Julie Rovner

Julie Rovner is a health policy correspondent for NPR specializing in the politics of health care.

Reporting on all aspects of health policy and politics, Rovner covers the White House, Capitol Hill, the Department of Health and Human Services in addition to issues around the country. She served as NPR's lead correspondent covering the passage and implementation of the 2010 health overhaul bill, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

A noted expert on health policy issues, Rovner is the author of a critically-praised reference book Health Care Politics and Policy A-Z. Rovner is also co-author of the book Managed Care Strategies 1997, and has contributed to several other books, including two chapters in Intensive Care: How Congress Shapes Health Policy, edited by political scientists Norman Ornstein and Thomas Mann.

In 2005, Rovner was awarded the Everett McKinley Dirksen Award for distinguished reporting of Congress for her coverage of the passage of the Medicare prescription drug law and its aftermath.

Rovner has appeared on television on the NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, CNN, C-Span, MSNBC, and NOW with Bill Moyers. Her articles have appeared in dozens of national newspapers and magazines, including The Washington Post, USA Today, Modern Maturity, and The Saturday Evening Post.

Prior to NPR, Rovner covered health and human services for the Congressional Quarterly Weekly Report, specializing in health care financing, abortion, welfare, and disability issues. Later she covered health reform for the Medical News Network, an interactive daily television news service for physicians, and provided analysis and commentary on the health reform debates in Congress for NPR. She has been a regular contributor to the British medical journal The Lancet. Her columns on patients' rights for the magazine Business and Health won her a share of the 1999 Jesse H. Neal National Business Journalism Award.

An honors graduate, Rovner has a degree in political science from University of Michigan-Ann Arbor.

Pages

Shots - Health News
9:42 am
Thu February 14, 2013

More Women Turn To Morning-After Pill

The Plan B pill, one version of the morning-after pill, is available without a prescription, except for women 17 and younger.
Joe Raedle Getty Images

Originally published on Thu February 14, 2013 9:56 am

The number of women who have used emergency contraceptive pills has increased dramatically in the past decade, according to the latest government data.

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Shots - Health News
1:19 pm
Thu February 7, 2013

Catholic Bishops Reject Compromise On Contraceptives

Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York, president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, said the administration's attempted compromise on contraceptive coverage is unacceptable.
Patrick Semansky AP

Originally published on Thu February 7, 2013 3:28 pm

It seems the third time wasn't the charm, after all.

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has officially rejected the Obama Administration's latest attempt to ensure that women with health insurance get access to no-cost contraceptive coverage without violating the rights of religious employers.

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Shots - Health News
3:07 pm
Wed February 6, 2013

Defying Expectations, GOP Governors Embrace Medicaid Expansion

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder, a Republican, favors a federally subsidized expansion of Medicaid in his state.
Carlos Osorio AP

Top-ranked archrivals Michigan and Ohio State faced off Wednesday night on the basketball court for the second time in this season (Michigan won in overtime to split the series).

But both states' Republican governors have something more in common this week than an intense distaste for their neighboring state's athletic team.

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Shots - Health News
2:28 pm
Wed February 6, 2013

Debate Rages On Even As Research Ban On Gun Violence Ends

More than 400 guns, including these three, were turned in during a Dallas gun buyback program in January. But determining the effectiveness of such programs is difficult due to limits on gun-related research.
Tom Pennington Getty Images

Originally published on Wed February 6, 2013 4:12 pm

The characteristics of gun violence in the U.S. are largely unknown because key federal health agencies have been banned from conducting such research since the mid-1990s.

President Obama, however, wants to change that.

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Shots - Health News
5:17 pm
Fri February 1, 2013

White House Tries Again To Find Compromise On Contraception

iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Fri February 1, 2013 5:35 pm

The Obama administration on Friday issued another set of proposed rules — and asked for yet another round of public comments — in a continuing quest to find a way to ensure that women receive no-cost contraception as part of a package of preventive health services under the 2010 Affordable Care Act without requiring religious employers to violate their beliefs.

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Health Care
3:51 pm
Fri February 1, 2013

Obama Administration Wades Into Birth Control Coverage Fray

Originally published on Fri February 1, 2013 4:33 pm

The Obama administration has issued a proposal detailing how coverage for contraception will be paid for under Obamacare. The health overhaul law requires insurance plans to provide birth control coverage, but those opposed to artificial contraception argue they should not be made to use their own funds to pay for it. Audie Cornish talks to Julie Rovner.

