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.

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3:19pm

Thu February 7, 2013
Shots - Health News

Catholic Bishops Reject Compromise On Contraceptives

Originally published on Thu February 7, 2013 5:28 pm

Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York, president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, said the administration's attempted compromise on contraceptive coverage is unacceptable.
Patrick Semansky AP

It seems the third time wasn't the charm, after all.

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has officially rejected the Obama Administration's latest attempt to ensure that women with health insurance get access to no-cost contraceptive coverage without violating the rights of religious employers.

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5:07pm

Wed February 6, 2013
Shots - Health News

Defying Expectations, GOP Governors Embrace Medicaid Expansion

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder, a Republican, favors a federally subsidized expansion of Medicaid in his state.
Carlos Osorio AP

Top-ranked archrivals Michigan and Ohio State faced off Wednesday night on the basketball court for the second time in this season (Michigan won in overtime to split the series).

But both states' Republican governors have something more in common this week than an intense distaste for their neighboring state's athletic team.

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4:36pm

Wed February 6, 2013
Shots - Health News

Debate Rages On Even As Research Ban On Gun Violence Ends

Originally published on Wed February 6, 2013 6:12 pm

More than 400 guns, including these three, were turned in during a Dallas gun buyback program in January. But determining the effectiveness of such programs is difficult due to limits on gun-related research.
Tom Pennington Getty Images

The characteristics of gun violence in the U.S. are largely unknown because key federal health agencies have been banned from conducting such research since the mid-1990s.

President Obama, however, wants to change that.

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7:17pm

Fri February 1, 2013
Shots - Health News

White House Tries Again To Find Compromise On Contraception

Originally published on Fri February 1, 2013 7:35 pm

iStockphoto.com

The Obama administration on Friday issued another set of proposed rules — and asked for yet another round of public comments — in a continuing quest to find a way to ensure that women receive no-cost contraception as part of a package of preventive health services under the 2010 Affordable Care Act without requiring religious employers to violate their beliefs.

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5:51pm

Fri February 1, 2013
Health Care

Obama Administration Wades Into Birth Control Coverage Fray

Originally published on Fri February 1, 2013 6:33 pm

The Obama administration has issued a proposal detailing how coverage for contraception will be paid for under Obamacare. The health overhaul law requires insurance plans to provide birth control coverage, but those opposed to artificial contraception argue they should not be made to use their own funds to pay for it. Audie Cornish talks to Julie Rovner.

3:37am

Tue January 22, 2013
Shots - Health News

'Roe V. Wade' Turns 40, But Abortion Debate Is Even Older

Originally published on Wed January 23, 2013 3:57 pm

While the U.S. Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade decision of Jan. 22, 1973, is usually considered the start of the abortion debate, the move to relax state abortion laws began with medical and law professionals in the 1960s. Here, Eunice Kennedy Shriver and doctors from Johns Hopkins University and the Harvard Divinity School announce the International Conference on Abortion on Aug. 9, 1967.
Bob Daugherty AP

Jan. 22, 2013, marks the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the landmark Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion nationwide.

But the conventional wisdom that the court's 7-2 decision marked the beginning of a contentious battle that still rages today is not the case, according to those on both sides of the dispute.

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11:45am

Mon January 21, 2013
The Two-Way

Inauguration Ceremony: Memories In The Making

Originally published on Tue January 22, 2013 6:54 am

A crowd walks through downtown Washington, D.C., toward the National Mall.
Chris Usher EPA/Landov

Update 2:30 p.m. 'Hoping For Unity':

With the ceremony at the Capitol complete, spectators looked ahead to their hopes for the next four years. Speaking to NPR's Tom Dreisbach, here's what some in the crowd had to say:

"I'm looking for Washington to start getting along. I mean nobody's working together. And both sides have got to give a little bit and they've got to come to some agreement on some things."

-- Alan Dillon, 50, elementary school principal, Western Slope, Colo.

