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Today, in health care, we look at states where abortion access should be enshrined in their respective constitutions and where anti-abortion measures have been knocked down.
Welcome to night health care, where we follow the latest developments in policies and news concerning your health. For The Hill, we are Nathaniel Weixel and Joseph Choi. Did someone forward this newsletter to you?
Voters affirm their position in favor of abortion rights in all states
A series of statewide ballot measures across the country have made it clear that voters are in favor of abortion access following the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade.
- Voters in three states — California, Michigan and Vermont — approved ballot measures that amended their respective state constitutions to enshrine the right to abortion.
- California and Vermont have seen overwhelming support in polls for proposals to protect abortion access. Support for abortion access in Michigan was a bit more modest with 56% “YES” votes on the state’s proposal.
- Ballot measures in Kentucky and Montana who, conversely, would have outright denied constitutional protections for abortions or presented challenges to abortion service providers were dismissed.
Planned Parenthood tweeted Tuesday night that “the message is clear” from voters.
“The majority of voters do not want politicians to make personal medical decisions for them,” the reproductive health advocacy group said.
The ballot votes came amid high-profile Senate and House races, with some candidates running for office across the country with hardline views on abortion access.
Already in post-Roe America, about half of all states have moved to restrict abortion access, even as polls show most Americans approve of abortion rights.
Learn more here.
Voters offer divided opinion on legal weed
Voters expressed mixed views on recreational marijuana use in five states on Tuesday, with Maryland and Missouri becoming the latest jurisdictions to ease bans on the substance.
Adult recreational marijuana use will be legal in nearly half the country after the midterm elections, with at least 21 states now on the verge of making the substance legal for adults 21 and older. But voters in three other states rejected the proposals.
- In Maryland, about two-thirds of voters approved a referendum in favor of legalizing marijuana, which will go into effect July 1, 2023.
- In Missouri, about 53% of voters on Wednesday morning supported a constitutional amendment to legalize the possession and use of marijuana for recreational purposes, with about 90% of the estimated votes having been counted.
“This means that the vast majority of the 20,000 people who have been arrested year after year in Missouri will no longer face criminal charges for violation of the victimless marijuana law,” said Dan Viets, co-author of Amendment and State Coordinator for the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML).
No broad consensus: But other states have expressed opposition to legalizing recreational drugs.
- A measure in North Dakota that would make possession and use of marijuana legal was set to fail, with about 55% of voters rejecting the measure on the ballot and 45% supporting it. It was the second time such a ballot measure had failed in the state.
- A similar move in Arkansas that would have legalized the possession and use of marijuana while allowing the sale of the drug also failed. Medical use is already legal in the state.
Learn more here.
LEGISLATIVE INTRODUCES BILL BANNING GENDER-AFFIRMING YOUTH CARE
Tennessee Republicans on Wednesday introduced a measure barring transgender youth under 18 from accessing gender-affirming health care, saying lawmakers have a responsibility to “protect the health and well-being of minors.” . The bill, titled the Protecting Children from Gender Mutilation Act, was introduced on Wednesday by Tennessee Senate Majority Leader Jack Johnson and House Majority Leader William Lamberth, who both won re-election. Tuesday during the midterm elections. What the bill does: Under the proposed measure, Tennessee health care providers will be prohibited from providing gender-affirming medical care to minors “for the purpose of allowing a minor to identify or live as a purported identity inconsistent with the sex of the minor”.
The measure includes exceptions for young people who need treatments like puberty blockers, hormones and surgeries for reasons other than treating gender dysphoria or “mental condition, disorder, disability or abnormality”.
“Left cultural forces would have us accept an alarming new myth; this gender is not a biological reality,” Lamberth wrote in an October op-ed in the Tennessean announcing his intention to introduce the bill.
Learn more here.
MEDITATION AS GOOD AS ANTIDEPRESSANTS FOR ANXIETY: STUDY
An eight-week mindfulness meditation program is as effective as escitalopram (Lexapro), a common antidepressant, in treating anxiety disorders in adults, according to new results from a randomized clinical trial.
The trial was the first of its kind to directly compare guided mindfulness-based intervention with a first-line medication for anxiety. “
A big advantage of mindfulness meditation is that you don’t need to have a clinical degree to train someone to be a mindfulness facilitator. Additionally, sessions can be done outside of a medical setting, such as in a school or community center,” she continued.
Hoge is director of the anxiety disorders research program and associate professor of psychiatry at Georgetown University.
The results were published in JAMA Psychiatry and reflect data from 102 adults treated for their anxiety with a mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) program and 106 patients who received 10 to 20 mg of Lexapro.
Lexapro is a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor – a common type of antidepressant – which was first introduced in the late 1980s.
Learn more here.
South Dakota votes to expand Medicaid coverage
South Dakota on Tuesday became the seventh GOP-led state to expand Medicaid coverage through a ballot initiative. More than 42,000 more people are expected to have coverage, according to state estimates.
The measure passed with 56.2% support and 43.8% opposition with 97% reporting from constituencies, according to the Associated Press.
State Republicans like Governor Kristi Noem opposed the measure, although Noem said she would accept the results and work to implement the expansion if the measure passed.
- Under the Affordable Care Act, the federal government will cover 90% of the costs for states to expand Medicaid coverage. To date, only 12 states have refused to do so.
- Six other states – Idaho, Maine, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Utah – have adopted proposals similar to the one adopted in South Dakota.
Throughout the 2022 campaign season, Republican candidates have largely refrained from commenting on health issues, with many candidates abandoning a long-standing promise to repeal the Affordable Care Act.
Learn more here.
WHAT WE READ
- Abortion issue helps limit Democrats’ midterm losses (Kaiser Health News)
- Drug treatment for addiction is shorter for black and Hispanic patients, study finds (The New York Times)
- Keeping your blood pressure below this number reduces the risk of severe Covid, study finds (CNN)
STATE BY STATE
- California bans flavored tobacco products, including vapes (Stat)
- Rhode Island pediatric beds are 100% full amid respiratory virus surge (NBC News)
- Alabama health providers warn of unusually early flu activity (WBHM)
That’s all for today, thanks for reading. Check out The Hill’s healthcare page for the latest news and coverage. Until tomorrow.
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