In news you can use this week: Hogan is backfilling his GOP credentials for a prez run by withholding appropriated funds to train workers for reproductive health clinics. Also: One commentator argues that slow-thinking Democrats have allowed the threat to democracy to deepen. Long Covid may afflict up to 300,000 Marylanders. Prince George's plays it straight down the fairway, despite dodgy resignation ploy. Plus what's going on (or not) in DC in a big week for health care.
The almost literally earth-shaking news that Roe v. Wade is very, very endangered has had reverberations in Maryland as lawmakers urge the governor to release authorized funds to train abortion providers. The “someday” that Maryland might be a needed refuge for women barred from reproductive health in their home states is suddenly, maybe, now. Maryland Matters reports “Democratic lawmakers pressed again Friday for the release of $3.5 million to train clinicians as Maryland’s expanded abortion law is set to take effect — but Republican Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan Jr. continued to express doubt about the law, which would allow providers other than physicians to perform the procedures.
Hogan vetoed the bill — which also required expanded insurance coverage for abortion procedures — earlier this year and was overridden by Democrats in the legislature. The $3.5 million is codified as a mandated annual expense beginning in 2023, but an amendment to the next fiscal year budget could release the funding as soon as July 1 — if the governor agrees.
The letter sent Friday was signed by Del. Ariana Kelly (D-Montgomery) and 82 other Democratic legislators, and is part of an effort to persuade the governor after Tuesday’s revelation of a draft Supreme Court opinion that would roll back the protections from Roe v. Wade. Read more here.
OPINION: HOGAN BETRAYS MARYLANDERS: The Washington Post in an editorial said “…by withholding $3.5 million in legislatively approved funds intended to train medical professionals to provide safe abortions, Mr. Hogan has betrayed the wishes of many Marylanders on grounds that appear disingenuous.”
MORE OPINION: Josh Kurtz of Maryland Matters sees history going the wrong way for democracy – and for Democrats.
“Democrats always seem to be a few steps behind the Republicans when it comes to gaming the system and now America is suffering the consequences. Now we’re living in a Banana Republic.
“For years, Republicans and their allies invested heavily in statehouses — and it didn’t cost much. It’s given them the upper hand for the past few election cycles in the redistricting process, and that has serious and long-lasting consequences. Where were the Democrats?
“Then, conservatives turned their attention to remaking the judiciary, and they have succeeded spectacularly — all the while railing against “activist judges” when it was activist judges on their side that they were seeking.”
Long COVID under the microscope – Maryland may have 300,000 cases.
Maryland has recorded 1.04 million COVID cases since the pandemic began in early 2020. Medical researchers have given increasing attention to cases of “Long Covid,” in which COVID survivors have shown long-term fatigue, respiratory, heart, neurological and other symptoms. A report last week from States Newsroom outlined a new Biden Administration initiative to build more data on Long Covid. The initiative will be run out of HHS and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will take the lead on the studies, many of which will be conducted at or from the major federal health centers in Maryland.
In mid-2021, Maryland cases of Long Covid were estimated at an eyebrow-raising 142,822, according to a health care trade journal that reported results from studies by several medical associations. The trade journal suggested that about 30% of US infections resulted in survivors experiencing “Long COVID.” CDC in recent weeks has affirmed the earlier estimate that some 30 percent of those experiencing and surviving COVID will develop some long-term symptoms. Maryland’s million-plus cases could include In the range of 300,000 Long Covid sufferers by that measure. The state has recorded nearly 15,000 deaths from the virus.
The severity of long-term systems appears to track with the severity of the original disease course, CDC says, in turn conditioned by vaccination/booster status, pre-existing conditions and access to healthcare.
Since mid-2021 Long Covid has been classified as a disability with reference to the Americans with Disabilities Act “if it substantially limits one or more major life activities.”
DISTRICT HEIGHTS MAYOR TO FILL PG COUNCIL SEAT: What many Prince George’s activists suspected was a two-step early resignation to help a favored successor to an open County Council seat gain advantage through appointment did not pass muster with the rest of the Council. “The Prince George’s County Council voted unanimously Tuesday (May 3) to appoint District Heights Mayor Johnathan M. Medlock to fill a vacant seat on the 11-member body,” The Washington Informer reported. Maryland Matters added to the background: “In selecting Medlock, the council rebuffed [incumbent Derrick Leon] Davis’s efforts to elevate Nakia R. Wright, … one of the candidates running for the District 6 seat.” Medlock is not seeking the seat in the upcoming primary.
AND DOWNTOWN (THAT IS, IN DC, THE CAPITOL, ALL THAT…
From People’s Action and their DC action team:
“Senator (Chuck) Schumer will file cloture (a procedure to open debate) today on a bill to codify Roe v. Wade with the goal of a Senate vote to get past the filibuster on Wednesday. The vote will not receive the 60 votes it needs to override the filibuster but it will record where Senators stand on the issue. The House has already passed the bill. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell called a future U.S. abortion ban possible. Republicans are trying to downplay the issue of abortion in the lead up to the midterms."
May 14th National Bans Off Our Bodies Mobilization: including in downtown DC -- More information is available here.
Thursday, May 12th: Senate Medicare for All reintroduction: Senator Bernie Sanders is reintroducing Medicare for All next week on Thursday.
The Senate Budget Committee will also hold a hearing on Medicare for All on Thursday, which can be livestreamed on the Senate Budget Committee website.. If you have Democratic Senators who are not yet on the bill, please consider this email tool [is Cardin on?].
Student debt reduction inches closer: There has been some news that the President intends to cancel some student debt by the end of the summer (likely only $10K but advocates are pushing for more. The Washington Post published an opinion piece on the political case for forgiving student debt