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?’: Oh, Oh, Omicron

Even before the omicron variant of covid starts to spread widely in the U.S., hospitals are filling up with post-holiday delta cases. Meanwhile, the Supreme Court signals — loudly — that 2022 will be the year it rolls back abortion rights in a big way. Margot Sanger-Katz of The New York Times, Alice Miranda Ollstein of Politico and Mary Ellen McIntire of CQ Roll Call join KHN’s Julie Rovner to discuss these issues and more.

KHN’s ‘What the Health?’: Much Ado About (Vaccine) Mandates

The fight over covid vaccines continues to intensify, with Republicans on Capitol Hill pushing — with some success — to cancel President Joe Biden’s “test regularly or vaccinate” requirement for private employers. Meanwhile, abortion is not the only health issue before the Supreme Court this term. 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 News join KHN’s Julie Rovner to discuss these issues and more.

KHN’s ‘What the Health?’: Roe v. Wade on the Rocks

A Supreme Court majority appears ready to overturn nearly 50 years of abortion rights, at least judging by the latest round of oral arguments before the justices. And a new covid variant, omicron, gains attention as it spreads around the world. Alice Miranda Ollstein of Politico, Sarah Karlin-Smith of the Pink Sheet and Shefali Luthra of The 19th join KHN’s Julie Rovner to discuss these issues and more. Also this week, Rovner interviews Blake Farmer of Nashville Public Radio about the latest KHN-NPR “Bill of the Month” episode.

KHN’s ‘What the Health?’: The Big Biden Budget Bill Passes the House

President Joe Biden’s social spending budget is on its way to the U.S. Senate, where Democratic leaders are (optimistically) hoping to complete work by the end of the year. Meanwhile, covid is surging again in parts of the country, along with the political divides it continues to cause. Margot Sanger-Katz of The New York Times, Joanne Kenen of Politico and the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, and Mary Agnes Carey of KHN join KHN’s Julie Rovner to discuss these issues and more. Also this week, Rovner previews next week’s Supreme Court abortion oral arguments with Florida State University law professor Mary Ziegler.

KHN’s ‘What the Health?’: Boosting Confusion

Federal health officials appear poised to extend a recommendation for covid boosters to all adults, following moves by some governors and mayors to broaden the eligible booster pool as caseloads rise. Meanwhile, the Food and Drug Administration finally has a nominee to head the agency: former FDA chief Robert Califf. And Medicare premiums for consumers will likely rise substantially in 2022, partly due to the approval of a controversial drug to treat Alzheimer’s disease. 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 Dan Weissmann, host of the “An Arm and a Leg” podcast.

KHN’s ‘What the Health?’: Why Health Care Is So Expensive, Chapter $22K

Congress is making slow progress toward completing its ambitious social spending bill, although its Thanksgiving deadline looks optimistic. Meanwhile, a new survey finds the average cost of an employer-provided family plan has risen to more than $22,000. That’s about the cost of a new Toyota Corolla. Alice Miranda Ollstein of Politico, Anna Edney of Bloomberg News and Rebecca Adams of CQ Roll Call join KHN’s Julie Rovner to discuss these issues and more. Also this week, Rovner interviews Rebecca Love, a nurse academic and entrepreneur, about the impending crisis in nursing.

KHN’s ‘What the Health?’: Compromise Is Coming — Maybe

Democratic negotiators on Capitol Hill appear to be nearing a compromise on President Joe Biden’s social spending agenda, spurred partly by Democratic losses on Election Day in Virginia. Meanwhile, the Supreme Court hints it might allow abortion providers to sue Texas over its restrictive new ban. But the relief, if it comes, could be short-lived if the court uses a second case, challenging a law in Mississippi, to weaken or overturn Roe v. Wade. Alice Miranda Ollstein of Politico, Margot Sanger-Katz of The New York Times 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 Rae Ellen Bichell, who reported and wrote the latest KHN-NPR “Bill of the Month” feature about an emergency bill for a nonemergency birth.

KHN’s ‘What the Health?’: Biden Social-Spending ‘Framework’ Pulls Back on Key Health Pledges

President Joe Biden unveiled a compromise “Build Back Better” framework shortly before taking off for key meetings in Europe, but it’s unclear whether the framework can win the votes of all Democrats in the House and Senate, and it leaves out some of the party’s health priorities, notably significant provisions to lower prescription drug prices. Meanwhile, younger children may soon be eligible for covid vaccines. Joanne Kenen of Politico and Johns Hopkins, Sarah Karlin-Smith of the Pink Sheet and Rachana Pradhan of KHN join KHN’s Julie Rovner to discuss these issues and more.

KHN’s ‘What the Health?’: Dems Agree to Agree, But Not on What to Agree On

Negotiations on the health parts of President Joe Biden’s domestic agenda are getting serious but have yet to produce a deal every Democrat can support. Meanwhile, the Food and Drug Administration remains without a nominated leader but manages to take the first steps toward approving over-the-counter hearing aids. Joanne Kenen of Politico and Johns Hopkins, Tami Luhby of CNN and Rachel Cohrs of Stat 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?’: The Politics of Vaccine Mandates

Like almost everything else associated with the covid-19 pandemic, partisans are taking sides over whether vaccines should be mandated. Meanwhile, Democrats on Capitol Hill are still struggling to find compromise in their effort to expand health insurance and other social programs. Alice Miranda Ollstein of Politico, Jen Haberkorn of the Los Angeles Times and Mary Ellen McIntire of CQ Roll Call join KHN’s Julie Rovner to discuss these issues and more. Also this week, Rovner interviews best-selling author Beth Macy about her book “Dopesick,” and the new Hulu miniseries based on it.

