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
1:10 pm
Tue January 17, 2012

Listen Up, Walkers: Watch Out For Traffic When Wearing Headphones

Beware of tuning out while crossing the street.
iStockphoto.com

By now we all know that distracted driving can kill you. But a new study suggests that distracted walking can be pretty deadly, too.

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Shots - Health Blog
2:11 pm
Thu January 12, 2012

Biggest Bucks In Health Care Are Spent On A Very Few

A relatively small number of patients account for some of the biggest spending on health care.
Ricardo Reitmeyer iStockphoto.com

So you know how on Monday the federal government reported that the $2.6 trillion the nation spent on health care in 2010 translated into just over $8,400 per person?

Well, a different study just released by a separate federal agency shows that second number doesn't actually mean very much.

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Shots - Health Blog
10:01 pm
Wed January 11, 2012

Gingrich, Romney Go At It Over Abortion

Shots - Health Blog
3:10 pm
Mon January 9, 2012

Weak Economy Curbs U.S. Health Spending

Originally published on Tue January 10, 2012 6:47 am

No, it's not quite going down. But health care spending in 2010 rose at the second-slowest rate in the last half-century.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services reports that total health spending in the U.S. increased by 3.9 percent in 2010, just a notch above the slowest rate since the government started keeping track — 3.8 percent in 2009.

Overall, the U.S. spent $2.6 trillion on health care in 2010, or $8,402 per person. That's 17.9 percent of the nation's gross domestic product.

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Shots - Health Blog
2:21 pm
Mon January 9, 2012

Diabetes' Economic Toll Goes Far Beyond Medical Bills

Sergey Lavrentev iStockphoto.com

By now most people have probably heard the dire predictions about how much the growing prevalence of diabetes will cost the U.S. health system in the coming years and decades.

But a new study from researchers at Yale suggests that the disease, which currently affects nearly 8 percent of the U.S. population, could have significant nonmedical costs to society as well.

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Shots - Health Blog
12:53 pm
Thu January 5, 2012

Feds: Standardizing Electronic Health Payments Could Save $4.5 Billion

Originally published on Thu January 5, 2012 1:03 pm

Here's a twist. You know how you keep hearing that the Affordable Care Act is doing little more than raising health care costs?

Well, the Obama administration says a new rule it's issuing under the law could result in a savings of as much as $4.5 billion over the next decade.

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Shots - Health Blog
10:01 pm
Tue December 27, 2011

Reversal On Health Mandate Came Late For Gingrich And Romney

Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney chat after finishing a GOP debate in Sioux City, Iowa, earlier this month.
Scott Olson Getty Images

Originally published on Wed December 28, 2011 11:20 am

Opposition to the administration's overhaul of health care has almost become an article of faith with every Republican running for president.

Candidates promise to repeal the law and its less-than-popular requirement for most Americans to either have health insurance or to pay a penalty starting in 2014.

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Shots - Health Blog
2:12 pm
Thu December 22, 2011

Medicare Can't Rescue Congress On Fix For Doctors' Pay

Wendell Franks iStockphoto.com

Here we go again.

With official Washington trapped in partisan gridlock, doctors who treat Medicare patients are once again facing the prospect of a big cut in pay that almost no one supports.

And this time Medicare officials say they won't be hold onto the bills for longer than the usual 10-day processing time to wait for Congress to act. A 27 percent cut is set to take effect Jan. 1, unless Congress stops it.

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Shots - Health Blog
3:44 pm
Fri December 16, 2011

States Would Get More Flexibility On 'Essential Benefits' Under Proposal

Originally published on Fri December 16, 2011 3:46 pm

It may or may not be a punt, but the Obama administration wants to let states play a bigger role in deciding what constitutes an "essential health benefits" package when it comes to health insurance.

The Department of Health and Human Services issued what it called a "bulletin" outlining a policy it hopes to impose. In other words, it's not even yet a formal regulation.

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Shots - Health Blog
12:12 pm
Thu December 15, 2011

Wyden-Ryan Medicare Plan Shakes Up Politics More Than Policy

Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden, a Democrat, (left) and House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, a Wisconsin Republican, present their plan for changing Medicare at the U.S. Capitol Thursday.
Tom Williams Roll Call/Getty Images

There's not much that's new in the Medicare proposal just unveiled by Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.)

So why is it getting so much attention? One word. No, not plastics. Politics!

