Tagged Podcasts

KHN’s ‘What The Health?’: Protests And The Pandemic


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Following the death of George Floyd while in custody in Minneapolis, protests have mushroomed around the U.S. to decry police violence, raising concerns among public health officials about the potential for further spread of the coronavirus.

Meanwhile, the economic toll of the continuing pandemic is prompting some states to cancel or scale back plans to expand health coverage to more of their residents.

And President Donald Trump said he will withdraw the United States from the World Health Organization. But it seems he lacks the legal authority to do that on his own.

This week’s panelists are Julie Rovner of KHN, Alice Miranda Ollstein of Politico, Mary Agnes Carey of KHN and Joanne Kenen of Politico.

Among the takeaways from this week’s podcast:

  • Although public health officials are warning about the dangers of a resurgence of COVID-19 caused by the mass gatherings to protest Floyd’s death, if cases do spike, it may be hard to separate out that effect from the general reopening of the economy occurring about the same time.
  • The concerns about racial inequalities highlighted by the massive demonstrations include health disparities that have taken a big toll on minority communities. But fixing those inequities would be very expensive, and it’s not clear given the current economic downturn how federal or state officials would come up with funding to tackle those issues.
  • Also, as they observe the demonstrations, many experts are noting that racism and violence are public health issues, too.
  • Trump’s decision to pull out of the World Health Organization hampers U.S. efforts to play a role in pivotal decisions around the globe, especially on issues such as HIV/AIDS, malaria, flu and Ebola. Those are areas in which the WHO is seen as a leader on policy and research.
  • The sudden slowdown in the economy is causing some states such as Kansas and California to put the brakes on plans to help more people get coverage, especially efforts to expand Medicaid programs that serve low-income residents.
  • In a surprise opinion late last week, Chief Justice John Roberts sided with liberals on the Supreme Court to uphold California and Illinois regulations limiting church services to help curb the risk of COVID-19 infections. Roberts based his opinion on public health issues. Yet unknown is whether this signals how he might rule on a bigger case coming to the court in the fall over the fate of the Affordable Care Act.

Also this week, Rovner interviews Jonathan Oberlander, professor of health policy at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill and editor of the Journal of Health Policy, Politics and Law. The journal has released several articles examining the nexus between COVID-19, health inequities and social determinants of health. Those articles are temporarily free for the public to read, here.

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

Julie Rovner: The New York Times’ “The C.D.C. Waited ‘Its Entire Existence for This Moment.’ What Went Wrong?” by Eric Lipton, Abby Goodnough, Michael D. Shear, Megan Twohey, Apoorva Mandavilli, Sheri Fink and Mark Walker

Joanne Kenen: ProPublica’s “Senior Citizens in Subsidized Housing Have Been Dying Alone at Home, Unnoticed Because of Coronavirus Distancing,” by Mick Dumke and Haru Coryne

Alice Miranda Ollstein: Politico’s “States Brace for Disasters As Pandemic Collides With Hurricane Season,” by Dan Goldberg and Brianna Ehley

Mary Agnes Carey: Kaiser Health News’ “Police Using Rubber Bullets On Protesters That Can Kill, Blind Or Maim For Life,” by Liz Szabo


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‘An Arm And A Leg’: The $7,000 COVID Test And Other Lessons From SEASON-19


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Host Dan Weissmann spoke with three people who have very different reflections on what the COVID-19 pandemic is costing us.

  • A doctor and advocate in Brooklyn looked back on the wave of black and brown patients that filled her clinic in March.
  • A nurse practitioner in Texas shared how new tech is — and isn’t — helping the older patients she cares for.
  • One of the country’s top insurance nerds conceded that her initial policy ideas to keep people from getting stuck with expensive bills for COVID tests were wrong.

Here’s the season recap: A new abnormal. A shortage of hugs. And the $7,000 COVID test.

You can help guide the next steps for this show.  Please take five minutes for our listener survey.

Thank you in advance!


“SEASON-19” of “An Arm and a Leg” is a co-production of Kaiser Health News and Public Road Productions.

To keep in touch with “An Arm and a Leg,” subscribe to the newsletter. You can also follow the show on Facebook and Twitter. And if you’ve got stories to tell about the health care system, the producers would love to hear from you.

To hear all Kaiser Health News podcasts, click here.

And subscribe to “An Arm and a Leg” on iTunesPocket CastsGoogle Play or Spotify.

Related Topics

Cost and Quality Health Care Costs Multimedia

KHN’s ‘What The Health?’: Still Seeking A Federal Coronavirus Strategy


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The Trump administration sent its COVID-19 testing strategy plan to Congress, formalizing its policy that most testing responsibilities should remain with individual states. Democrats in Congress complained that the U.S. needs a national strategy, but so far none has emerged.

Meanwhile, President Donald Trump, noticing that his popularity among seniors has been falling since the pandemic began, unveiled a plan to lower the cost of insulin for Medicare beneficiaries. However, while diabetes is a major problem for seniors in general and for Medicare’s budget, only a small minority takes insulin.

This week’s panelists are Julie Rovner of Kaiser Health News, Joanne Kenen of Politico, Anna Edney of Bloomberg News and Erin Mershon of STAT News.

