Latest KFF Health News Stories
Debt Deal Leaves Health Programs (Mostly) Intact
The bipartisan deal to extend the U.S. government’s borrowing authority includes future cuts to federal health agencies, but they are smaller than many expected and do not touch Medicare and Medicaid. Meanwhile, Merck & Co. becomes the first drugmaker to sue Medicare officials over the federal health insurance program’s new authority to negotiate drug prices. Joanne Kenen of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and Politico, Lauren Weber of The Washington Post, and Jessie Hellmann of CQ Roll Call join KFF Health News’ chief Washington correspondent, Julie Rovner, to discuss these issues and more. Also this week, Rovner interviews KFF Health News senior correspondent Sarah Jane Tribble, who reported the latest KFF Health News-NPR “Bill of the Month” feature, about the perils of visiting the U.S. with European health insurance.
The Debt Ceiling Deal Takes a Bite Out of Health Programs. It Could Have Been Much Worse.
A bipartisan deal to raise the government’s borrowing limit dashed Republican hopes for new Medicaid work requirements and other health spending cuts. Democrats secured the compromise by making relatively modest concessions, including ordering the return of unspent covid funds and limiting other health spending.
When an Anti-Vaccine Activist Runs for President
Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s official entry into the presidential race poses a thorny challenge for journalists: how to cover a candidate who’s opposed to vaccines without amplifying misinformation. And South Carolina becomes the latest state in the South to ban abortion after roughly six weeks of pregnancy. Alice Miranda Ollstein of Politico, Rachel Cohrs of Stat, and Sarah Karlin-Smith of the Pink Sheet join KFF Health News chief Washington correspondent Julie Rovner to discuss these issues and more. Also this week, Rovner interviews KFF Health News senior correspondent Aneri Pattani about her project to track the billions of dollars coming from opioid makers to settle lawsuits.
The Abortion Pill Goes Back to Court
A three-judge appeals court panel heard testimony this week about revoking the FDA’s 22-year-old approval of a key pill used in medication abortion and miscarriage management. The judges all have track records of siding with abortion foes. Meanwhile, as the standoff over raising the federal debt ceiling continues in Washington, a major sticking point is whether to impose work requirements on recipients of Medicaid coverage. Victoria Knight of Axios, Rachel Roubein of The Washington Post, and Sandhya Raman of CQ Roll Call join KFF Health News chief Washington correspondent Julie Rovner to discuss these issues and more.
A Covid Test Medicare Scam May Be a Trial Run for Further Fraud
Before the covid-19 public health emergency ended, Medicare advocates around the country noticed a rise in complaints from beneficiaries who received at-home covid tests they never requested. Bad actors may have used seniors’ Medicare information to improperly bill the federal government — and could do it again, say federal investigators.
Estafas a Medicare con pruebas para covid pueden generar otros fraudes
La cobertura de Medicare para las pruebas caseras de covid-19 finalizó hace pocos días, pero las estafas generadas por este beneficio temporal podrían tener consecuencias persistentes para las personas mayores.
Health Programs Are at Risk as Debt Ceiling Cave-In Looms
A warning from the Treasury Department that the U.S. could default on its debt as soon as June 1 has galvanized lawmakers to intervene. But there is still no obvious way to reconcile Republican demands to slash federal spending with President Joe Biden’s demand to raise the debt ceiling and save the spending fight for a later date. Meanwhile, efforts to pass abortion bans in conservative states are starting to stall as some Republicans rebel against the most severe bans. Joanne Kenen of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and Politico, Rachel Cohrs of Stat, and Alice Miranda Ollstein of Politico join KFF Health News chief Washington correspondent Julie Rovner to discuss these issues and more.
Dancing Under the Debt Ceiling
House Republicans passed their plan to raise the nation’s debt ceiling, along with major cuts to health (and other domestic) programs. Unlikely to become law, it calls for new work requirements for adults on Medicaid. Meanwhile, state efforts targeting trans people bear a striking resemblance to the fight against abortion rights. Jessie Hellmann of CQ Roll Call, Shefali Luthra of The 19th, and Sarah Karlin-Smith of the Pink Sheet join KFF Health News chief Washington correspondent Julie Rovner to discuss these issues and more. Also this week, Rovner interviews Renuka Rayasam, who reported the latest KFF Health News-NPR “Bill of the Month” feature, about a specialist’s demand to be paid as much as $15,000 before treating a woman’s serious pregnancy complication.
As of April 1, states were allowed to begin reevaluating Medicaid eligibility for millions of Americans who qualified for the program during the covid-19 pandemic but may no longer meet the income or other requirements. As many as 15 million people could lose health coverage as a result. Meanwhile, the Medicare Hospital Insurance Trust Fund is projected to stay solvent until 2031, its trustees reported, taking some pressure off of lawmakers to finally fix that program’s underlying financial weaknesses. Alice Miranda Ollstein of Politico, Rachel Roubein of The Washington Post, and Amy Goldstein of The Washington Post join KHN’s Julie Rovner to discuss these issues and more. Also this week, Rovner interviews Daniel Chang, who reported the latest KHN-NPR “Bill of the Month” feature about a child not yet old enough for kindergarten whose medical bill landed him in collections.
