KFF Health News' 'What the Health?': The long road to reining in short-term plans

The host

Julie Rovner KFF Health News @jrovner

Julie Rovner is chief Washington correspondent and host of KFF Health News' weekly health policy news podcast, "What the Health?" A noted expert on health policy issues, Julie is the author of the critically praised reference book "Health Care Politics and Policy A to Z," now in its third edition.

It took more than two years, but the Biden administration has finally kept a promise made by then-candidate Joe Biden to roll back the Trump administration's expansion of short-term, limited-duration health plans. The plans have been controversial because, while they offer lower premiums than more comprehensive health plans, they offer far fewer benefits and are not subject to the consumer protections of the Affordable Care Act.

Also this week, the FDA for the first time approved the over-the-counter sale of a hormonal birth control pill. With more states imposing restrictions on abortion, backers of the move say making it easier to prevent pregnancy is necessary now more than ever.

This week's panelists are Julie Rovner of KFF Health News, Alice Miranda Ollstein of Politico, Amy Goldstein of The Washington Post, and Rachel Cohrs of Stat.


Among the takeaways from this week's episode:

  • The FDA's much-anticipated approval of the first over-the-counter hormonal birth control pill followed the advice of its outside advisory committee. The pill, Opill, will be available on shelves without age restrictions.
  • The Biden administration announced moves to limit so-called junk plans on insurance marketplaces. The Trump administration had dropped many restrictions on the plans, which were originally intended to be used for short-term coverage gaps.
  • As the nation continues to settle into a post-Dobbs patchwork of abortion laws, the Iowa Legislature approved a six-week ban on the procedure. And an Idaho law offers a key test of cross-border policing of abortion seekers, as other states watch how it unfolds.
  • In other news, Georgia's Medicaid work requirements took effect July 1, implementing new restrictions on who is eligible for the state-federal program for people with low incomes or disabilities. And the Supreme Court's decision on affirmative action has the potential to shape the health care workforce, which research shows could have implications for the quality of patient care and health outcomes.

Also this week, Rovner interviews KFF Health News' Bram Sable-Smith, who reported and wrote the latest KFF Health News-NPR "Bill of the Month" feature, about a patient who lacked a permanent mailing address and never got the hospital bills from an emergency surgery — but did receive a summons after she was sued for the debt. If you have an outrageous or exorbitant medical bill you want to share with us, you can do that here.

Plus, for "extra credit," the panelists suggest health policy stories they read this week that they think you should read, too:

Julie Rovner: KFF Health News' "Doctor Lands in the Doghouse After Giving Covid Vaccine Waivers Too Freely," by Brett Kelman.

Rachel Cohrs: ProPublica's "How Often Do Health Insurers Say No to Patients? No One Knows," by Robin Fields, and Stat's "How UnitedHealth's Acquisition of a Popular Medicare Advantage Algorithm Sparked Internal Dissent Over Denied Care," by Casey Ross and Bob Herman.

Amy Goldstein: The New York Times' "Medicare Advantage Plans Offer Few Psychiatrists," by Reed Abelson.

Alice Miranda Ollstein: The Wall Street Journal's "America Is Wrapped in Miles of Toxic Lead Cables," by Susan Pulliam, Shalini Ramachandran, John West, Coulter Jones, and Thomas Gryta.

Also mentioned in this week's episode:


Francis Ying Audio producer Emmarie Huetteman Editor

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.


The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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