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.

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

But this year is different.

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.

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.

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

And let's move back to the presidential campaign. Mitt Romney has been criticized for being on many sides of many issues, but there's one where he's been pretty consistent: He wants to repeal the federal health care law. The question is: Can Romney actually keep that promise?

Here's NPR's Julie Rovner.

JULIE ROVNER, BYLINE: You can barely listen to Mitt Romney make a speech or give an interview without hearing some variation of this vow...

(SOUNDBITE OF SPEECH)

It's hard to find an issue on which President Obama and GOP challenger Mitt Romney disagree more than health care.

The 2010 Affordable Care Act is considered President Obama's signature legislative achievement, as well as something Romney has vowed to repeal.

No matter who wins the election on Nov. 6, official Washington will have to deal with something called the "fiscal cliff" before the end of the year.

What's coming is a perfect storm of expiring tax cuts, scheduled budget cuts, and various other spending changes scheduled to take place Jan. 1 unless Congress and President Obama (who no matter what will still be president until next Jan. 20) agree on a way to avert them.

GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney has been firmly anti-abortion during this campaign.

But during Tuesday's debate on Long Island, N.Y., Romney charged that President Obama misrepresented his position on birth control. Here's what Obama said, during what began as a discussion of pay equity for women:

Medicare, the federal health insurance program for about 50 million senior and disabled Americans, is simultaneously one of the most popular and imperiled programs in America.

It's hardly surprising that Thursday night's vice presidential debate in Danville, Ky., would feature a spirited debate about Medicare. GOP vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan is the author of a controversial Medicare proposal that Democrats have been campaigning against for more than a year now.

But fact checkers have raised some flags about some of the claims the candidates made.

Another day, another editorial board, another controversial remark for Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney. On Wednesday, it was abortion. On Thursday, health care.

Just how many abortion positions does Mitt Romney have? Once again, that answer is unclear.

This time the confusion began Tuesday, during a meeting with the editorial board of the Des Moines Register.

Independent fact checkers have not been particularly kind to Mitt Romney since Wednesday's first presidential debate in Denver. But one of the candidate's claims turned out to be so far off the mark that he had to be corrected by his own aides — a fact not unnoticed by the Obama campaign.

Medicaid is already the nation's largest health insurance program in terms of number of people covered: It serves nearly 1 in 5 Americans. Yet at the same time it's putting increasing strain on the budgets of states, which pay about 40 percent of its costs.

It's not so much what Mitt Romney said about whether the government should guarantee people health care in his interview on CBS's 60 Minutes Sunday that has health care policy types buzzing. It's how that compares to what he has said before.

To back up a bit, Scott Pelley asked the former Massachusetts governor if he thinks "the government has a responsibility to provide health care to the 50 million Americans who don't have it today?"

The Affordable Care Act survived a near-death experience at the Supreme Court earlier this year. And the overhaul law's fate again hangs in the balance come Election Day. Mitt Romney has vowed to work for its repeal, if he's elected president.

Meanwhile, the law continues to take its hits.

Congress is set to make a brief appearance in Washington this week, then recess until after Election Day. That means a farm bill is likely to be left undone, just one of the many items on lawmakers' "to-do" lists that won't happen anytime soon.

The White House Friday released a report detailing, in part, what life would look like on the other side of the fiscal cliff, which could occur at the end of the year.

Under orders from Congress, the administration detailed exactly how it would administer painful cuts to both defense and domestic programs that were ordered under last year's budget deal.

The nation's official measure of health insurance coverage turned positive for the first time in quite a while.

The Census Bureau reported a decline in the number of Americans without coverage in 2011. But the ranks of the uninsured remain pretty high.

All told, 48.6 million people, or 15.7 percent of the population, had no health insurance last year, down 1.4 million from 50 million in 2010.

If you get health insurance on the job, chances are it cost more again this year.

Annual family health insurance premiums rose about 4 percent to $15,745 in 2012, according to the latest survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation and Health Research and Educational Trust.

Mitt Romney seemed to make health care news in a Sunday interview on NBC's Meet the Press.

He said he might not want to repeal all of the Affordable Care Act.

Is Mitt Romney shifting his abortion position again?

It's fairly well-known that Romney proclaimed himself in favor of abortion rights when he ran for office in Massachusetts, then reversed himself before launching his presidential bid. But recently, the GOP nominee seems to be softening his opposition somewhat. Or is he?

Women who had multiple abortions before giving birth to a first child were more likely to have that child very prematurely or to deliver a child with a low birth weight, according to one of the first large-scale studies to look at the issue.

The addition of Rep. Paul Ryan to the GOP ticket is certain to elevate health care as a campaign issue this fall.

One thing Republican Mitt Romney's choice of Rep. Paul Ryan as his running mate will certainly do is elevate issues like Medicare and Medicaid to the top of the election agenda.

As the nation gets closer to Election Day, Ryan's addition to the GOP ticket will present the public with a dramatic choice about the role the government should play in health care.

One thing the Wisconsin congressman never does is apologize for thinking big.

Beginning today, most new and renewing health insurance plans must begin offering a broad array of women's preventive health services, most notably coverage of birth control, at no upfront cost.

But even as they take effect, the new rules remain the subject of legal challenges.

For decades, the primary goal of those who would fix the U.S. health system has been to help people without insurance get coverage. Now, it seems, all that may be changing. At least some top Republicans are trying to steer the health debate away from the problem of the uninsured.

The shift in emphasis is a subtle one, but it's noticeable.

The Obama administration is enlisting new allies to fight health care fraud: insurers.

Today the Departments of Health and Human Services and Justice announced a partnership with more than a dozen health insurers and industry groups to nip fraudulent schemes in the bud, instead of tracking down bad guys after the fact.

Among the reasons some governors say they're considering not expanding their Medicaid programs under the Affordable Care Act is that Medicaid is, well, not a very good program.

The Congressional Budget Office and Joint Tax Committee this afternoon issued their long-awaited analysis of the cost of the Affordable Care Act post-Supreme Court changes.

Their verdict? Making the expansion of Medicaid optional for states will result in fewer people (about 3 million fewer) getting coverage. But that will also reduce the overall price tag of the law over the next decade by about $84 billion.

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