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.

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1:03am

Fri January 31, 2014
Shots - Health News

Rep. Waxman Leaves Behind A Legacy Of Health Laws

Originally published on Fri January 31, 2014 9:43 am

Democratic Rep. Henry Waxman of California stands in his Capitol Hill office beside a wall displaying his legislative accomplishments. Waxman, 74, said Thursday that he would retire after 40 years in the House of Representatives.
J. Scott Applewhite AP

California Democratic Rep. Henry Waxman, one of the last remaining members of the huge post-Watergate class of 1974, is calling it quits at the end of this term.

Most people who live outside his Los Angeles district and off Capitol Hill have likely never heard of Waxman. He was never a fixture on the Sunday talk shows, or in Washington's social scene.

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3:24pm

Mon January 27, 2014
Shots - Health News

Key Senate Republicans Offer Their Plan To Replace Obamacare

Originally published on Tue January 28, 2014 7:41 am

Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., is one of the sponsors of a Republican proposal to rewrite the Affordable Care Act.
Alex Wong Getty Images

Republicans have offered a wide array of proposals to "repeal and replace" the Affordable Care Act since it became law in 2010. But few have come with the pedigree of the plan just unveiled by a trio of senior Senate Republicans.

The Patient Choice, Affordability, Responsibility and Empowerment Act, or CARE for short, is a proposal being floated by Sens. Richard Burr, R-N.C., Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, and Tom Coburn, R-Okla.

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2:24pm

Fri January 24, 2014
Shots - Health News

The Healthy, Not The Young, May Determine Health Law's Fate

Originally published on Mon January 27, 2014 10:37 am

Insurers get paid more for older people under the Affordable Care Act, even if they're healthy.
Tony Ding AP

Now that the problems with the balky HealthCare.gov website are largely fixed, the Obama administration is finally feeling comfortable enough to launch some of the outreach it planned for last fall.

Its top target: young adults, specifically those between 18 and 35.

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2:30am

Thu January 9, 2014
Shots - Health News

Legal Loopholes Leave Some Kids Without Dental Insurance

Originally published on Fri January 10, 2014 8:21 am

Kamora Cyprian got her teeth cleaned at a free health care event in the Los Angeles Sports Arena in September 2012.
Kevork Djansezian Getty Images

If you think buying health insurance under the Affordable Care Act has been complicated, just wait. Buying dental coverage on the health exchanges, it turns out, is even more confusing.

Dental coverage for children is one of the benefits that must be offered under the law. But, it turns out, a loophole in the law means that — in most states — families don't actually have to buy that coverage.

These rules are so confusing that they even tripped me up.

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4:15pm

Mon January 6, 2014
Shots - Health News

Health Care Costs Grew More Slowly Than The Economy In 2012

Originally published on Tue January 7, 2014 2:55 pm

NPR

Health care spending grew at a record slow pace for the fourth straight year in 2012, according to a new government report. But the federal officials who compiled the report disagree with their bosses in the Obama administration about why.

The annual report from the actuaries at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, published in the journal Health Affairs, found total U.S. health spending totaled $2.8 trillion in 2012, or $8,915 per person.

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1:02am

Mon January 6, 2014
Shots - Health News

Dental Coverage Deciphered, And The Latest On Sign-Up Deadlines

Originally published on Thu January 9, 2014 2:01 pm

Laura Breland gets her teeth cleaned by Denise Lopez-Rodriguez at a community health center in Aurora, Colo., in 2012. Dental coverage is available through the Affordable Care Act.
John Moore Getty Images

New Year's Day marked the halfway point to sign up for health insurance through the Affordable Care Act for coverage this year.

And after a dismal start, things seem to be going a lot better on the HealthCare.gov website. Federal officials say more than 1 million people enrolled in coverage by the Christmas Eve deadline for coverage that began January 1.

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2:39am

Fri January 3, 2014
Shots - Health News

Medicaid Expansion Boosted Emergency Room Visits In Oregon

Originally published on Fri January 3, 2014 5:51 am

Does having health insurance make it less likely that people will come to the ER? No, says a study in Oregon.
iStockphoto

Giving poor people health insurance, the belief was, would decrease their dependence on hospital emergency rooms by providing them access to more appropriate, lower-cost primary care.

But a study published in the journal Science on Thursday finds that's not the case. When you give people Medicaid, it seems they use both more primary care and more emergency room services.

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1:25am

Fri December 27, 2013
Shots - Health News

The Number 6 Says It All About The HealthCare.gov Rollout

Originally published on Mon December 30, 2013 6:08 am

iStockphoto

When it comes to health care, the rollout of the Affordable Care Act was supposed to be measured in the millions. That's how many people were expected to sign up for insurance to begin on Jan. 1.

But for both supporters and opponents of the law, there's one number that sticks out above all others. Six. That's how many people actually managed to enroll through the federal HealthCare.gov website the first day it opened, Oct. 1.

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9:32am

Fri December 20, 2013
Shots - Health News

Feds Drop Mandate For People Whose Insurance Was Canceled

Only hours before the deadline to sign up for health insurance that will begin Jan. 1, the Obama administration has offered people whose plans have been canceled a new option. They can sign up for catastrophic coverage instead.

These little-noticed plans cover only three primary care visits, specified preventive services and medical costs that exceed a catastrophic amounts. In 2014, that's $6,300 for an individual.

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1:26am

Thu December 19, 2013
Shots - Health News

Congress Poised To Permanently Fix Its Medicare Payment Glitch

Originally published on Thu December 19, 2013 10:56 am

It's health results — not the number of treatments — that should count, leaders say.
iStockphoto

The two-year budget deal approved by the Senate on Wednesday is aimed at preventing another government shutdown.

