing Forward to Daylight Saving Time Is Obsolete, Confusing and Unhealthy, Critics Say

The Washington Post: Trump Pledges Support for Health Programs but His Budget Takes ‘Legs Out From Underneath the System’

Politico: Trump’s Budget Would Steer $20M to Jack Nicklaus-Backed Hospital Project

Democrats were less than pleased with the suggested budget. Lawmakers warned HHS Secretary Alex Azar — who bore the brunt of their ire at a hearing on Tuesday — that if Medicaid were transformed into a block grant system the change would face “a firestorm” of opposition.

The New York Times: Congress Warns Against Medicaid Cuts: ‘You Just Wait for the Firestorm’

Meanwhile, the “Mediscare” game went another round with Democrats saying that the “unbelievable” cuts fulfill long-standing Republican ambitions “to make Medicare wither on the vine.” If the accusations sound familiar to ones you’ve heard in the past, you’re not mistaken. They just might have been coming from Republicans. The Washington Post Fact Checker untangles it all to show that everyone is guilty of playing this particular scare game.

The Washington Post Fact Checker: Democrats Engage in ‘Mediscare’ Spin on the Trump Budget


Following FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb’s surprise resignation announcement, Dr. Ned Sharpless has been named as the acting chief of the agency. Sharpless’ current work as the director of the National Cancer Institute has focused on the relationship between aging and cancer, and the development of new treatments for melanoma, lung cancer and breast cancer.

The appointment was a bit of a curveball for some agency watchers. Some Republicans had been chafing at the way Gottlieb embraced his pro-regulation side as commissioner and were hoping for a sea change. But Sharpless is a Democrat who has spoken out before about how his worries over the e-cigarette industry keep him up at night, so the direction of the agency may not be changing soon. (HHS Secretary Alex Azar has said this is a temporary appointment and the search for a permanent commissioner is underway, but there are also hints that Sharpless could step into the role.)

Colleagues were quick to praise the cancer doctor and research veteran for his breadth of experience and his “approachable, objective” demeanor.

Stat: How Ned Sharpless, Biotech Veteran, Vaulted to the Top of the FDA

No one can accuse Gottlieb of getting whatever the professional version of “senioritis” is, despite the fact that he’ll be departing in a few weeks. The FDA has issued a proposal that would sequester flavored e-cigarettes to areas off-limits to anyone under age 18. The stores can still sell tobacco, mint and menthol e-cigarettes, which the FDA says are more popular among adults than minors.

The New York Times: F.D.A. Moves to Restrict Flavored E-Cigarette Sales to Teenagers


Beto O’Rourke is the latest Democrat to throw his hat in the ring for 2020, but can the moderate Texan overcome his baggage when it comes to his past opposition to the Affordable Care Act? In terms of his current stance, he has said that he supports universal health care, but has, like other moderates in the race, taken pains not to name “Medicare-for-all” in particular.

The Wall Street Journal: Beto O’Rourke’s Past GOP Ties Could Complicate Primary Run


The Connecticut Supreme Court has now cleared the way for Sandy Hook families to sue gunmakers over wrongful marketing. In the lawsuit, the families pointed out ads with slogans like “Consider your man card reissued,” which they say is specifically targeted for troubled young men like Adam Lanza. The ruling is fairly narrow and limited to marketing — the justices dismissed other aspects of the lawsuits — but could have far-reaching ramifications because it strips away some of the blanket immunity offered to gun manufacturers by Congress.

The New York Times: Sandy Hook Massacre: Remington and Other Gun Companies Lose Major Ruling Over Liability


Lawyers are starting to warn their clients who have filed disability claims with the government to clean up their social media because Uncle Sam might start snooping for fraud. “You don’t want anything on there that shows you out playing Frisbee,” one said. Advocates for people with disabilities say using social media sites in such a way would be irresponsible, as it’s impossible to gauge just from the pictures people post if they need disability aid.

The New York Times: On Disability and on Facebook? Uncle Sam Wants to Watch What You Post


In the miscellaneous file for the week:

• Calls for a worldwide moratorium on gene-editing human embryos expose the ethical divide over the research, which has been thrust into the spotlight following a Chinese scientist’s shocking and unexpected revelation that he successfully accomplished the feat.

Reuters: Experts Call for Halt to Gene Editing That Results in ‘Designer Babies’

• An entrenched culture of sexism at VA facilities has led female veterans to forgo needed care in order to avoid harassment. “It’s like a construction site,” said Rep. John Carter (R-Texas).

The New York Times: Treated Like a ‘Piece Of Meat’: Female Veterans Endure Harassment at the V.A.

