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.

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Shots - Health News
10:36 am
Wed November 26, 2014

If Supreme Court Strikes Federal Exchange Subsidies, Health Law Could Unravel

Supreme Court police stand guard during a storm in March.
Michael Reynolds EPA/Landov

Originally published on Wed November 26, 2014 12:28 pm

Exactly what would happen to the Affordable Care Act if the Supreme Court invalidates tax credits in three dozen states where the federal government runs the program?

Legal scholars say a decision like that would deal a potentially lethal blow to the law because it would undermine the government-run insurance marketplaces that are its backbone, as well as the mandate requiring most Americans to carry coverage.

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Shots - Health News
6:49 am
Thu May 22, 2014

GOP Strategy To Run Against Health Law Hits Snags

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal delivers remarks during the the 40th annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) held in March 2013.
Alex Wong Getty Images

Last year, the Republican playbook for keeping control of the House of Representatives in 2014 and winning the Senate consisted of a fairly simple strategy: Run against Obamacare.

But now that the 2014 races are starting to take shape, that strategy isn't looking quite so simple. Democrats are fighting back. They're focusing on Republican opposition to the health law's expansion of Medicaid as a part of their own campaigns.

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Shots - Health News
10:18 am
Thu May 8, 2014

HealthCare.Gov Looks Like A Bargain Compared With State Exchanges

Peter Lee (left), executive director of Covered California, greets employees at a call center in Fresno, Calif., in February.
Scott Smith AP

Sometimes there really are economies of scale. And the nation's health insurance exchanges may be a case in point.

As rocky as the rollout of HealthCare.gov was, the federal exchange was relatively efficient in signing up enrollees. Each one cost an average of $647 in federal tax dollars, an analysis finds. It cost an average of $1,503 โ€“ well over twice as much โ€“ to sign up each person in the 15 exchanges run by individual states and Washington, D.C.

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Shots - Health News
1:40 am
Wed April 16, 2014

Is Obamacare A Success? We Might Not Know For A While

Hundreds in California rushed to get health insurance just before the deadline.
Justin Sullivan Getty Images

Originally published on Wed April 16, 2014 2:33 pm

After months of focusing on how many people have or haven't signed up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act, we now have a rough total (7.5 million), and everyone's keen to get to the bigger questions: How well is the law working? How many of those who signed up have paid their premiums and are actually getting coverage? How many were uninsured before they signed up? And just how big has the drop been in the number of uninsured people?

Unfortunately, the answers to some of these questions simply aren't knowable โ€” or, at least, not knowable yet.

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Shots - Health News
1:33 am
Wed April 9, 2014

Lessons Learned For 2015 From This Year's Obamacare Sign-Ups

Maritza Martinez worked with an insurance agent at a kiosk in a Miami mall to find the right health insurance plan for 2014.
Joe Raedle Getty Images

Originally published on Wed April 9, 2014 9:32 am

President Obama was thrilled last week when he was able to announce that more than 7 million people have signed up for insurance under the Affordable Care Act.

"This law is doing what it's supposed to do," the president said in the Rose Garden. "It's working."

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Shots - Health News
12:47 pm
Mon March 31, 2014

Glitches Return To HealthCare.Gov As Enrollment Clock Expires

HealthCare.gov has more last-minute shoppers than it can handle.
HealthCare.gov

Originally published on Mon March 31, 2014 1:29 pm

The last day of sign-ups for health insurance on the HealthCare.gov website is turning out to have a lot in common with the first: lots of computer problems.

But there are some big differences, too. Back in October the not-ready-for-prime-time website was only able to enroll six people on its first day.

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Shots - Health News
1:27 am
Fri March 28, 2014

Obamacare's National Enrollment Looks OK, But States Matter More

Maygan Rollins, a field organizer with Enroll America, talked health insurance options with Jerry Correa during a recent campaign in Miami.
Lynne Sladky AP

Originally published on Mon March 31, 2014 10:23 pm

With this year's deadline to register for individual health insurance just a weekend away, much attention is being lavished on two numbers โ€” the 6 million Americans who have signed up so far, and the percentage of those folks who are (or aren't) young.

But experts say the national numbers actually don't mean very much.

