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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11:32am

Fri December 20, 2013
Shots - Health News

Feds Drop Mandate For People Whose Insurance Was Canceled

Only hours before the deadline to sign up for health insurance that will begin Jan. 1, the Obama administration has offered people whose plans have been canceled a new option. They can sign up for catastrophic coverage instead.

These little-noticed plans cover only three primary care visits, specified preventive services and medical costs that exceed a catastrophic amounts. In 2014, that's $6,300 for an individual.

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3:26am

Thu December 19, 2013
Shots - Health News

Congress Poised To Permanently Fix Its Medicare Payment Glitch

Originally published on Thu December 19, 2013 12:56 pm

It's health results — not the number of treatments — that should count, leaders say.
iStockphoto

The two-year budget deal approved by the Senate on Wednesday is aimed at preventing another government shutdown.

It also includes a familiar annual rider — language to avert a steep pay cut to doctors who treat Medicare patients. But this time might be different, with a fix that lasts. After more than a decade of temporary solutions, it appears Congress might be on the verge of permanently solving its persistent problem in the way it makes Medicare payments to doctors.

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4:05pm

Wed December 18, 2013
Shots - Health News

People Buying Health Insurance Get A Bit More Time To Pay

Originally published on Wed December 18, 2013 6:34 pm

Oregon is still using paper applications to enroll people through the Affordable Care Act.
iStockphoto

There are seven shopping days left until Christmas. But there are just five days until another important deadline — the last day to sign up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act if you want coverage to start January 1.

After a slow start, activity on the federal website HealthCare.gov has been heavy all month. And with the deadline approaching, some people are getting worried that they won't get signed up in time.

And this being the health care law, it's complicated. There is more than one deadline.

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3:16am

Thu December 5, 2013
Shots - Health News

HealthCare.gov Now Allows Window Shopping, And A Do-Over

Originally published on Fri December 6, 2013 6:31 am

iStockphoto

One thing that's clear about the relaunch of the troubled HealthCare.gov website is that it can accommodate more people.

Federal officials said more than 1 million users logged in on Monday, and nearly that many on Tuesday.

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1:34pm

Tue December 3, 2013
Shots - Health News

Nonprofits Challenge Missouri Licensing Law For Insurance Guides

Nonprofits that are supposed to be helping people figure out their health insurance options are challenging an allegedly restrictive state law.
iStockphoto

In the first lawsuit of its kind, several nonprofit groups that received federal grants to help people sign up for insurance under the Affordable Care Act are suing the state of Missouri.

The Missouri law requires health insurance helpers called navigators to be licensed by the state, which involves passing an exam and paying a fee.

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4:54pm

Mon December 2, 2013
NPR Story

ACLU Sues, Claiming Catholic Hospitals Put Women At Risk

Originally published on Mon December 2, 2013 7:50 pm

Archbishop Joseph William Tobin of Indianapolis prays at the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops' annual fall meeting in Baltimore on Nov. 12.
Patrick Semansky AP

The American Civil Liberties Union has decided to go directly to the source of its unhappiness with the way women are treated in Catholic hospitals. It's suing the nation's Catholic bishops.

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4:30pm

Wed November 27, 2013
Shots - Health News

Small-Business Access To Online Health Exchanges Delayed Again

Small employers can still enroll in Affordable Care Act coverage through insurers or brokers, but not through the online exchanges.
iStockphoto

The Obama administration is delaying yet again online signup for small businesses through the Affordable Care Act. The program was intended to make it easier for small employers to provide health insurance to their workers on a more equal footing with big business.

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2:52am

Tue November 26, 2013
Shots - Health News

Emergency Contraceptive Pill Might Be Ineffective For Obese

Originally published on Tue November 26, 2013 1:28 pm

Levonorgestrel, one of the main ingredients in emergency contraceptive pills, including Plan B, was found in a recent study to be less effective in overweight and obese women.
Justin Sullivan Getty Images

The Food and Drug Administration says it is reviewing whether the maker of the most widely used emergency contraceptive pill needs to change its label in light of new evidence that it doesn't work to prevent pregnancy in overweight or obese women.

