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.

The administration's actions this week on emergency contraception have left many women's health groups sputtering with anger.

But what really has some of the President Obama's usual allies irritated is the fact that the moves are in direct contrast to speeches he made in just the past week.

Two years ago, a landmark study found that having Medicaid health insurance makes a positive difference in people's lives.

Backers of the program have pointed to that study time and again in their push to encourage states to expand the program as part of the federal health law.

In an effort to find a compromise for a politically fraught issue, the Food and Drug Administration has approved a proposal to make the emergency contraceptive pill Plan B more available to some younger teens without a prescription and to older women by moving the medication out from behind the pharmacy counter.

One of the more popular provisions of the federal health law requires that women be given much freer access to prescription methods of birth control. That includes not only the pill, but implants and IUDs as well.

But what happens if there are not enough doctors to prescribe those contraceptives?

That's exactly what worries some reproductive health advocates, as efforts are underway to rewrite rules governing the training of the nation's family doctors.

This is the sixth week of the trial of Dr. Kermit Gosnell, the physician charged with five counts of murder in the deaths of a woman and infants at the Philadelphia abortion clinic he owned and operated.

OK, the conventional wisdom about the budget President Obama sent to Congress yesterday is that's irrelevant.

It's two months late, after all, and the House and Senate have already approved their own spending blueprints for fiscal 2014.

But here's why it matters when it comes to health.

The budget President Obama will send to Congress Wednesday is expected to include some $400 billion in reductions to Medicare and other health programs.

And if the word around Washington is correct, it may also include a proposal aimed at winning some bipartisan backing — by changing the way Medicare patients pay for their care.

A federal judge ordered Friday what women's groups have failed to accomplish politically for a dozen years. He ruled that Plan B, the most commonly used morning-after birth control pill, be sold without a prescription or other restrictions to women of all ages.

The Obama administration is delaying the start of a key piece of the Affordable Care Act. Workers in small businesses will have to wait an additional year to be able to choose from more than one plan in the marketplaces that start next January.



The Obama administration is delaying the start of a key piece of the Affordable Care Act - the national healthcare law. Workers in small businesses will have to wait an additional year to be able to choose from more than one plan in the new online marketplace that start next January. NPR's Julie Rovner reports that the change might dampen enthusiasm, at least at the start. But not everyone thinks that's a bad thing.

Since the Supreme Court made the Medicaid expansion under the federal health law optional last year, states' decisions have largely split along party lines. States run by Democrats have been opting in; states run by Republicans have mostly been saying no or holding back.

The Affordable Care Act turns 3 on Saturday, and it seems just as divisive as the day President Obama signed it.

Health policy watchers might have been amused reading the latest blueprint for the federal budget, out Tuesday.

That's because once again House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan proposes a full repeal of the Affordable Care Act, which Republicans refer to as "Obamacare." But this time, the proposal describes the changes it envisions to the Medicare program in very Obamacare-like terms.

When the nation's governors gathered in Washington, D.C., over the weekend for their annual winter meeting, the gathering's official theme was about efforts to hire people with disabilities.

The most heated part of the fight between the Obama administration and religious groups over new rules that require most health plans to cover contraception actually has nothing to do with birth control. It has to do with abortion.

Specifically, do emergency contraceptives interfere with a fertilized egg and cause what some consider to be abortion?

Perhaps Florida Gov. Rick Scott's motto should be "never say never."

It's looking increasingly likely that $85 billion of automatic federal budget cuts known as a sequester will come to pass if Congress doesn't act by March 1.

Top-ranked archrivals Michigan and Ohio State faced off Wednesday night on the basketball court for the second time in this season (Michigan won in overtime to split the series).

But both states' Republican governors have something more in common this week than an intense distaste for their neighboring state's athletic team.

The characteristics of gun violence in the U.S. are largely unknown because key federal health agencies have been banned from conducting such research since the mid-1990s.

President Obama, however, wants to change that.

The Obama administration on Friday issued another set of proposed rules — and asked for yet another round of public comments — in a continuing quest to find a way to ensure that women receive no-cost contraception as part of a package of preventive health services under the 2010 Affordable Care Act without requiring religious employers to violate their beliefs.

The Obama administration has issued a proposal detailing how coverage for contraception will be paid for under Obamacare. The health overhaul law requires insurance plans to provide birth control coverage, but those opposed to artificial contraception argue they should not be made to use their own funds to pay for it. Audie Cornish talks to Julie Rovner.

Jan. 22, 2013, marks the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the landmark Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion nationwide.

But the conventional wisdom that the court's 7-2 decision marked the beginning of a contentious battle that still rages today is not the case, according to those on both sides of the dispute.

Update 2:30 p.m. 'Hoping For Unity':

With the ceremony at the Capitol complete, spectators looked ahead to their hopes for the next four years. Speaking to NPR's Tom Dreisbach, here's what some in the crowd had to say:

"I'm looking for Washington to start getting along. I mean nobody's working together. And both sides have got to give a little bit and they've got to come to some agreement on some things."

-- Alan Dillon, 50, elementary school principal, Western Slope, Colo.

When Congress passed the Affordable Care Act in 2010, few would have predicted that one of the most contentious provisions would have to do with contraception.

But today federal officials are grappling with more than 40 lawsuits claiming that the requirement for most health plans to provide contraceptive coverage to women violates their religious freedom.

And religious groups aren't the only ones going to court.

For the third straight year, spending on health care in 2011 grew at a historically slow rate, government researchers report.

According to a study published in the January issue of the policy journal Health Affairs, U.S. health spending rose 3.9 percent in 2011. That's statistically almost identical to the rate of increase in each of the two previous years.

The bill that prevented the nation from plunging over the fiscal cliff did more than just stop income tax increases and delay across-the-board spending cuts. It also included several provisions that tweaked Medicare and brought bigger changes to other health care programs.

The 113th Congress will be the first one in 40 years to convene without California Rep. Pete Stark as a member.

Stark was defeated in November by a fellow Democrat under new California voting rules. Stark may not be a household name, but he leaves a long-lasting mark on the nation's health care system.

Most of the really big changes made by the 2010 health law don't start for another year. That includes things like a ban on restricting pre-existing conditions, and required insurance coverage for most Americans. But Jan. 1, 2013, will nevertheless mark some major changes.

When it comes to reducing Medicare spending, asking wealthier seniors to pay more is one of the few areas where Democrats have shown a willingness to even consider the subject.

"I do believe there should be means testing. And those of us with higher income in retirement should pay more," said Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., on last Sunday's Meet the Press. "That could be part of the solution."

At least in public, Republicans have been clear that they see the current budget negotiations as a chance to address what they see as the source of Washington's deficit problem: major entitlement programs.