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The death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is giving new life to the latest constitutional challenge to the Affordable Care Act. It also places anti-abortion activists on the cusp of a court majority large enough to ensure the rollback of the right to abortion and, possibly, some types of birth control. Meanwhile, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar tries to centralize power at the sprawling department plagued by miscommunications and scandals. Anna Edney of Bloomberg News, Kimberly Leonard of Business Insider and Mary Ellen McIntire of CQ Roll Call join KHN’s Julie Rovner to discuss these issues and more. Plus, Rovner interviews KHN’s Sarah Jane Tribble about her new podcast, “Where It Hurts,” debuting Sept. 29.

President Donald Trump this week issued a prescription drug pricing order unlikely to lower drug prices, and he contradicted comments by his director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on the need for mask-wearing and predictions for vaccine availability. Meanwhile, scandals erupted at the CDC, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services and the Food and Drug Administration. And the number of people without health insurance grew in 2019, reported the Census Bureau, even while the economy soared. Alice Miranda Ollstein of Politico, Tami Luhby of CNN and Sarah Karlin-Smith of the Pink Sheet join KHN’s Julie Rovner to discuss this and more. Plus, for extra credit, the panelists recommend their favorite health policy stories of the week they think you should read, too.

Republicans have all but abandoned the Affordable Care Act as a campaign cudgel, judging from their national convention, at least. Meanwhile, career scientists at the federal government’s preeminent health agencies — the Food and Drug Administration, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institutes of Health — are all coming under increasing political pressure as the pandemic drags on. 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 this and more. Plus, Rovner interviews KHN’s Elizabeth Lawrence about the latest KHN-NPR “Bill of the Month” installment.

As the nation awaits a vaccine to end the pandemic, local health departments say they lack the staff, money, tools ― and a unified plan ― to distribute, administer and track millions of vaccines, most of which will require two doses. Dozens of doctors, nurses and health officials interviewed by KHN and The Associated Press expressed their concern and frustration over federal shortcomings.