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5:07am

Mon November 25, 2013
Health Care

Health Exchanges Brace For A December Deluge

Originally published on Mon November 25, 2013 1:11 pm

The race is on to get the federal insurance website HealthCare.gov working smoothly by the end of November.

And it's not just because that's what federal officials have promised. December could see a surge in demand for health insurance.

"There is an avalanche coming," says Bryce Williams, managing director for exchange solutions at the benefits consulting firm Towers Watson.

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6:57pm

Wed November 20, 2013
Shots - Health News

Medicaid Enrollment Is Brisk Despite HealthCare.gov Troubles

Originally published on Wed November 20, 2013 11:16 pm

Low-income adults formerly had few options for free health care. Leah Sessor had her blood pressure taken on April 14, 2012, during a free clinic at a racetrack in Bristol, Tenn.
Mario Tama Getty Images

Buried in the paltry enrollment numbers for the Affordable Care Act that were released last week was something that came as a surprise to many — the success states are having signing people up for the Medicaid program, which provides health care to low-income people.

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4:46pm

Fri November 15, 2013
NPR Story

Can You Keep Your Old Health Plan? It May Depend On Where You Live

Originally published on Fri November 15, 2013 8:36 pm

President Obama met at the White House with CEOs from across the health insurance industry on Friday. Insurers, he says, will be allowed to renew for one more year health policies that don't meet the new national standards set by the Affordable Care Act.
Alex Wong Getty Images

President Obama's proposal to try to let more people keep their canceled health insurance policies sounded so simple when he announced it Thursday.

"Insurers can extend current plans that would otherwise be canceled into 2014. And Americans whose plans have been canceled can choose to re-enroll in the same kind of plan," he said in unveiling the proposal at the White House.

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5:37pm

Thu November 14, 2013
Shots - Health News

Insurers Aren't Keen On Obama's Pledge To Extend Coverage

Originally published on Fri November 15, 2013 6:53 am

In a White House news conference Thursday, President Obama said he had thought that "98 percent" of policyholders would see no change in their current policies, or get a better deal.
Mandel Ngan AFP/Getty Images

Remember when President Obama said, "If you like your health plan you can keep it?" Now it's more like, "If you like your health plan you can keep it — for another year, and only if your insurance company says it's OK."

It's not clear whether the administration's proposal to let insurers extend the policies they've been canceling for the past couple of months will solve the president's political problem. But it's sure not going over very well with the insurance industry.

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5:53am

Thu November 14, 2013
Health Care

Health Care Registration Numbers Are Revealed

Originally published on Thu November 14, 2013 6:53 am

The Obama administration says just about 100,000 people managed to choose health plans through the federal and state health exchanges during their first month of the program. Critics say that shows the law is failing. But most analysts say the first month's numbers wouldn't have meant very much, even if the federal website had been working properly.

10:55am

Wed November 13, 2013
Shots - Health News

Democrats Join Calls To Rectify Canceled Health Insurance

Originally published on Thu November 14, 2013 2:57 pm

People protest President Obama's "If you like your insurance you can keep it" comment during a presidential visit to Dallas last week.
Pablo Martinez Monsivais AP

In Washington this week, calls to fix the problem of people getting insurance cancellation notices are getting louder and coming from all sides. But turning back the clock on health insurance cancellations turns out to be a lot harder than it sounds.

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6:17pm

Mon November 11, 2013
Shots - Health News

First Estimate On Insurance Sign-Ups Is Pretty Darned Small

Originally published on Tue November 12, 2013 8:53 am

Mario Ricart , an insurance agent with Sunshine Life and Health Advisors, talks with Naylie Villa about buying insurance under the Affordable Care Act on Nov. 5 in Miami.
Joe Raedle Getty Images

The Obama administration later this week will issue much anticipated enrollment numbers for the first month of the Affordable Care Act.

