Mon. Apr 15th, 2024

The Host

Julie Rovner
KFF Health News


Read Julie’s stories.

Julie Rovner is chief Washington correspondent and host of KFF Health News’ weekly health policy news podcast, “What the Health?” A noted expert on health policy issues, Julie is the author of the critically praised reference book “Health Care Politics and Policy A to Z,” now in its third edition.

The Affordable Care Act was signed into law 14 years ago this week, and Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra joined KFF Health News’ Julie Rovner on this week’s “What the Health?” podcast to discuss its accomplishments so far — and the challenges that remain for the health law.

Meanwhile, Congress appears on its way to, finally, finishing the fiscal 2024 spending bills, including funding for HHS — without many of the reproductive or gender-affirming health care restrictions Republicans had sought.

This week’s panelists are Julie Rovner of KFF Health News, Mary Agnes Carey of KFF Health News, Tami Luhby of CNN, and Alice Miranda Ollstein of Politico.


Mary Agnes Carey
KFF Health News


Read Mary Agnes’ stories.

Tami Luhby


Read Tami’s stories.

Alice Miranda Ollstein


Read Alice’s stories.

Among the takeaways from this week’s episode:

  • The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments next week in a case that could decide whether the abortion pill mifepristone will remain easily accessible. The case itself deals with national restrictions rather than an outright ban. But, depending on how the court rules, it could have far-reaching results — for instance, preventing people from getting the pills in the mail and limiting how far into pregnancy the treatment can be used.
  • The case is about more than abortion. Drug companies and medical groups are concerned about the precedent it would set for courts to substitute their judgment for that of the FDA regarding drug approvals.
  • Abortion-related ballot questions are in play in several states. The total number ultimately depends on the success of citizen-led efforts to collect signatures to gain a spot. Such efforts face opposition from anti-abortion groups and elected officials who don’t want the questions to reach the ballot box. Their fear, based on precedents, is that abortion protections tend to pass.
  • The Biden administration issued an executive order this week to improve research on women’s health across the federal government. It has multiple components, including provisions intended to increase research on illnesses and diseases associated with postmenopausal women. It also aims to increase the number of women participating in clinical trials.
  • This Week in Medical Misinformation: The Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the case Murthy v. Missouri. At issue is whether Biden administration officials overstepped their authority when asking companies like Meta, Google, and X to remove or downgrade content flagged as covid-19 misinformation.

Plus, for “extra credit,” the panelists suggest health policy stories they read this week that they think you should read, too:

Julie Rovner: The Washington Post’s “Arizona Lawmaker Tells Her Abortion Story to Show ‘Reality’ of Restrictions,” by Praveena Somasundaram. (Full speech here.)

Alice Miranda Ollstein: CNN’s “Why Your Doctor’s Office Is Spamming You With Appointment Reminders,” by Nathaniel Meyersohn.

Tami Luhby: KFF Health News’ “Georgia’s Medicaid Work Requirement Costing Taxpayers Millions Despite Low Enrollment,” by Andy Miller and Renuka Rayasam.

Mary Agnes Carey: The New York Times’ “When Medicaid Comes After the Family Home,” by Paula Span, and The AP’s “State Medicaid Offices Target Dead People’s Homes to Recoup Their Health Care Costs,” by Amanda Seitz.

Also mentioned on this week’s podcast:


Francis Ying
Audio producer

Stephanie Stapleton

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KFF Health News is a national newsroom that produces in-depth journalism about health issues and is one of the core operating programs at KFF—an independent source of health policy research, polling, and journalism. Learn more about KFF.


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