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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Shots - Health Blog
4:21 pm
Mon April 2, 2012

As Health Care Giants Merge, Pharmacies Aren't Happy

It remains to be seen whether bigger will actually be better.
GMVozd iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Mon April 2, 2012 5:57 pm

Two of the biggest behind-the-scenes players in the health care industry have become one.

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Shots - Health Blog
4:33 pm
Thu March 29, 2012

Thinking The Unthinkable: What If The Whole Affordable Care Act Goes Down?

Originally published on Thu March 29, 2012 6:09 pm

After this week's oral arguments at the Supreme Court, lawmakers and health policy experts are starting to ponder what had — until recently — been unthinkable to many: What if the court strikes down the entire Affordable Care Act?

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Shots - Health Blog
10:01 pm
Tue March 27, 2012

Supreme Court's Medicaid Decision Could Reach Far Beyond Health Care

The final argument the Supreme Court will hear about the new health care law is whether its Medicaid expansion unfairly forces states to participate.
Adam Cole NPR

Originally published on Wed March 28, 2012 8:56 am

After Tuesday's judicial fireworks, the Supreme Court wraps up arguments on the new health care law Wednesday by focusing on two questions. The first involves what would happen if the "individual mandate" — the core of the law that requires most people to have health insurance — is struck down. Would the rest of the law fall, too, or could some provisions stay?

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Shots - Health Blog
10:01 pm
Tue March 27, 2012

Court Looks At Whether Mandate Can Separate From Rest Of Health Law

If the Supreme Court rules that the health insurance mandate is unconstitutional, does that invalidate the rest of the law?
Adam Cole NPR

In its second-to-last argument over the Affordable Care Act, the Supreme Court on Wednesday ponders a what-if.

Specifically, if the justices decide that Congress exceeded its constitutional authority in enacting the part of the law that requires most Americans to either have health insurance starting in 2014 or pay a penalty, does that invalidate the rest of the law? And if not, how much, if any, of the rest of the law should it strike down?

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Shots - Health Blog
2:01 am
Fri March 23, 2012

How The Health Law Could Survive Without A Mandate

Sally Baptiste from Orlando, Fla., waits outside the U.S. Capitol for the vote on the health care bill on March 21, 2010.
Astrid Riecken Getty Images

Originally published on Fri March 23, 2012 10:24 am

The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments next week on, among other things, whether the 2010 health law can require most Americans to have health insurance starting in 2014.

The so-called individual mandate is the centerpiece of the law, and the conventional wisdom says the rest of the law will crumble if it is found to be unconstitutional.

But many policy wonks say that's not necessarily the case.

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Shots - Health Blog
3:56 pm
Thu March 22, 2012

Answers To Your Questions About The Health Care Overhaul Law

iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Thu March 22, 2012 4:05 pm

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act — the health care overhaul law that President Obama championed and Republicans rejected — turns two on Friday.

The law is headed to the Supreme Court on Monday, where the Justices begin hearing three days of arguments about the constitutionality of the law. Ahead of the big day, we asked for questions from our audiences online and on air. Here's a sampling of questions, edited for clarity and length, and the answers.

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Shots - Health Blog
12:54 pm
Wed March 21, 2012

How Obama Lost The Messaging War Over Health Care Law

Protesters show their opposition to President Obama's health care overhaul on March 16, 2010, days before it became law.
Jewel Samad AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Wed March 21, 2012 6:44 pm

The sweeping health overhaul law turns 2 years old this Friday. And as it heads toward a constitutional showdown at the Supreme Court next week, the debate over the measure remains almost as heated as the day President Obama signed it into law.

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Shots - Health Blog
3:13 pm
Mon March 12, 2012

Romney Says No Thanks To Medicare

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney greets supporters at the Whistle Stop cafe in Mobile, Ala., on Monday, his birthday.
Win McNamee Getty Images

So Mitt Romney is turning 65. And on his landmark birthday, he's doing the exact opposite of what roughly 99 percent of Americans do at that age: He's not signing up for Medicare.

The news was broken by the blog Buzzfeed, and quickly confirmed by the Romney campaign.

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Shots - Health Blog
2:50 pm
Wed March 7, 2012

1 In 3 Americans Is Having A Hard Time Paying Medical Bills

iStockphoto.com

While politicians and soon, the Supreme Court, are fighting about the fate of the Affordable Care Act, a new government study finds that a growing number of Americans are having difficulty coping with the high cost of health care.

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Shots - Health Blog
10:45 am
Tue March 6, 2012

How Birth Control Saves Taxpayers Money

iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Tue March 6, 2012 12:16 pm

While the controversy continues to swirl around radio talkmeister Rush Limbaugh and his admittedly inappropriate comments about Georgetown Law Student Sandra Fluke, an analysis from the left-leaning Brookings Institution adds an economic twist to the debate over coverage of contraception.

