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GOP: abortion? Let’s change the subject.


Democratic gubernatorial candidates like Arizona’s Katie Hobbs have leaned into abortion, while Republicans have been largely quiet. | Ross D Franklin/AP Photo

THE SPLIT ON ABORTION — The future of abortion rights will be determined in state capitals, not in Washington, DC

That reality has upended post-Dobbs governor races across the nation, where the winners could determine whether millions of women will have the right to abortion.

Democrats are leaning in, while Republicans are often staying away, POLITICO’s Zach Montellaro and Megan Messerly report.

The latest example came Friday when an Arizona court ruled that a 19th-century law banning almost all abortions could take effect, driving clinics to stop offering the procedure. Abortion rights advocates are expected to appeal.

The law bars all abortions, except when needed to save a pregnant person’s life, and was enacted before Arizona became a part of the Union in 1912. It’s been blocked since 1973, shortly after Roe v. Wade was overturned.

The move sparked outrage from Democrats, while Republicans were mostly silent.

“I’m mourning today’s decision,” Katie Hobbs, the Democratic gubernatorial nominee for the state’s open seat, said in a statement. “We now must turn our anger into motivation to win in November and restore our fundamental rights.”

Follow the money: Democratic gubernatorial candidates and outside groups have spent nearly $34 million on TV ads mentioning abortion since the Supreme Court overturned Roe, per ad tracking firm AdImpact, while Republicans have spent about $1 million.

Republicans are zeroing in on issues like the economy or crime, accusing Democrats of turning a blind eye to issues the GOP thinks voters care more about.

“It only further reinforces to the voters they would need to actually win that Democrats not only don’t care about their greatest concerns but also that they have no plans to address them,” Republican Governors Association spokesperson Joanna Rodriguez said. “The moderate and independent voters needed to build winning coalitions in competitive governors races are worried about the economy, crime and education.”

Governors’ power on abortion has already been seen in the past few months, with West Virginia and Indiana passing abortion bans and more states likely to take up abortion legislation next year.

Across the country, Republicans control more governorships — 28 to 22 — but more Americans live in states with a Democrat in its governor’s mansion. Forecasters predict that trend won’t change post-midterms.

Welcome to Monday Pulse. I’m health tech reporter Ben Leonard, filling in for our usual hosts. Before we enter full campaign mode, we want to know the latest that’s happening on the Hill and beyond. Have a tip or exclusive? Reach out to us at [email protected], [email protected] or [email protected].

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Want to know even more? Listen to the latest episode of our Pulse Check podcast.

A message from PhRMA:

According to new findings, insured Americans favor policy solutions that improve their ability to navigate and access their care while lowering their out-of-pocket costs – by tackling the barriers introduced by insurers and middlemen like PBMs. read more

A view of a One Medical office building against a blue sky.

The FTC is taking a closer look at Amazon’s deal to acquire One Medical. | Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

TELEHEALTH, AT-HOME CARE GOLD RUSH — Retail giants including Amazon, Best Buy, Walmart and CVS are trying to get a bigger piece of the health care market and investing billions to do so, but they might need the government to give them a hand to succeed, I report.

This month, CVS doled out $8 billion to buy Signify Health (offering telehealth and house calls) on the heels of Amazon’s $3.9 billion July purchase of primary care provider One Medical (that the FTC is taking a closer look at). Best Buy shelled out close to $400 million for remote patient monitoring company Current Health in November, and Walmart bought telehealth provider MeMD last year for an unknown price.

The companies are pushing the government to expand access to telehealth once the Covid-19 public health emergency ends and, in some cases, antitrust approval for deals. Virtual care is key to their business moves, given the potential for telehealth visits to reduce costs compared with in-person care.

“We are making a long-term strategic bet that more care will move to the home over the next 10 years,” said Best Buy’s Current Health CEO, Chris McCann.

The bets aren’t without risk, given elevated antitrust scrutiny under FTC chair Lina Khan and gridlock in Congress. And lawmakers have voiced concerns about fraud in telemedicine, an issue that could stall legislative efforts.

REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH DATA POLLING — New polling from progressive data firm Navigator Research found that close to two in three Americans would pass back Congress legislation barring reproductive health apps and search engines from selling or sharing women’s data.

That includes most Republicans (54 percent) and an overwhelming majority of Democrats (71 percent) and independents (64 percent). Just 27 percent of Republicans said they’d oppose such legislation.

Rep. Sara Jacobs’ (D-Calif.) My Body, My Data Act, which would bolster data safeguards, has garnered broad Democratic support but would face a difficult path in the Senate.

“Since the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision leaked, I’ve heard from friends, peers, and constituents panicked that their reproductive health data could be weaponized against them in our post-Roe world,” Jacobs said in a release. “This new polling underscores those very real fears and the need for Congress to act immediately.”

A message from PhRMA:


THE GOP HEALTH CARE AGENDA — About a month and a half from when they’re expected to win back the chamber, House Republicans rolled out their agenda Friday in Pennsylvania, POLITICO’s Sarah Ferris and Olivia Beavers report.

While the focus is on curbing illegal immigration and crime, the agenda also includes a number of health care items.

Republicans’ “Commitment to America” ​​agenda aims to “personalize care to provide affordable options and better quality, delivered by trusted doctors” and cut prices via “transparency, choice and competition.” The plan also calls for bolstering telehealth access and further investments in “lifesaving cures.”

Some Republicans are calling to repeal Democrats’ drug pricing legislation, Axios reports.

‘HOW ONE CALIFORNIA TOWN SURVIVED COVID BETTER THAN THE REST’ — What would have happened if more testing had been available during the pandemic? POLITICO California’s Victoria Colliver explores how the college town of Davis could give some hints.

The town, home to the University of California, Davis, faced a potential superspreader event in summer 2020 when students returned to campus, also raising concerns about Covid spreading to the Davis community. University leaders saw regular testing as the way to protect the city, though testing was difficult to come by.

The university had to make testing quick and cheap for thousands of people a week. A world-class agricultural institution, it had expertise in pandemic testing (for plants) and doled out cash for pricey mass testing machines. Aided by an anonymous $40 million donation, the school tested students and staff weekly and made free walk-in testing available across the town.

“What began with a sketch on a piece of paper turned into what’s likely the highest per-capita Covid testing rate in the country — and some of the nation’s lowest infection rates,” Victoria writes. “In the end, Davis and the surrounding area experienced a different kind of pandemic than virtually anywhere else in the country. The university itself escaped a wave of outbreaks that swept other campuses.”

A message from PhRMA:

According to new data, insured Americans are struggling to navigate their health care coverage, particularly the insurer- and PBM-imposed barriers and cost-sharing practices that stand between them and their medicines:

39% of insured Americans say they don’t understand what’s covered by their insurance.

· Even with insurance, 15% report they would be unable to afford health care if they were to become seriously ill because of high out-of-pocket costs.

Americans want policy reforms that improve their insurance by providing more predictability and transparency in what is covered and lowering what they pay out of pocket. Read more in PhRMA’s latest Patient Experience Survey.

The New York Times’ Katie Thomas and Jessica Silver-Greenberg have this headline: “How a hospital chain used a poor neighborhood to turn huge profits.”

Even though the water has come back on in Jackson, the crisis remains, Kaiser Health News’ Renuka Rayasam reports.

The White House is selling drug pricing reforms as a way to cut cancer deaths, STAT’s Rachel Cohrs reports.


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