KFF Health News covers health care in the Midwest, with a bureau headquartered in St. Louis and staff reporters based in Iowa, Minnesota, and South Dakota.

States Get in on the Prior Authorization Crackdown

Last month, my colleague Lauren Sausser told you about the Biden administration’s crackdown on insurance plans’ prior authorization policies, with new rules for certain health plans participating in federal programs such as Medicare Advantage or the Affordable Care Act marketplace. States are getting in on the action, too. Prior authorization, sometimes called pre-certification, requires patients […]

KFF Health News' 'What the Health?': Health Enters the Presidential Race

New Hampshire voters have spoken, and it seems increasingly clear that this November’s election will pit President Joe Biden against former President Donald Trump. Both appear to be making health a key part of their campaigns, with Trump vowing (again) to repeal the Affordable Care Act, and Biden stressing his support for contraception and abortion rights. Meanwhile, both candidates will try to highlight efforts to rein in prescription drug prices. Alice Miranda Ollstein of Politico, Anna Edney of Bloomberg News, 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 Sarah Somers of the National Health Law Program about the potential consequences for the health care system if the Supreme Court overturns a key precedent attempting to balance executive vs. judicial power.

KFF Health News' 'What the Health?': The Supreme Court vs. the Bureaucracy

The Supreme Court this week heard oral arguments in a case that could radically alter the way federal agencies — including the Department of Health and Human Services — administer laws passed by Congress. A decision in the case is expected this spring or summer. Meanwhile, the Biden administration is struggling over whether to ban menthol cigarettes — a move that could improve public health but also alienate Black voters, the biggest menthol users. Joanne Kenen of Johns Hopkins University and Politico Magazine, Lauren Weber of The Washington Post, and Rachel Cohrs of Stat join KFF Health News chief Washington correspondent Julie Rovner to discuss these issues and more. Also this week, Rovner interviews Darius Tahir, who reported and wrote the latest KFF Health News-NPR “Bill of the Month” feature about a lengthy fight over a bill for a quick telehealth visit.

The Year in Opioid Settlements: 5 Things You Need to Know

In the past year, opioid settlement money has gone from an emerging funding stream for which people had lofty but uncertain aspirations to a coveted pot of billions being invested in remediation efforts. Here are some important and evolving factors to watch going forward.

What a Bison Goring Can Teach Us About Rural Emergency Care

Millions of Americans live in “ambulance deserts” — areas that are more than a 25-minute drive to the nearest emergency medical services (EMS) station. The most rural areas can be more than an hour away from help.   These sparsely populated communities can have trouble sustaining ambulance services, if small patient volumes and low reimbursements […]