Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear has called the legislation to end the covid emergency – which would result in a large decrease in monthly SNAP benefits – a “cruel bill” that would significantly hurt residents of rural counties. But Republicans in charge instead furthered the myth that welfare recipients don’t want to work. “Help wanted signs are up everywhere,” GOP Senate Majority Leader Damon Thayer said in a floor speech. “If you are an able-bodied, healthy Kentuckian, there is no excuse for you to not have a job.”

Lexington Herald Leader: KY Lawmakers Override Vetoes On Jobless Benefits, Ending COVID Emergency

The Republican-majority General Assembly late Monday overrode Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear’s vetoes of two bills in which the governor had urged lawmakers to show compassion for Kentuckians facing hard times. In one measure, House Bill 4, the state of Kentucky will reduce the length of time that unemployment insurance benefits are available to workers who lose their jobs. … The other measure would end the COVID-19 pandemic-related state of emergency effective immediately. (Sheves, 3/22) Kentucky Senate Overrides Beshear’s Veto To End COVID State Of Emergency

The Senate passed the measure by a vote of 25-8, with all Senate Democrats voting against the override. The bill now heads back to the House. (3/21)

In updates on abortion from West Virginia, Florida, and Texas –

AP: W.Va. Gov Signs Law Barring Abortion Because Of Disability

West Virginia Republican Gov. Jim Justice has signed a new law barring parents from seeking abortion care because they believe their child will be born with a disability. Justice posted about his signature of the “Unborn Child with a Disability Protection and Education Act” on Twitter on Monday. He made the announcement about the new law in a tweet to celebrate World Down Syndrome Day. (Willingham, 3/21)

WUFT: Floridians Face New Reality Of Curtailed Abortion Access After 2022 Legislative Session

Baileigh Johnson’s Southern Baptist faith has been a core pillar throughout her life. From age 2 onward, she attended Sunday church services with her family. She went to a private Christian school until 10th grade and served as a youth group leader between the ages of 14 and 18 The church was her home as much as her actual home was. But at the age of 29, she made a decision some consider a complete renunciation of one’s faith: She got an abortion. (Rodriguez, 3/21)

The Washington Post: Texas’s Strict New Abortion Law Has Eluded Multiple Court Challenges. Abortion Rights Advocates Think They Have A New Path To Get It Blocked

The initial attacks came in court and on social media, when a group of antiabortion lawyers accused two Texas abortion rights groups of funding abortions after six weeks of pregnancy, the legal limit under Texas’s restrictive abortion ban. They filed official requests in court for more information on the abortions, then took to Twitter, warning that anyone who helped fund abortions through these two groups “could get sued.” … Now, abortion rights groups think those threats may have opened the door to something that has eluded them ever since the law took effect in September: a viable path for a legal challenge. (Kitchener, 3/21)

In updates on the drug crisis –

Chicago Tribune: “Overdose Action Plan ‘Introduced To Address Opioid Crisis.

Two years after issuing an executive order creating a committee to address the opioid crisis in Illinois, Gov. JB Pritzker on Monday announced the formation of a statewide Overdose Action Plan to tackle a problem that only got worse during the pandemic. “There are so many people who end up in a struggle with the disease that is addiction – self-medicating, trauma, simultaneous mental health challenges, a pain prescription gone wrong,” Pritzker said. “But no matter what brings someone here, their life is worth saving. (Spaulding, 3/21)

The Courier-Journal: Louisville Officials Approve Plan Allowing Drug Rehab Center To Open In Neighborhood

New neighbors are coming to a Valley Station subdivision, with a city committee giving the green light to allow a drug rehabilitation treatment center to open in an old church. In a 3-2 vote that one member called “perhaps the most challenging” case he could remember, Louisville’s Board of Zoning Adjustment ruled Monday that Isaiah House, a Christian program that works to help people recovering from drug addiction, can set up a location inside the Valley Hope Center, a former church and current event venue at 10803 Deering Road. The plan calls for the nearly 30,000-square-foot venue to be converted into an inpatient rehab center, where up to 100 men in addiction recovery can get clean and take part in educational opportunities and job training. (Aulbach, 3/22)

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Narcan Is Preventing Opioid Overdose Deaths In Milwaukee Communities

Peel. Salaries. Press. These three simple steps, which can be accomplished in seconds through a nasal spray, could save someone’s life. Naloxone, more commonly known as Narcan, is often seen as the most-effective way to reverse an opioid overdose. And while drug overdose deaths continue to hit record levels across the nation and in the Milwaukee area, public health officials are encouraging the use of the medication to save lives in order to get individuals the help they need, as data from the American Medical Association says nearly 80% of opioid overdose deaths happen outside a medical setting. (Casey, 3/21)

Stat: Teva, Allergan Reach $ 107 Million Deal With Rhode Island Over Opioid Crisis

Just as a trial was getting underway, Allergan and Teva Pharmaceutical reached a settlement worth $ 107 million with the state of Rhode Island over their alleged roles in fomenting the US opioid crisis. The deal calls for Teva to pay $ 21.5 million over 13 years and Allergan, a unit of AbbVie, to pay $ 8 million over six years. In addition, Teva will supply the state with two medicines to combat the crisis – valued at $ 78.5 million, based on wholesale prices – over the next decade. The medicines are Teva’s generic version of Narcan, a nasal spray used to reverse an opioid overdose, and buprenorphine, which combats opioid use disorder. (Silverman, 3/21)

And more health news from across the US –

AP: Sick Mine Workers Allege Insurer Delaying Medical Payments

Attorneys for Montana mine workers sickened and killed by toxic asbestos exposure filed a lawsuit against Zurich American Insurance on Monday for allegedly stalling legal settlements and medical payments after transferring the workers’ claims to investors who can profit off the delays. The lawsuit was filed in US District Court in Great Falls on behalf of 17 former workers and representatives of 29 deceased workers who developed lung cancer and other diseases following exposure to asbestos during the 1960s and 1970s at a WR Grace & Co. vermiculite mine in Libby, Montana. (Brown, 3/21)

AP: Judge: Ex-Governor Must Testify In Flint Water Civil Trial

Former Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder and several other officials must testify in a civil trial involving engineering firms being sued over liability for lead-contaminated water connected to the Flint water crisis, a judge ruled Monday. US District Judge Judith Levy denied motions by Snyder, his former advisor, two former state-appointed emergency managers and an ex-Flint city official to quash subpoenas compelling them to testify. (3/21)

AP: Minnesota Republicans Offer Alternate Plan For Family Leave

Republicans in the Minnesota Legislature offered a voluntary proposal for paid family and medical leave Monday that would rely on tax credits for employers who choose to participate, in contrast with Democratic proposals that would require paid time off for workers to care for their families. Dream. Julia Coleman, of Waconia, and Rep. Jordan Rasmusson, of Fergus Falls, depicted their plan as an innovative way to support employees who need time off after childbirth, or to care for sick children, or for parents nearing the end of their lives. They also presented it as an affordable alternative for small businesses that would help them compete with deep-pocketed big companies. (Karnowski, 3/21)

This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.

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