How will the impeachment effort on Capitol Hill affect work on other legislation, particularly bills to restrain the cost of prescription drugs and surprise medical bills? And will Congress and President Donald Trump be able to agree on the spending bills needed to keep the federal government open for business?
Meanwhile, the annual survey of employer health insurance from the Kaiser Family Foundation found the cost of insurance continues to climb for both employers and workers, with the average premium for a family plan now topping $20,000. Workers are now expected to pay more than $6,000 of that amount, and average deductibles are more than $1,600. (KHN is an editorially independent program of the foundation.)
This week's panelists are Julie Rovner of Kaiser Health News, Joanne Kenen of Politico, Paige Winfield Cunningham of The Washington Post and Rebecca Adams of CQ Roll Call.
Among the takeaways from this week's podcast:
- The congressional investigation of Trump is likely to set up a major roadblock for big legislative initiatives, including efforts such as curbing drug prices or ending surprise medical bills that plague consumers. It's possible that small measures could be forthcoming at the end of the year, but much will depend on the impeachment inquiry.
- Congress is also at an impasse on a bill to fund federal agencies. The federal budget expires Monday. A continuing resolution to keep the government operating will expire in November, setting up a budget fight just before Thanksgiving.
- The White House is signaling that Trump soon may unveil his plan for revamping parts of the nation's health care. It might include efforts to bolster Medicare Advantage plans and perhaps some limited measures on the importation of prescription drugs. But it does not appear that the administration has a plan on handling health care if a federal appeals court accepts its argument to throw out the Affordable Care Act.
- The annual Kaiser Family Foundation survey of employer health insurance highlights how coverage is becoming unaffordable for many modest-income families.
- Sen. Bernie Sanders' new plan to eliminate consumers' medical debt may be more complicated to implement than the Democratic presidential candidate suggests.
- The Democratic presidential candidates have spent much time talking about their interest in getting all residents insured. But they have few proposals on how to bring down the cost of care.
Plus, for extra credit, the panelists recommend their favorite health policy stories of the week they think you should read too:
Julie Rovner: NPR's "Air Ambulances Woo Rural Consumers With Memberships That May Leave Them Hanging," by Sarah Jane Tribble
Joanne Kenen: The New Yorker's "Paging Dr. Robot," by D.T. Max
Paige Winfield Cunningham: KHN's "It's Not Just Insulin: Diabetes Patients Struggle To Get Crucial Supplies," by Bram Sable-Smith
Rebecca Adams: KHN's "Want To Reduce Suicides? Follow The Data - To Medical Offices, Motels And Even Animal Shelters," by Maureen O'Hagan
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This 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.