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 Invisible Pandemic

Covid cases are again climbing, but you wouldn’t know it from the behavior of public health and elected officials, much less the general public, all of whom seem to want to put the pandemic in the rearview mirror. Meanwhile, the fallout over the leaked Supreme Court draft opinion on abortion continues even as the Senate fails — again — to muster the votes to write abortion rights into law. Joanne Kenen of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and Politico, Alice Miranda Ollstein of Politico, and Sandhya Raman of CQ Roll Call join KHN’s Julie Rovner to discuss these issues and more. Plus, 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?’: Leaked Abortion Opinion Rocks Washington’s World

The unprecedented early leak of a Supreme Court draft opinion that would overturn the landmark abortion-rights ruling Roe v. Wade has heated the national abortion debate to boiling. Meanwhile, the FDA, after years of consideration, moves to ban menthol flavors in cigarettes and cigars. Joanne Kenen of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and Politico, Shefali Luthra of the 19th, and Jessie Hellmann of CQ Roll Call join KHN’s Julie Rovner to discuss these issues and more. Plus, Rovner interviews KHN’s Paula Andalo, who wrote the latest KHN-NPR “Bill of the Month” episode about a family whose medical debt drove them to seek care south of the border.

KHN’s ‘What the Health?’: More Covid Complications for Congress

Congress is back in session, but covid diagnoses for Vice President Kamala Harris and two Democratic senators have temporarily left the Senate without a working majority to approve continued covid funding. Meanwhile, opponents of the Affordable Care Act have filed yet another lawsuit challenging a portion of the law, and we say goodbye to the late Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah, who left a long legacy of health laws. Rachel Cohrs of STAT News, Anna Edney of Bloomberg News, and Rebecca Adams of KHN join KHN’s Julie Rovner to discuss these issues and more.

KHN’s ‘What the Health?’: A Conversation With Peter Lee on What’s Next for the ACA

Amid covid-19, the potential overturn of Roe v. Wade, and a war in Europe, the Affordable Care Act has been flying under the radar in 2022. But this will be a pivotal year for the federal health law. Unless Congress acts, millions of Americans could see their costs for coverage rise dramatically as expanded subsidies expire. At the same time, the end of the public health emergency could boost the uninsured rate as states disenroll people from Medicaid. Peter Lee, who recently stepped down as the first executive director of the largest state-run ACA insurance marketplace, Covered California, has thought long and hard about how the ACA came to be, how it’s been implemented, and what should happen to it now. He joins host and KHN chief Washington correspondent Julie Rovner for a wide-ranging discussion on the state of the ACA.

KHN’s ‘What the Health?’: News You Might Have Missed

Congress is in recess, so the slower-than-average news week gives us a chance to catch up on underreported topics, like Medicare’s coverage decision for the controversial Alzheimer’s disease drug Aduhelm and ominous new statistics on drug overdose deaths and sexually transmitted diseases. Margot Sanger-Katz of The New York Times, Joanne Kenen of Politico and the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, and Alice Miranda Ollstein of Politico 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?’: Finally, a Fix for the ‘Family Glitch’

President Joe Biden welcomed former President Barack Obama back to the White House this week to announce a new policy for the Affordable Care Act that would make subsidies available to more families with unaffordable employer coverage. Meanwhile, Congress struggled to find a compromise for continued federal funding of covid-19 vaccines, testing, and treatments. Tami Luhby of CNN, Shefali Luthra of The 19th, and Jessie Hellmann of CQ Roll Call join KHN’s Julie Rovner to discuss these issues and more.

KHN’s ‘What the Health?’: Funding for the Next Pandemic

In his proposed budget, President Joe Biden called for a boost in health spending that includes billions of dollars to prepare for a future pandemic. But that doesn’t include money he says is needed immediately for testing and treating covid-19. Also this week, federal regulators authorized a second booster shot for people 50 and older yet gave little guidance to consumers about who needs the shot and when. Amy Goldstein of The Washington Post, Jennifer Haberkorn of the Los Angeles Times, and Rachana Pradhan of KHN join KHN’s Mary Agnes Carey to discuss these issues and more. Plus, Julie Rovner interviews KHN’s Julie Appleby, who reported and wrote the latest KHN-NPR “Bill of the Month” episode about a very expensive air ambulance ride.

