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.

Well, it's almost Oct. 1, the day of a threatened government shutdown and the day state health insurance exchanges are scheduled to begin operations.

Those are the online marketplaces created by the Affordable Care Act where people can compare health plans and sign up for coverage.

Would closing down the government delay the opening of the health exchanges?

When UPS told workers that it would no longer offer health coverage for spouses who had their own job-based insurance, it caused a big stir. But the shipping giant has plenty of company.

So many employers are trying to cut back on health coverage for spouses that it has become a trend. The practice began well before the Affordable Care Act passed, and the connection to the law, in some cases, isn't that direct.

With the launch of new health insurance exchanges just about two weeks away, many of the questions in this month's mailbag focused less on the big picture and more on exactly how the law will operate for individuals.

We can't answer every question we get. But here is a sampling of questions that were really popular, or that would apply to a lot of people.

Hear the words health care and Congress, and you think fight, right?

And you'd be forgiven, particularly because the House has now voted some 40 times in the past two years to repeal or otherwise undo portions of the Affordable Care Act.

With the launch of the major piece of the Affordable Care Act less than a month away, the Obama administration is escalating the public relations push with one of their most effective weapons – former President Bill Clinton, now known to many as explainer in chief.

With new health insurance exchanges set to launch in just over a month, there's been a lot of chatter about how shocking the rates might be.

Opponents of the Affordable Care Act often talk about how unpopular it is.

And this month's tracking poll from the Kaiser Family Foundation bears them out. Negative views of the law (42 percent) top positive ones (37 percent).

The Oct. 1 launch of the new health insurance exchanges is now less than two months away, and people are starting to pay attention to the changes these new marketplaces may bring to the nation's health care system.

Finally, the federal HR department has released the health rule much of Capitol Hill has been waiting for.

There's now an explanation from the Office of Personnel Management on how members of Congress and much of their staff will get their health insurance starting next year.

As its last official action before leaving for a five-week summer break, the House today voted — for the 40th time — to block implementation of the federal health law.

But it was something that happened late Thursday night affecting members of Congress and their staffers' own health insurance that attracted more attention around the Capitol.

As expected, the Food and Drug Administration has granted an additional three years of protection from generic competition to the makers of the most popular form of the emergency contraceptive pill,

Who needs jocks when you've got Jennifer Hudson and Amy Poehler?

That seems to be the message coming out of the White House following a star-studded meeting yesterday led by White House Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett. Its mission: Figure out how to help promote the Affordable Care Act.

Banning abortions after a specific point in pregnancy has been a popular trend in the states this year. Last week, GOP Gov. Rick Perry made Texas the 12th state to ban most abortions after 20 weeks.

But how states define the starting point for that 20 weeks may cause headaches for women and their doctors — and ultimately affect whether these laws pass constitutional muster.

This summer was supposed to be a time to reintroduce the public to the Affordable Care Act and teach people how to sign up for benefits this fall.

But that's not what's happening.

The eyes of the nation may be on Texas, as legislators fight over whether to impose strict new regulations on abortion and those who provide it. But a report on abortion laws and regulation across the country finds that the Lone Star State isn't alone.

It hasn't been a good week for the Affordable Care Act. After announcements by the administration of several delays of key portions of the law, Republicans returned to Capitol Hill and began piling on.

Sensing that recent delays in key portions of the Affordable Care Act have caught the Obama administration at a weak point in its rollout of the law, Republicans in Congress are doubling down on their efforts to cripple the measure, at least in the eyes of the public if not in fact.

Two prominent Catholic groups are finding themselves, once again, on opposite sides of a key issue regarding the Affordable Care Act.

Three years ago, the Catholic Health Association, whose members run hospitals and nursing homes across the country, backed passage of the health law. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, which represents the hierarchy of the church, opposed it.

Now the groups are divided over the law's requirement for most employer-based health insurance plans to provide women with birth control.

The Obama administration's decision late Tuesday to postpone the requirement for employers with 50 or more workers to offer health coverage or risk fines has satisfied some key members of the coalition that supported the law.

But the one-year reprieve also raises new questions about the administration's ability to get the huge health law up and running in an orderly fashion. The deadline for the new health exchanges to begin enrolling individuals is Oct. 1.

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The biggest changes in health insurance coverage under the Affordable Care Act are set to begin less than three months from now. Oct. 1 is when people can start signing up for coverage in new state health exchanges. The policies would kick in on Jan. 1, 2014.

It can all be a little confusing, we agree. So two weeks ago, we asked what you wanted to know about the health law.

The Obama administration is moving to end a long-running controversy over making no-cost birth control available under the federal health law.

It's deja vu all over again in Maine.

For the first time in years, a state has acted to allow its citizens to purchase prescription drugs by mail from other countries. The idea is to take advantage of those nations' lower prices, which can be half the cost of those at American pharmacies.

Who's going to be more successful at selling health insurance to young men this fall: NBA MVP LeBron James, NFL rookie of the year Robert Griffin III, or Mom? If officials at the Department of Health and Human Services get their way, all may be drafted.

The Food and Drug Administration Thursday evening approved over-the-counter sale, with no age restrictions, of Plan B One-Step. That's the morning-after pill whose status has been the subject of a dozen years of political wrangling and legal dispute.

This weekend marks 100 days until people can begin signing up for new health insurance coverage under the federal health care law. It also marks another milestone: the launch of an enormous public relations effort to find people eligible for new coverage and urge them to sign up when the time comes.

But like everything else about the health law, even this seemingly innocuous effort has been touched by controversy.

The House has passed one of the most far-reaching abortion bills in decades. But it's unlikely to ever become law.

By a mostly party-line vote Tuesday of 228-196, lawmakers passed the "Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act," which would ban nearly all abortions starting 20 weeks after fertilization.

Call it the Affordable Care Act, call it Obamacare, call it whatever you want — it's coming. And soon. In less than four months people without health insurance will be able to start signing up for coverage that begins Jan. 1.

A lot has been said about the law, most of it not that understandable. So starting now, and continuing occasionally through the summer and fall, we're going to try to fix that.

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