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Shots - Health News
2:21 pm
Wed March 26, 2014

That Health Insurance Deadline Now Comes With Wiggle Room

Christine Moyer checks out options at a health insurance enrollment fair on March 18 in San Francisco.
Justin Sullivan Getty Images

Originally published on Wed March 26, 2014 6:24 pm

We're just five days away from the March 31 deadline to sign up for individual health insurance under the Affordable Care Act. For weeks, administration officials, including the president, have insisted that there would be no extensions to the scheduled end of the six-month open enrollment period.

But now there's some wiggle room. Let's review, shall we?

Start with the key question: Is Monday still the deadline?

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Shots - Health News
4:03 am
Wed March 26, 2014

Most People Don't Know The Health Insurance Deadline Looms

Yudelmy Cataneda, Javier Suarez and Claudia Suarez talk with insurance agent Yosmay Valdivian at a session to sign up for health insurance in a Miami mall March 20.
Joe Raedle Getty Images

Originally published on Wed March 26, 2014 11:51 am

Next week is the last chance for most people without insurance to sign up for individual health coverage for the remainder of 2014.

Yet according to the latest monthly tracking poll from the Kaiser Family Foundation, more than 60 percent of those without coverage still don't know that.

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Shots - Health News
1:24 am
Mon March 24, 2014

Final Call For Questions On Health Insurance As Deadline Looms

Katherine Streeter for NPR

Originally published on Tue March 25, 2014 12:48 pm

There's just one week left for most people to sign up for insurance under the Affordable Care Act. And as people race to meet the deadline, they still have questions about the law, and the sign-up process.

"Is there a deadline to enroll in a health plan?" asks Josephine Ilog of Manteca, Calif. "And what happens if a person misses that deadline?"

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Shots - Health News
4:27 pm
Fri March 21, 2014

Insurance Chief Suggests Adding A New, Lower Level Of Health Plan

America's Health Insurance Plans President and CEO Karen Ignagni says she would loosen regulations on which insurance plans comply with the Affordable Care Act by adding a "lower tier" option that could entice healthier people.
Manuel Balce Ceneta AP

Originally published on Fri March 21, 2014 5:26 pm

Rather than letting people keep their old health plans that don't comply with the new requirements of the Affordable Care Act, the head of the group that represents the nation's health insurance companies is floating an alternative: weakening the requirements.

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Shots - Health News
4:03 am
Sat March 15, 2014

House Passes Payment Fix For Medicare Docs, But At What Cost?

Medicare's payments to doctors will likely be slashed April 1, unless the U.S. Senate can quickly get a derailed compromise back on track.
iStockphoto

Bipartisan support dissolved this week for compromise legislation that would have fixed a longstanding problem with the way Medicare pays physicians. Though the bill passed the House of Representatives Friday, it now contains a provision almost certain to invite veto unless a Senate version can quickly nudge the ultimate bill back toward compromise.

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Shots - Health News
1:41 am
Wed March 12, 2014

You Might Pay A Lot More Than $95 For Skipping Health Insurance

The tax penalty is designed to encourage people to sign up for health insurance.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Wed March 12, 2014 2:08 pm

2014 is the first year most Americans will have to either have health insurance or face a tax penalty.

But most people who are aware of the penalty think it's pretty small, at least for this first year. And that could turn into an expensive mistake.

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Shots - Health News
3:22 pm
Tue March 11, 2014

Young People Lag Behind In Health Insurance Enrollment

The proportion of sign-ups for health insurance by age group on the federal and state exchanges.
HHS

Originally published on Tue March 11, 2014 4:58 pm

With 20 days left for people to sign up for private health coverage under the Affordable Care Act, the number of people who have completed that task rose to 4.2 million through the end of February, the Obama administration reports.

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Shots - Health News
3:21 pm
Mon March 10, 2014

As Health Law Takes Hold, Rate Of Uninsured Falls

A survey taken in early 2014 finds that the uninsured rate has declined. But differences by age remain.
Gallup

Originally published on Mon March 10, 2014 3:34 pm

Since the Affordable Care Act kicked in fully, the percentage of Americans without health coverage has fallen to its lowest point in five years.

In the last quarter of 2013, just before the federal health law took full effect, 17.1 percent of Americans reported they lacked health insurance, according to a Gallup survey.

