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.

Additionally, Rovner is a contributing editor for National Journal Daily, a publication covering Capitol Hill.

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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10:00am

Fri June 12, 2015
Shots - Health News

The Uninsured Rate Is Low, But Proving It's The Lowest Ever Is Tricky

"Nearly 1 in 3 uninsured Americans have already been covered — more than 16 million people -– driving our uninsured rate to its lowest level ever," President Obama told a cheering crowd at the Catholic Health Association's annual conference Tuesday.
Jonathan Ernst Reuters/Landov

Almost no one disputes that the implementation of the federal health law has helped Americans who were previously uninsured gain coverage. But exactly how much has the uninsured rate dropped?

A whole lot, says President Obama.

"Nearly 1 in 3 uninsured Americans have already been covered — more than 16 million people -– driving our uninsured rate to its lowest level ever," he told a cheering crowd at the Catholic Health Association's annual conference Tuesday. "Ever," he added for emphasis.

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10:55am

Mon June 8, 2015
Shots - Health News

5 Questions Answered On The Legal Challenge To Obamacare Subsidies

Originally published on Mon June 8, 2015 3:09 pm

People protesting against the Affordable Care Act rallied outside the Supreme Court in March, before arguments in the second major challenge to the law.
Jim Lo Scalzo EPA/Landov

By the end of June, the Supreme Court is expected to rule on King v. Burwell, a case challenging the validity of the federal tax subsidies that help millions of Americans buy health insurance if they don't get coverage through an employer. If the court rules against the Obama administration, those subsidies could be cut off for people in about three dozen states using HealthCare.gov, the federal exchange website.

Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about the case.

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4:45pm

Wed May 27, 2015
Shots - Health News

A Top Medical School Revamps Requirements To Lure English Majors

Originally published on Thu May 28, 2015 12:04 pm

Dr. David Muller, dean of medical education at Mount Sinai, believes that including in each medical school class some students who have a strong background in the humanities makes traditional science students better doctors, too.
Cindy Carpien for NPR

You can't tell by looking which students at Mount Sinai's school of medicine in New York City were traditional pre-meds as undergraduates and which weren't. And that's exactly the point.

Most of the class majored in biology or chemistry, crammed for the medical college admission test and got flawless grades and scores.

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11:08am

Thu April 30, 2015
Shots - Health News

Health Plans Often Fail To Provide Free Coverage For Women's Health

Originally published on Thu April 30, 2015 8:31 pm

After the conversation about contraception, will there be a copay?
Garo/Phanie Science Source

Many women were thrilled when the Affordable Care Act became law in 2010, because it required insurance companies to cover a broad array of women's health services without any out-of-pocket costs.

Five years later, however, the requirement isn't being enforced, according to two new studies. Health insurance plans around the country are failing to provide many of those legally mandated services including birth control and cancer screenings.

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3:39pm

Thu April 9, 2015
Shots - Health News

Medical Schools Reboot For 21st Century

Originally published on Fri April 17, 2015 8:27 pm

Dr. Raj Mangrulkar and medical student Jesse Burk-Rafel at the University of Michigan Medical School. Good communication skills, teamwork and adaptability will help doctors thrive through swift changes in medical science, Mangrulkar says.
Leisa Thompson Courtesy of University of Michigan Medical School

Medicine has changed a lot in the past 100 years. But medical training hasn't — until now. Spurred by the need to train a different type of doctor, some top medical schools around the U.S. are tearing up the textbooks and starting from scratch.

Most medical schools still operate under a model pioneered in the early 1900s by an educator named Abraham Flexner.

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11:01am

Tue March 24, 2015
Shots - Health News

Even In Nursing, Men Earn More Than Women

Originally published on Wed March 25, 2015 4:52 pm

If he's a nurse anesthetist, he could be making $17,290 a year more than his female counterparts.
iStockphoto

Women outnumber men in the nursing profession by more than 10 to 1. But men still earn more, a new study finds.

Even after controlling for age, race, marital status and children in the home, males in nursing outearned females by nearly $7,700 per year in outpatient settings and nearly $3,900 in hospitals.

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2:33pm

Mon March 16, 2015
Shots - Health News

Obamacare Cut The Ranks Of The Uninsured By A Third

Originally published on Mon April 13, 2015 9:20 am

A total of 16.4 million non-elderly adults have gained health insurance coverage since the Affordable Care Act became law five years ago this month. It's a reduction in the ranks of the uninsured the the Department of Health and Human Services called historic.

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3:06pm

Wed March 4, 2015
Shots - Health News

Few Clues On Health Law's Future Emerge In Supreme Court Arguments

Originally published on Wed March 4, 2015 3:30 pm

Opponents of the Affordable Care Act protest outside the Supreme Court Wednesday before oral arguments in the second major challenge to be heard by the justices.
Jim Lo Scalzo EPA/Landov

For the second time in three years, the Affordable Care Act went before the Supreme Court Wednesday. And before a packed courtroom, a divided group of justices mostly picked up right where they left off the last time.

Once again, people inside the courtroom and out were left to wonder where Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Anthony Kennedy, considered swing votes in the case, stand. A decision is expected by the end of June.

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9:09am

Fri February 27, 2015
Shots - Health News

5 Things To Know About The Latest Supreme Court Challenge To Health Law

The Affordable Care Act will take center stage at the Supreme Court on March 4.
Drew Angerer Getty Images

The Affordable Care Act is once again before the Supreme Court.