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4:38pm

Fri January 11, 2013
Shots - Health News

Businesses Sue Government Over Birth Control Mandate

Originally published on Fri January 11, 2013 8:07 pm

The Hobby Lobby chain of arts and crafts stores has gone to court to block a provision of the administration's health law that requires employers' health plans to pay for contraceptives.
Tony Gutierrez AP

When Congress passed the Affordable Care Act in 2010, few would have predicted that one of the most contentious provisions would have to do with contraception.

But today federal officials are grappling with more than 40 lawsuits claiming that the requirement for most health plans to provide contraceptive coverage to women violates their religious freedom.

And religious groups aren't the only ones going to court.

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6:13pm

Mon January 7, 2013
Shots - Health News

Health Spending Increases Remain At Record Lows

Originally published on Mon January 7, 2013 6:57 pm

Orcea David iStockphoto.com

For the third straight year, spending on health care in 2011 grew at a historically slow rate, government researchers report.

According to a study published in the January issue of the policy journal Health Affairs, U.S. health spending rose 3.9 percent in 2011. That's statistically almost identical to the rate of increase in each of the two previous years.

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3:30am

Fri January 4, 2013
Shots - Health News

Bargain Over Fiscal Cliff Brings Changes To Health Care

Originally published on Fri January 4, 2013 8:46 am

A compromise bill that passed the Congress at the last minute included provisions that will reverberate through the nation's health care system.
Saul Loeb AFP/Getty Images

The bill that prevented the nation from plunging over the fiscal cliff did more than just stop income tax increases and delay across-the-board spending cuts. It also included several provisions that tweaked Medicare and brought bigger changes to other health care programs.

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3:49am

Wed January 2, 2013
Shots - Health News

Pete Stark, Health Policy Warrior, Leaves A Long Legacy

Originally published on Wed January 2, 2013 11:25 am

Rep. Pete Stark, a California Democrat, was defeated in November. Stark leaves a long-lasting mark on the nation's health care system.
Jeff Chiu AP

The 113th Congress will be the first one in 40 years to convene without California Rep. Pete Stark as a member.

Stark was defeated in November by a fellow Democrat under new California voting rules. Stark may not be a household name, but he leaves a long-lasting mark on the nation's health care system.

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4:16pm

Tue January 1, 2013
Shots - Health News

What The Health Law Will Bring In 2013

Originally published on Tue January 8, 2013 2:19 pm

The majority of what happens on Jan. 1, 2013, is tax increases and cuts in tax deductions to pay for the changes coming in 2014.
iStockphoto.com

Most of the really big changes made by the 2010 health law don't start for another year. That includes things like a ban on restricting pre-existing conditions, and required insurance coverage for most Americans. But Jan. 1, 2013, will nevertheless mark some major changes.

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3:24am

Fri December 14, 2012
Shots - Health News

Making The Rich Pay More For Medicare

Originally published on Fri December 14, 2012 5:33 am

Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., speaks Tuesday at a news conference calling for no reduction in the Medicare and Medicaid budgets, as part of the year-end budget talks on Capitol Hill in Washington. Waxman said he does not support means testing for Medicare.
Joshua Roberts Reuters /Landov

When it comes to reducing Medicare spending, asking wealthier seniors to pay more is one of the few areas where Democrats have shown a willingness to even consider the subject.

"I do believe there should be means testing. And those of us with higher income in retirement should pay more," said Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., on last Sunday's Meet the Press. "That could be part of the solution."

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3:31am

Wed December 12, 2012
Shots - Health News

Democrats Draw Line On Medicaid Cuts

Originally published on Wed December 12, 2012 8:15 am

Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, speaks Tuesday as Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., and Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md., listen during a news conference on Capitol Hill calling for no reduction in the Medicare and Medicaid budgets as part of the year-end budget talks.
Joshua Roberts Reuters /Landov

At least in public, Republicans have been clear that they see the current budget negotiations as a chance to address what they see as the source of Washington's deficit problem: major entitlement programs.

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3:18am

Tue December 11, 2012
Shots - Health News

Feds Say 'No' To Partial Medicaid Expansion

Originally published on Tue December 11, 2012 10:55 am

Arkansas Gov. Mike Beebe speaks about expanding Medicaid during a speech to the Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce in Little Rock, Ark., on Nov. 14. The federal government hasn't set a deadline for states to decide on their Medicaid expansion plans.
Danny Johnston AP

The Affordable Care Act, as passed by Congress in 2010, assumed that every low-income person would have access to health insurance starting in 2014.