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Shots - Health Blog
3:00 am
Thu December 8, 2011

Women's Groups Outraged By Ruling On Morning-After Pill

Women's health advocates were quick to cry foul Wednesday when Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius overruled the opinion of the Food and Drug Administration that the popular "morning after" emergency contraceptive "Plan B One Step" should be allowed to be sold without a prescription — and without age restrictions.

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Shots - Health Blog
11:10 am
Wed December 7, 2011

Teenage Girls Will Still Need A Prescription For 'Plan B'

In a surprising twist, the Obama administration has overruled the Food and Drug Administration and will not allow teenage girls to buy the emergency contraceptive Plan B One-Step without a prescription.

The decision punctuates one of the longest-running public health sagas in recent memory. The FDA had decided that a version of the morning-after emergency contraceptive pill could be sold without a prescription regardless of the age of the buyer.

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The Two-Way
10:53 am
Wed December 7, 2011

Morning-After Pill Won't Be Available Without Prescription To Younger Girls

The Food and Drug Administration will not be removing age restrictions for a morning-after birth control pill — a decision that's likely to prolong a fight that has raged for more than eight years.

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Shots - Health Blog
2:06 pm
Mon December 5, 2011

Young People Put Dent In Nursing Shortage

Lots of new nurses, like these graduating from New York University in 2009, are helping to fill openings.
Chris Hondros Getty Images

You know that shortage of nurses people have been warning about for about the last decade or two? Fuhgeddaboudit!

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Shots - Health Blog
4:08 pm
Fri December 2, 2011

Siri's Anti-Abortion Tendencies A Result Of Technology, Not Apple Conspiracy

Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they're out to get you.

That could be the motto this week for abortion rights groups that immediately sprang into battle mode when it was discovered that Siri, Apple's new artificially intelligent personal assistant, wasn't so, well, intelligent when it came to abortion.

It turns out, however, that it was all much ado about not so much.

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Shots - Health Blog
10:01 pm
Thu December 1, 2011

Catholic Groups Fight Contraceptive Rule, But Many Already Offer Coverage

New federal regulations require employers to provide no-cost prescription birth control as part of their health insurance plans.
Tim Matsui Getty Images

The Catholic Church says new federal regulations requiring employers to provide no-cost prescription birth control as part of their health insurance plans infringe on their religious liberty.

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Shots - Health Blog
12:55 pm
Wed November 30, 2011

Health Law's Popularity Rises ... Ever So Slightly

Can you say blip?

Apparently that's what last month's all-time low popularity numbers were for President Obama's health overhaul law, according to this month's tracking poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Overall, the federal Affordable Care Act still remains slightly more unpopular (44 percent) than popular (37 percent), but that's down from last month's 51-34 split.

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Shots - Health Blog
4:28 pm
Tue November 29, 2011

GOP Governors Hedge Bets On Health Insurance Exchanges

Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley is among several GOP governors accepting grant money to set up health insurance exchanges while also challenging the health overhaul law in court.
Dave Martin AP

Obama administration officials have announced another round of grants to states to help build the insurance marketplaces, called "exchanges," that will help individuals and small businesses buy health insurances beginning in 2014.

But the real news is who's getting the $220 million. Nine of the 13 states in this round of grants are headed by GOP governors.

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Shots - Health Blog
10:01 pm
Mon November 28, 2011

Mitt Romney's Evolution On Abortion

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney has been labeled a flip-flopper. And when it comes to abortion, the former governor of Massachusetts appears to have changed his position from being in favor of abortion rights to being opposed.

But now some people are asking if Romney ever supported abortion rights at all? Backers of abortion rights don't think so.

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Shots - Health Blog
2:34 pm
Fri November 18, 2011

Gingrich's History On Health Care Gets An Exam

At a Republican presidential debate in Las Vegas last month, Newt Gingrich got zinged by rival Mitt Romney for coming up with idea of an individual insurance mandate.
Ethan Miller Getty Images

Originally published on Mon November 21, 2011 1:54 pm

Republican Newt Gingrich's presidential stock is rising in the polls. And his newfound popularity is also bringing new scrutiny to what he's been up to since he stepped down as Speaker of the House in 1998.

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Shots - Health Blog
1:22 pm
Tue October 25, 2011

Employers May Not Rush To Drop Health Coverage After All

Despite claims to the contrary, a insightful economic analysis suggests that it wouldn't be in most employers' business interests to stop providing health insurance when the main coverage provisions of the federal health overhaul kick in.