Among the takeaways from this week’s podcast:

  • The difficulties caused by the lack of a unified federal response to the pandemic can be seen by looking at other countries. Communities around the world face some of the same problems U.S. cities and states do, such as high numbers of cases in nursing homes and other congregate living facilities, and test shortages. But in other countries, the governments have taken the lead in working through the issues.
  • Recent episodes of crowds gathering as states reopen point to a breakdown in public health messaging. That may be partly attributable to the president’s ambivalence or a result of the recent cutback in press briefings and other direct communication from federal public health officials. But much of it could also be directly related to political divisiveness, which runs rampant.
  • With a Rose Garden ceremony, Trump announced the deal with drugmakers to limit Medicare beneficiaries’ out-of-pocket costs for insulin to $35. That is expected to save those patients on average more than $400 a year. But the announcement is a long way from the promises made by the administration to bring down drug prices for all Americans.
  • Republicans have touted short-term insurance plans as a cheaper alternative to health coverage offered under the Affordable Care Act’s marketplaces. But the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted shortcomings of those plans, including that many don’t cover prescription medications or experimental treatments.
  • The pandemic has also spotlighted the administration’s intent to get more drug manufacturing — which has become concentrated in India and China — to return to the United States. The government recently announced it is starting a project with a Virginia company to add manufacturing capacity stateside.

Also this week, Rovner interviews KHN’s Phil Galewitz, who reported the latest KHN-NPR “Bill of the Month” installment about a patient with a suspected case of COVID-19 who did what he was told by his health plan and got billed, anyway. If you have an outrageous medical bill you would like to share with us, you can do that here.

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

Julie Rovner: ProPublica’s “The Feds Gave a Former White House Official $3 Million to Supply Masks to Navajo Hospitals. Some May Not Work,” by Yeganeh Torbati and Derek Willis

Also, The New York Times’ “My Mother Died of the Coronavirus. It’s Time She Be Counted,” by Elisabeth Rosenthal

Joanne Kenen: The New Yorker’s “The Town That Tested Itself,” by Nathan Heller

Anna Edney: The New York Times’ “Wealthiest Hospitals Got Billions in Bailout for Struggling Health Providers,” by Jesse Drucker, Jessica Silver-Greenberg and Sarah Kliff

Erin Mershon: The Washington Post’s “Coronavirus May Never Go Away, Even With a Vaccine,” by William Wan and Carolyn Y. Johnson


To hear all our podcasts, click here.

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

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Health Care Costs Medicare Multimedia Public Health

‘An Arm And A Leg’: Tips For Surviving COVID With Your Financial Health Intact


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In early April, Katelyn was in a financial bind. At home and sick with COVID-19, she hadn’t been paid in weeks. And her bills were due.

“My landlord is kinda beating down my door right now,” she said in a voicemail to the podcast hotline: (724) 276-6534; that’s 724 ARM N LEG.

Weeks later, Katelyn got back in touch: She had made it through with her financial health intact, thanks to a combination of playing hardball with one company and knowing how to play nice with others.

Katelyn works in collections for a financial institution, so she knew how to ask for help. Even so, she didn’t find the process easy. She came out of the ordeal with hard-won tips for all of us, and a heck of a story.

Here are two other resources from the episode: our favorite TikTok mom shares tips for dealing with medical bills and collection agencies, and Hello Landlord. It’s a free online tool that automatically generates letters you can send to your landlord, asserting your legal rights. (Right now, those rights may include some federal protections against evictions.)


“SEASON-19” of “An Arm and a Leg” is a co-production of Kaiser Health News and Public Road Productions.

To keep in touch with “An Arm and a Leg,” subscribe to the newsletter. You can also follow the show on Facebook and Twitter. And if you’ve got stories to tell about the health care system, the producers would love to hear from you.

To hear all Kaiser Health News podcasts, click here.

And subscribe to “An Arm and a Leg” on iTunesPocket CastsGoogle Play or Spotify.

Related Topics

Cost and Quality Health Care Costs Multimedia

KHN’s ‘What The Health?’: When It Comes To COVID-19, States Are On Their Own


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


At least so far, states that reopened their economies are not seeing a major spike in cases of COVID-19. But it remains unclear if that is because the coronavirus is not spreading, because the data is lagging or because the data is being manipulated.

Meanwhile, President Donald Trump said he’s taking the controversial antimalarial drug hydroxychloroquine as a preventive measure after he was exposed to a White House valet who tested positive for the coronavirus. Despite the fact that there is no data to suggest the drug works to prevent infection, the president’s endorsement has apparently led to new shortages for patients who take the medication for approved purposes.

This week’s panelists are Julie Rovner of Kaiser Health News, Alice Miranda Ollstein of Politico, Margot Sanger-Katz of The New York Times and Kimberly Leonard of Business Insider.

Among the takeaways from this week’s podcast:

  • As federal and state officials push to reopen the economy, there have been questions about the coronavirus data they are using. Sometimes they combine the number of diagnostic tests — which show if someone is currently infected with the virus — with the number of antibody tests — which show if a person once had the virus.
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which has been the lead federal agency in other serious disease outbreaks, is relegated to a backup role on the coronavirus. That points to the difference in trust levels between the public and the White House, which has emphasized the reopening of the economy rather than public health.
  • So much attention is focused on the race to get a successful vaccine. But even if researchers are able to produce one, distribution to millions of Americans will be a logistical problem.
  • Public health officials are pushing hard for Americans to wear face coverings in public, but certain groups are resisting. Polling finds that most Americans don’t object to wearing a mask, but it is a significant change in the U.S. culture and also a key change in public health recommendations. That shift has added to the confusion and may have led to some of the resistance.

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’ and The Guardian’s “Lost on the Frontline,” by the staffs of KHN and The Guardian

Kimberly Leonard: Business Insider’s “How Coronavirus Will Permanently Change Healthcare, According to 26 Top Industry Leaders,” by Lydia Ramsey, Kimberly Leonard and Blake Dodge

Margot Sanger-Katz: The Atlantic’s “Why the Coronavirus Is So Confusing,” by Ed Yong

Alice Miranda Ollstein: Politico’s “Politics Could Dictate Who Gets a Coronavirus Vaccine,” by Sarah Owermohle


To hear all our podcasts, click here.

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

Related Topics

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