KHN’s ‘What the Health?’: Year-End Bill Holds Big Health Changes

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The year-end authorities spending invoice consists of loads of adjustments to federal well being applications, together with adjustments to Medicare funds and a few construction for states to start to disenroll folks on Medicaid whose eligibility has been maintained by way of the pandemic.

Separately, the Biden administration took a number of steps to increase the availability of the abortion capsule, which together with one other drug can finish a being pregnant inside about 10 weeks of gestation. Anti-abortion forces have launched their very own marketing campaign to restrict the attain of the abortion capsule.

This week’s panelists are Julie Rovner of KHN, Rachel Cohrs of Stat, Joanne Kenen of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and Politico, and Rachel Roubein of The Washington Post.

Among the takeaways from this week’s episode:

Congress ended the yr by passing an almost $1.7 trillion authorities spending package deal. The laws included smaller-than-scheduled cuts to Medicare funds for physicians, prolonged telehealth flexibilities, and funding boosts for applications like the Indian Health Service and the federal 988 psychological well being hotline.

But lawmakers ignored many priorities, corresponding to extra money in response to the covid-19 emergency, and included a change to Medicaid eligibility that might lead to thousands and thousands of Americans dropping their medical insurance.

The Biden administration took maybe its greatest stand on abortion rights since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade final yr, with the FDA saying that retail pharmacies might be permitted to dispense abortion drugs for the first time, and the Justice Department confirming that it’s authorized to ship the drugs by way of the U.S. Postal Service.

A brand new congressional report on Aduhelm, the controversial Alzheimer’s drug, reveals its producer, Biogen, knew the impression its pricing may have on the Medicare program — and priced it excessive anyway. The report additionally raises large questions on the FDA’s decision-making in approving the drug and what some officers had been keen to do to make it occur.

And in worth transparency information, insurers are actually required to offer sufferers with cost-estimating instruments designed to make greater than 500 nonemergency companies “shoppable.” But it’s unclear whether or not insurance coverage firms are ready to assist customers entry and use that info.

Also this week, Rovner interviews Mark Kreidler, who wrote the newest NPR-KHN “Bill of the Month” characteristic, about two sufferers with the identical title and a mistaken invoice. If you’ve got an outrageous or exorbitant medical invoice you need to share with us, you are able to do that right here.

Plus, for additional credit score, the panelists suggest their favourite well being coverage tales of the week they assume it is best to learn, too:

Julie Rovner: The New York Times’ “The F.D.A. Now Says It Plainly: Morning-After Pills Are Not Abortion Pills,” by Pam Belluck

Joanne Kenen: Politico Magazine’s “Racist Doctors and Organ Thieves: Why So Many Black People Distrust the Health Care System,” by Joanne Kenen and Elaine Batchlor

Rachel Cohrs: The New York Times’ “‘Major Trustee, Please Prioritize’: How NYU’s E.R. Favors the Rich,” by Sarah Kliff and Jessica Silver-Greenberg

Rachel Roubien: KHN’s “Hundreds of Hospitals Sue Patients or Threaten Their Credit, a KHN Investigation Finds. Does Yours?” by Noam N. Levey

Also talked about on this week’s podcast:

Stat’s “’Rife With Irregularities’: Congressional Investigation Reveals FDA’s Approval of Aduhelm Marked by Secret Discussions, Breaches of Protocol,” by Rachel Cohrs

KHN’s “Want a Clue on Health Care Costs in Advance? New Tools Take a Crack at it,” by Julie Appleby

Stat’s “Congress Reaches Major Health Policy Deal on Medicare, Medicaid, and Pandemic Preparedness,” by Rachel Cohrs and Sarah Owermohle

USA Today’s “Half of Ambulance Rides Yield Surprise Medical Bills. What’s Being Done to Protect People?” by Ken Alltucker

To hear all our podcasts, click on right here.

And subscribe to KHN’s “What the Health?” on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Pocket Casts, or wherever you hearken to podcasts.

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