• Court filings detail Johnson & Johnson’s role in the opioid epidemic, including accusations that the company operated like a drug “kingpin … profiting at every stage.’’

Bloomberg: US Opioid Drug Epidemic: J&J Called ‘Kingpin’ by Oklahoma

• The cost of this Oregon child not getting vaccinations? $800,000 in medical bills and 57 days in the hospital. The terrifying ordeal shows how quickly a small cut can spiral into a devastating emergency.

The New York Times: An Unvaccinated Boy Got Tetanus. His Oregon Hospital Stay: 57 Days and $800,000.

• Medical ethicists were given a lot to think about this week: In this case, it’s examining the tough decisions that come from deciding to extract sperm from a deceased loved one. While some support the choice if it’s a spouse, what happens if it’s the parents who are making the call?

Stat: Efforts to Save the Sperm of the Dead Bring Heartache and Tough Questions

• Is there a chilling effect on disease research when social media activists engage in thought-policing? Scientists say yes, and that, ultimately, the patients are the ones getting hurt.

Reuters: Special Report: Online Activists Are Silencing Us, Scientists Say


Doctors say our oversanitized culture does no favors to our immune system. (I have been pounding this drum for years, so I had to include this story.) The next time you drop some food on the floor, apparently the right move is to embrace the three-second rule and eat it. Have a great weekend!

Conn. High Court Ruling Clears Way For Sandy Hook Families To Sue Gun Manufacturer Over Wrongful Marketing

In the lawsuit, the Sandy Hook families seized upon the marketing for the AR-15-style Bushmaster used in the 2012 attack, which invoked the violence of combat and used slogans like “Consider your man card reissued.” Lawyers for the families argued that those messages reflected a deliberate effort to appeal to troubled young men like Adam Lanza. The court found that sweeping federal protections for gunmakers did not prevent the families from bringing a lawsuit based on wrongful marketing claims.

Judge Vows To Rule On Medicaid Work Requirements By End Of March

The federal judge who shot down a Medicaid work requirement plan last June remained deeply skeptical Thursday of the Trump administration’s renewed strategy to force enrollees to work.

U.S. District Judge James Boasberg, who last year blocked Kentucky’s work requirement, heard testimony on a revised federal approval. He also had a hearing on Arkansas’ Medicaid work requirement — which took effect last July and has led to 18,000 Medicaid enrollees losing coverage.

After the court hearings in Washington, Boasberg said he would rule on both states’ programs by April 1, which is when the next round of Arkansas enrollees could be kicked off the program. Kentucky plans to implement its work requirement this summer.

A ruling against a work requirement would have vast repercussions in more than a dozen other states that have been approved for new work requirements in Medicaid, the federal-state health program, or are seeking them from the Trump administration.

Throughout the two-hour-long hearings, Boasberg questioned Justice Department lawyer James Burnham on whether the work requirement plans approved by the Trump administration were helping to achieve Medicaid’s goal of promoting health coverage.

When Burnham argued that work requirements would give people incentives to find work and improve their lives, Boasberg interjected: “That is not the purpose of Medicaid.”

On Capitol Hill, Democrats grilled Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar about the work requirements. Azar testified this week before three separate committees, two in the House and one in the Senate, on the administration’s budget request for the department.

Addressing the Senate Finance Committee on Thursday, Azar disputed the idea that everyone who lost Medicaid in Arkansas was now uninsured. “Only 1,000 of those 18,000 people appealed” their loss of Medicaid, he said. “Only 1,452 of those 18,000 even reapplied for Medicaid when open enrollment came again.”

Azar said that “seems a fairly strong indication” that the rest of those cut from the program “got a job and insurance elsewhere.”

Top health officials for the Trump administration have said getting people on Medicaid into jobs will make them healthier — which they call a key goal of the program.

States can implement work requirements since Congress has given the HHS secretary permission to approve their experiments with the Medicaid program, the administration asserts.

But advocates for the poor say an experiment that leaves thousands of people without coverage runs counter to Medicaid’s aim to improve access to health care.

In his ruling last year, Boasberg, who was appointed by President Barack Obama, said Azar’s approval of Kentucky’s plan failed to consider whether the strategy would “help the state furnish medical assistance to its citizens, a central objective of Medicaid.” He said promoting health generally or helping someone get a job was not the point of the state-federal program created in 1965.

Kentucky last year became the first state to win federal approval for its proposal requiring that certain Medicaid recipients work, go to school or fulfill community service. After Boasberg’s ruling last June, the state filed a new waiver application seeking to meet the judge’s requirements, and the Trump administration approved it.

