What We're Reading: Texas Abortion Law Takes Effect; COVID-19 Raises US Mortality Rates; Senate’s Drug Price Bill

A new Texas law ending abortions after 6 weeks takes effect, angering the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists; the CDC says mortality rates may not go back to normal until 2023; a Senate version of a bill aimed at lowering drug prices would only impact Medicare.

ACOG Blasts Texas as 6-Week Abortion Law Takes Effect

A complicated law in Texas that effectively bans abortions after 6 weeks has taken effect, The Texas Tribune reported, after the Supreme Court did not act on an emergency request to halt the law at midnight. In a statement, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) said the law is “a clear attack on the practice of medicine in our country and on decades of established legal precedent” and violates the doctor-patient relationship by allowing lawsuits to be used as intimidation. The law is one of the strictest US abortion bans and allows private citizens anywhere in the country to sue anyone who helps a patient get an abortion, including providing financial assistance, transportation, or counseling.

CDC Expects 15% Increase in US Death Rates

According to a report from the trustees of the Social Security and Medicare programs, mortality rates are expected to increase by 15% in 2021 and not return to normal levels until 2023 due to the pandemic. The CDC estimated between 613,000 and 783,000 more US deaths have occurred since February 1, 2020, due to COVID-19 than what would typically be expected, The Washington Post reported. Increased mortality rates combined with decreased immigration and a sharp drop in fertility rates had a significant short-term impact on trust funds supporting both programs.

Senate Version of Drug Pricing Bill Would Leave Out Those With Job-Based Insurance

A Senate bill aimed at lowering prescription drug prices may not apply to individuals who receive health insurance through their employers, The Hill reported. A competing House measure would let the HHS secretary negotiate lower drug prices, applying to both Medicare and job-based health insurance. However, a Senate rule called the Byrd rule requires that legislative measures have a substantial impact on the federal budget; lowering drug prices in private insurance plans does not directly affect the budget. Employer and progressive groups are lobbying to change the Senate version, warning that limiting lower prices to Medicare would shift costs to employers and families.