Welcome to Wednesday’s Overnight Health Care. It’s the final day of questioning in Amy Coney Barrett’s Senate confirmation hearing and s...
Welcome to Wednesday’s Overnight Health Care.
It’s the final day of questioning in Amy Coney Barrett’s Senate confirmation hearing and she has spoken about severability, a key issue in the ongoing Affordable Care Act lawsuit.
Meanwhile, Republicans argue that it’s very unlikely the Supreme Court will overturn the health care law. And the CDC says small gatherings are leading to more COVID-19 cases.
Supreme Court tea leaf reading: Barrett indicates ObamaCare could survive mandate being struck down
At Wednesday’s Supreme Court hearings, Judge Amy Coney Barrett did not say how she would rule in the ObamaCare case that will be before the Supreme Court on Nov. 10, but she noted that judges generally try to save the underlying law when possible.
“The presumption is always in favor of severability,” Barrett said in response to a question from Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamFive takeaways from Barrett’s Supreme Court grilling Barrett says she did not strike down ObamaCare in moot court case Ted Cruz asks Jim Carrey for copy of his ‘hellbound’ Cruz artwork MORE (R-S.C.).
Graham appeared to signal he thought ObamaCare could be saved, even if the individual mandate is struck down, as he pressed Barrett on whether the “main thing” was that there was a “presumption” to save an underlying law. Barrett replied: “That’s correct.”
“I want every conservative in the nation to listen to what she just said. The doctrine of severability presumes and its goal is to preserve the statue if that is possible,” Graham added.
When Barrett agreed that it was “true” that judges try to preserve the overall law when weighing if a provision can be removed, one of the key points of debate in the looming ObamaCare case, Graham added: “That’s the law, folks.”
Relatedly….Republicans say the Supreme Court won’t toss ObamaCare
Senate Republicans are downplaying the chances that the Supreme Court will strike down ObamaCare as Democrats seek to hammer the GOP on the issue ahead of the elections.
Republicans — who have spent the past decade trying to eradicate the 2010 law — are dismissing this possibility of the lawsuit succeeding. They argue that Democrats are blowing the chances of the challenge prevailing out of proportion, noting that legal experts across the spectrum have called the lawsuit’s arguments weak.
“No one believes the Supreme Court is going to strike down the Affordable Care Act,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellOn The Money: Pelosi, citing ‘leverage’ over Trump, holds strong to .2T in COVID-19 aid | McConnell to force vote on ‘targeted’ relief bill next week | Trump again asks court to shield tax records Overnight Health Care: Barrett says she’s ‘not hostile’ toward Affordable Care Act | Nominee says she doesn’t classify Roe v Wade as ‘superprecedent’ | Eli Lilly pauses study of COVID-19 treatment over safety concerns Barrett declines to say if Trump can pardon himself MORE (R-Ky.) said Monday night during his reelection debate with Democrat Amy McGrath.
The big picture: The Republicans’ effort to downplay a challenge to the ACA is striking given their criticism of the Supreme Court’s prior rulings on the controversial law and their legislative moves to repeal it.
But at the same time, congressional Republicans are not directly saying that they oppose the lawsuit, which would mean breaking from President TrumpDonald John TrumpLabor secretary’s wife tests positive for COVID-19 Russia shuts down Trump admin’s last-minute push to strike nuclear arms deal before election Trump makes appeal to suburban women at rally: ‘Will you please like me?’ MORE, whose administration is in court in support of the challenge. The lawsuit was brought by 18 Republican state attorneys general.
Small gatherings causing new COVID-19 infections, CDC director warns
Small gatherings are increasingly becoming a source of COVID-19 infection around the country, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Robert Redfield warned governors on a call Tuesday.
Redfield’s comments, according to audio obtained by CNN, come as dozens of states see increases in new COVID-19 cases.
“In the public square, we’re seeing a higher degree of vigilance and mitigation steps in many jurisdictions,” Redfield told governors on the call.
“But what we’re seeing as the increasing threat right now is actually acquisition of infection through small household gatherings,” Redfield said. “Particularly with Thanksgiving coming up, we think it’s really important to stress the vigilance of these continued mitigation steps in the household setting.”
The U.S. averaged 52,000 new COVID-19 cases per day over the past seven days, according to a New York Times tracker.
Read more here.
Judge blocks Wisconsin order limiting indoor capacity amid spiking cases
A Wisconsin judge has temporarily blocked an order from Gov. Tony EversTony EversWisconsin breaks single-day records for COVID-19 deaths, cases The Hill’s Morning Report – Sponsored by Facebook – Senate makes SCOTUS nominee Barrett a proxy for divisive 2020 Wisconsin says Foxconn factory touted by Trump has failed to deliver on jobs MORE (D) that would limit the capacity of indoor spaces like bars and restaurants at 25 percent as the state sees one of the worst outbreaks of COVID-19 in the U.S.
Tavern League of Wisconsin, a trade association for alcohol retailers, and other groups filed a suit over the order, arguing the governor and his administration do not have the authority under state law to limit the capacity of businesses.
Circuit Court Judge John M. Yackel issued a temporary restraining order blocking Evers’s administration from enforcing the measure while the merit of the case is heard in court.
Yackel ordered the state to appear in court Monday to defend the order.
Study: Early lockdowns prevented additional COVID-19 deaths in multiple countries
Early lockdowns in developed countries that suffered coronavirus outbreaks were a determining factor in lessening the number of excess deaths from the pandemic, according to a study published Wednesday in the journal Nature Medicine.
The study from researchers at Imperial College London found that the timing and extent of state-ordered lockdown procedures contributed to the length of time it took for infection levels to return to low rates.
“The timing of the lockdown in relation to when initial infections occurred affects the peak number of people who are infected, which drives both the number of deaths from COVID-19 and the pressure on the healthcare system that displaces routine care for other diseases,” its authors wrote.
Authors of the study pointed to early lockdown measures implemented by leaders in Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Norway, Finland, New Zealand and Slovakia as being particularly effective in keeping infection rates to low enough levels where national contact tracing programs could be effective.
What we’re reading
A Canadian spin studio followed public health guidelines. But 61 people still caught the coronavirus. (Washington Post)
The 4 simple reasons Germany is managing Covid-19 better than its neighbors (Vox.com)
Americans are dying in the pandemic at rates higher than in other countries (NPR)
State by state
Sweet 16 ‘super-spreader’ party in New York leads to 37 coronavirus cases, $12,000 fine (NBC News)
Pennsylvania health officials say fall resurgence of coronavirus has begun (ABC 6)
Utah coronavirus cases up 1,144 on Wednesday, with record hospitalizations (Salt Lake Tribune)
The Hill op-eds