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The Health Law

Private agencies that bring young adults to the U.S. to care for children generally offer basic health insurance, but plans may exclude many types of necessary care. What the agencies might not mention is that au pairs are eligible to enroll in comprehensive coverage on the Affordable Care Act marketplaces and likely qualify for premium subsidies that would make the insurance affordable.

Democrats have hit a snag in their effort to compile a $3.5 trillion social-spending bill this fall — moderates are resisting support for Medicare drug price negotiation provisions that would pay for many of the measure’s health benefit improvements. Meanwhile, the new abortion restrictions in Texas have moved the divisive issue back to the political front burner. Alice Miranda Ollstein of Politico, Rachel Cohrs of Stat and Shefali Luthra of The 19th join KHN’s Julie Rovner to discuss these issues and more. Also this week, Rovner interview’s KHN’s Phil Galewitz about the latest KHN-NPR “Bill of the Month” installment, about two similar jaw surgeries with very different price tags.

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The covid pandemic has spotlighted the often-unseen role of public health in Americans’ daily lives. And the picture has not all been pretty. What is public health and why is it so important — and controversial? Dr. Ashish Jha, dean of the Brown University School of Public Health, explains the basics. Then, Joanne Kenen of Politico and Lauren Weber of KHN join KHN’s Julie Rovner to discuss what could happen next.

As the delta variant continues to spread around the U.S., the Biden administration is taking steps to authorize covid vaccine boosters, require nursing home workers to be vaccinated and protect school officials who want to require masks despite state laws banning those mandates. Meanwhile, the U.S. House is returning from its summer break early to start work on its giant budget bill, which includes a long list of health policy changes. Alice Miranda Ollstein of Politico, Margot Sanger-Katz of The New York Times and Kimberly Leonard of Business Insider join KHN’s Julie Rovner to discuss these issues and more.

The Supreme Court, come autumn, will consider a Mississippi law that bans nearly all abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy. That’s hardly the most restrictive abortion law passed in the South. How did anti-abortion views become concentrated in the South?

The summer that promised to let Americans resume a relatively normal life is turning into another summer of anxiety and face masks, as the delta variant drives covid caseloads up in all 50 states. Meanwhile, the Americans with Disabilities Act turns 35, and the Missouri Supreme Court orders the state to expand Medicaid after all. Mary Ellen McIntire of CQ Roll Call, Anna Edney of Bloomberg News and Rachana Pradhan of KHN join KHN’s Julie Rovner to discuss these issues and more. Also, Rovner interviews KHN’s Samantha Young, who reported and wrote the latest KHN-NPR “Bill of the Month” episode about an Olympic-level athlete with an Olympic-size medical bill.

The landmark federal health law required most commercial health plans to cover a comprehensive list of birth control methods approved by the Food and Drug Administration free of charge to female patients. But health plans don’t have to cover every option, and newer methods are not included in the federal list of covered services.

Democrats in Congress reached a tentative agreement to press ahead on a partisan bill that would dramatically expand health benefits for people on Medicare, those who buy their own insurance and individuals who have been shut out of coverage in states that didn’t expand Medicaid. Meanwhile, controversy continues to rage over whether vaccinated Americans will need a booster to protect against covid-19 variants, and who will pay for a new drug to treat Alzheimer’s disease. Rachel Cohrs of Stat and Sarah Karlin-Smith of the Pink Sheet join KHN’s Julie Rovner to discuss these issues and more. Also, Rovner interviews KHN’s Rae Ellen Bichell, who reported and wrote the latest KHN-NPR “Bill of the Month” episode about a mother and daughter who fought an enormous emergency room bill.

In an interview for KHN’s “What the Health?” podcast, HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra says the administration is eager for Congress to make changes to Medicare that will provide more benefits and make more older adults eligible for the program. He also said a priority will be making permanent the enhanced premium subsidies for Affordable Care Act marketplace plans.

The president, one of the last of a disappearing group of politicians who sought moderate compromises on abortion policy, is frustrating supporters. They wanted faster changes in federal rules. But abortion opponents — including Catholic bishops— are also taking him to task.

The Biden administration is moving to undo many of the changes the Trump administration made to the enrollment process for the Affordable Care Act, in an effort to encourage more people to sign up for health insurance. Meanwhile, Congress is opening investigations into the controversial approval by the Food and Drug Administration of an expensive new drug that might or might not slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease. Joanne Kenen of Politico, Kimberly Leonard of Insider and Sarah Karlin-Smith of The Pink Sheet join KHN’s Julie Rovner to discuss these issues and more. Also, Rovner interviews Marshall Allen of ProPublica about his new book, “Never Pay the First Bill: And Other Ways to Fight the Health Care System and Win.”

Democrats in Congress and the states are devising strategies to expand health coverage — through the Affordable Care Act, Medicare, Medicaid and a “public option.” But progress remains halting, at best. Meanwhile, lawmakers in Washington may have to agree on how to control prescription drug prices if they wish to finance their coverage initiatives. Alice Miranda Ollstein of Politico, Tami Luhby of CNN and Shefali Luthra of The 19th join KHN’s Julie Rovner to discuss these issues and more. Also, Rovner interviews Michelle Andrews, who reported and wrote last month’s KHN-NPR “Bill of the Month” episode about a very expensive sleep study.

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