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Delay of SCOTUS Ruling on Abortion Pill Limits, Extension of Pharmacists’ Pandemic Vaccination Authority & More

April 21, 2023 (2 min read)

No SCOTUS Ruling on Abortion Pill—Yet

Access to the abortion pill mifepristone remained in place after the Supreme Court delayed issuing a decision on whether to restrict access to the drug after a federal judge in Texas ordered a hold on FDA approval of the abortion medication. The brief order from Justice Samuel Alito indicated the high court’s decision could come by 11:59pm EDT Friday (April 21). As the Associated Press reported: “The additional time could be part of an effort to craft an order that has broad support among the justices. Or one or more justices might be writing a separate opinion, and asked for a couple of extra days.” (ASSOCIATED PRESS, KAISER HEALTH NEWS)

Pharmacists to Keep Vaccination Authority Beyond End of COVID Emergency

The Department of Health and Human Services let state governors know that it intends to continue allowing pharmacists to administer COVID-19 and flu vaccines after the COVID-19 public health emergency is over. The Biden administration plans to end its emergency declaration next month. (STAT)

Biden Seeks to Expand Access to Long-Term Care

Facing resistance in Congress to his efforts to bolster the nation’s “care economy,” President Biden issued an executive order last week that included over 50 directives aimed at expanding access to child care and long-term care. One of those directives was for federal government agencies to “identify which of their grant programs can support child care and long-term care for individuals working on federal projects, and consider requiring applicants seeking federal job-creating funds to expand access to care for their workers.” Another instructed the department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to issue regulations ensuring Medicaid funding for long-term and home care workers caring for individuals enrolled in Medicaid. (REUTERS, CNN)

AL Enacts Patient Visitation Law

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey (R) signed legislation (SB 113) requiring healthcare facilities to allow patient visitations. Under the new law patients will be able to designate an “essential caregiver” who can visit them for a minimum of two hours a day. (YELLOWHAMMER NEWS, STATE NET)

PhRMA Blasts CMS Part D Guidance

Industry group PhRMA submitted 76 pages of comments to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) criticizing the agency’s recently released draft guidance regarding the negotiation of Medicare Part D drug prices beginning in 2026. Among several other things PhRMA faulted the agency for failing to seek input from stakeholders on critical parts of the guidance and allowing only a 30-day comment period for an “unprecedented” change to the Medicare program. (FIERCE HEALTHCARE)

DE County to Employ Wastewater Monitoring to Track Drug Use

A county in Delaware that has been monitoring wastewater the past two years to assist it in strategically placing COVID-19 testing and vaccination sites now plans to use that same technology to monitor the use of fentanyl, cocaine, methamphetamine and nicotine. Officials in New Castle County say the data will allow them to direct their drug prevention efforts more effectively. The initiative could eventually expand statewide. (DELAWARE PUBLIC MEDIA)

—Compiled by KOREY CLARK

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