POLITICO Pulse (Daily Health Roundup)
INSIDE THE HUMPHREY BUILDING
Azar under fire for HHS policy of blocking abortion among undocumented minors. While Azar has only been on the job for two weeks, he’s already facing questions on the actions of senior HHS officials who have attempted to stop the abortions of immigrant teens in their custody, POLITICO’s Renuka Rayasam reports.
Since last fall, the ACLU has filed suits against the Trump administration on behalf of four pregnant teens who arrived in the U.S. without their parents for blocking their requests for abortions. In each case the girl was eventually able to obtain the abortion.
Rep. Diana DeGette (D-Colo.) asked Azar during a Thursday hearing about a Washington Post report claiming that the HHS Office of Refugee Resettlement had asked immigration lawyers who receive federal funds to represent the teens not to discuss abortion options with them. Azar admitted it was “a serious claim,” but told DeGette that he would need to look into the topic before responding. Azar also demurred on DeGette’s questions about whether he would reverse the policies of ORR, which is responsible for the care of undocumented minors that arrive in the country without their parents. “We have very important statutory obligation to look after the health and welfare of them and their unborn children,” said Azar. “It’s a solemn obligation and a difficult obligation.”
… DeGette and Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.) sent Azar a letter Thursday calling for him to fire ORR director Scott Lloyd, who has been instrumental in designing and implementing the agency’s abortion policy.
160 organizations tell HHS they oppose Medicaid work requirements. The policy will harm millions of Americans with substance-use disorders, mental health disorders or criminal records, a coalition of advocacy organizations warns in a new letter.
“Most people who have Medicaid and can work, are already working,” said Elizabeth Lower-Basch of the Center on Law and Social Policy in a statement. “And when people are not healthy or able to get needed medications, they are less likely to be able to work.” Read the letter.