When the survey was taken (between Jan. 2 and Feb. 28), the rate had dropped to 1.2 percentage points to 15.9 percent.

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Shots - Health News
5:33 am
Sun March 2, 2014

FDA To Increase Access To Generic Morning-After Pills

Women's health groups campaigned hard to make a generic โ€” and often cheaper โ€” emergency contraceptive pill more widely available.
Elise Amendola AP

The Food and Drug Administration has decided to allow generic versions of the most popular form of emergency contraceptive pills to be sold over the counter, without age restrictions, after all.

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Shots - Health News
1:35 am
Fri February 21, 2014

As Deadline Nears, State Insurance Exchanges Still A Mixed Bag

Oregon's road to health coverage continues to be bumpy; the website for the state's health insurance marketplace still isn't fully open to consumers.
ilbusca iStockphoto

Originally published on Fri February 21, 2014 3:53 pm

With a bit more than a month left for people to sign up for health insurance plans set up under the Affordable Care Act, the federal website known as HealthCare.gov finally seems to be working smoothly โ€” in 36 states.

But what's happening in the 14 states that are running their own exchanges?

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Shots - Health News
1:39 am
Mon February 17, 2014

Finessing Health Coverage: When To Buy Insurance For A New Baby

Daniel Horowitz for NPR

Originally published on Mon February 17, 2014 7:59 am

We're heading into the home stretch to sign up for insurance under the Affordable Care Act this year. The open enrollment period ends March 31 for most people.

But there are exceptions. And they are the subject of many of our questions this month.

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Shots - Health News
3:00 pm
Wed February 12, 2014

After January Surge, 3.3 Million Have Enrolled In Obamacare

Insurance guides work the phone bank at MnSure, Minnesota's health exchange, in St. Paul, Minn., in December.
Jim Mone AP

Originally published on Fri February 14, 2014 3:46 pm

January was a miserable month for weather, but the wintry blasts in much of the country weren't enough to stop people from shopping for health insurance.

More than 1.1 million people signed up for coverage through state and federal health exchanges in January, according to a just-released report, bringing the total to just shy of 3.3 million people.

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Health Care
2:57 am
Tue February 11, 2014

U.S. Delays Obamacare Deadline For Some Businesses

Originally published on Tue February 11, 2014 11:28 am

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

The Obama Administration is delaying the part of the Affordable Care Act that affects businesses and the insurance they offer - again. As NPR's Julie Rovner reports, this time, the administration is calling its changes to the new law a phase-in.

JULIE ROVNER, BYLINE: OK, first off, the very smallest employers, those with fewer than 50 workers? They never had to do anything, and still don't.

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Health Care
4:29 pm
Mon February 10, 2014

Health Law's Employer Mandate Hits Another Speed Bump

Still waiting for job-linked health insurance? Check the size of your company.
Vasilyev iStockphoto

Originally published on Tue February 11, 2014 1:55 pm

The Obama administration is, again, delaying implementation of a part of the Affordable Care Act that requires employers to provide health insurance to their workers (or, potentially, face penalties). But this time it's not the entire "employer mandate" that's being delayed (as it was in 2013) โ€” just part of it.

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Shots - Health News
3:45 pm
Sun February 2, 2014

Abortions Reportedly Drop To Lowest Rate Since 1970s

Originally published on Mon February 3, 2014 9:39 am

Abortions in the U.S. resumed their downward trend between 2008 and 2011, according to a new study. But its authors say the recent surge of state laws intended to restrict the procedure is likely not the reason.

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Shots - Health News
1:03 am
Fri January 31, 2014

Rep. Waxman Leaves Behind A Legacy Of Health Laws

Democratic Rep. Henry Waxman of California stands in his Capitol Hill office beside a wall displaying his legislative accomplishments. Waxman, 74, said Thursday that he would retire after 40 years in the House of Representatives.
J. Scott Applewhite AP

Originally published on Fri January 31, 2014 9:43 am

California Democratic Rep. Henry Waxman, one of the last remaining members of the huge post-Watergate class of 1974, is calling it quits at the end of this term.

Most people who live outside his Los Angeles district and off Capitol Hill have likely never heard of Waxman. He was never a fixture on the Sunday talk shows, or in Washington's social scene.

