KFF’s health news “What is health?”: 2023 is the final

Even without Covid dominating the headlines, 2023 was a busy year for health policy. Ever-rising health care costs remain a problem that plagues patients and policymakers alike, while millions of Americans lost insurance coverage as states redefined eligibility for their Medicaid programs as a result of the public health emergency.

Meanwhile, women who experience pregnancy complications continue to be dragged into the ongoing abortion debate, with in some cases both the women and their doctors potentially facing jail time.

This week’s panelists are Julie Rovner of KFF Health News, Rachel Kors of Stat, Sandhya Raman of CQ Roll Call, and Joan Kennen of Johns Hopkins University and Politico magazine.

The host

Julie Rovner KFF Health News @jrovner

Julie Rovner is the chief Washington correspondent and host of KFF Health News’ weekly health policy podcast, “What the Health?” A noted expert on health policy issues, Julie is the author of the critically acclaimed reference book Health Policy and Policy from A to Z”, which is now in its third edition.


Among the takeaways from this week’s episode:

  • As the next election year approaches, the Biden administration is touting how much it has accomplished on health care. Whether the voting public is paying attention is a different story. Enrollment in the Affordable Care Act has reached record levels, thanks in part to expanded financial assistance available to pay premiums, and the administration also touts its enforcement efforts to curb high drug prices.
  • The federal government is adding staff to go after “corporate greed” in health care, targeting in particular the rapidly growing role of private equity. The complex, opaque and evolving nature of corporate ownership in the nation’s health care system makes legislation and regulation challenging. But increased interest and oversight could lead to a better understanding of the problems and ultimately the remedies for a profit-focused health care system.
  • At the end of a year in which many low-income Americans lost insurance coverage as states revised Medicaid eligibility for everyone, there is no shortage of access issues to address. The Biden administration is calling on states to take action to help millions of children regain coverage that was taken away from them.
  • Additionally, many patients are all too familiar with the challenges of obtaining insurance approval for care. There is support in Congress to scrutinize and limit the use of algorithms to deny care to Medicare Advantage patients based on aggregate comparisons rather than individual patient circumstances.
  • And in abortion news, some conservative states are trying to block efforts to put abortion on the ballot next year, a tactic used in the past against Medicaid expansion.
  • This week in health misinformation is an ad from All Family Pharmacy in Florida touting the benefits of ivermectin to treat covid-19. (Strict scientific research has determined that the antibacterial drug does not work against covid and should not be used for this purpose.)

Also this week, Rovner interviewed KFF Health News’ Jordan Rau for his joint KFF Health News/New York Times series Dying Broke.

Plus, for “extra credit,” the panelists offer health policy stories they’ve read this week that they think you should read, too:

Julie Rovner: Business Insider’s “I Feel Cheated Keeping This Baby” by Bethany Dawson, Louise Ridley, and Sarah Posner.

Joan by: “Chicago Shooting Survivors, In Their Own Words” on The Trace by Justin Agrello.

Rachel Kors: ProPublica “Physicians with histories of large malpractice settlements work for insurers deciding whether to pay for care,” by Patrick Rucker, The Capitol Forum; and David Armstrong and Doris Burke, ProPublica.

Sandhya Raman: Titled Collection Mississippi’s Community Workers Tackle Maternal Mortality Crisis, by Lauren Klason.

Also mentioned in this week’s episode:


  • Frances In Audio Producer
  • Emmarie Huetteman Editor

This article was reprinted from khn.org, a national newsroom that produces in-depth health journalism and is one of the core operating programs of KFF, the independent source for health policy research, polling and journalism.

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