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In health news, Tuesday marks the start of ObamaCare’s 10th open enrollment period — and experts think it will be busy.
Welcome to Overnight Health Care, where we’re following the latest moves on policy and news affecting your health. For The Hill, we’re Nathaniel Weixel and Joseph Choi.
Affordable Care Act open enrollment starts Tuesday
Millions of Americans will be able to start signing up for health insurance on Tuesday when ObamaCare’s 10th open enrollment period kicks off, as the Biden administration seeks to maintain record low uninsured numbers.
- Only 8 percent of Americans were without health insurance as of August, according to the Department of Health and Human Services.
- “Aside from the very first open enrollment … this is probably going to be one of the busiest years thus far,” said Cynthia Cox, director of the Kaiser Family Foundation’s ACA program.
Premiums are increasing this year, but most consumers will largely be shielded from higher costs because Democrats in Congress passed a three-year extension of enhanced subsidies as part of the Inflation Reduction Act.
The Department of Health and Human Services said 4 out of 5 customers will be able to find plans for $10 or less per month after accounting for the subsidies. Enrollees should sign up by Dec. 15 in order to get coverage immediately starting in 2023.
Flashback: Last year, the $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief law boosted tax credits for low-income ObamaCare shoppers, and for the first time made them available to middle-income Americans as well.
The enhanced subsidies were set to expire at the end of the year, but Democrats were finally able to come to an agreement and include an extension into their social spending package that passed over the summer.
Court leaves TSA mask requirement ruling in place
The Supreme Court on Monday let stand a ruling that allows the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to require mask-wearing on planes, trains and other forms of transport.
California lawyer Jonathan Corbett had argued that the TSA did not have the authority to mandate masks on airlines and surface transportation, like buses and trains, when it did so during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit found no merit in Corbett’s claim and affirmed the TSA did have the agency to maintain security and safety within the transportation system, including imposing the masking requirement.
The TSA stopped enforcing a mask mandate in April of this year after the Centers for Disease Control and Preventions’ mask mandate was struck down by a federal judge in Florida.
The Supreme Court’s Monday move leaves the precedent in place, denying Corbett’s request to consider “the D.C. Circuit’s broad expansion of agency authority.”
While travel has picked back up since plummeting during the early parts of the pandemic, levels have still not returned to what they were in 2019.
There are currently no states that are enforcing travel restrictions and most countries now allow international visitors to enter without a negative COVID-19 test or quarantine.
NEARLY HALF OF VOTERS BACK PRO-ABORTION RIGHTS CANDIDATES
Just under half of American voters in a new poll said they would support a candidate who wants to keep abortion legal, highlighting how significant the issue is on voters’ minds just over a week before midterm Election Day.
- The ABC News-Ipsos poll found that 48 percent of registered voters said they would support a candidate who favors keeping abortion legal, with 33 percent saying they would support one who favors limiting abortion except to protect the mother’s life. Eighteen percent said the issue does not matter in their vote.
- Looking more closely at the issue, 61 percent of Americans and 62 percent of registered voters say abortion should be legal in all or most cases.
However, pollsters noted that most Americans are in the middle, with 34 percent saying abortion should be legal in most cases and another 30 percent saying it should be illegal in most cases. Seven percent say they favor an outright ban on abortion.
Abortion has weighed heavily on voters’ minds, taking higher priority with Democrats since the Supreme Court struck down Roe v. Wade in June. Now, abortion access could be impacted in various states based on the results of the upcoming election.
CDC chief tests positive for COVID again after treatment
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Rochelle Walensky has tested positive for COVID-19 again after completing a round of the coronavirus antiviral treatment Paxlovid, the agency said.
- Walensky tested positive for COVID-19 earlier this month, going into isolation and taking “appropriate action” for her health.
- On Monday, the CDC said Walensky had experienced “mild symptoms” during her infection and eventually tested negative for the virus after completing a round of Paxlovid.
“On Sunday, Dr. Walensky began to develop mild symptoms and has again tested positive. Consistent with CDC guidelines, she is isolating at home and will participate in her planned meetings virtually,” the agency said.
Déjà vu: This apparent case of Paxlovid rebound is not surprising. White House chief medical adviser Anthony Fauci and President Biden both tested positive for COVID-19 again following a round of Paxlovid.
A similar phenomenon has been observed in the Merck and Ridgeback coronavirus antiviral molnupiravir. COVID-19 rebound can also occur when antivirals are not administered.
When a rebound in COVID-19 symptoms after antiviral treatments was first observed, it was hypothesized that it was due to insufficient exposure to the medicine.
This hypothesis led some stakeholders to suggest courses of antivirals to last longer than the five days that are currently authorized by the CDC.
HOGAN TESTS POSITIVE FOR COVID
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) announced on Monday that he has tested positive for COVID-19.
“Just wanted to let Marylanders know that after testing positive for COVID-19, I am working from home,” Hogan wrote in a tweet.
“Fortunately, I’m up to date on my boosters and my symptoms are minimal,” added Hogan, whose second term as Maryland’s governor is coming to an end in January.
Repeat infection: Hogan, who has been mentioned as a potential 2024 presidential candidate and is a frequent critic of former President Trump, tested positive for the virus in a breakthrough case last year.
WHAT WE’RE READING
- Death of patient in closely watched Alzheimer’s trial raises concern about risk for some groups (Stat)
- Cholera outbreaks surge worldwide as vaccine supply drains (The New York Times)
- FDA says providers offering medication abortion before pregnancy have gone rogue (Politico)
STATE BY STATE
- California patients fear fallout from third dialysis ballot measure (Kaiser Health News)
- Arizona tests a progressive take on medical debt relief (Axios)
- South Carolina health officials report first pediatric flu death (WFAE)
That’s it for today, thanks for reading. Check out The Hill’s Health Care page for the latest news and coverage. See you tomorrow!