Across the country, elective medical and surgical procedures are being postponed to reduce patient exposure to SARS-nCoV-2, and to conserve personal protective equipment. Many state governments have ordered such procedures be postponed or canceled. Today, Ohio attorney general David Yost ordered that all elective terminations of pregnancy be halted in compliance with these orders. However, the word "elective" may not mean the same thing to everyone. In gynecological contexts, the word "elective" is used to differentiate between patients who have spontaneous abortions ("miscarriages") and those who do not with to carry their pregnancy further. In most other medical contexts, the word elective is used to describe a procedure that is "not time sensitive," or in some cases, merely optional. The two meanings of "elective" seem to be conflated here, and many women seeking to end their pregnancies could be forced to wait until it is too late to legally receive an abortion, if these orders go into effect. Business Insider.
No. But, states are starting to relax licensing requirements allowing physicians to practice across state lines without obtaining new licensure. Normally, to practice medicine in a second state, even via telemedicine, physicians are required to obtain a license in the second state. Earlier this week, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services approved the practice of telehealth across state lines without obtaining a second license. However, this rule applies only to Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries. Some states already have a standing policy allowing the practice of medicine across state lines in cases of emergency and have been putting those policies into practice. Others are moving towards passing new administrative rules or legislation that would allow this practice. FierceHealthcare.
As we wrote yesterday, President Trump has invoked the Defense Production Act which allows Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar to take control of certain elements of the private sector, if exercised. The powers allow the federal government to compel private manufacturers to produce goods needed to combat an emergency. In this case, the government has contemplated using these powers to direct the production of mechanical ventilators and personal protective equipment. To date, the government has not elected to exercise these powers, at least not publicly, though officials have described some degree of communication with certain companies. This raises the possibility that the administration is quietly leaning onto companies, if not directly coercing them. However, the shortage of equipment has become more dire. The American Heart Association, the American Medical Association, and the American Nurses Association joined in a letter calling for the administration to exercise these powers to compel production of PPE. American Medical Association.