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Shots - Health News
3:24 pm
Mon January 27, 2014

Key Senate Republicans Offer Their Plan To Replace Obamacare

Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., is one of the sponsors of a Republican proposal to rewrite the Affordable Care Act.
Alex Wong Getty Images

Originally published on Tue January 28, 2014 7:41 am

Republicans have offered a wide array of proposals to "repeal and replace" the Affordable Care Act since it became law in 2010. But few have come with the pedigree of the plan just unveiled by a trio of senior Senate Republicans.

The Patient Choice, Affordability, Responsibility and Empowerment Act, or CARE for short, is a proposal being floated by Sens. Richard Burr, R-N.C., Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, and Tom Coburn, R-Okla.

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Shots - Health News
5:48 pm
Sat January 25, 2014

Cutting Spousal Benefits Might Not Save Firms Money After All

UPS has told workers that it will no longer offer health coverage for spouses who have their own job-based insurance. Above, a UPS driver makes a delivery in North Andover, Mass.
Elise Amendola AP

One of the latest trends for employers looking to save money on health care benefits is to cut back on coverage of their employees' spouses.

Some companies are simply charging more for spouses who work and are eligible for coverage at their own job. Others, like UPS, are dropping spousal coverage entirely.

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Shots - Health News
2:24 pm
Fri January 24, 2014

The Healthy, Not The Young, May Determine Health Law's Fate

Insurers get paid more for older people under the Affordable Care Act, even if they're healthy.
Tony Ding AP

Originally published on Mon January 27, 2014 10:37 am

Now that the problems with the balky HealthCare.gov website are largely fixed, the Obama administration is finally feeling comfortable enough to launch some of the outreach it planned for last fall.

Its top target: young adults, specifically those between 18 and 35.

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Shots - Health News
1:39 am
Thu January 9, 2014

Legal Loopholes Leave Some Kids Without Dental Insurance

Kamora Cyprian got her teeth cleaned at a free health care event in the Los Angeles Sports Arena in September 2012.
Kevork Djansezian Getty Images

Originally published on Fri January 10, 2014 8:21 am

If you think buying health insurance under the Affordable Care Act has been complicated, just wait. Buying dental coverage on the health exchanges, it turns out, is even more confusing.

Dental coverage for children is one of the benefits that must be offered under the law. But, it turns out, a loophole in the law means that โ€” in most states โ€” families don't actually have to buy that coverage.

These rules are so confusing that they even tripped me up.

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Shots - Health News
3:30 pm
Mon January 6, 2014

Health Care Costs Grew More Slowly Than The Economy In 2012

NPR

Originally published on Tue January 7, 2014 2:55 pm

Health care spending grew at a record slow pace for the fourth straight year in 2012, according to a new government report. But the federal officials who compiled the report disagree with their bosses in the Obama administration about why.

The annual report from the actuaries at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, published in the journal Health Affairs, found total U.S. health spending totaled $2.8 trillion in 2012, or $8,915 per person.

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Shots - Health News
1:02 am
Mon January 6, 2014

Dental Coverage Deciphered, And The Latest On Sign-Up Deadlines

Laura Breland gets her teeth cleaned by Denise Lopez-Rodriguez at a community health center in Aurora, Colo., in 2012. Dental coverage is available through the Affordable Care Act.
John Moore Getty Images

Originally published on Thu January 9, 2014 2:01 pm

New Year's Day marked the halfway point to sign up for health insurance through the Affordable Care Act for coverage this year.

And after a dismal start, things seem to be going a lot better on the HealthCare.gov website. Federal officials say more than 1 million people enrolled in coverage by the Christmas Eve deadline for coverage that began January 1.

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Shots - Health News
5:50 pm
Thu January 2, 2014

Medicaid Expansion Boosted Emergency Room Visits In Oregon

Does having health insurance make it less likely that people will come to the ER? No, says a study in Oregon.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Fri January 3, 2014 5:51 am

Giving poor people health insurance, the belief was, would decrease their dependence on hospital emergency rooms by providing them access to more appropriate, lower-cost primary care.

But a study published in the journal Science on Thursday finds that's not the case. When you give people Medicaid, it seems they use both more primary care and more emergency room services.

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