The Host

Julie Rovner


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Julie Rovner is Chief Washington Correspondent and host of KHN’s weekly well being coverage information podcast, “What the Well being?” A famous professional on well being coverage points, Julie is the writer of the critically praised reference guide “Well being Care Politics and Coverage A-Z,” now in its third version.

Having spent its whole first week selecting a speaker, the Republican-led U.S. Home lastly received right down to legislative enterprise, together with passing two payments backed by anti-abortion teams. Neither is prone to grow to be legislation, as a result of they gained’t go the Senate nor be signed by President Joe Biden. However the transfer highlights how abortion is bound to stay a high-visibility problem within the nation’s capital.

In the meantime, as open enrollment for the Reasonably priced Care Act nears its Jan. 15 shut, a file variety of individuals have signed up, making the most of renewed subsidies and different assist with medical prices.

This week’s panelists are Julie Rovner of KHN, Margot Sanger-Katz of The New York Instances, Alice Miranda Ollstein of Politico, and Sarah Karlin-Smith of the Pink Sheet.


Sarah Karlin-Smith
Pink Sheet


Read Sarah’s stories

Alice Miranda Ollstein


Read Alice’s stories

Margot Sanger-Katz
The New York Instances


Among the many takeaways from this week’s episode:

  • The Home now has a speaker after 15 rounds of full-chamber roll name votes. That paved the best way for members to be sworn in, committee assignments to be made, and new committee chairs to be named. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.) and Jason Smith (R-Mo.) will probably be taking the helm of main well being committees.
  • McMorris Rodgers will lead the Home Power and Commerce Committee; Smith would be the chairman of Methods and Means. In contrast to McMorris Rodgers, Smith has little background in well being points and has principally centered on tax points in his public speaking factors. However Medicare is prone to be on the agenda, which would require the enter of the chairs of each committees.
  • One factor is definite: The brand new GOP-controlled Home will do numerous investigations. Republicans have already reconstituted a committee to analyze covid-19, though, in contrast to the Democrats’ panel, this one is prone to spend time looking for the origin of the virus and monitor the place federal {dollars} could have been misspent.
  • The Home this week started contemplating a sequence of abortion-related payments — “assertion” or “messaging” payments — which can be unlikely to see the sunshine of day within the Senate. Nevertheless, some within the caucus query the knowledge of holding votes on points like these that would make their extra average members extra weak. Up to now, payments have had principally unanimous help from the GOP. Divisions usually tend to emerge on matters like a nationwide abortion ban. In the meantime, the Title X program, which pays for issues like contraception and testing for sexually transmitted infections, is turning into a scorching subject on the state degree and in some lawsuits. A case in Texas would limit contraception availability for minors by way of this program.
  • It’s more and more clear that abortion drugs are going to grow to be a fair greater a part of the abortion debate. On one hand, the FDA has relaxed a number of the threat analysis and mitigation methods (REMS) from the prescribing guidelines surrounding abortion drugs. The FDA places these additional restrictions or safeguards in place for sure medicine so as to add further safety. Some advocates say these drugs merely don’t carry that degree or threat.
  • Anti-abortion teams are planning protests in early February at massive pharmacies resembling CVS and Walgreens to attempt to get them to stroll again plans to distribute abortion drugs in states the place they’re authorized.
  • A rising variety of states are pressuring the Division of Well being and Human Companies to permit them to import cheaper prescribed drugs from Canada — or, extra precisely, importing Canada’s worth controls. Whereas this has lengthy been a bipartisan problem, it has additionally lengthy been controversial. Officers on the FDA stay involved about breaking the closed provide chain between medicine being manufactured and delivered to authorised U.S. patrons. The coverage is fashionable, nevertheless, as a result of it guarantees decrease costs on at the least some medicine.
  • Additionally within the information from the FDA: The company granted accelerated approval for Leqembi for the therapy of Alzheimer’s illness. Leqembi is one other costly drug that seems to work, but in addition carries massive dangers. Nevertheless, it’s usually seen as an enchancment over the much more controversial Alzheimer’s drug Aduhelm. Nonetheless to be decided is whether or not Medicare — which gives insurance coverage to most individuals with Alzheimer’s — will cowl the drug.
  • Because the Reasonably priced Care Act enrolls a file variety of Individuals, it’s notable that repealing the legislation has not been talked about as a precedence for the brand new GOP majority within the Home. Moderately, the highest well being problem is prone to be learn how to cut back the worth of Medicare and different well being “entitlement” packages.

Plus, for additional credit score, the panelists advocate their favourite well being coverage tales of the week that they assume you need to learn, too:

Julie Rovner: The Washington Publish’s “Social Security Denies Disability Benefits Based on List With Jobs From 1977,” by Lisa Rein

Margot Sanger-Katz: Roll Name’s “Providers Say Medicare Advantage Hinders New Methadone Benefit,” by Jessie Hellmann

Alice Miranda Ollstein: The New York Instances’ “Grant Wahl Was a Loving Husband. I Will Always Protect His Legacy.” By Céline Gounder

Sarah Karlin-Smith: KHN’s “Hospitals’ Use of Volunteer Staff Runs Risk of Skirting Labor Laws, Experts Say,” by Lauren Sausser

Additionally talked about on this week’s podcast:


Francis Ying
Audio Producer

Stephanie Stapleton

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KHN (Kaiser Well being Information) is a nationwide newsroom that produces in-depth journalism about well being points. Along with Coverage Evaluation and Polling, KHN is without doubt one of the three main working packages at KFF (Kaiser Household Basis). KFF is an endowed nonprofit group offering data on well being points to the nation.


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