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Shots - Health Blog
1:44 am
Mon March 5, 2012

Pet Therapy: How Animals And Humans Heal Each Other

Ryan Shank-Rowe, 9, takes part in a therapeutic riding program at Little Full Cry Farm in Clifton, Va., last month.
Maggie Starbard NPR

Originally published on Fri March 9, 2012 8:51 am

Those of us who own pets know they make us happy. But a growing body of scientific research is showing that our pets can also make us healthy, or healthier.

That helps explain the increasing use of animals — dogs and cats mostly, but also birds, fish and even horses — in settings ranging from hospitals and nursing homes to schools, jails and mental institutions.

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Shots - Health Blog
11:04 am
Thu March 1, 2012

Majorities In Senate And Public Support Birth Control Coverage

Suitable for health insurance coverage?
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Thu March 1, 2012 4:10 pm

The Senate has turned back an attempt to kill President Obama's new rules requiring most health insurance plans to provide contraceptives without additional cost.

The 51-48 vote against an amendment to an unrelated highway bill (Yes, that's just how the Senate works) was mostly along party lines.

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Shots - Health Blog
2:39 pm
Thu February 23, 2012

Law Student Makes Case For Contraceptive Coverage

Sandra Fluke, a third-year law student at Georgetown University, testifies Thursday about contraceptives and insurance coverage during a hearing before the House Democratic Steering and Policy Committee.
Alex Wong Getty Images

Congress is in recess this week, but that didn't stop House Democrats from holding a hearing to take testimony from a Georgetown law student who was barred from testifying in last week's hearing about President Obama's policy on contraceptives, health insurance and religiously affiliated organizations.

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Shots - Health Blog
3:59 pm
Wed February 22, 2012

High Court Punts On California Medicaid Ruling

A key legal case challenging cuts in Medicaid pay for doctors, hospitals and pharmacists is heading back to California.
Keith J. R. Binns iStockphoto.com

The Supreme Court has officially declined to decide one of its bigger cases of the term: whether or not doctors, hospitals and other health care providers can sue a state to challenge cuts in the Medicaid health program for the poor.

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Shots - Health Blog
2:20 pm
Fri February 17, 2012

Fight Over Contraceptive Coverage Heats Up In Court

iStockphoto.com

The fight over who pays for birth control isn't confined to Congress or the campaign trail. It's burning in federal court, too.

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Shots - Health Blog
2:31 pm
Thu February 16, 2012

Doctors 'Disgruntled' And Frustrated By Looming Medicare Cuts

A looming 27.4 percent cut in Medicare reimbursements likely won't happen. But next year, any cuts could be greater.
iStockphoto.com

The good news for the nation's doctors — and the millions of Medicare patients they care for — is that assuming everything goes as planned, the 27.4 percent cut in reimbursements that would have taken effect March 1 won't.

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It's All Politics
1:33 pm
Wed February 15, 2012

Why Romney's Shaggy Dog Story Won't Die

A man holds a sign during a "Dogs Against Romney" demonstration outside the 136th Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show at New York's Madison Square Garden, on Tuesday.
Shannon Stapleton Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Thu March 27, 2014 7:49 am

It's the story that continues to, well, dog Republican presidential front-runner Mitt Romney. And, according to some experts, it could jeopardize his standing with voters who care about animals. And yes, it turns out, that is not an insignificant voting bloc.

The incident happened back in 1983, and it's been public since 2007. But it seems that only now a critical mass of voters is hearing it for the first time.

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Shots - Health Blog
3:41 pm
Mon February 13, 2012

Why Catholic Groups' Health Plans Say No To Contraceptives, Yes To Viagra

Covered? Usually.
Joe Raedle Getty Images

If health insurance plans offered by Catholic-sponsored entities refuse to cover contraceptives for women because of the religion's moral teachings banning artificial birth control, do they cover Viagra for men?

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Shots - Health Blog
5:57 pm
Fri February 10, 2012

With Contraceptive Coverage Plan 2.0, Obama Pleases Allies, But Not Everyone

President Obama, flanked by Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, announces the revamp of the contraception-care policy on Friday.
Pablo Martinez Monsivais AP

Originally published on Fri February 10, 2012 6:44 pm

President Obama's latest proposed change in how contraceptives are covered by employer health insurance may not have ended the controversy that has raged for the past three weeks. But what the administration is calling an "accommodation" for religious employers has apparently mollified key allies who had opposed his original plan.

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Shots - Health Blog
9:49 am
Fri February 10, 2012

White House Bends On Birth Control Requirement For Religious Groups

Originally published on Fri February 10, 2012 10:30 am

Under increasing pressure, the White House has offered what it's calling an "accommodation" to religious groups on a requirement to cover birth control free of charge.

Even some Democrats, who generally support the policy of requiring most employers to offer no-cost contraception, were unhappy with the rule's reach.

But the change unveiled by the White House isn't expected to completely quell the uproar raised by Catholics and others who say the policy violates their freedom of religion.

