The summer that promised to let Americans resume a relatively normal life is turning into another summer of anxiety and face masks, as the delta variant drives covid caseloads up in all 50 states. Meanwhile, the Americans with Disabilities Act turns 35, and the Missouri Supreme Court orders the state to expand Medicaid after all. Mary Ellen McIntire of CQ Roll Call, Anna Edney of Bloomberg News and Rachana Pradhan of KHN join KHN’s Julie Rovner to discuss these issues and more. Also, Rovner interviews KHN’s Samantha Young, who reported and wrote the latest KHN-NPR “Bill of the Month” episode about an Olympic-level athlete with an Olympic-size medical bill.
U.S. Rep. Sharice Davids (D-Kansas) introduced a bill to do away with a health insurance rule that dictates which parent’s plan becomes a new baby’s primary insurer. This could save some parents from unexpected, sometimes massive medical bills. Davids took up the issue after a KHN/NPR Bill of the Month story on one family’s unexpected $207,455 NICU bill.
The landmark federal health law required most commercial health plans to cover a comprehensive list of birth control methods approved by the Food and Drug Administration free of charge to female patients. But health plans don’t have to cover every option, and newer methods are not included in the federal list of covered services.
Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), who is helping to negotiate the health care spending framework for the Democrats’ budget plan, said lawmakers may have to settle for very basic versions of programs deployed in the package. But the key, he added, is to get the “architecture of these changes, bold changes,” started and show people what is possible.
Democrats in Congress reached a tentative agreement to press ahead on a partisan bill that would dramatically expand health benefits for people on Medicare, those who buy their own insurance and individuals who have been shut out of coverage in states that didn’t expand Medicaid. Meanwhile, controversy continues to rage over whether vaccinated Americans will need a booster to protect against covid-19 variants, and who will pay for a new drug to treat Alzheimer’s disease. Rachel Cohrs of Stat and Sarah Karlin-Smith of the Pink Sheet join KHN’s Julie Rovner to discuss these issues and more. Also, Rovner interviews KHN’s Rae Ellen Bichell, who reported and wrote the latest KHN-NPR “Bill of the Month” episode about a mother and daughter who fought an enormous emergency room bill.
Two intractable failings of the U.S. health care system — addiction treatment and medical costs — come to a head in the ER, where patients desperate for addiction treatment arrive, only to find the facility may not be equipped to deal with substance use or, if they are, treatment is prohibitively expensive.
The plan from high-wire negotiations would affect five key areas of health, but there will be further tense negotiations among Democratic lawmakers about specifics of the $3.5 trillion in funding. And all Senate Democrats will need to be behind the plan, because Republicans oppose it.
Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra is the special guest for this bonus episode of KHN’s “What the Health?” podcast. He and host Julie Rovner discuss a breadth of topics the secretary oversees, including covid-19, prescription drug prices, Medicare, Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act.
In an interview for KHN’s “What the Health?” podcast, HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra says the administration is eager for Congress to make changes to Medicare that will provide more benefits and make more older adults eligible for the program. He also said a priority will be making permanent the enhanced premium subsidies for Affordable Care Act marketplace plans.
The president, one of the last of a disappearing group of politicians who sought moderate compromises on abortion policy, is frustrating supporters. They wanted faster changes in federal rules. But abortion opponents — including Catholic bishops— are also taking him to task.