Washington state pharmacists who want the right to refuse to fill prescriptions based on their religious beliefs were denied Tuesday – after nearly a decade of battling it out in the courts.
The United States Supreme Court chose not take the case challenging Washington state rules adopted in 2007 that ensured patients would have timely access to medication, including emergency contraceptives.
By Nina Martin
Yesterday’s Supreme Court decision in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt was an unexpectedly sweeping victory for reproductive rights advocates — a “game changer,” said Nancy Northrop of the Center for Reproductive Rights that “leaves the right to an abortion on much stronger footing than it stood on before this decision was handed down,” long-time court-watcher Ian Millhiser wrote.
Abortion foes had hoped the court would use the Texas abortion case as an opportunity to gut not just Roe v. Wade, but also 1992’s seminal Planned Parenthood v. Casey, which held that abortion laws creating an “undue burden” on women were unconstitutional.
Instead, the court clarified and strengthened Casey while striking down two of Texas law H.B. 2’s key provisions — strict building rules for abortion clinics and a requirement that abortion doctors have admitting privileges at local hospitals. This could invalidate anti-abortion laws in another 25 states. [Read more…] about Game Changer: The best analysis of the Supreme Court’s abortion decision
By Christine Vestal
For governors and lawmakers in nearly every state, the soaring overdose death toll from prescription painkillers, heroin and fentanyl has become an urgent priority.
Lawmakers in dozens of states took decisive action this year to stanch the flow of prescription pain drugs and help those addicted to them. Roughly 2.5 millionAmericans are addicted to opioids, and more than 28,000 people died of overdoses of painkillers or heroin in 2014, the highest toll ever.
To keep even more people from becoming addicted to medicines such as Percocet, OxyContin and Vicodin, lawmakers in five states set limits on the number of pills a physician can prescribe to a patient for the first time. Twenty-nine states beefed up monitoring of filled prescriptions to prevent addicts from “doctor shopping” for more pills.
Sixteen states expanded the use of naloxone, an overdose antidote drug few lawmakers had heard of just a year ago. And at least nine states adopted requirements that Medicaid and other insurers pay for all medically recommended addiction services, just as they would for other diseases, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL).
Among lawmakers, governors and the medical community, there is broad support for measures aimed at rescuing people from fatal overdoses, providing more addiction treatment options and keeping highly addictive opioid pain medicines out of the hands of those who might abuse them. More doctors and patients are beginning to eschew opioids for alternatives such as anti-inflammatory medications, exercise, physical therapy, acupuncture and psychotherapy.
But the new laws are not without controversy. In several Northeast states, doctors are balking at new limits on the number of pills hospital emergency departments, physicians, dentists or nurses can prescribe for acute pain. Prominent medical groups, including the American Medical Association, argue that doctors and patients, rather than lawmakers, should be able to balance the need for pain relief against the risk of addiction in individual cases. [Read more…] about In states, some resistance to new opioid limits
By Michelle Andrews
Kaiser Health News
The health law opened the door for millions of young adults to stay on their parents’ health insurance until they turn 26. But there’s a downside to remaining on the family plan. Chances are that mom or dad, as policyholder, will get a notice from the insurer every time the grown-up kid gets medical care, a breach of privacy that many young people may find unwelcome.
With this in mind, in recent years a handful of states have adopted laws or regulations that make it easier for dependents to keep medical communications confidential. [Read more…] about States offer privacy protections to young adults on their parents health plan
By Heather Vogell
ProPublica, June 24, 2016
After years of tepid action, Florida officials are moving to intensify monitoring and remove residents from a sprawling complex for the disabled that has a long history of abuse and neglect.
The state is taking the unusual step of stationing an investigator at the Carlton Palms Educational Center and forming a special team to closely watch over staff and residents, documents obtained by ProPublica show. Residents will eventually be relocated to new homes. [Read more…] about Florida cracks down on troubled for-profit facility for the disabled