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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

It's been a tumultuous week in the world of women's health. On Wednesday, it was revealed that the breast cancer charity Susan G. Komen for the Cure had stopped giving grants to the Planned Parenthood Federation of America. On Friday, the Komen foundation reversed itself, apologizing for any appearance that it was penalizing Planned Parenthood. Komen says grants will be only suspended to organizations when investigations are criminal and conclusive — not political. Planned Parenthood has been the target of one congressman's requests for financial information.

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.

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.

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.

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

When it came to health, what was most surprising was how little President Obama had to say in his State of the Union address. His landmark 2010 health overhaul — whose fate is currently before the Supreme Court and whose repeal is the top priority for every GOP presidential candidate — got barely a passing mention.

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.

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.

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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!

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.

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.

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.

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

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.

When it was discovered earlier this week that Apple's new iPhone assistant Siri had trouble telling people where to get an abortion, abortion rights groups immediately cried foul. It turns out the problem is not a conspiracy but a software glitch.

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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