That's when about 17 million Americans — mostly unmarried healthy adults with incomes up to 133 percent of poverty, or about $15,000 a year — would gain access to Medicaid.

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6:07pm

Fri December 7, 2012
Shots - Health News

Doctors And Women's Groups Urge Feds To Relax Plan B Restrictions

Originally published on Mon December 10, 2012 3:06 pm

With the presidential election decided, doctors and some advocates are calling for the administration to relax restrictions on the sale of Plan B to teens.
AP

Dozens of medical, women's health and reproductive health groups marked the first anniversary of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius' decision to maintain age restrictions on the sale of the morning-after birth control pill without a prescription by urging her to reconsider that decision.

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2:55am

Fri December 7, 2012
Shots - Health News

Post-Election, 'Morning After' Pill Advocates Want Age Rules Revisited

Originally published on Fri December 7, 2012 9:20 am

Currently, you need a doctor's prescription to obtain emergency contraception, such as Plan B, if you are younger than 17.
AP

Friday marks a not-so-happy anniversary for some of President Obama's biggest supporters: It's exactly one year since Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius decided not to lift the age restrictions on availability of the so-called morning-after pill, Plan B.

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5:20pm

Tue December 4, 2012
Shots - Health News

The Perilous Politics Of The Health Insurance Tax Break

Originally published on Tue December 4, 2012 6:50 pm

MIT health economist Jonathan Gruber, who explained the ins and outs of health overhaul in a comic book, says that excluding the value of health insurance from federal taxes is a terrible idea, at least from an economist's point of view.
Macmillan

There's not much in health care that economists agree on. But one of the few things that bring them together is the idea that excluding the value of health insurance from federal taxes is nuts.

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3:50am

Tue December 4, 2012
Shots - Health News

The (Huge And Rarely Discussed) Health Insurance Tax Break

Originally published on Wed December 5, 2012 9:56 am

The largest tax break in the federal code doesn't appear on the forms the average person fills out each year.
iStockphoto.com

What's the largest tax break in the federal tax code?

If you said the mortgage interest deduction, you'd be wrong. The break for charitable giving? Nope. How about capital gains, or state and local taxes? No, and no.

Believe it or not, dollar for dollar, the most tax revenue the federal government forgoes every year is from not taxing the value of health insurance that employers provide their workers.

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5:00am

Thu November 29, 2012
Shots - Health News

The Hidden Costs Of Raising The Medicare Age

Originally published on Thu November 29, 2012 9:18 am

Keith Gresham, 65, lines up four medications he takes at his home in Detroit in 2011. The self-employed painter was without health insurance for about a decade and was happy to finally turn 65 last year so he could qualify for Medicare.
Patricia Beck MCT/Landov

Whenever the discussion turns to saving money in Medicare, the idea of raising the eligibility age often comes up.

"I don't think you can look at entitlement reform without adjusting the age for retirement," Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said on ABC's This Week last Sunday. "Let it float up another year or so over the next 30 years, adjust Medicare from 65 to 67."

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6:46pm

Mon November 26, 2012
Shots - Health News

Prescribe 'Morning After' Pill For Teens Before They Need It, Doctors Say

Currently, you need a doctor's prescription to purchase emergency contraception, such as Plan B, if you are under 17.
AP

The nation's largest group of pediatricians is urging its members to write prescriptions in advance to enable teenagers to have fast access to the so-called morning-after birth control pill.

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3:28pm

Tue November 20, 2012
Shots - Health News

Administration Lays Down Rules For Future Health Insurance

Originally published on Tue November 20, 2012 6:14 pm

You've got questions about the health law? The Obama administration has some answers. Finally.

Now that the Supreme Court has found the Affordable Care Act constitutional and the president's re-election made clear that big chunks of the law will take effect Jan. 1, 2014, the administration is finally releasing rules of the road that states and insurance companies have been clamoring for.