Shots - Health News
1:37 am
Tue January 22, 2013

'Roe V. Wade' Turns 40, But Abortion Debate Is Even Older

While the U.S. Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade decision of Jan. 22, 1973, is usually considered the start of the abortion debate, the move to relax state abortion laws began with medical and law professionals in the 1960s. Here, Eunice Kennedy Shriver and doctors from Johns Hopkins University and the Harvard Divinity School announce the International Conference on Abortion on Aug. 9, 1967.
Bob Daugherty AP

Originally published on Wed January 23, 2013 1:57 pm

Jan. 22, 2013, marks the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the landmark Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion nationwide.

But the conventional wisdom that the court's 7-2 decision marked the beginning of a contentious battle that still rages today is not the case, according to those on both sides of the dispute.

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The Two-Way
9:45 am
Mon January 21, 2013

Inauguration Ceremony: Memories In The Making

A crowd walks through downtown Washington, D.C., toward the National Mall.
Chris Usher EPA/Landov

Originally published on Tue January 22, 2013 4:54 am

Update 2:30 p.m. 'Hoping For Unity':

With the ceremony at the Capitol complete, spectators looked ahead to their hopes for the next four years. Speaking to NPR's Tom Dreisbach, here's what some in the crowd had to say:

"I'm looking for Washington to start getting along. I mean nobody's working together. And both sides have got to give a little bit and they've got to come to some agreement on some things."

-- Alan Dillon, 50, elementary school principal, Western Slope, Colo.

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Shots - Health News
2:38 pm
Fri January 11, 2013

Businesses Sue Government Over Birth Control Mandate

The Hobby Lobby chain of arts and crafts stores has gone to court to block a provision of the administration's health law that requires employers' health plans to pay for contraceptives.
Tony Gutierrez AP

Originally published on Fri January 11, 2013 6:07 pm

When Congress passed the Affordable Care Act in 2010, few would have predicted that one of the most contentious provisions would have to do with contraception.

But today federal officials are grappling with more than 40 lawsuits claiming that the requirement for most health plans to provide contraceptive coverage to women violates their religious freedom.

And religious groups aren't the only ones going to court.

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Shots - Health News
4:13 pm
Mon January 7, 2013

Health Spending Increases Remain At Record Lows

Orcea David iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Mon January 7, 2013 4:57 pm

For the third straight year, spending on health care in 2011 grew at a historically slow rate, government researchers report.

According to a study published in the January issue of the policy journal Health Affairs, U.S. health spending rose 3.9 percent in 2011. That's statistically almost identical to the rate of increase in each of the two previous years.

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Shots - Health News
1:30 am
Fri January 4, 2013

Bargain Over Fiscal Cliff Brings Changes To Health Care

A compromise bill that passed the Congress at the last minute included provisions that will reverberate through the nation's health care system.
Saul Loeb AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Fri January 4, 2013 6:46 am

The bill that prevented the nation from plunging over the fiscal cliff did more than just stop income tax increases and delay across-the-board spending cuts. It also included several provisions that tweaked Medicare and brought bigger changes to other health care programs.

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Shots - Health News
1:49 am
Wed January 2, 2013

Pete Stark, Health Policy Warrior, Leaves A Long Legacy

Rep. Pete Stark, a California Democrat, was defeated in November. Stark leaves a long-lasting mark on the nation's health care system.
Jeff Chiu AP

Originally published on Wed January 2, 2013 9:25 am

The 113th Congress will be the first one in 40 years to convene without California Rep. Pete Stark as a member.

Stark was defeated in November by a fellow Democrat under new California voting rules. Stark may not be a household name, but he leaves a long-lasting mark on the nation's health care system.

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Shots - Health News
2:24 pm
Tue January 1, 2013

What The Health Law Will Bring In 2013

The majority of what happens on Jan. 1, 2013, is tax increases and cuts in tax deductions to pay for the changes coming in 2014.
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Tue January 8, 2013 12:19 pm

Most of the really big changes made by the 2010 health law don't start for another year. That includes things like a ban on restricting pre-existing conditions, and required insurance coverage for most Americans. But Jan. 1, 2013, will nevertheless mark some major changes.

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Shots - Health News
1:24 am
Fri December 14, 2012

Making The Rich Pay More For Medicare

Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., speaks Tuesday at a news conference calling for no reduction in the Medicare and Medicaid budgets, as part of the year-end budget talks on Capitol Hill in Washington. Waxman said he does not support means testing for Medicare.
Joshua Roberts Reuters /Landov

Originally published on Fri December 14, 2012 3:33 am

When it comes to reducing Medicare spending, asking wealthier seniors to pay more is one of the few areas where Democrats have shown a willingness to even consider the subject.

