KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

States Consider Wide-Ranging Abortion, Contraception Legislation

A host of abortion legislation is winding its way through state legislatures: Democrats are focusing on regulating male reproductive health in at least six states; Michigan abortion providers face greater scrutiny; and Arizona could require those seeking birth control give a medical reason they need it.

NPR: In Protest, Democrats Zero In On Men's Reproductive Health
For perhaps the first time in recent history, male reproductive health is at the forefront of political debate. In at least six states, lawmakers -- all women and all Democrats -- have proposed bills or amendments in the last few weeks that aim to regulate a man's access to reproductive health care (Tomassoni, 3/15).

The Detroit Free Press: Lax State Oversight Results In Widespread Violations At Michigan Abortion Providers, Report Says
Abortion providers operate with minimal or no state oversight in Michigan, resulting in widespread violation of requirements for ensuring patient safety, the disposal of medical waste and patient privacy, according to a report by Right to Life of Michigan presented Thursday to a state Senate subcommittee. Only four of 32 surgical abortion facilities in the state are currently licensed, Right to Life's legislative director Ed Rivet told the subcommittee. That lack of oversight results in widespread unsanitary conditions and serial violations of reporting requirements, Rivet said (Bell, 3/16).

The Associated Press: Ariz. Bill Could Require Reason For Birth Control
Women in Arizona trying to get reimbursed for birth control drugs through their employer-provided health plan could be required to prove that they are taking it for a medical reason such as acne, rather than to prevent pregnancy. A bill nearing passage in the Republican-led Legislature allows all employers, not just religious institutions, to opt out of providing contraceptive coverage when doing so would violate their religious or moral beliefs (Davenport, 3/16).

MedPage Today: Arizona Aims to Limit ACA Birth Control Coverage 
The bill, which passed the Arizona House earlier this month and this week won the approval of the Arizona Senate Judiciary Committee, would allow Arizona employers to deny health insurance coverage for contraceptives if they objected on religious grounds. Under the bill, employees who are using birth control for nonreproductive purposes -- such as to control their hormones or to treat acne -- would be required to show their employer proof of the medical reason if the employer objected to the use of contraceptives based on religious grounds (Walker, 3/15).

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Assembly OKs Abortion Restrictions On Last Day of Session
Physicians would have to consult with women face-to-face -- instead of via web cameras -- when they administer abortion-inducing drugs, under a bill legislators sent Thursday to Gov. Scott Walker on their last scheduled day.The wide-ranging measure would also require doctors to speak privately with women seeking abortions to determine whether they had been coerced. Physicians could face a felony for ignoring the new rules. The bill passed the Assembly, 60-33, with all Republicans voting for the measure along with two Democrats, Rep. Tony Staskunas (D-West Allis) and Rep. Peggy Krusick (D-Milwaukee) (Marley, Herzog, and Bergquist, 3/15).

The Associated Press/(St. Paul) Pioneer Press: Wisconsin Legislature Wrapping Up Contentious Session, With Action On Abortion, Education
One of the most bruising legislative sessions in Wisconsin history inched toward an end Thursday evening, March 15, as lawmakers debated dozens of bills, including a measure that would require teachers face evaluations based on student test scores and women seeking abortions to undergo exams and consult face-to-face with doctors….The Assembly moved on to a measure that would require women seeking abortions to undergo a physical exam and consult face-to-face with doctors. Physicians who didn't follow the consultation mandate would face a felony charge (Richmond, 3/15).

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