Tagged Multimedia

KHN’s ‘What The Health?’: Democrats Do Drugs (Prices)


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Despite the turmoil from the ongoing impeachment inquiry, Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives are proceeding with work on a major prescription drug price bill crafted by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Meanwhile, broader health issues continue to be a point of contention among the Democratic presidential candidates.

And courts around the country are dealing setbacks to many of the Trump administration’s health agenda items, including one that would make it harder for immigrants to get green cards if they use public programs.

This week’s panelists are Julie Rovner of Kaiser Health News, Joanne Kenen of Politico, Tami Luhby of CNN, and Margot Sanger-Katz of The New York Times.

Among the takeaways from this week’s podcast:

  • Getting an ambitious drug pricing package through Congress by the end of the year seems unlikely, not only because of impeachment, but because the Senate is not on board with Speaker Pelosi’s plan.
  • Still, a Congressional Budget Office analysis released this week found the Pelosi bill would save Medicare $345 billion over 10 years, giving Democrats a major talking point. On the other hand, the CBO also suggested the measure could reduce the number of new drugs that come to market by 8 to 15 in the coming decade, providing a talking point for opponents.
  • Also of interest, the House Energy and Commerce Committee is planning to consider adding some benefits — including dental, vision and hearing — to traditional Medicare. It’s not clear if this is a response to the campaign season, or the idea that before pursuing “Medicare for All” there are changes to the traditional Medicare program that could be done.
  • Health care again was a hot topic in this week’s Democratic presidential primary debate and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, now viewed as the front-runner, was in the hot seat. Warren again evaded the question of how and who would pay for her preferred Medicare for All plan, and was criticized by candidates like Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Ind., both of whom support more incremental changes to the health system.
  • Meanwhile, the courts continue to play a key role in health policy. Federal judges in several states blocked the administration’s “public charge” rule that would make it harder for legal immigrants to obtain green cards if they or their family members use any of a long list of public programs. Federal judges also heard arguments on Medicaid work requirements. Meanwhile, a federal judge in Ohio blocked an Ohio state abortion ban, while a federal court judge in Texas blocked an Obama era rule intended to enforce anti-discrimination provisions of the Affordable Care Act.

Plus, for extra credit, the panelists recommend their favorite health policy stories of the week they think you should read too:

Julie Rovner: KHN’s “We Vape, We Vote’: How Vaping Crackdowns Are Politicizing Vapers, by Rachel Bluth and Lauren Weber

Joanne Kenen: The Los Angeles Times’s “In the rush to harvest body parts, death investigations have been upended,” by Melody Petersen

Tami Luhby: ProPublica’s “It’s Very Unethical”: Audio Shows Hospital Kept Vegetative Patient on Life Support to Boost Survival Rates,” by Caroline Chen

Margot Sanger-Katz: “Tradeoffs,” a podcast hosted by Dan Gorenstein, Sayeh Nikpay, and Anupam Jena


To hear all our podcasts, click here.

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Courts Elections Health Care Costs Medicare Multimedia Pharmaceuticals States The Health Law

KHN’s ‘What The Health?’: Trump Merges Health And Immigration


Can’t see the audio player? Click here to listen on SoundCloud.


President Donald Trump has merged two of his favorite hot-button topics by requiring new immigrants to either purchase health insurance within 30 days of arrival or prove they can pay for medical expenses on their own.

Meanwhile, the Supreme Court has agreed to hear an abortion case out of Louisiana and could soon take another from Indiana. Either or both could be used to weaken or possibly roll back Roe v. Wade, the 1973 ruling that legalized abortion nationwide.

And on the Democratic presidential campaign trail, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders has a heart attack and South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg has a drug plan. Also, Republicans have a unified message: They say Democrats are pushing socialism.

This week’s panelists are Julie Rovner of Kaiser Health News, Alice Miranda Ollstein of Politico, Julie Appleby of Kaiser Health News and Paige Winfield Cunningham of The Washington Post.

Among the takeaways from this week’s podcast:

  • In his surprise announcement last week setting requirements for legal immigrants to have health insurance, Trump based the new policy on concerns about the burden uninsured people put on the health system. That is an argument often used by supporters of the Affordable Care Act, which Trump strongly criticizes.
  • The Supreme Court likely has four options in the Louisiana abortion case it accepted last week. The state law in question requires that doctors performing abortions be accredited at local hospitals ― an issue at the heart of a Texas law that the justices rejected several years ago. The court could say the Louisiana law is much like Texas’ and strike it down; use the new law to overturn abortion rights; say the Texas decision was not correct and let stand the Louisiana law; or say the facts are different in Louisiana and its law can stand.
  • Somewhat overlooked in the court’s acceptance of the case is that it will also rule on another abortion issue: whether health care providers can sue to stop restrictive state laws. If the court says they can’t and instead the burden is on women seeking an abortion, it will make challenging state statutes much more difficult.
  • The executive order signed by Trump last week could result in significant changes to Medicare, allowing doctors to opt out of the program and set up private contracts with patients.
  • Sen. Bernie Sanders’ heart attack has raised questions ― again ― about how transparent presidential candidates should be about their health.
  • As both Republican critics of the ACA and its supporters await a decision by the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals on a Texas lawsuit that could strike down the federal health law, GOP officials are growing nervous about timing. The case will be appealed to the Supreme Court, but some administration officials would like that to not hit the court during the 2020 presidential campaign and are considering ways to prolong the appeal process.

Plus, for extra credit, the panelists recommend their favorite health policy stories of the week they think you should read too:

Julie Rovner: Kaiser Health News’ “Why Hospitals Are Getting Into The Housing Business,” by Markian Hawryluk

Alice Miranda Ollstein: The New York Times’ “Sexually Transmitted Disease Cases Rise to Record High, C.D.C. Says,” by Liam Stack

Paige Winfield Cunningham: Bloomberg’s “AbbVie, Bristol-Myers Among Patient Advocacy Groups’ Big Backers,” by Alex Ruoff. Also, Kaiser Health News’ database of pharma contributions to patient advocacy groups can be found here.

Julie Appleby: Kaiser Health News’ “They Enrolled In Medical School To Practice Rural Medicine. What Happened?” by Lauren Weber


To hear all our podcasts, click here.

And subscribe to What the Health? on iTunesStitcherGoogle PlaySpotify, or Pocket Casts.

Related Topics

Courts Medicare Multimedia The Health Law