Podcast: KHN’s ‘What the Health?’ The politics of rising premiums and menu labeling

Proposed insurance premium increases unveiled in Maryland and Virginia officially marked the start of finger-pointing on Capitol Hill this week, as Democrats and Republicans blamed each other for the dysfunction of the individual insurance market under the Affordable Care Act.

Meanwhile, President Donald Trump sent to lawmakers a budget "rescission" package that would take back some $7 billion from the Children's Health Insurance Program. And, after many delays and considerable controversy, new rules requiring calorie counts on menus at chain restaurants took effect this week.

This week's panelists for KHN's "What the Health?" are Julie Rovner of Kaiser Health News, Stephanie Armour of The Wall Street Journal, Margot Sanger-Katz of The New York Times and Anna Edney of Bloomberg News.

Among the takeaways from this week's podcast:

  • Trump's recommendation that Congress rescind some federal funds that were appropriated for CHIP is providing a strong campaign club for Democrats, despite the fact that the Congressional Budget Office estimates the reductions would not actually deprive any children of coverage.
  • The rejection this week of Kansas' request to cap lifetime Medicaid benefits sends a strong signal to other states that, despite the Trump administration's invitation to states to shake up Medicaid, there are limits to what officials can approve.
  • New Hampshire, which this week received approval to set work requirements for some Medicaid enrollees, is taking a tougher line than other states, including mandating that enrollees work a greater number of hours and make up any hours missed.
  • Although research suggests that menu labeling in restaurants has minimal effect on customers, it may drive restaurants to increase the healthful food choices.

Plus, for "extra credit," the panelists recommend their favorite health stories of the week they think you should read, too.

Julie Rovner: Kaiser Health News’ "When Credit Scores Become Casualties Of Health Care," by Shefali Luthra.

Margot Sanger-Katz: The New Yorker’s "The Promise of Vaping and the Rise of Juul," by Jia Tolentino.

Stephanie Armour: Politico’s "5 Unintended Consequences of Addressing the Opioid Crisis," by Sarah Karlin-Smith and Brianna Ehley.

Anna Edney: The New York Times’ "Women With Breast Cancer Delay Care When Faced With High Deductibles," by Reed Abelson.

To hear all our podcasts, click here.

And subscribe to What the Health? on iTunes, Stitcher or Google Play.

Kaiser Health NewsThis article was reprinted from khn.org with permission from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. Kaiser Health News, an editorially independent news service, is a program of the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan health care policy research organization unaffiliated with Kaiser Permanente.

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