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.

Faith-based health providers got a chance to vent about new federal rules that require them to offer prescription contraceptives as part of their health insurance plans at a House subcommittee hearing today. They also proposed some changes.

But backers of the rules say the revisions sought by opponents would render the requirement meaningless.

At the heart of every convention worth its salt is the exhibit hall. But only at the American Public Health Association annual meeting can you find a plush heart for sale. Along with stuffed spleens, brains and uteruses.

And you know the game where you guess how many candies are in a jar and win something cool? Well, at the APHA meeting, the anti-tobacco American Legacy Foundation is giving away a new Kindle, if you can guess how many cigarette butts are in a huge jar.

Sure, it's just one poll of many, but October marks a crummy month for sentiment about the federal Affordable Care Act.

For the first time since President Obama signed it into law in March 2010, more than half of those polled — 51 percent — told researchers from the Kaiser Family Foundation they had an unfavorable view of the measure overhauling health care. Only 34 percent said they viewed the law favorably, a post-passage low.

Should the middle class be eligible for Medicaid?

The health program, funded jointly by the feds and the states, was devised to cover the poor. But if a provision in last year's health law isn't changed that could be the case for people with pretty healthy incomes.

Despite claims to the contrary, a insightful economic analysis suggests that it wouldn't be in most employers' business interests to stop providing health insurance when the main coverage provisions of the federal health overhaul kick in.

Sixth in a series

Republican presidential candidate and Texas Congressman Ron Paul is known for his fervent opposition to armed intervention overseas and the Federal Reserve — and for his equally fervent supporters.

If you're a senior on Medicare — or an adult child responsible for a senior on Medicare — here's something you should know: The annual "open enrollment" period for joining or changing prescription drug or private health plans is already under way.

"It's much earlier this year. It started on Oct. 15, and it's going to stop on Dec. 7," says Nancy Metcalf, a senior editor and health expert at Consumer Reports. "So you have your window right now."

After a 19-month review, the Obama administration has concluded that it can't implement the CLASS Act, the community-based long-term care program that was the late Sen. Edward Kennedy's most heartfelt contribution to the Affordable Care Act.

It may not be the sexiest piece of last year's health overhaul law, but it's one that has given small businesses and insurers a lot of heartburn. What exactly should be required when it comes to benefits?

With Halloween rapidly approaching, you've probably heard about the shortage of pumpkins along the East Coast caused by the flooding rains of Hurricane Irene.

But while you may have troubling finding just the right shape or the right price for your jack o'lantern this year, there's good news for those looking ahead to the pies and cakes of Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Today marks 35 years since Congress first passed what's come to be known as the Hyde Amendment, which bans most federal abortion funding.

While the actual language of the rider to the annual funding bill for the Department of Health and Human Services has changed considerably over the years, since 2003 it has allowed federal Medicaid funds to pay for abortions in cases of rape, incest, or if the life of the woman is endangered by the pregnancy.

Most baby boomers say they're planning on an active and healthy retirement, according to a new poll conducted by NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard School of Public Health. And, in a switch from earlier years, more than two-thirds recognize the threat of long-term care expenses to their financial futures.

But some experts worry that when it comes to their health, boomers are still woefully unprepared — or worse, in denial.

There was good news and bad news in this year's annual survey of employer health benefits by the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Health Research and Educational Trust.

Well, there's at least one good thing about the country's inability to control health costs. If you can write a compelling essay about a problem, you could win a thousand bucks.

Not to be outdone by health care inflation itself, this year's contest sponsored by the nonprofit group Costs of Care is awarding four prizes, up from two last year.

President Obama's plan to cut the deficit doesn't exactly spare Medicare, Medicaid, and other federal health programs. But he also doesn't propose the sweeping sorts of changes envisioned by House Republicans earlier this year.

At first glance, today's report from the U.S. Census Bureau on the number of Americans without health insurance in 2010 looks, well, a little dull. About 16.3 percent of people in the country were without health insurance, which "was not statistically different from the rate in 2009," the report points out.

But dig a little deeper and there's plenty of action.

It used to be that opposition to publicly funded birth control was linked to abortion.

Either the birth control in question allegedly caused abortion, or the organization providing the birth control (read: Planned Parenthood) also performed abortions. But that's changing.

These days, more and more voices are opposing the provision of birth control for its own sake.

When it comes to last year's Affordable Care Act, there's not much people agree on. Except, says Kaiser Family Foundation President and CEO Drew Altman, this one thing: "It really does help the uninsured; 32 million uninsured people will get coverage."

OK, so your mom was right.

It turns out that moving in with that special someone without getting married first puts you at very high risk for an unplanned pregnancy.

That's one of the key findings of a new report from the Guttmacher Institute.

The report found that overall, "the United States did not make progress toward its goal of reducing unintended pregnancy between 2001 and 2006." In fact, the rate was 49 percent in 2006, virtually unchanged from 48 percent in 2001.

For all those who say there's nothing in the Affordable Care Act that could reduce health care spending, this one's for you.

Medicare officials have unveiled the latest initiative to spring from last year's overhaul, and it's one some health economists have been lusting after for years: Bundling payments so that hospitals, doctors, and even post-hospital caregivers all have the same financial incentive to both work together and provide cost-effective care.

Chances are, if you're admitted to the hospital, the doctor in charge of your care won't be your own. He or she will be a hospitalist, a relatively new type of specialist whose sole job is to oversee the care of hospitalized patients.

Even though the decision was widely expected, there's no denying the news is still a pretty big deal. Today, the Department of Health and Human Services adopted in full the women's health recommendations issued two weeks ago by the independent Institute of Medicine.

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