Julie Rovner

Julie Rovner is a health policy correspondent for NPR specializing in the politics of health care.

Reporting on all aspects of health policy and politics, Rovner covers the White House, Capitol Hill, the Department of Health and Human Services in addition to issues around the country. She served as NPR's lead correspondent covering the passage and implementation of the 2010 health overhaul bill, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

A noted expert on health policy issues, Rovner is the author of a critically-praised reference book Health Care Politics and Policy A-Z. Rovner is also co-author of the book Managed Care Strategies 1997, and has contributed to several other books, including two chapters in Intensive Care: How Congress Shapes Health Policy, edited by political scientists Norman Ornstein and Thomas Mann.

In 2005, Rovner was awarded the Everett McKinley Dirksen Award for distinguished reporting of Congress for her coverage of the passage of the Medicare prescription drug law and its aftermath.

Rovner has appeared on television on the NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, CNN, C-Span, MSNBC, and NOW with Bill Moyers. Her articles have appeared in dozens of national newspapers and magazines, including The Washington Post, USA Today, Modern Maturity, and The Saturday Evening Post.

Prior to NPR, Rovner covered health and human services for the Congressional Quarterly Weekly Report, specializing in health care financing, abortion, welfare, and disability issues. Later she covered health reform for the Medical News Network, an interactive daily television news service for physicians, and provided analysis and commentary on the health reform debates in Congress for NPR. She has been a regular contributor to the British medical journal The Lancet. Her columns on patients' rights for the magazine Business and Health won her a share of the 1999 Jesse H. Neal National Business Journalism Award.

An honors graduate, Rovner has a degree in political science from University of Michigan-Ann Arbor.

Call it the Affordable Care Act, call it Obamacare, call it whatever you want — it's coming. And soon. In less than four months people without health insurance will be able to start signing up for coverage that begins Jan. 1.

A lot has been said about the law, most of it not that understandable. So starting now, and continuing occasionally through the summer and fall, we're going to try to fix that.

An obviously unhappy Judge Edward Korman has approved the Obama administration's proposal to make just one formulation of the morning-after birth control pill available over the counter without age restrictions.

But in a testily worded six-page memorandum, the federal district judge made it clear he is not particularly pleased with the outcome. He has been overseeing the case in one way or another for more than eight years.

Reaction was swift to the Obama administration's announcement Monday night that it was dropping a long-running legal battle to keep age restrictions on one type of the morning-after birth control pill.

But like just about everything else in this decade-long controversy, the latest decision has pleased just about no one.

A federal appeals court has dealt the Obama administration yet another blow in its quest to keep at least some age restrictions on the sale of emergency contraceptive pills.

Young women covered by a parent's health insurance don't necessarily get maternity coverage. The National Women's Law Center thinks it may have found a way to get them benefits.

The group has filed sex discrimination complaints against five large publicly funded employers, using a little-noticed provision of the Affordable Care Act that bars discrimination in health benefits on the basis of gender.

The Obama administration is countering criticism that the new health insurance exchanges will be lacking in competition, though it's doing so a bit quietly.

As predicted, abortion opponents on Capitol Hill are wasting no time in their efforts to turn publicity over the recent murder conviction of abortion provider Kermit Gosnell to their legislative advantage.

Their latest goal: a federal ban on most abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy.

Today more than 1 in every 3 baby boomers — that huge glut of people born between 1948 and 1964 — is unmarried. And those unmarried boomers are disproportionately women.

When the Senate voted Tuesday to make Marilyn Tavenner the official administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, it was the first time the world's greatest deliberative body had approved someone to head the huge health agency since 2004.

That's right, you have to go way back to the Bush administration to find Dr. Mark McClellan, the last person to be officially put in the post.

The news that U.S. scientists have successfully cloned a human embryo seems almost certain to rekindle a political fight that has raged, on and off, since the announcement of the creation of Dolly the sheep in 1997.

The murder conviction in Philadelphia of abortion provider Dr. Kermit Gosnell in the deaths of three babies and one of his female patients is likely to further inflame the already heated abortion debate.

