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With a majority too small to eliminate the filibuster, Democrats will not have enough votes in the Senate to pass many of their plans without Republicans and will also have only a razor-thin majority in the House. This combination could doom many Democratic health care proposals, like offering Americans a government-sponsored public insurance option, and complicate efforts to pass further pandemic relief.

Democratic victories in two runoff elections in Georgia will give Democrats control of the Senate starting Jan. 20, which means they will be in charge of both houses of Congress and the White House for the first time since 2010. Meanwhile, covid continues to run rampant while vaccine distribution lags. Alice Miranda Ollstein of Politico, Anna Edney of Bloomberg News and Mary Ellen McIntire of CQ Roll Call join KHN’s Julie Rovner to discuss these issues and more. Plus, for extra credit, the panelists recommend their favorite health policy stories of the week they think you should read, too.

The coronavirus pandemic colored just about everything in 2020. But there was other health policy news that you either never heard or might have forgotten about: the Affordable Care Act going before the Supreme Court with its survival on the line; ditto for Medicaid work requirements. And a surprise ending to the “surprise bill” saga. Joanne Kenen of Politico, Anna Edney of Bloomberg News and Sarah Karlin-Smith of Pink Sheet join KHN’s Julie Rovner to discuss these issues and more.

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra is President-elect Joe Biden’s pick for U.S. Health and Human Services secretary. As attorney general and during his 24 years in Congress, he has staked progressive positions on health care issues, fighting the Trump administration on contraception, suing a major California health system for monopolistic behavior and calling himself a supporter of single-payer health care.