"I do believe there should be means testing. And those of us with higher income in retirement should pay more," said Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., on last Sunday's Meet the Press. "That could be part of the solution."

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Shots - Health News
1:31 am
Wed December 12, 2012

Democrats Draw Line On Medicaid Cuts

Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, speaks Tuesday as Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., and Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md., listen during a news conference on Capitol Hill calling for no reduction in the Medicare and Medicaid budgets as part of the year-end budget talks.
Joshua Roberts Reuters /Landov

Originally published on Wed December 12, 2012 6:15 am

At least in public, Republicans have been clear that they see the current budget negotiations as a chance to address what they see as the source of Washington's deficit problem: major entitlement programs.

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Shots - Health News
1:18 am
Tue December 11, 2012

Feds Say 'No' To Partial Medicaid Expansion

Arkansas Gov. Mike Beebe speaks about expanding Medicaid during a speech to the Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce in Little Rock, Ark., on Nov. 14. The federal government hasn't set a deadline for states to decide on their Medicaid expansion plans.
Danny Johnston AP

Originally published on Tue December 11, 2012 8:55 am

The Affordable Care Act, as passed by Congress in 2010, assumed that every low-income person would have access to health insurance starting in 2014.

That's when about 17 million Americans — mostly unmarried healthy adults with incomes up to 133 percent of poverty, or about $15,000 a year — would gain access to Medicaid.

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Shots - Health News
4:07 pm
Fri December 7, 2012

Doctors And Women's Groups Urge Feds To Relax Plan B Restrictions

With the presidential election decided, doctors and some advocates are calling for the administration to relax restrictions on the sale of Plan B to teens.
AP

Originally published on Mon December 10, 2012 1:06 pm

Dozens of medical, women's health and reproductive health groups marked the first anniversary of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius' decision to maintain age restrictions on the sale of the morning-after birth control pill without a prescription by urging her to reconsider that decision.

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Shots - Health News
12:55 am
Fri December 7, 2012

Post-Election, 'Morning After' Pill Advocates Want Age Rules Revisited

Currently, you need a doctor's prescription to obtain emergency contraception, such as Plan B, if you are younger than 17.
AP

Originally published on Fri December 7, 2012 7:20 am

Friday marks a not-so-happy anniversary for some of President Obama's biggest supporters: It's exactly one year since Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius decided not to lift the age restrictions on availability of the so-called morning-after pill, Plan B.

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Shots - Health News
3:14 pm
Tue December 4, 2012

The Perilous Politics Of The Health Insurance Tax Break

MIT health economist Jonathan Gruber, who explained the ins and outs of health overhaul in a comic book, says that excluding the value of health insurance from federal taxes is a terrible idea, at least from an economist's point of view.
Macmillan

Originally published on Tue December 4, 2012 4:50 pm

There's not much in health care that economists agree on. But one of the few things that bring them together is the idea that excluding the value of health insurance from federal taxes is nuts.

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Shots - Health News
1:50 am
Tue December 4, 2012

The (Huge And Rarely Discussed) Health Insurance Tax Break

The largest tax break in the federal code doesn't appear on the forms the average person fills out each year.
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Wed December 5, 2012 7:56 am

What's the largest tax break in the federal tax code?

If you said the mortgage interest deduction, you'd be wrong. The break for charitable giving? Nope. How about capital gains, or state and local taxes? No, and no.

Believe it or not, dollar for dollar, the most tax revenue the federal government forgoes every year is from not taxing the value of health insurance that employers provide their workers.

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Shots - Health News
3:00 am
Thu November 29, 2012

The Hidden Costs Of Raising The Medicare Age

Keith Gresham, 65, lines up four medications he takes at his home in Detroit in 2011. The self-employed painter was without health insurance for about a decade and was happy to finally turn 65 last year so he could qualify for Medicare.
Patricia Beck MCT/Landov

Originally published on Thu November 29, 2012 7:18 am

Whenever the discussion turns to saving money in Medicare, the idea of raising the eligibility age often comes up.

"I don't think you can look at entitlement reform without adjusting the age for retirement," Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said on ABC's This Week last Sunday. "Let it float up another year or so over the next 30 years, adjust Medicare from 65 to 67."

