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.

Republican presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich is changing another of his positions in an effort to woo socially conservative voters.

Over the weekend he told churchgoers in Florida that as president he'd work to ban research using stem cells derived from human embryos.

Gingrich has long been a strong backer of federal funding for scientific research. In 2001 his support extended to research on stem cells derived from human embryos left over from in vitro fertilization efforts.

But apparently that's no longer the case.

For a candidate who keeps vowing to repeal the 2010 federal Affordable Care Act, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney sure can make a convincing argument on its behalf.

Health wonks were miffed about the lack of attention their beloved issue got in President Obama's State of the Union address Tuesday night.

Despite a furious lobbying effort by the Catholic Church, the Obama administration today said it won't weaken new rules that will require most health insurance plans to offer women prescription contraceptives at no additional out-of-pocket cost.

If it seemed like 2011 was a big year for laws restricting abortion, it was.

In fact, according to "Who Decides? The Status of Women's Reproductive Rights In the U.S.," the 21stannual report compiled by the abortion-rights group NARAL Pro-Choice America, the 69 laws enacted restricting a woman's reproductive rights were just one short of the record set in 1999.

By now we all know that distracted driving can kill you. But a new study suggests that distracted walking can be pretty deadly, too.

So you know how on Monday the federal government reported that the $2.6 trillion the nation spent on health care in 2010 translated into just over $8,400 per person?

Well, a different study just released by a separate federal agency shows that second number doesn't actually mean very much.

No, it's not quite going down. But health care spending in 2010 rose at the second-slowest rate in the last half-century.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services reports that total health spending in the U.S. increased by 3.9 percent in 2010, just a notch above the slowest rate since the government started keeping track — 3.8 percent in 2009.

Overall, the U.S. spent $2.6 trillion on health care in 2010, or $8,402 per person. That's 17.9 percent of the nation's gross domestic product.

By now most people have probably heard the dire predictions about how much the growing prevalence of diabetes will cost the U.S. health system in the coming years and decades.

But a new study from researchers at Yale suggests that the disease, which currently affects nearly 8 percent of the U.S. population, could have significant nonmedical costs to society as well.

Here's a twist. You know how you keep hearing that the Affordable Care Act is doing little more than raising health care costs?

Well, the Obama administration says a new rule it's issuing under the law could result in a savings of as much as $4.5 billion over the next decade.

Opposition to the administration's overhaul of health care has almost become an article of faith with every Republican running for president.

Candidates promise to repeal the law and its less-than-popular requirement for most Americans to either have health insurance or to pay a penalty starting in 2014.

Here we go again.

With official Washington trapped in partisan gridlock, doctors who treat Medicare patients are once again facing the prospect of a big cut in pay that almost no one supports.

And this time Medicare officials say they won't be hold onto the bills for longer than the usual 10-day processing time to wait for Congress to act. A 27 percent cut is set to take effect Jan. 1, unless Congress stops it.

It may or may not be a punt, but the Obama administration wants to let states play a bigger role in deciding what constitutes an "essential health benefits" package when it comes to health insurance.

The Department of Health and Human Services issued what it called a "bulletin" outlining a policy it hopes to impose. In other words, it's not even yet a formal regulation.

There's not much that's new in the Medicare proposal just unveiled by Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.)

So why is it getting so much attention? One word. No, not plastics. Politics!

Women's health advocates were quick to cry foul Wednesday when Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius overruled the opinion of the Food and Drug Administration that the popular "morning after" emergency contraceptive "Plan B One Step" should be allowed to be sold without a prescription — and without age restrictions.

In a surprising twist, the Obama administration has overruled the Food and Drug Administration and will not allow teenage girls to buy the emergency contraceptive Plan B One-Step without a prescription.

The decision punctuates one of the longest-running public health sagas in recent memory. The FDA had decided that a version of the morning-after emergency contraceptive pill could be sold without a prescription regardless of the age of the buyer.

The Food and Drug Administration will not be removing age restrictions for a morning-after birth control pill — a decision that's likely to prolong a fight that has raged for more than eight years.

You know that shortage of nurses people have been warning about for about the last decade or two? Fuhgeddaboudit!

Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they're out to get you.

That could be the motto this week for abortion rights groups that immediately sprang into battle mode when it was discovered that Siri, Apple's new artificially intelligent personal assistant, wasn't so, well, intelligent when it came to abortion.

It turns out, however, that it was all much ado about not so much.

The Catholic Church says new federal regulations requiring employers to provide no-cost prescription birth control as part of their health insurance plans infringe on their religious liberty.

Can you say blip?

Apparently that's what last month's all-time low popularity numbers were for President Obama's health overhaul law, according to this month's tracking poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Overall, the federal Affordable Care Act still remains slightly more unpopular (44 percent) than popular (37 percent), but that's down from last month's 51-34 split.

Obama administration officials have announced another round of grants to states to help build the insurance marketplaces, called "exchanges," that will help individuals and small businesses buy health insurances beginning in 2014.

But the real news is who's getting the $220 million. Nine of the 13 states in this round of grants are headed by GOP governors.

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney has been labeled a flip-flopper. And when it comes to abortion, the former governor of Massachusetts appears to have changed his position from being in favor of abortion rights to being opposed.

But now some people are asking if Romney ever supported abortion rights at all? Backers of abortion rights don't think so.

Republican Newt Gingrich's presidential stock is rising in the polls. And his newfound popularity is also bringing new scrutiny to what he's been up to since he stepped down as Speaker of the House in 1998.

Well, here's another twist in the debate over whether birth control is an essential health benefit. More than 1.5 million American women use birth control pills for reasons other than preventing pregnancy, a new analysis finds.

Who didn't see this coming?

The Supreme Court has added a case challenging the constitutionality of the provision of last year's health overhaul requiring nearly every American to have health insurance beginning in the year 2014 to the list of cases it will hear this term.

Voters in Mississippi were expected to make it the first state to confer protected legal status to fertilized human eggs Tuesday. Instead, they made it the second state to reject a so-called personhood amendment to its constitution.

One possible reason is that the effort divides even those who consider themselves against abortion.

Mississippi voters on Tuesday rejected an amendment to their state constitution that would have declared that life begins at fertilization.

The result was somewhat unexpected: As recently as a few weeks ago, the so-called personhood amendment was considered almost certain to pass. Voters in Colorado have twice rejected similar amendments to declare that life begins legally at fertilization, in 2008 and 2010. But Mississippi, with its far more conservative bent, was considered much friendlier territory.

Congress' so-called deficit reduction "supercommittee" is down to the final weeks of deliberations in its efforts to come up with $1.2 trillion in budget savings. And one proposal that keeps cropping up is the idea of raising the eligibility age for Medicare.

GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney became just the latest to propose it in his speech to the Americans for Prosperity Foundation on Friday.

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