Podcast: KHN’s ‘What the Health?’ Bye-bye, ACA, and hello ‘Medicare-for-all’?

The Department of Justice on Wednesday submitted a brief to a federal appeals court making its case as to why the entire Affordable Care Act should be struck down in the wake of the congressional repeal of the tax penalty for failing to have insurance.

Meanwhile, the House Rules Committee held a historic hearing on a "Medicare-for-all" bill, kicking off what is likely to be a lengthy debate that will span the 2020 election.

And while abortion opponents are counting on the newly configured U.S. Supreme Court to uphold legislation curtailing the procedure, the Supreme Court in Kansas found that the state constitution includes a right to abortion for women.

This week's panelists are Julie Rovner of Kaiser Health News, Margot Sanger-Katz of The New York Times, Paige Winfield Cunningham of The Washington Post and Erin Mershon of Stat News.

Also, Rovner interviews KHN's Carmen Heredia Rodriguez, who wrote the latest "Bill of the Month" feature about a pricey snakebite.

If you have an exorbitant or inexplicable medical bill you'd like to submit for our series, you can do that here.

Among the takeaways from this week's podcast:

  • Even as the Trump administration is arguing in court that the entire ACA should fall, it is relying on provisions in the law for a number of health care initiatives, including efforts to cut fraud, fight the opioid crisis and transform the Medicaid system.
  • The House Rules Committee might have been an unusual venue for a hearing on setting up a single-payer, "Medicare-for-all" health system, but the discussion this week before the panel was surprisingly thoughtful and measured.
  • The Congressional Budget Office report on a switch to a single-payer health system points out that although two bills before Congress would establish a "Medicare-for-all" plan, there are numerous ways to get universal health care and other countries have tried a variety of options that may be worth considering.
  • The House bill for health spending seeks to block the Trump administration's efforts to cut Title X reproductive health funding for Planned Parenthood.
  • Meanwhile, two separate federal courts have issued nationwide injunctions barring the family planning regulations while court proceedings continue.
  • That spending bill also would add $50 million for research on gun violence. Public health advocates hope researchers can identify factors that may lead to gun deaths. That could mimic some of the success highway experts have had in finding ways to reduce traffic deaths.

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

Julie Rovner: Vice News' "There's No Proof 'Abortion Reversals' Are Real. This Study Could End the Debate," by Carter Sherman

Paige Winfield Cunningham: The Washington Post's "Why Vermont's Single-Payer Effort Failed and What Democrats Can Learn From It," by Amy Goldstein

Margot Sanger-Katz: The New York Times' "They Want It to Be Secret: How a Common Blood Test Can Cost $11 or Almost $1,000," by Margot Sanger-Katz

Erin Mershon: The New York Times' "In Washington, Juul Vows to Curb Youth Vaping. Its Lobbying in States Runs Counter to That Pledge," by Sheila Kaplan

To hear all our podcasts, click here.

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

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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