KHN’s ‘What The Health?’

Join Julie Rovner, chief Washington correspondent for Kaiser Health News, along with top health policy reporters from The New York Times, The Washington Post, Politico and other media outlets to discuss the latest news and explain what the health is going on here in Washington.

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If you have a question for the podcast, you can send it to whatthehealth@kff.org.

KHN’s ‘What the Health?’: The Changing of the Guard

Democrats retained control of the U.S. Senate in the midterm elections, while Republicans won a majority in the House, giving them the ability to block items on President Joe Biden’s agenda. Meanwhile, the lame-duck, Democratic-led Congress won’t have the votes to pass abortion rights legislation, although they may try to undo some long-standing anti-abortion policies in federal spending bills. Joanne Kenen of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and Politico, Victoria Knight of Axios, and Alice Miranda Ollstein of Politico, join KHN’s Julie Rovner to discuss these topics and more.

KHN’s ‘What the Health?’: The Midterm Shake-Up

Election night went better than expected for Democrats. Although they could still lose control of one or both houses of Congress, the predicted “red wave” for Republicans failed to materialize. Meanwhile, voters in both red and blue states approved ballot measures to protect abortion rights. Alice Miranda Ollstein of Politico, Rachel Cohrs of Stat, and Sarah Karlin-Smith of the Pink Sheet join KHN’s Julie Rovner to discuss these topics and more. Also this week, Rovner interviews Carolee Lee, the former jewelry magnate, about her efforts to boost gender equity in medical research.

KHN’s ‘What the Health?’: ACA Open Enrollment Without the Drama

The Affordable Care Act’s 10th annual open-enrollment period began Nov. 1 and runs through Jan. 15, 2023, in most states. But for the first time, the health law seems to be enrolling Americans with far less controversy than in previous years. Meanwhile, as Election Day approaches, Democrats are focusing on GOP efforts to cut Social Security and Medicare. Joanne Kenen of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and Politico, Tami Luhby of CNN, and Julie Appleby of KHN join KHN’s Julie Rovner to discuss these topics and more. Also this week, Rovner interviews KHN’s Arthur Allen, who wrote the latest KNH-NPR Bill of the Month, about an old but still very expensive cancer drug.

KHN’s ‘What the Health?’: Voters Will Get Their Say on Multiple Health Issues

Abortion isn’t the only health issue voters will be asked to decide in state ballot questions next month. Proposals about medical debt, Medicaid expansion, and whether health care should be a right are on ballots in various states. Meanwhile, the latest lawsuit challenging the Affordable Care Act has expanded to cover all preventive care. Alice Miranda Ollstein of Politico, Jessie Hellmann of CQ Roll Call, and Victoria Knight of Axios join KHN’s Julie Rovner to discuss these topics and more.

KHN’s ‘What the Health?’: Biden Hits the Road to Sell Democrats’ Record

With the midterm elections rapidly approaching, President Joe Biden has taken to the road to convince voters that he and congressional Democrats have delivered for them during two years in power. Among the health issues highlighted by the administration this week are pandemic preparedness and the availability of over-the-counter hearing aids. The president also promised to sign a bill codifying the abortion protections of Roe v. Wade if Democrats maintain control of the House and Senate — even though it’s a long shot that there will be enough votes for that. Sarah Karlin-Smith of the Pink Sheet, Sandhya Raman of CQ Roll Call, and Mary Agnes Carey of KHN join KHN’s Julie Rovner to discuss these topics and more. Plus, for extra credit, the panelists recommend their favorite health policy stories of the week they think you should read, too.

KHN’s ‘What the Health?’: Finally Fixing the ‘Family Glitch’

The Biden administration has decided to try to fix the so-called “family glitch” in the Affordable Care Act without an act of Congress. The provision has prevented workers’ families from getting subsidized coverage if an employer offer is unaffordable. Meanwhile, Medicare’s open enrollment period begins Oct. 15, and private Medicare Advantage plans are poised to cover more than half of Medicare’s 65 million enrollees. Margot Sanger-Katz of The New York Times, Joanne Kenen of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and Politico, and Rachel Cohrs of Stat join KHN’s Julie Rovner to discuss these topics and more. Plus, for extra credit, the panelists recommend their favorite health policy stories of the week they think you should read.