Congressman Seeks to Plug ‘Shocking Loophole’ Exposed by KHN Investigation
A federal lawmaker has introduced a House bill that would close one of a laundry list of oversight gaps revealed in a recent KHN investigation of the system regulators use to ban fraudsters from billing government health programs, including Medicare and Medicaid.
The Policy, and Politics, of Medicare Advantage
Medicare Advantage, the private plan alternative to traditional Medicare, is embroiled in a growing controversy over whether insurers are being overpaid and what it would mean to reduce those payments. Meanwhile, even as maternal mortality in the U.S. continues to rise, providers of care to pregnant women say they’re leaving states with abortion bans that prevent them from treating pregnancy complications. Margot Sanger-Katz of The New York Times, Jessie Hellmann of CQ Roll Call, and Joanne Kenen of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and Politico join KHN’s chief Washington correspondent Julie Rovner to discuss these issues and more.
Mental Health Care by Video Fills Gaps in Rural Nursing Homes
In-person mental health care is hard to arrange in rural nursing homes, so video chats with faraway professionals are filling the gap.
Any day now a conservative federal judge in Texas could upend the national abortion debate by requiring the FDA to rescind its approval of mifepristone, a drug approved in the U.S. more than 20 years ago that is now used in more than half of abortions nationwide. Meanwhile, a controversial study on masks gets a clarification, although it may be too late to change the public impression of what it found. Alice Miranda Ollstein of Politico, Jessie Hellmann of CQ Roll Call, and Sarah Karlin-Smith of the Pink Sheet join KHN chief Washington correspondent Julie Rovner to discuss these issues and more. Plus, for “extra credit,” the panelists suggest health policy stories they read this week they think you should read, too.
Biden Budget Touches All the Bases
Very little in the proposed budget released by the Biden administration is likely to become law, particularly with Republicans in charge of the U.S. House. Still, the document is an important statement of the president’s policy priorities, and it’s clear health programs are among those he feels are important. Meanwhile, five women who were denied abortions when their pregnancies threatened their lives are suing Texas. Shefali Luthra of The 19th, Victoria Knight of Axios, and Margot Sanger-Katz of The New York Times join KHN’s Julie Rovner to discuss these issues and more. Also this week, Rovner interviews Harris Meyer, who reported and wrote the two latest KHN-NPR “Bill of the Month” features. Both were about families facing unexpected bills following childbirth.
For Young People on Medicare, a Hysterectomy Sometimes Is More Affordable Than Birth Control
While Medicare was designed as health insurance for those 65 and older, it also covers people with disabilities who are young enough to still get pregnant. Yet they often struggle to get their birth control covered and end up with large medical bills — or instead opt for hysterectomies or tubal ligations, which Medicare sometimes will cover.
Covid Aid Papered Over Colorado Hospital’s Financial Shortcomings
Financial pitfalls at the nation’s highest-elevation hospital serve as a cautionary tale as rural hospitals emerge from the pandemic on shaky ground.
Struggling to Survive, the First Rural Hospitals Line Up for New Federal Lifeline
Hospitals in New Mexico, Texas, and Oklahoma are among the first to apply for a new rural hospital payment model that shifts the focus of services away from overnight stays to outpatient and emergency care. Still, experts say the law needs to be amended to provide the right mix of care for rural communities.
President Joe Biden and Republicans in Congress spent last month sparring over whether to shield Medicare and Social Security from budget cuts — leading some to wonder if Medicaid was on the table instead. Biden and Democrats say no, but some Republicans seem eager to trim federal spending on the health program for Americans with low incomes. And ready or not, artificial intelligence is coming to medical care. Benefits, as well as unintended consequences, are likely. Alice Miranda Ollstein of Politico, Rachel Cohrs of STAT News, and Lauren Weber of The Washington Post join KHN’s chief Washington correspondent, Julie Rovner, to discuss these issues and more.
Readers and Tweeters Urgently Plea for a Proper ‘Role’ Call in the ER
KHN gives readers a chance to comment on a recent batch of stories.
Senators Have Mental Health Crises, Too
When U.S. Sen. John Fetterman of Pennsylvania checked himself into the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center for treatment of depression this month, he got an unusual reaction from his colleagues in Congress: compassion. It’s a far cry from how politicians once kept their mental health issues under wraps at all costs. Meanwhile, GOP presidential candidate Nikki Haley is stirring up controversy by proposing that all politicians over age 75 be required to pass a mental competency test to hold office. Joanne Kenen of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and Politico, Sarah Karlin-Smith of the Pink Sheet, and Rachel Roubein of The Washington Post join KHN chief Washington correspondent Julie Rovner to discuss these issues and more. Plus, for “extra credit,” the panelists suggest health policy stories they read this week that they think you should read, too.