What We're Reading: Experts Rush to Understand Trump's Executive Order

What we're reading, January 23, 2017: it is currently unclear what the impact President Donald Trump's executive order will have on the Affordable Care Act; New York requires that insurers cover birth control and abortions; and hospitals reexamine guidelines for opioid prescribing.

On day 1 in the White House, President Donald J. Trump signed an executive order impacting how the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is implemented. However, the order’s effect on the health law is unclear, and experts spent the weekend trying to decode it, reported The Wall Street Journal. The order may indicate that the new administration will stop enforcing the individual mandate, but no official statement has been made yet. Nevertheless, the order cannot repeal the ACA or do away with funding for coverage—only Congress has the power to do that.

New York State is taking measures to ensure women have access to contraception even if the ACA is repealed. According to Bloomberg, Governor Andrew Cuomo has ordered health insurers to cover birth control and medically necessary abortions in the event that a repeal is signed into law. Since insurance is regulated at both the federal and state levels, states may preserve parts of the ACA and continue to enforce provisions even if the federal government repeals the health law.

In the wake of the opioid epidemic, hospitals are reexamining guidelines for prescribing opioids in the emergency department (ED). STAT reported that hospitals are retraining ED doctors to minimize opioid prescriptions. At UK Healthcare, opioids are now only prescribed as a last resort, and St. Joseph’s Regional Medical Center in New Jersey is replacing opiods with less-addictive drugs and has a harpist playing music in the hallways of the ED. While these changes may prevent new addicts, they do not always address people who are already chronic opioid users.