KHN’s ‘What the Health?’: Looking Ahead to the Lame-Duck Session

Congress won’t be back in Washington until after Election Day, but lawmakers have left themselves a long list of items to finish up in November and December, including unfinished health care policies. Sandhya Raman of CQ Roll Call; Jessie Hellmann, also of CQ Roll Call; and Mary Agnes Carey of KHN join KHN’s Julie Rovner to discuss these topics and more. Also this week, Rovner interviews KHN’s Sam Whitehead, who reported and wrote the latest KHN-NPR “Bill of the Month” episode about a family who tried to use urgent care to save money, but ended up with a big emergency room bill anyway.

KHN’s ‘What the Health?’: On Government Spending, Congress Decides Not to Decide

Congress has once again decided not to decide how to fund the federal government in time for the start of the fiscal year, racing toward a midnight Sept. 30 deadline to pass a stopgap bill that would keep the lights on for two more months. However, it does appear the FDA’s program that gets drugmakers to help fund some of the agency’s review staff will be renewed in time to stop pink slips from being sent. Alice Miranda Ollstein of Politico, Rachel Cohrs of Stat, and Victoria Knight of Axios join KHN’s Julie Rovner to discuss these topics and more. Also this week, Rovner interviews filmmaker Cynthia Lowen, whose new documentary, “Battleground,” explores how anti-abortion forces played the long game to overturn Roe v. Wade.

KHN’s ‘What the Health?’: Biden Declares the Pandemic ‘Over’

President Joe Biden, in an interview with CBS’ “60 Minutes,” declared the covid-19 pandemic “over,” stoking confusion for members of his administration trying to persuade Congress to provide more funding to fight the virus and the public to get the latest boosters. Meanwhile, concerns about a return of medical inflation is helping boost insurance premiums even as private companies race to get their piece of the health pie. Anna Edney of Bloomberg News, Joanne Kenen of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and Politico, and Lauren Weber of KHN join KHN’s Julie Rovner to discuss these issues and more. Also, for extra credit, the panelists suggest their favorite health policy stories they think you should read, too.

KHN’s ‘What the Health?’: Graham’s Bill Recenters Abortion Debate

Republicans would like to shift the political focus away from abortion to economic issues for the midterm elections, but a bill from Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) that would ban most abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy has put the issue squarely back on their agenda. The proposal was not welcomed by many of his colleagues, especially Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. Also this week, the muddle about where the fight against covid stands and near-record-low numbers of uninsured in the U.S. Rachel Cohrs of Stat, Sandhya Raman of CQ Roll Call, and Margot Sanger-Katz of The New York Times join KHN’s partnerships editor, Mary Agnes Carey, to discuss these issues and more.

KHN’s ‘What the Health?’: Judge Takes Aim at the Affordable Care Act’s Preventive Care Benefits

A federal judge in Texas — the same one who tried to strike down the Affordable Care Act as unconstitutional in 2018 — has ruled against some of the ACA’s preventive benefits, including the requirement that employers cover medication to prevent HIV. Meanwhile, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs tries to make abortions slightly more available to veterans and their dependents. Alice Miranda Ollstein of Politico, Sarah Karlin-Smith of the Pink Sheet, and Joanne Kenen of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and Politico join KHN’s Julie Rovner to discuss these issues and more. Also this week, Rovner interviews KHN’s Lauren Sausser, who reported and wrote the latest KHN-NPR “Bill of the Month” installment.

KHN’s ‘What the Health?’: The Future of Public Health, 2022 Edition

A new report from the Commonwealth Fund Commission on a National Public Health System calls for a major overhaul of the way the U.S. organizes, funds, and communicates about public health, particularly in the harsh spotlight of the covid-19 pandemic. In this special episode of KHN’s “What the Health?” host Julie Rovner and KHN’s correspondent Lauren Weber interview the commission’s chair, Dr. Margaret Hamburg, former commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, about how to fix what ails public health.

KHN’s ‘What the Health?’: Wrapping Up Summer’s Health News

President Joe Biden has signed the Inflation Reduction Act and Congress is gone until after Labor Day. But the administration and lawmakers left lots of health policy achievements behind, including new rules to facilitate the sale of over-the-counter hearing aids and a potential reorganization of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Anna Edney of Bloomberg News, Alice Miranda Ollstein of Politico, and Joanne Kenen of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and Politico join KHN’s Julie Rovner to discuss these issues and more. Also, for extra credit, the panelists suggest their favorite health policy stories of the week they think you should read, too.