KHN’s ‘What the Health?’: Abortion Politics Front and Center

The polarizing abortion issue threatens to tie up Congress, the Supreme Court and the states for the coming year. Meanwhile, Congress kicks the can down the road to December on settling its spending priorities. Joanne Kenen of Politico and the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, Yasmeen Abutaleb of The Washington Post and Sarah Karlin-Smith of the Pink Sheet join KHN’s Julie Rovner to discuss these issues and more.
Also this week, Rovner interviews KHN’s Aneri Pattani, who delivered the latest KHN-NPR “Bill of the Month” episode about a covid test that cost as much as a luxury car.

KHN’s ‘What the Health?’: The Health Agenda Still on Hold

Negotiations continue on Capitol Hill over President Joe Biden’s health agenda — along with a long list of other items. With Republicans on the sidelines, liberal Democrats delayed a House vote on a Senate-passed infrastructure bill to extract moderates’ support for a social-spending bill that includes expansions of benefits for Medicare, Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act. Meanwhile, the Biden administration’s new rules to prevent “surprise” medical bills pleases some health stakeholders and angers others. Alice Miranda Ollstein of Politico, Tami Luhby of CNN and Kimberly Leonard of Insider join KHN’s Julie Rovner to discuss these issues and more. Also, Rovner interviews Anna Flagg of the Marshall Project about how a century-old report on medical education contributed to racial inequities that persist today.

KHN’s ‘What the Health?’: The Autumn of Democrats’ Discontent

Congress is back in session with a short time to finish a long to-do list, including keeping the government operating and paying its bills. Hanging in the balance is President Joe Biden’s entire domestic agenda, including major changes proposed for Medicare, Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act. Meanwhile, the new Texas abortion law that bans the procedure early in pregnancy is prompting action in Washington. Joanne Kenen of Politico, Mary Ellen McIntire of CQ Roll Call and Sarah Karlin-Smith of the Pink Sheet join KHN’s Julie Rovner to discuss these issues and more. Also, Rovner interviews former FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb about his new book on the covid-19 pandemic.

KHN’s ‘What the Health?’: Much Ado About Drug Prices

Democrats have hit a snag in their effort to compile a $3.5 trillion social-spending bill this fall — moderates are resisting support for Medicare drug price negotiation provisions that would pay for many of the measure’s health benefit improvements. Meanwhile, the new abortion restrictions in Texas have moved the divisive issue back to the political front burner. Alice Miranda Ollstein of Politico, Rachel Cohrs of Stat and Shefali Luthra of The 19th join KHN’s Julie Rovner to discuss these issues and more. Also this week, Rovner interview’s KHN’s Phil Galewitz about the latest KHN-NPR “Bill of the Month” installment, about two similar jaw surgeries with very different price tags.

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

The covid pandemic has spotlighted the often-unseen role of public health in Americans’ daily lives. And the picture has not all been pretty. What is public health and why is it so important — and controversial? Dr. Ashish Jha, dean of the Brown University School of Public Health, explains the basics. Then, Joanne Kenen of Politico and Lauren Weber of KHN join KHN’s Julie Rovner to discuss what could happen next.

KHN’s ‘What the Health?’: Vaccine Approval Moves the Needle on Covid

The FDA’s formal approval of the first vaccine to prevent covid-19 may or may not prompt doubters to go out and get shots, but it has clearly prompted employers to make vaccination a work requirement. Meanwhile, moderates and liberals in the U.S. House put aside their differences long enough to keep a giant social-spending bill on track, at least for now. Joanne Kenen of Politico, Tami Luhby of CNN 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 suggest their favorite health policy stories of the week they think you should read, too.

KHN’s ‘What the Health?’: Booster Time

As the delta variant continues to spread around the U.S., the Biden administration is taking steps to authorize covid vaccine boosters, require nursing home workers to be vaccinated and protect school officials who want to require masks despite state laws banning those mandates. Meanwhile, the U.S. House is returning from its summer break early to start work on its giant budget bill, which includes a long list of health policy changes. Alice Miranda Ollstein of Politico, Margot Sanger-Katz of The New York Times and Kimberly Leonard of Business Insider join KHN’s Julie Rovner to discuss these issues and more.

KHN’s ‘What the Health?’: The Senate Acts

The U.S. Senate worked well into its scheduled August recess to pass a bipartisan infrastructure bill and a budget blueprint that outlines a much larger bill — covering key health priorities — to be written this fall. Meanwhile, the latest surge of covid is making both employers and schools rethink their opening plans. Joanne Kenen of Politico, Mary Ellen McIntire of CQ Roll Call and Yasmeen Abutaleb of The Washington Post 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?’: Delta Blues

Covid is back with a vengeance, with some people clamoring for booster shots while others harden their resistance to getting vaccinated at all. Meanwhile, the Food and Drug Administration is pushing hard on drugmaker Pfizer’s request to upgrade the emergency authorization for its vaccine and give it final approval. 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 issues and more. Also, for “extra credit,” the panelists suggest their favorite health policy stories of the week they think you should read, too.