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Job 1: Careers That Shaped The GOP Candidates
3:00 am
Tue October 25, 2011

Before He Delivered For Voters, Paul Delivered Babies

Ron Paul, shown in this screen shot taken from his website, says he delivered more than 4,000 babies in the Texas district where he used to practice.

www.ronpaul2012.com

Originally published on Fri January 13, 2012 10:49 am

Sixth in a series

Republican presidential candidate and Texas Congressman Ron Paul is known for his fervent opposition to armed intervention overseas and the Federal Reserve — and for his equally fervent supporters.

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Shots - Health Blog
3:20 am
Mon October 24, 2011

Medicare Enrollment Comes Sooner This Year

The open enrollment period for Medicare beneficiaries is under way earlier this year — one of many upcoming changes.

Anne de Haas iStockphoto.com

If you're a senior on Medicare — or an adult child responsible for a senior on Medicare — here's something you should know: The annual "open enrollment" period for joining or changing prescription drug or private health plans is already under way.

"It's much earlier this year. It started on Oct. 15, and it's going to stop on Dec. 7," says Nancy Metcalf, a senior editor and health expert at Consumer Reports. "So you have your window right now."

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Shots - Health Blog
3:42 pm
Fri October 14, 2011

Administration Drops Long-Term Care Provision Of Overhaul

The late Sen. Edward Kennedy, a champion for the CLASS Act, gets a standing ovation as he arrives at the closing session of a White House forum on health care overhaul in early March 2009.

Chip Somodevilla Getty Images

Originally published on Sat October 15, 2011 9:52 am

After a 19-month review, the Obama administration has concluded that it can't implement the CLASS Act, the community-based long-term care program that was the late Sen. Edward Kennedy's most heartfelt contribution to the Affordable Care Act.

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Shots - Health Blog
6:51 am
Fri October 7, 2011

To Keep Required Insurance Affordable, Start With Price

It may not be the sexiest piece of last year's health overhaul law, but it's one that has given small businesses and insurers a lot of heartburn. What exactly should be required when it comes to benefits?

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The Salt
1:06 pm
Wed October 5, 2011

East Coast Pumpkin Shortage Won't Dent The Canned Kind

Melissa Forsyth NPR

Originally published on Wed October 5, 2011 7:45 pm

With Halloween rapidly approaching, you've probably heard about the shortage of pumpkins along the East Coast caused by the flooding rains of Hurricane Irene.

But while you may have troubling finding just the right shape or the right price for your jack o'lantern this year, there's good news for those looking ahead to the pies and cakes of Thanksgiving and Christmas.

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Shots - Health Blog
3:26 pm
Fri September 30, 2011

On Anniversary Of Funding Ban, Even Allowed Abortions Often Go Unpaid For

Today marks 35 years since Congress first passed what's come to be known as the Hyde Amendment, which bans most federal abortion funding.

While the actual language of the rider to the annual funding bill for the Department of Health and Human Services has changed considerably over the years, since 2003 it has allowed federal Medicaid funds to pay for abortions in cases of rape, incest, or if the life of the woman is endangered by the pregnancy.

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Life In Retirement: The Not-So-Golden Years
2:24 am
Wed September 28, 2011

Boomers 'Delusion' About Health In Retirement

Seniors at the Greenspring Village Retirement Community in Springfield, Va., play Wii bowling.
Julie Rovner/NPR

Originally published on Wed September 28, 2011 12:11 pm

Most baby boomers say they're planning on an active and healthy retirement, according to a new poll conducted by NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard School of Public Health. And, in a switch from earlier years, more than two-thirds recognize the threat of long-term care expenses to their financial futures.

But some experts worry that when it comes to their health, boomers are still woefully unprepared — or worse, in denial.

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Shots - Health Blog
10:56 am
Tue September 27, 2011

Employer Survey Shows Big Jump In Health Insurance Premiums

iStockphoto.com

There was good news and bad news in this year's annual survey of employer health benefits by the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Health Research and Educational Trust.

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Shots - Health Blog
9:58 am
Wed September 21, 2011

How You Might Turn Your Health Cost Story Into A Little Cash

iStockphoto.com

Well, there's at least one good thing about the country's inability to control health costs. If you can write a compelling essay about a problem, you could win a thousand bucks.

Not to be outdone by health care inflation itself, this year's contest sponsored by the nonprofit group Costs of Care is awarding four prizes, up from two last year.

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