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5:38pm

Thu November 15, 2012
Shots - Health News

Health Exchange Activity Heats Up As Deadline Is Extended

Originally published on Thu November 15, 2012 7:45 pm

Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman announced Thursday that his state will choose the federal health insurance exchange program.
Nati Harnik AP

There's nothing quite like a deadline to focus the mind. Even a deadline that's not quite real.

Friday was originally the day that states were supposed to not only tell the federal government whether they planned to run their own health exchanges but also how they planned to do it.

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6:15pm

Wed November 14, 2012
Shots - Health News

Health Care Cuts Are Coming. Here's Where Liberals Say You Can Slice

Originally published on Wed November 14, 2012 9:12 pm

Two new studies and a proposed class-action lawsuit settlement all have the potential to change dollar signs as lawmakers address the impending fiscal cliff.
iStockphoto.com

A liberal think-tank closely allied with the Obama administration is proposing a health care spending plan it says could save hundreds of billions of dollars in entitlement spending without hurting middle- and low-income patients.

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5:29pm

Wed November 14, 2012
Health Care

Liberal Group Proposes Reduced Medicare Spending

Originally published on Wed November 14, 2012 6:46 pm

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Melissa Block.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

And I'm Audie Cornish.

As the White House and Congress debate taxes and entitlement reform, an influential liberal think-tank is offering what appears to be an olive branch. It comes at a time when many Democrats are trying to protect entitlements, such as Medicare. At the same time, Republicans say those entitlements are too expensive in their present form.

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3:34am

Tue November 13, 2012
Shots - Health News

Health Insurance Exchanges Explained

Originally published on Tue November 13, 2012 1:33 pm

Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam said last week the state could design its own health insurance exchange required under President Obama's health care law. But resistance in the Republican-controlled General Assembly may cause the state to hand that power off to the federal government.
Mark Humphrey AP

Last week's election may have settled the fate of the federal Affordable Care Act, but its implementation after months of uncertainty has caught many of the players unprepared.

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3:25am

Thu November 8, 2012
Shots - Health News

Obamacare Is Here To Stay, But In What Form?

Originally published on Thu November 8, 2012 10:46 am

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper signs a bill in June 2011 to pave the way for a health insurance exchange in the state.
Ed Andrieski AP

President Obama's re-election and the retention of a Democratic majority in the Senate means the likelihood of a repeal of the Affordable Care Act has receded.

So what now?

"The law is here and we should at this point expect it to still be here Jan. 1, 2014," says Alan Weil, executive director of the nonpartisan National Academy for State Health Policy.

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3:32am

Mon November 5, 2012
Shots - Health News

Why Abortion Has Become Such A Prominent Campaign Issue

Originally published on Mon November 5, 2012 10:25 am

Women use wordplay to protest Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney's position on women's health care outside the Hyatt Regency, where Romney was scheduled to attend a fundraiser, on March 22 in Washington, D.C.
Mark Wilson Getty Images

Abortion isn't usually a major issue in presidential campaigns.

But this year is different.

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5:04am

Fri November 2, 2012
Shots - Health News

Romney's Baffling Claim About Medicare Pay Cuts For Doctors

Originally published on Fri November 2, 2012 10:19 pm

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney makes his case about Medicare during a briefing in South Carolina in August.
Evan Vucci AP

Health care in general — and Medicare, in particular — have been big parts of this year's presidential campaign.

But over the last couple of weeks, Republican Mitt Romney has been making a new claim that doesn't quite clear the accuracy bar.

It has to do with $716 billion in Medicare reductions over 10 years included in the federal health law, the Affordable Care Act. And it's become a standard part of Romney's stump speech.

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11:13am

Tue October 30, 2012
Shots - Health News

Could Romney Repeal The Health Law? It Wouldn't Be Easy

Originally published on Tue October 30, 2012 1:41 pm

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney speaks about the Supreme Court ruling on health care in Washington on June 28.
Charles Dharapak AP

You can barely listen to former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney make a speech or give an interview without hearing some variation of this vow:

"On Day 1 of my administration, I'll direct the secretary of Health and Human Services to grant a waiver from Obamacare to all 50 states. And then I'll go about getting it repealed," he told Newsmax TV in September 2011.

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