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8:22am

Tue February 10, 2015
Shots - Health News

Is Now The Time To Fix Rather Than Scrap Obamacare?

Originally published on Tue February 10, 2015 10:32 am

Speaker of the House John Boehner, R-Ohio, leaves the chamber Feb. 3 after another House vote to repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
J. Scott Applewhite AP

Since the Affordable Care Act was signed into law in 2010, "repeal and replace" has been the rallying cry for Republicans who opposed it. But now that most of the law's provisions have taken effect, some health experts are pitching ways to tweak it, rather than eliminate it.

An ideologically diverse panel at the National Health Policy Conference on Monday presented different ideas to make the law work better. But the panelists agreed on one thing: The Affordable Care Act is too complicated.

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3:25am

Wed December 24, 2014
Shots - Health News

Obama Administration Downplays Court Challenge To Health Law

Originally published on Wed December 24, 2014 10:24 am

Elisa Carrero assists Julian Gauiria, of Paterson, N.J., with enrollment in the health insurance exchange in November. Signups continue to be brisk, health officials say.
Tyson Trish North Jersey/Landov

This time last year, federal officials were scrambling to get as many people enrolled in health insurance through HealthCare.gov as they could before the start of the program on Jan. 1.

Now, with the technical problems mostly fixed, they're facing a different problem: the possibility that the Supreme Court might rule that the subsidies that help people afford coverage are illegal in the 37 states where the federal government is running the program.

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1:43pm

Tue December 9, 2014
Shots - Health News

Wellness At Work Often Comes With Strings Attached

Originally published on Sun December 14, 2014 10:05 pm

If you get health insurance at work, chances are you have some sort of wellness plan, too. But so far there's no real evidence as to whether these plans actually improve the health of employees.

One thing we do know is that wellness is particularly popular with employers right now, as they seek ways to slow the rise of health spending. These initiatives can range from urging workers to use the stairs to requiring comprehensive health screenings.

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3:29am

Thu December 4, 2014
Shots - Health News

Health Law's Big Tent Still Leaves Some People Out

Originally published on Thu December 4, 2014 7:57 am

Andres Cuartas got help from an agent last March when he signed up for health insurance at a Miami mall. In the last year, the percentage of women who are uninsured has dropped more than the percentage of uninsured men.
Joe Raedle Getty Images

A Shots post earlier this week by NPR's John Ydstie detailed the "family glitch" in the Affordable Care Act. That's where people who can't afford their insurance at work aren't eligible for help in the new insurance exchanges. Many of these Americans, most of whom make middling incomes, will remain uninsured.

That story got us wondering: Who else is getting left out by health law? And who is getting coverage?

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12:36pm

Wed November 26, 2014
Shots - Health News

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

Originally published on Wed November 26, 2014 2:28 pm

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

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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8:49am

Thu May 22, 2014
Shots - Health News

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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3:40am

Wed April 16, 2014
Shots - Health News

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

Originally published on Wed April 16, 2014 4:33 pm

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

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 — or, at least, not knowable yet.

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3:33am

Wed April 9, 2014
Shots - Health News

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

Originally published on Wed April 9, 2014 11:32 am

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

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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2:47pm

Mon March 31, 2014
Shots - Health News

Glitches Return To HealthCare.Gov As Enrollment Clock Expires

Originally published on Mon March 31, 2014 3:29 pm

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

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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3:27am

Fri March 28, 2014
Shots - Health News

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

Originally published on Tue April 1, 2014 12:23 am

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

With this year's deadline to register for individual health insurance just a weekend away, much attention is being lavished on two numbers — 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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4:25pm

Wed March 26, 2014
Shots - Health News

That Health Insurance Deadline Now Comes With Wiggle Room

Originally published on Wed March 26, 2014 8:24 pm

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

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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6:03am

Wed March 26, 2014
Shots - Health News

Most People Don't Know The Health Insurance Deadline Looms

Originally published on Wed March 26, 2014 1:51 pm

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

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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3:24am

Mon March 24, 2014
Shots - Health News

Final Call For Questions On Health Insurance As Deadline Looms

Originally published on Tue March 25, 2014 2:48 pm

Katherine Streeter for NPR

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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6:27pm

Fri March 21, 2014
Shots - Health News

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

Originally published on Fri March 21, 2014 7:26 pm

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

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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6:03am

Sat March 15, 2014
Shots - Health News

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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3:41am

Wed March 12, 2014
Shots - Health News

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

Originally published on Wed March 12, 2014 4:08 pm

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

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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4:46pm

Tue March 11, 2014
Shots - Health News

Young People Lag Behind In Health Insurance Enrollment

Originally published on Tue March 11, 2014 6:58 pm

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

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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5:34pm

Mon March 10, 2014
Shots - Health News

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

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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7:33am

Sun March 2, 2014
Shots - Health News

FDA To Increase Access To Generic Morning-After Pills

Women's health groups campaigned hard to make a generic — and often cheaper — 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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3:35am

Fri February 21, 2014
Shots - Health News

As Deadline Nears, State Insurance Exchanges Still A Mixed Bag

Originally published on Fri February 21, 2014 5:53 pm

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

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 — in 36 states.

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

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3:39am

Mon February 17, 2014
Shots - Health News

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

Originally published on Mon February 17, 2014 9:59 am

Daniel Horowitz for NPR

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.

Read more

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