Welcome to Friday’s Overnight Health Care.
President Trump fully embraced anti-abortion voters by speaking in person at the March for Life, becoming the first sitting president to do so. And there were new developments in the coronavirus outbreak, with the CDC confirming the second case in the U.S.
We’ll start with the March for Life…
Trump becomes first president to speak in person at anti-abortion rally
President Trump on Friday became the first sitting president to address the March for Life in person, telling the crowd of anti-abortion advocates that “unborn children have never had a stronger defender in the White House.”
“From the first day in office I’ve taken historic action to support America’s families and to protect the unborn,” Trump said at the annual march against abortion in Washington, D.C.
Trump spoke for about 10 minutes with anti-abortion advocates and lawmakers standing behind him, running down the list of things he has done to advance the “pro-life” cause while slamming Democrats as extreme on the issue.
“They are coming after me because I am fighting for you, and we are fighting for those who have no voice, and we will win because we know how to win,” he said.
Why it matters: Trump has made abortion a key issue in his 2016 and 2020 campaigns. The issue is of vast importance to a core part of his base: conservative, evangelical Christians.
His administration has made several changes that were pushed by anti-abortion advocates, including removing Planned Parenthood from a federal family planning program and banning U.S. aid for foreign nongovernmental organizations that provide or promote abortions.
Just ahead of the march…
The Trump administration threatened to withhold funding from California over a state law mandating abortion coverage in insurance plans
Officials with the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) argued the insurance requirement forces the public to pay for other people’s abortions, and is a violation of federal law.
The state will have 30 days to come into compliance with federal law or risk losing some of the health funding it gets from HHS.
“If states receive federal funds from HHS or other agencies, they can’t discriminate against health plans that decline to cover or pay for abortions. Period. Full stop,” said Roger Severino, director of the Office for Civil Rights at HHS.
The decision by HHS also serves as a warning to the five other states that mandate abortion coverage in insurance plans, including Maine, Illinois and New York.
Why it matters: This is another example of the administration elevating the rights of religious organizations and individuals. But California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) argued Trump is just trying to score “cheap political points.”
Officials confirm second U.S. case of coronavirus
There’s now a second U.S. case of coronavirus, but officials are stressing that the risk to the general public currently remains low.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Friday confirmed a person in Chicago has been diagnosed with the virus.
The person is a woman in her 60s who recently returned from Wuhan, China, where the outbreak is believed to have started.
Officials said there are 63 cases in 22 states that are under investigation for coronavirus and are being tested, but only two have tested positive at this point.
Dr. Nancy Messonnier of the CDC said the virus is a “very serious public health threat,” but added: “The immediate risk to the U.S. public is low at this time but the situation continues to evolve rapidly.”
The patient in Chicago is in isolation in a hospital and is in stable condition, officials said.
She was not symptomatic while traveling and has not had extended close contact with others since getting sick, officials said, which they believe are good signs for preventing the disease from spreading.
And on Capitol Hill, senators get briefed on the virus
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Dr. Robert Redfield and Dr. Anthony Fauci, head of the infectious disease unit of the National Institutes of Health, updated senators on steps being taken, and how the public can keep safe.
Most senators expressed satisfaction leaving the briefing that officials are taking appropriate steps to fight the virus.
“I think they have responded very well at this point,” said Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), the top Democrat on the Senate Health Committee.
Something to watch: GOP senators are agitating for more action.
Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) is raising questions about whether the U.S. should restrict travel from China.
Hawley sent a letter to the Trump administration on Friday asking whether travel from affected areas in China to the United States should be restricted or banned.
But Fauci told reporters after the briefing that a travel ban is not on the table.
“It’s not something that I think we’re even considering,” Fauci said.
Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) wants the Trump administration to declare the coronavirus outbreak a public health emergency. He also said he doesn’t trust “Communist China to coordinate in a transparent and efficient manner when it comes to combatting the threat of the virus.”
But aside from Scott, most of the other senators said they heard China was being cooperative.
Fauci said he was “impressed,” noting that “right now, from what I can see, they’re being quite transparent.”
What we’re reading
Some opioid executives are finally going to prison (Vox.com)
HHS forgets to renew Trump’s opioid emergency declaration (Politico)
Something far deadlier than the Wuhan virus lurks near you (Kaiser Health News)
State by state
Arizona ‘ObamaCare’ enrollment dropped in 2020. Could that be a good thing? (Arizona Republic)
Kansas lawmakers begin debate on Medicaid expansion (KWCH)
Medi-Cal benefits eliminated a decade ago, such as foot care and eyeglasses, are back (California Healthline)