The White House informed on Wednesday that President Joe Biden “will be joining virtually to the first meeting of the Task Force on Reproductive Healthcare Access to announce an Executive Order on Securing Access to Reproductive and Other Healthcare Services.”
According to the White House fact sheet, President Biden will direct the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) “to consider action to advance access to reproductive healthcare services, including through Medicaid for patients who travel out of state for reproductive healthcare services.”
Although the release does not specify what costs Medicaid could potentially cover, The Hill quoted a senior administration official saying HHS “would help cover certain costs and largely target low-income women who receive Medicaid.”
The outlet also noted that “Medicaid funds could not be used to pay for abortions themselves because the Hyde Amendment prohibits the use of federal funds to pay for most abortions.”
The order directs the HHS Secretary “to ensure health care providers comply with Federal non-discrimination laws” so that women receive medically necessary care without delay, and “to evaluate and improve research, data collection, and data analysis efforts” at the NIH and the CDC “to accurately measure the impact that diminishing access to reproductive health care services has on women’s health.”
It will be the second executive order signed by President Biden since the Supreme Court struck down Roe v. Wade, the landmark abortion ruling, in June. As we previously reported, in July he signed an Executive Order Protecting Access to Reproductive Health Care Services protecting the right to seek medical care out of state and access to medication.
During the Task Force’s meeting, “Cabinet heads will report on the progress they have made in implementing the July 8 Executive Order as well as related actions to defend reproductive rights.”
Co-chaired by HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra, and the Director of the White House Gender Policy Council, Jennifer Klein, the Task Force, which also includes the Attorney General, is “responsible for coordinating Federal interagency policymaking and program development” and provides “technical assistance to states affording legal protection to out-of-state patients as well as providers who offer legal reproductive health care.”
Biden’s COVID symptoms return
White House physician Kevin O’Connor informed on Tuesday in his regular update on President Biden’s condition that “though he continues to feel well,” President Biden’s “experiencing a bit of a return of a loose cough” as he continues to test positive for the virus.
Biden “remains fever-free, that his temperature, pulse, blood pressure, respiratory rate, and oxygen saturation remain entirely normal,” the letter says.
It noted that, under Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines, Biden will remain in isolation through at least Thursday and, if he continues to test positive, perhaps even longer under tougher White House protocols which go above and beyond CDC guidance, and only allow returning to in-person work after the person tests negative.