KHN’s ‘What the Health?’: The ACA Turns 12

Although its fate was in doubt more than a few times, the Affordable Care Act turned 12 this week. Year 13 could be pivotal in determining how many Americans receive ACA health insurance, and at what price. Meanwhile, three leading credit bureaus agreed to stop using most medical debt to measure U.S. consumers’ creditworthiness. Anna Edney of Bloomberg News, Rachel Cohrs of Stat, and KHN’s Mary Agnes Carey join KHN’s Julie Rovner to discuss these issues and more.

KHN’s ‘What the Health?’: We May Be Done With Covid, But Covid’s Not Done With Us

The White House makes a move as a new wave of covid threatens. President Joe Biden brings in Dr. Ashish Jha to take over the executive branch effort. Meanwhile, it remains unclear if and when Congress can come up with the funds to continue much of the federal anti-covid effort. Joanne Kenen of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and Politico, Sandhya Raman of CQ Roll Call, and Alice Miranda Ollstein of Politico join KHN’s Julie Rovner to discuss these issues and more.

KHN’s ‘What the Health?’: Congress Shelves Covid Funding for Now

The Biden administration’s request for billions more in funding to fight covid-19 hit a snag on Capitol Hill this week, as Democrats objected to Republican demands that money allocated to states but not yet spent be reclaimed. Meanwhile, the big annual spending bill about to cross the finish line addresses other health policy changes, such as giving the FDA authority to regulate “synthetic” nicotine. Joanne Kenen of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and Politico, Rachel Cohrs of Stat, and Jessie Hellmann of Modern Healthcare 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 Health-Heavy State of the Union

President Joe Biden spent a large portion of his first State of the Union address talking about foreign affairs, but he also spent time on an array of health topics, including mental health, nursing home regulation, and toxic burn pits. Also this week, the administration unveiled a strategy to address the covid pandemic going forward. Alice Miranda Ollstein of Politico, Amy Goldstein of The Washington Post, and Sarah Karlin-Smith of the Pink Sheet 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?’: Contemplating a Post-‘Roe’ World

In anticipation of the Supreme Court rolling back abortion rights this year, both Democrats and Republicans are arguing among themselves over how best to proceed to either protect or restrict the procedure. Meanwhile, millions of Americans are at risk of losing their health insurance when the federal government declares an end to the current “public health emergency.” Alice Miranda Ollstein of Politico, Shefali Luthra of The 19th, and Rachana Pradhan of KHN join KHN’s Julie Rovner to discuss these issues and more. Also this week, Rovner interviews KHN’s Jay Hancock, who wrote the latest KHN-NPR “Bill of the Month” episode about a couple whose insurance company deemed their twins’ stay in intensive care not an emergency.

KHN’s ‘What the Health?’: It’s Health Costs, Stupid (2022 Edition)

As the pandemic wanes, for now, the ever-rising cost of health care is again taking center stage. Meanwhile, a year into the Biden administration, the FDA finally has a Senate-confirmed commissioner, Dr. Robert Califf. Tami Luhby of CNN, Sarah Karlin-Smith of the Pink Sheet, and Rachel Cohrs of Stat join KHN’s Julie Rovner to discuss these issues and more. Also this week, Rovner interviews Hannah Wesolowski of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, about how the pandemic has worsened the nation’s mental health crisis and what can be done about it.

KHN’s ‘What the Health?’: FDA Takes Center Stage

Congress is set to start its once-every-five-years review of the law that authorizes user fees to finance the hiring of personnel to speed the FDA review of drugs. The periodic renewals of “PDUFA” also give lawmakers a chance to make other changes to the agency at the hub of the pandemic. Meanwhile, the FDA could also find itself at the center of the abortion debate and a controversial new medication to treat Alzheimer’s disease. Anna Edney of Bloomberg News, Joanne Kenen of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and Politico, and Sarah Karlin-Smith of the Pink Sheet join KHN’s Julie Rovner to discuss these issues and more.