It also includes a familiar annual rider — language to avert a steep pay cut to doctors who treat Medicare patients. But this time might be different, with a fix that lasts. After more than a decade of temporary solutions, it appears Congress might be on the verge of permanently solving its persistent problem in the way it makes Medicare payments to doctors.

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2:05pm

Wed December 18, 2013
Shots - Health News

People Buying Health Insurance Get A Bit More Time To Pay

Originally published on Wed December 18, 2013 4:34 pm

Oregon is still using paper applications to enroll people through the Affordable Care Act.
iStockphoto

There are seven shopping days left until Christmas. But there are just five days until another important deadline — the last day to sign up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act if you want coverage to start January 1.

After a slow start, activity on the federal website HealthCare.gov has been heavy all month. And with the deadline approaching, some people are getting worried that they won't get signed up in time.

And this being the health care law, it's complicated. There is more than one deadline.

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1:16am

Thu December 5, 2013
Shots - Health News

HealthCare.gov Now Allows Window Shopping, And A Do-Over

Originally published on Fri December 6, 2013 4:31 am

iStockphoto

One thing that's clear about the relaunch of the troubled HealthCare.gov website is that it can accommodate more people.

Federal officials said more than 1 million users logged in on Monday, and nearly that many on Tuesday.

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11:34am

Tue December 3, 2013
Shots - Health News

Nonprofits Challenge Missouri Licensing Law For Insurance Guides

Nonprofits that are supposed to be helping people figure out their health insurance options are challenging an allegedly restrictive state law.
iStockphoto

In the first lawsuit of its kind, several nonprofit groups that received federal grants to help people sign up for insurance under the Affordable Care Act are suing the state of Missouri.

The Missouri law requires health insurance helpers called navigators to be licensed by the state, which involves passing an exam and paying a fee.

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2:30pm

Wed November 27, 2013
Shots - Health News

Small-Business Access To Online Health Exchanges Delayed Again

Small employers can still enroll in Affordable Care Act coverage through insurers or brokers, but not through the online exchanges.
iStockphoto

The Obama administration is delaying yet again online signup for small businesses through the Affordable Care Act. The program was intended to make it easier for small employers to provide health insurance to their workers on a more equal footing with big business.

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12:52am

Tue November 26, 2013
Shots - Health News

Emergency Contraceptive Pill Might Be Ineffective For Obese

Originally published on Tue November 26, 2013 11:28 am

Levonorgestrel, one of the main ingredients in emergency contraceptive pills, including Plan B, was found in a recent study to be less effective in overweight and obese women.
Justin Sullivan Getty Images

The Food and Drug Administration says it is reviewing whether the maker of the most widely used emergency contraceptive pill needs to change its label in light of new evidence that it doesn't work to prevent pregnancy in overweight or obese women.

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3:07am

Mon November 25, 2013
Health Care

Health Exchanges Brace For A December Deluge

Originally published on Mon November 25, 2013 11:11 am

The race is on to get the federal insurance website HealthCare.gov working smoothly by the end of November.

And it's not just because that's what federal officials have promised. December could see a surge in demand for health insurance.

"There is an avalanche coming," says Bryce Williams, managing director for exchange solutions at the benefits consulting firm Towers Watson.

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4:21pm

Wed November 20, 2013
Shots - Health News

Medicaid Enrollment Is Brisk Despite HealthCare.gov Troubles

Originally published on Wed November 20, 2013 9:16 pm

Low-income adults formerly had few options for free health care. Leah Sessor had her blood pressure taken on April 14, 2012, during a free clinic at a racetrack in Bristol, Tenn.
Mario Tama Getty Images

Buried in the paltry enrollment numbers for the Affordable Care Act that were released last week was something that came as a surprise to many — the success states are having signing people up for the Medicaid program, which provides health care to low-income people.

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2:46pm

Fri November 15, 2013
NPR Story

Can You Keep Your Old Health Plan? It May Depend On Where You Live

Originally published on Fri November 15, 2013 6:36 pm

President Obama met at the White House with CEOs from across the health insurance industry on Friday. Insurers, he says, will be allowed to renew for one more year health policies that don't meet the new national standards set by the Affordable Care Act.
Alex Wong Getty Images

President Obama's proposal to try to let more people keep their canceled health insurance policies sounded so simple when he announced it Thursday.

"Insurers can extend current plans that would otherwise be canceled into 2014. And Americans whose plans have been canceled can choose to re-enroll in the same kind of plan," he said in unveiling the proposal at the White House.

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3:37pm

Thu November 14, 2013
Shots - Health News

Insurers Aren't Keen On Obama's Pledge To Extend Coverage

Originally published on Fri November 15, 2013 4:53 am

In a White House news conference Thursday, President Obama said he had thought that "98 percent" of policyholders would see no change in their current policies, or get a better deal.
Mandel Ngan AFP/Getty Images

Remember when President Obama said, "If you like your health plan you can keep it?" Now it's more like, "If you like your health plan you can keep it — for another year, and only if your insurance company says it's OK."

It's not clear whether the administration's proposal to let insurers extend the policies they've been canceling for the past couple of months will solve the president's political problem. But it's sure not going over very well with the insurance industry.

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3:25am

Thu November 14, 2013
Health Care

Health Care Registration Numbers Are Revealed

Originally published on Thu November 14, 2013 4:53 am

The Obama administration says just about 100,000 people managed to choose health plans through the federal and state health exchanges during their first month of the program. Critics say that shows the law is failing. But most analysts say the first month's numbers wouldn't have meant very much, even if the federal website had been working properly.

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