Both sides of the abortion divide have been gearing up for what comes next for some time now.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

The U.S. District Court judge who last month ordered the Food and Drug Administration to make the most popular forms of the emergency contraceptive pill available over-the-counter with no age restrictions has denied the government's request to stay his ruling while it's on appeal.

So you know all that talk about how the boatload of money going to health care will bankrupt the nation if something isn't done soon?

Well, it turns out that while politicians were bickering, the problem started taking care of itself. Well, a little bit.

The administration's actions this week on emergency contraception have left many women's health groups sputtering with anger.

But what really has some of the President Obama's usual allies irritated is the fact that the moves are in direct contrast to speeches he made in just the past week.

Two years ago, a landmark study found that having Medicaid health insurance makes a positive difference in people's lives.

Backers of the program have pointed to that study time and again in their push to encourage states to expand the program as part of the federal health law.

In an effort to find a compromise for a politically fraught issue, the Food and Drug Administration has approved a proposal to make the emergency contraceptive pill Plan B more available to some younger teens without a prescription and to older women by moving the medication out from behind the pharmacy counter.

One of the more popular provisions of the federal health law requires that women be given much freer access to prescription methods of birth control. That includes not only the pill, but implants and IUDs as well.

But what happens if there are not enough doctors to prescribe those contraceptives?

That's exactly what worries some reproductive health advocates, as efforts are underway to rewrite rules governing the training of the nation's family doctors.

This is the sixth week of the trial of Dr. Kermit Gosnell, the physician charged with five counts of murder in the deaths of a woman and infants at the Philadelphia abortion clinic he owned and operated.

OK, the conventional wisdom about the budget President Obama sent to Congress yesterday is that's irrelevant.

It's two months late, after all, and the House and Senate have already approved their own spending blueprints for fiscal 2014.

But here's why it matters when it comes to health.

The budget President Obama will send to Congress Wednesday is expected to include some $400 billion in reductions to Medicare and other health programs.

And if the word around Washington is correct, it may also include a proposal aimed at winning some bipartisan backing — by changing the way Medicare patients pay for their care.

A federal judge ordered Friday what women's groups have failed to accomplish politically for a dozen years. He ruled that Plan B, the most commonly used morning-after birth control pill, be sold without a prescription or other restrictions to women of all ages.

The Obama administration is delaying the start of a key piece of the Affordable Care Act. Workers in small businesses will have to wait an additional year to be able to choose from more than one plan in the marketplaces that start next January.

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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

The Obama administration is delaying the start of a key piece of the Affordable Care Act - the national healthcare law. Workers in small businesses will have to wait an additional year to be able to choose from more than one plan in the new online marketplace that start next January. NPR's Julie Rovner reports that the change might dampen enthusiasm, at least at the start. But not everyone thinks that's a bad thing.

Since the Supreme Court made the Medicaid expansion under the federal health law optional last year, states' decisions have largely split along party lines. States run by Democrats have been opting in; states run by Republicans have mostly been saying no or holding back.

The Affordable Care Act turns 3 on Saturday, and it seems just as divisive as the day President Obama signed it.

As the Affordable Care Act nears its third birthday this Saturday, a poll finds the public actually knows less about the law now than when it passed in 2010. Oh, and a lot of what people think they know just isn't so.

Those are the central findings of this month's tracking poll just released by the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Health policy watchers might have been amused reading the latest blueprint for the federal budget, out Tuesday.

That's because once again House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan proposes a full repeal of the Affordable Care Act, which Republicans refer to as "Obamacare." But this time, the proposal describes the changes it envisions to the Medicare program in very Obamacare-like terms.

When the nation's governors gathered in Washington, D.C., over the weekend for their annual winter meeting, the gathering's official theme was about efforts to hire people with disabilities.

The most heated part of the fight between the Obama administration and religious groups over new rules that require most health plans to cover contraception actually has nothing to do with birth control. It has to do with abortion.

Specifically, do emergency contraceptives interfere with a fertilized egg and cause what some consider to be abortion?

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