KHN’s ‘What the Health?’: A Big Week for Biden

Congress is leaving for its annual summer break having accomplished far more than many expected, including, barring unforeseen snags, a bill to address the cost of prescription drugs for Medicare beneficiaries and extend the enhanced subsidies for insurance premiums under the Affordable Care Act. Meanwhile, the abortion issue continues to roil the nation as Indiana becomes the first state to ban the procedure in almost all cases since the Supreme Court overruled the constitutional right to abortion in June. Alice Miranda Ollstein of Politico, Sarah Karlin-Smith of the Pink Sheet, and Rachel Cohrs of Stat join KHN’s Julie Rovner to discuss these issues and more.

KHN’s ‘What the Health?’: Kansas Makes a Statement

In the first official test vote since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, voters in Kansas’ primary said in no uncertain terms they want to keep a right to abortion in their state constitution. Meanwhile, the Senate is still working to reach a vote before summer recess on its health care-climate-tax measure, but progress is slow. Tami Luhby of CNN, Sandhya Raman of CQ Roll Call, and Rachel Cohrs of Stat join KHN’s Julie Rovner to discuss these issues and more. Also this week, Rovner interviews KHN’s Bram Sable-Smith, who wrote the latest KHN-NPR “Bill of the Month” installment about a very expensive ambulance trip.

KHN’s ‘What the Health?’: Manchin Makes a Deal

In a rare surprise for official Washington, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) announced a deal to expand the planned health bill in the Senate to include provisions raising taxes and addressing climate change. The measure would include a third year of expanded subsidies for the Affordable Care Act, but not health care coverage for people left out of Medicaid in states that failed to expand the program. Meanwhile, the ACA goes back to court, and the Biden administration restores anti-discrimination protections for LGBTQ+ people that were rolled back by the Trump administration. Joanne Kenen of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and Politico, Sarah Karlin-Smith of the Pink Sheet, and Alice Miranda Ollstein of Politico join KHN’s Julie Rovner to discuss these issues and more. Also this week, Rovner interviews Dr. Céline Gounder of KHN about the latest on the monkeypox outbreak.

KHN’s ‘What the Health?’: Drug Price Bill Is a Go in the Senate

Two things happened in Washington this week that were inevitable: President Joe Biden tested positive for covid-19, and the Senate agreed to move forward on a budget bill that includes only a sliver of what Biden hoped it would. Still, the bill to allow Medicare to negotiate some drug prices, cap out-of-pocket drug costs for seniors, and extend temporary subsidies for Affordable Care Act insurance premiums would represent a major step if Democrats can get it across the finish line. Meanwhile, abortion battles continue to escalate around the country, with Texas leading the way in restrictions. Shefali Luthra of The 19th, Joanne Kenen of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and Politico, and Rachel Cohrs of Stat join KHN’s Julie Rovner to discuss these issues and more. Also this week, Rovner interviews Dr. Jack Resneck Jr., the new president of the American Medical Association.

KHN’s ‘What the Health?’: Life After ‘Roe’ Is … Confusing

A rapidly changing landscape for abortion has left patients, providers, employers, and lawmakers alike wondering what is and is not legal and what to do next. Meanwhile, Democrats in Congress have resumed negotiations on legislation to lower drug prices and, potentially, continue expanded insurance subsidies for the Affordable Care Act. Alice Miranda Ollstein of Politico, Tami Luhby of CNN, and Sandhya Raman of CQ Roll Call join KHN’s Julie Rovner to discuss these issues and more. Plus, for extra credit, the panelists recommend their favorite health policy stories of the week they think you should read, too.

KHN’s ‘What the Health?’: A Chat With the Surgeon General on Health Worker Burnout

Health workers are not OK, and that poses a threat to anyone who may need health services. That’s the central finding of the latest report from the office of U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, “Addressing Health Worker Burnout.” This special episode of KHN’s “What the Health?” podcast is a conversation about the report between Murthy and KHN chief Washington correspondent Julie Rovner, which was recorded at the annual research meeting of AcademyHealth in June.

KHN’s ‘What the Health?’: A World Without ‘Roe’

The Supreme Court’s decision overturning Roe v. Wade has created far more questions than it has answered about the continued legality and availability of abortion, as both abortion rights supporters and anti-abortion activists scramble to put their marks on policy. Meanwhile, Congress completes work on its gun bill and the FDA takes up the problem of the next covid-19 booster. Margot Sanger-Katz of The New York Times, Sarah Karlin-Smith of the Pink Sheet, and Victoria Knight of KHN join KHN’s Julie Rovner to discuss these issues and more. Also this week, Rovner interviews KHN’s Angela Hart, who reported and wrote the latest KHN-NPR “Bill of the Month” episode about two identical eye surgeries with very different price tags.