KFF Health News' 'What the Health?': 2023 is a wrap

Even without covid dominating the headlines, 2023 was a busy year for health policy. The ever-rising cost of health care remained an issue plaguing patients and policymakers alike, while millions of Americans lost insurance coverage as states redetermined eligibility for their Medicaid programs in the wake of the public health emergency.

Meanwhile, women experiencing pregnancy complications continue to get caught up in the ongoing abortion debate, with both women and their doctors potentially facing prison time in some cases.

This week's panelists are Julie Rovner of KFF Health News, Rachel Cohrs of Stat, Sandhya Raman of CQ Roll Call, and Joanne Kenen of Johns Hopkins University and Politico Magazine.

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.

Panelists

Among the takeaways from this week's episode:

  • As the next election year fast approaches, the Biden administration is touting how much it has accomplished in health care. Whether the voting public is paying attention is a different story. Affordable Care Act enrollment has reached record levels due in part to expanded financial help available to pay premiums, and the administration is also pointing to its enforcement efforts to rein in high drug prices.
  • The federal government is adding staff to go after "corporate greed" in health care, targeting in particular the fast-growing role of private equity. The complicated, opaque, and evolving nature of corporate ownership in the nation's health system makes legislation and regulation a challenge. But increased interest and oversight could lead to a better understanding of the problems of and, eventually, remedies for a profit-focused system of health care.
  • Concluding a year that saw many low-income Americans lose insurance coverage as states reviewed eligibility for everyone in the Medicaid program, there's no shortage of access issues left to tackle. The Biden administration is urging states to take action to help millions of children regain coverage that was stripped from them.
  • Also, many patients are all too familiar with the challenges of obtaining insurance approval for care. There is support in Congress to scrutinize and rein in the use of algorithms to deny care to Medicare Advantage patients based on broad comparisons rather than individual patient circumstances.
  • And in abortion news, some conservative states are trying to block efforts to put abortion on the ballot next year — a tactic some used in the past against Medicaid expansion.
  • This week in health misinformation is an ad from Florida's All Family Pharmacy touting the benefits of ivermectin for treating covid-19. (Rigorous scientific studies have found that the antibacterial drug does not work against covid and should not be used for that purpose.)

Also this week, Rovner interviews KFF Health News' Jordan Rau about his joint KFF Health News-New York Times series "Dying Broke."

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

Julie Rovner: Business Insider's "'I Feel Conned Into Keeping This Baby,'" by Bethany Dawson, Louise Ridley, and Sarah Posner.

Joanne Kenen: The Trace's "Chicago Shooting Survivors, in Their Own Words," by Justin Agrelo.

Rachel Cohrs: ProPublica's "Doctors With Histories of Big Malpractice Settlements Work for Insurers, Deciding if They'll Pay for Care," by Patrick Rucker, The Capitol Forum; and David Armstrong and Doris Burke, ProPublica.

Sandhya Raman: Roll Call's "Mississippi Community Workers Battle Maternal Mortality Crisis," by Lauren Clason.

Also mentioned in this week's episode:

Credits

  • Francis Ying Audio producer
  • Emmarie Huetteman Editor

Kaiser Health NewsThis article was reprinted from khn.org, a national newsroom that produces in-depth journalism about health issues and is one of the core operating programs at KFF - the independent source for health policy research, polling, and journalism.

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