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KFF Health News' 'What the Health?': Let’s Talk About the Weather


It’s been the summer of broken weather records around the world — for heat, rain, and wildfire smoke — advertising the risks of climate change in a big way. But, apparently, it’s not enough to break the logjam in Washington over how to address the growing climate crisis. Meanwhile, in Texas, women who were unable to get care for pregnancy complications took their stories to court, and Congress gears up to — maybe — do something about prescription drug prices. Alice Miranda Ollstein of Politico, Shefali Luthra of The 19th, and Rachel Cohrs of Stat join Julie Rovner, KFF Health News’ chief Washington correspondent, to discuss these issues and more. Also this week, Rovner interviews Meena Seshamani, the top administrator for the federal Medicare program.

Feds Move to Rein In Prior Authorization, a System That Harms and Frustrates Patients

KFF Health News Original

The federal government wants to change the way health insurers use prior authorization — the requirement that patients get permission before undergoing treatment. Designed to prevent doctors from deploying expensive, ineffectual procedures, prior authorization has become a confusing maze that denies or delays care, burdens physicians with paperwork, and perpetuates racial disparities. New rules may not be enough to solve the problems.

Idaho Dropped Thousands From Medicaid in the Pandemic’s First Years

KFF Health News Original

The removals, detailed in emails between state and federal health officials, hinged on disagreements over how states could disenroll people during the public health emergency. Consumer advocates fear the alleged violation signals the mess to come on April 1, when the pandemic-era Medicaid coverage mandate ends.

Proposed Medicare Advantage Changes Cannot Accurately Be Called ‘Cuts,’ Experts Say

KFF Health News Original

CMS advanced two proposed changes that could affect Medicare Advantage plans. One would allow the government to recover past overpayments. As a result, it could reduce those insurers’ profits, leading them to increase enrollees’ out-of-pocket costs or reduce benefits. But it’s inaccurate to characterize the changes as “cuts.”