The Implications of a U.S. Default on Healthcare

Good morning and happy Friday! We won’t be publishing on Memorial Day, so we’ll see you back here on Tuesday. Today’s edition covers the consequences of breaching the debt ceiling on Medicare and Medicaid payments, Indiana’s medical licensing board disciplining a doctor for discussing a 10-year-old rape victim’s abortion with a reporter, and House Democrats supporting a Republican-led bill to permanently classify fentanyl-related substances as Schedule I narcotics.

The lack of a final deal on raising the nation’s borrowing limit is making some health-care CEOs nervous. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has warned that the government may be unable to cover all of its payment obligations as soon as June 1st. A prolonged, weeks- or months-long default would lead to a risky scenario where some providers second-guess whether to even treat Medicare and Medicaid patients at all.

Indiana’s medical licensing board is disciplining Caitlin Bernard, an OB/GYN who performed an abortion for a 10-year-old Ohio rape victim, for breaking patient privacy laws by telling a reporter about the patient’s care. Bernard has been ordered to pay a $3,000 fine and received a letter of reprimand for violating ethical standards and state laws.

Over 70 House Democrats voted for the HALT Fentanyl Act, a Republican-led bill that permanently places fentanyl copycats in a category reserved for the most dangerous drugs. The bill passed 289-133 and was met with opposition from 132 Democrats who expressed concerns that it would lead to over-incarceration and entrench mandatory minimum sentences.

Lastly, a South Carolina judge will consider a request to temporarily block the state’s new abortion ban. All eyes are on this fight today.

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