Federal officials have approved work requirement proposals in seven states — Arizona, Arkansas, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, New Hampshire and Wisconsin. In each of those states, the requirements would apply only to people who gained Medicaid coverage under the expansion promoted by the Affordable Care Act. Ten other states — Alabama, Kansas, Mississippi, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah and Virginia — also have requested approval. Some of those states have not expanded Medicaid and are seeking to add work requirements to their regular programs.

Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin, a Republican, has threatened to scrap the Medicaid expansion unless his state is allowed to proceed with the new rules, a move that would cause the more than 400,000 new enrollees to lose their coverage. He said the work requirement will help move some adults off the program so the state has enough money to help others on the program.

Boasberg questioned whether the state has proven its case to the federal government that it needs work requirements to keep its Medicaid program financially sustainable. “At the end of the day, isn’t the centerpiece of your case the fiscal sustainability argument?” Boasberg asked the Trump administration’s lawyer.

Burnham argued neither Kentucky nor Arkansas was kicking people off their programs and causing them to lose benefits. He said people were just choosing to not comply with the state’s new reporting requirements to show they were working, doing volunteer work or meeting one of the states’ exceptions.

Ian Gershengorn, a lawyer representing the National Health Law Program and other plaintiffs trying to overturn the work requirements, said Kentucky’s financial sustainability argument “seems absurd” because the federal government this year is paying 94 percent of the costs for the Medicaid expansion population.

He said HHS should not be approving Kentucky’s waiver based on the governor threatening to kill the entire Medicaid expansion if he doesn’t get work requirement authority.

Gershengorn said Azar cannot argue in approving Kentucky’s waiver that he has no idea how many people would lose coverage since the Arkansas experience already shows thousands lost Medicaid coverage.

The Kaiser Family Foundation has estimated that 1.4 million to 4 million Americans could lose their coverage if work requirements were imposed nationwide. Most of the coverage losses would result from enrollees failing to report their compliance to the state, not because they were failing to fulfill the work or job search criteria. (Kaiser Health News is an editorially independent program of the foundation.)

The Justice Department attorney tried to show the difference between the first Kentucky approval in January 2018 and the second one made last November was that the HHS secretary analyzed what effect the experiment would have on health coverage. He said keeping the Kentucky program would ensure the expansion stayed in place as well as give adult enrollees access to vision and dental coverage.

But Gershengorn argued the difference between the two approvals is that the state and the federal government now know the implications work requirements can have on enrollees.

“There is massive harm,” Gershengorn said. “It is not speculative.”

KHN chief Washington correspondent Julie Rovner contributed to this report.

After Nearly Two Years Of Bitter Battle Following Their Failed Merger, Cigna And Anthem Await Judge’s Decision

There’s billions of dollars at stake, with each company having “shot for the moon” in their damages requests. The court proceedings peeled back the curtain on large-scale mergers in the health industry, and aired a lot of dirty laundry along the way. In other health industry news: dental insurance, profit reports and federal tax refunds.

Court Documents: Johnson & Johnson Was ‘Kingpin’ In Opioid Epidemic And Targeted Children, Elderly With Marketing

Although Purdue Pharma has gotten much of the heat for its role in the opioid crisis, new court documents out of the Oklahoma trial put Johnson & Johnson front and center as well. The company acted as a “kingpin behind the public-health emergency, profiting at every stage,’’ lawyers for Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter said in a February state court document. Other news on the epidemic comes out of Maryland, Delaware, Rhode Island and California, as well.

Federal Appeals Court Backs Ohio Anti-Abortion Law That Defunds Planned Parenthood

An earlier U.S. district court ruling had agreed with Planned Parenthood that denying the organization funding if it continued to perform abortions violated its right to due process. In his opinion Tuesday, Judge Jeffrey Sutton rejected the contention that the Ohio law imposes an unconstitutional condition on public funding. In other news on abortions, House Democrats eye a bill that would repeal a ban on abortion coverage in programs like Medicaid.

Supreme Court Upholds Decision That Medicaid Must Cover Women’s Sex Reassignment Surgery

The Iowa Supreme Court ruled that the argument that the policy’s explicit exclusion of gender-reassignment surgeries was merely a specified example within the broader category of “cosmetic, reconstructive, and plastic surgeries” that were excluded from coverage was invalid. “The [department] expressly denied Good and Beal coverage for their surgical procedures because they were ‘related to transsexualism … (or) gender identity disorders’ and ‘for the purpose of sex reassignment,'” Justice Susan Christensen wrote, citing segments of the policy.