Round 2: Biden to HHS: Protect Reproductive Healthcare Services

In a second Executive Order issued August 3rd, 2022, President Biden requests the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) to find solutions to ease access to “reproductive healthcare services” using Medicaid and non-discrimination legislation for entities that receive federal financial assistance.

In his first issued Executive Order, the President requested the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) to submit a report (within 30 days) outlining possible actions to protect and expand access to abortion services (and the full range of reproductive services).

If you’ve been reading our Blog Days of Summer Series, today’s post is one of several summarizing federal actions in the wake of the Dobb’s decision. This landmark Opinion by the Supreme Court removed the Constitutional right to abortion established by previous cases, and returned it to the States. For access to summaries of, and legislation pertinent and tangential to the decision, review our blogs below:

In his second Executive Order, the President urges HHS to alleviate access to reproductive healthcare since Dobbs using federal means.

“‘Reproductive healthcare services’ means medical, surgical, counseling, or referral services relating to the human reproductive system, including services relating to pregnancy or the termination of a pregnancy.” HHS is to

  • “consider actions to advance access to reproductive healthcare services, including . . . through Medicaid for patients traveling across State lines for medical care.”
  • “consider all appropriate actions to advance the . . . understanding of and compliance with Federal non-discrimination laws by healthcare providers that receive Federal financial assistance.” This includes providing technical assistance; analyzing groups of healthcare providers to understand their compliance with nondiscrimination laws; and issuing guidance as required.
  • “evaluate the adequacy of research, data collection, and data analysis and interpretation efforts at the National Institutes of Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and other relevant HHS components in accurately measuring the effect of access to reproductive healthcare on maternal health outcomes and other health outcomes.¬† Following that evaluation, the Secretary shall take appropriate actions to improve those efforts.”

Practically speaking, the President’s Orders indicate efforts to stem the tide of restrictions and reports of such that have been surfacing in various states since Dobbs. Plans and providers must carefully review federal laws as applicable, ensuring access to reproductive services is not hampered contrary to law while also monitoring swiftly evolving state legislation.

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