KHN’s ‘What the Health?’: Paging the HHS Secretary

Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra is drawing criticism for his hands-off handling of the covid crisis even though the heads of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institutes of Health, and FDA report to him. Meanwhile, the Department of Labor looks to enforce mental health “parity laws” that have failed to achieve their goals. Margot Sanger-Katz of The New York Times, Alice Miranda Ollstein of Politico, and Rachel Cohrs of Stat join KHN’s Julie Rovner to discuss these issues and more. Also this week, Rovner interviews KHN’s Noam N. Levey, who reported and wrote the latest KHN-NPR “Bill of the Month” episode about a large emergency room bill for a small amount of medical care.

KHN’s ‘What the Health?’: Record ACA Enrollment Puts Pressure on Congress

Temporary subsidies helped boost enrollment under the Affordable Care Act to a record 14.5 million, according to the Department of Health and Human Services. But unless Democrats in Congress extend those subsidies, many of those new enrollees will be in for a rude surprise just ahead of midterm elections. Meanwhile, the need to replace retiring Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer further crowds an already tight legislative schedule. Joanne Kenen of Politico and the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Sarah Karlin-Smith of the Pink Sheet, and Anna Edney of Bloomberg News join KHN’s Julie Rovner to discuss these issues and more. Also this week, Rovner interviews Diana Greene Foster, author of “The Turnaway Study: Ten Years, a Thousand Women, and the Consequences of Having — Or Being Denied — An Abortion.”

KHN’s ‘What the Health?’: Roe v. Wade’s (Possibly Last) Anniversary

Jan. 22 marks the 49th — and very likely last — anniversary of the Supreme Court’s landmark abortion decision, Roe v. Wade. The court’s conservative supermajority seems poised to overturn later this year the ruling that legalized abortion nationwide. Also this week, the Biden administration turns 1, with much of its domestic and health agenda yet unrealized. Alice Miranda Ollstein of Politico, Shefali Luthra of the 19th, and Kimberly Leonard of Insider join KHN’s Julie Rovner to discuss these issues and more. Also this week, Rovner interviews Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the Susan B. Anthony List, about what a post-Roe world might look like.

KHN’s ‘What the Health?’: Dealing With Drug Prices

Medicare officials tentatively plan to restrict the use of a controversial Alzheimer’s drug to only those patients participating in clinical trials, while the Department of Health and Human Services looks into lowering the monthly Medicare Part B premium. Meanwhile, covid confusion still reigns, as the Biden administration moves, belatedly, to make more masks and tests available. Joanne Kenen of Politico and the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, 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?’: Contagion Confusion

It’s 2022 and the covid-19 pandemic is still with us, as are congressional efforts to pass President Joe Biden’s big health and social spending bill. But other issues seem certain to take center stage on this year’s health agenda, including abortion, the state of the health care workforce, and prescription drug prices. Tami Luhby of CNN, Alice Miranda Ollstein of Politico and Mary Ellen McIntire of CQ Roll Call join KHN’s Julie Rovner to discuss these issues and more. Also this week, Rovner interviews KHN’s Victoria Knight, who reported the latest KHN-NPR “Bill of the Month” episode.

KHN’s ‘What the Health?’: Manchin Blows Up Biden’s ‘Build Back Better’

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) dealt a blow to congressional efforts to pass President Joe Biden’s domestic agenda bill, forcing Democrats to regroup starting in 2022. Meanwhile, the omicron covid variant spreads rapidly in the U.S., threatening the stability of the nation’s health care system. Joanne Kenen of Politico and the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, Rachel Cohrs of Stat and Sarah Karlin-Smith of the Pink Sheet join KHN’s Julie Rovner to discuss these issues and more, plus a look back at the year in health policy. Also this week, Rovner interviews Ceci Connolly, president and CEO of the Alliance of Community Health Plans.