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Shots - Health News
1:13 pm
Tue November 20, 2012

Administration Lays Down Rules For Future Health Insurance

Originally published on Tue November 20, 2012 4:14 pm

You've got questions about the health law? The Obama administration has some answers. Finally.

Now that the Supreme Court has found the Affordable Care Act constitutional and the president's re-election made clear that big chunks of the law will take effect Jan. 1, 2014, the administration is finally releasing rules of the road that states and insurance companies have been clamoring for.

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Shots - Health News
3:38 pm
Thu November 15, 2012

Health Exchange Activity Heats Up As Deadline Is Extended

Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman announced Thursday that his state will choose the federal health insurance exchange program.
Nati Harnik AP

Originally published on Thu November 15, 2012 5:45 pm

There's nothing quite like a deadline to focus the mind. Even a deadline that's not quite real.

Friday was originally the day that states were supposed to not only tell the federal government whether they planned to run their own health exchanges but also how they planned to do it.

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Shots - Health News
3:55 pm
Wed November 14, 2012

Health Care Cuts Are Coming. Here's Where Liberals Say You Can Slice

Two new studies and a proposed class-action lawsuit settlement all have the potential to change dollar signs as lawmakers address the impending fiscal cliff.
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Wed November 14, 2012 7:12 pm

A liberal think-tank closely allied with the Obama administration is proposing a health care spending plan it says could save hundreds of billions of dollars in entitlement spending without hurting middle- and low-income patients.

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Health Care
3:29 pm
Wed November 14, 2012

Liberal Group Proposes Reduced Medicare Spending

Originally published on Wed November 14, 2012 4:46 pm

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Melissa Block.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

And I'm Audie Cornish.

As the White House and Congress debate taxes and entitlement reform, an influential liberal think-tank is offering what appears to be an olive branch. It comes at a time when many Democrats are trying to protect entitlements, such as Medicare. At the same time, Republicans say those entitlements are too expensive in their present form.

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Shots - Health News
1:34 am
Tue November 13, 2012

Health Insurance Exchanges Explained

Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam said last week the state could design its own health insurance exchange required under President Obama's health care law. But resistance in the Republican-controlled General Assembly may cause the state to hand that power off to the federal government.
Mark Humphrey AP

Originally published on Tue November 13, 2012 11:33 am

Last week's election may have settled the fate of the federal Affordable Care Act, but its implementation after months of uncertainty has caught many of the players unprepared.

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Shots - Health News
1:25 am
Thu November 8, 2012

Obamacare Is Here To Stay, But In What Form?

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper signs a bill in June 2011 to pave the way for a health insurance exchange in the state.
Ed Andrieski AP

Originally published on Thu November 8, 2012 8:46 am

President Obama's re-election and the retention of a Democratic majority in the Senate means the likelihood of a repeal of the Affordable Care Act has receded.

So what now?

"The law is here and we should at this point expect it to still be here Jan. 1, 2014," says Alan Weil, executive director of the nonpartisan National Academy for State Health Policy.

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Shots - Health News
1:32 am
Mon November 5, 2012

Why Abortion Has Become Such A Prominent Campaign Issue

Women use wordplay to protest Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney's position on women's health care outside the Hyatt Regency, where Romney was scheduled to attend a fundraiser, on March 22 in Washington, D.C.
Mark Wilson Getty Images

Originally published on Mon November 5, 2012 8:25 am

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Shots - Health News
3:04 am
Fri November 2, 2012

Romney's Baffling Claim About Medicare Pay Cuts For Doctors

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney makes his case about Medicare during a briefing in South Carolina in August.
Evan Vucci AP

Originally published on Fri November 2, 2012 8:19 pm

Health care in general — and Medicare, in particular — have been big parts of this year's presidential campaign.

But over the last couple of weeks, Republican Mitt Romney has been making a new claim that doesn't quite clear the accuracy bar.

It has to do with $716 billion in Medicare reductions over 10 years included in the federal health law, the Affordable Care Act. And it's become a standard part of Romney's stump speech.

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Shots - Health News
9:13 am
Tue October 30, 2012

Could Romney Repeal The Health Law? It Wouldn't Be Easy

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney speaks about the Supreme Court ruling on health care in Washington on June 28.
Charles Dharapak AP

Originally published on Tue October 30, 2012 11:41 am

You can barely listen to former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney make a speech or give an interview without hearing some variation of this vow:

"On Day 1 of my administration, I'll direct the secretary of Health and Human Services to grant a waiver from Obamacare to all 50 states. And then I'll go about getting it repealed," he told Newsmax TV in September 2011.

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