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Shots - Health Blog
10:01 pm
Thu February 9, 2012

Rules Requiring Contraceptive Coverage Have Been In Force For Years

In 2002, state lawmakers in Massachusetts approved legislation requiring most employers to provide contraceptive coverage to their employees. One of the groups pushing for the law was the Coalition for Choice, led by Melissa Kogut (center).
Lawrence Jackson AP

Originally published on Fri February 10, 2012 6:31 am

There's been no let-up in the debate about the Obama administration's rule requiring most employers to provide prescription birth control to their workers without additional cost.

Here's the rub: The only truly novel part of the plan is the "no cost" bit.

The rule would mean, for the first time, that women won't have to pay a deductible or copayment to get prescription contraceptives.

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Shots - Health Blog
4:17 pm
Wed February 8, 2012

'Congress Will Act': Fight Over Birth Control Coverage Moves To The Hill

House Speaker John Boehner says Congress will intervene if President Obama doesn't reconsider a decision to compel church-affiliated employers to cover birth control in their health care plans.
Pete Marovich Getty Images

You didn't have to look hard to see this one coming.

Catholics and GOP candidates have attacked the Obama administration's plans to require most employers — including religious hospitals and schools — to provide coverage of prescription contraceptives. Now the debate is moving to Capitol Hill.

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Shots - Health Blog
3:31 pm
Tue February 7, 2012

Planned Parenthood Still In Cross Hairs

Originally published on Tue February 7, 2012 4:26 pm

One of the driving forces behind the now-reversed decision to cancel funding to Planned Parenthood has stepped down from her executive position at the Susan G. Komen for the Cure foundation.

But the resignation of Karen Handel, an outspoken opponent of the reproductive health group, hasn't slowed down foes of Planned Parenthood.

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Shots - Health Blog
5:48 pm
Fri February 3, 2012

Komen's Race To Reverse Course: Questions And A PR Challenge

Originally published on Fri February 3, 2012 5:58 pm

Just three days after announcing it would no longer fund cancer screenings at Planned Parenthood, the pink-ribboned breast cancer charity Susan G. Komen for the Cure abruptly reversed course today. But the Komen foundation's actions still leave many questions unanswered — not to mention a public relations challenge.

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Shots - Health Blog
4:40 pm
Thu February 2, 2012

As Komen Defends Itself, Planned Parenthood Rakes In Substitute Funds

Originally published on Fri February 3, 2012 1:03 pm

Leaders of the breast-cancer charity Susan G. Komen for the Cure tried in vain Thursday to contain the controversy stemming from its decision to end its grants to Planned Parenthood.

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Shots - Health Blog
1:04 pm
Mon January 30, 2012

Gingrich Calls For Panel To Look At Rules For In Vitro Clinics

While talking with the media outside the Exciting Idlewild Baptist Church in Lutz, Fla., on Sunday, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich called for a commission to look at new rules for clinics that perform in vitro fertilization.
Matt Rourke AP

Republican presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich is changing another of his positions in an effort to woo socially conservative voters.

Over the weekend he told churchgoers in Florida that as president he'd work to ban research using stem cells derived from human embryos.

Gingrich has long been a strong backer of federal funding for scientific research. In 2001 his support extended to research on stem cells derived from human embryos left over from in vitro fertilization efforts.

But apparently that's no longer the case.

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Shots - Health Blog
3:22 pm
Fri January 27, 2012

Romney's Unlikely And Persuasive Defense Of The 'Individual Mandate'

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney offered a spirited defense of the individual mandate during Thursday night's GOP presidential candidate debate in Jacksonville, Fla.
Matt Rourke AP

For a candidate who keeps vowing to repeal the 2010 federal Affordable Care Act, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney sure can make a convincing argument on its behalf.

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Shots - Health Blog
1:39 pm
Thu January 26, 2012

How Health Care Dropped Out Of The Presidential Conversation

Courtesy of The Advisory Board Co.

Health wonks were miffed about the lack of attention their beloved issue got in President Obama's State of the Union address Tuesday night.

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Shots - Health Blog
3:23 pm
Fri January 20, 2012

Administration Stands Firm On Birth Control Coverage

Archbishop Timothy Dolan, of New York, president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, called the contraceptive rule "unconscionable."
Patrick Semansky AP

Originally published on Fri January 20, 2012 5:08 pm

Despite a furious lobbying effort by the Catholic Church, the Obama administration today said it won't weaken new rules that will require most health insurance plans to offer women prescription contraceptives at no additional out-of-pocket cost.

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Shots - Health Blog
1:12 pm
Thu January 19, 2012

New Restrictions On Abortion Almost Tied Record Last Year

If it seemed like 2011 was a big year for laws restricting abortion, it was.

In fact, according to "Who Decides? The Status of Women's Reproductive Rights In the U.S.," the 21stannual report compiled by the abortion-rights group NARAL Pro-Choice America, the 69 laws enacted restricting a woman's reproductive rights were just one short of the record set in 1999.

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