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3:18am

Mon November 11, 2013
Shots - Health News

Self-Employed And With Lots Of Questions About Health Care

Originally published on Mon November 11, 2013 2:36 pm

Illustration by Katherine Streeter for NPR

The health care exchanges may be open, but there's no question they're still kind of a mess.

"The rollout has been excruciatingly awful for way too many people," Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius conceded to the Senate Finance Committee last week.

But mess or not, the law is going forward, people are trying to use it, and they have questions. Here are some of yours, and our answers.

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5:30pm

Fri November 8, 2013
Shots - Health News

White House Releases Long-Awaited Rules On Mental Health

Originally published on Sat November 9, 2013 2:35 pm

The mental health parity law passed in 2008, but it didn't cover people in smaller health plans.
iStockphoto.com

The Obama administration delivered on a long-delayed health care promise when it issued rules to ensure equal health insurance treatment for people who have problems with mental health or need treatment for substance abuse.

The rules, issued Friday, require that most health insurance plans offer the same amount of coverage for mental health and substance abuse claims as they do for medical and surgical coverage.

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3:22am

Mon October 14, 2013
Shots - Health News

So What's The Real Deadline For Obamacare Sign-Up?

Originally published on Wed October 16, 2013 1:06 pm

Daniel Horowitz for NPR

The health exchanges are now open, though some have a lot of glitches. You still have lots of questions about how the Affordable Care Act affects you and your family.

And we have answers. In our ongoing series, we're addressing questions you've asked about the sign-up process.

With people having so much trouble logging onto the websites to get coverage, some are wondering how soon they have to sign up for coverage to avoid the potential penalties.

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4:37pm

Tue October 1, 2013
Shots - Health News

First Step In Health Exchange Enrollment: Train The Helpers

Originally published on Wed October 2, 2013 2:06 pm

Assisters get up to speed on how best to explain the new health coverage choices during training on Sept. 25 at the Omni Shoreham Hotel in Washington, D.C.
Morgan Walker NPR

Even as the Affordable Care Act's new health exchanges open for business, polls show the public is still pretty confused about how they're supposed to work.

The latest monthly tracking poll from the Kaiser Family Foundation, in fact, found that two-thirds of those without insurance said they don't have enough information about the law to know how it will affect them.

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3:37am

Mon September 30, 2013
Shots - Health News

Insurance Exchange 101: Here's What You Need To Know

Originally published on Mon September 30, 2013 9:36 am

The audience concentrates on a presentation by Kansas Insurance Commissioner Sandy Praeger's office about the federal health care overhaul at the University of Kansas satellite campus in Overland Park, Kan., earlier this month.
John Hanna AP

The Affordable Care Act has been through two years of legislative wrangling, a presidential election and a Supreme Court test that took it to the brink.

Now, after yet another round of debate and argument, major pieces of the federal health law are expected to kick in Tuesday.

If all goes as planned, people who don't have insurance or who buy it on their own will be able to shop online or at various locations in their communities for coverage that will take effect Jan. 1.

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12:15am

Wed September 25, 2013
Shots - Health News

Administration Touts Lower-Than-Expected Obamacare Premiums

Originally published on Wed September 25, 2013 11:42 am

Peter Lee, executive director of Covered California, the state agency running the state's new health exchange, announced the plans and prices that will be offered by private insurers on May 23.
Rich Pedroncelli AP

Premiums in the health insurance exchanges set to open next week will be lower than anticipated, the Obama administration announced Wednesday.

According to a report released by the Department of Health and Human Services, "premiums nationwide will ... be around 16 percent lower than originally expected," and 95 percent of uninsured people live in a state with average premiums that are lower than expected.

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5:17pm

Tue September 24, 2013
Shots - Health News

Would A Federal Shutdown Delay Health Care Exchanges?

Originally published on Mon September 30, 2013 8:27 am

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz leaves the weekly Senate Republican Policy Committee luncheon Tuesday, shortly before beginning a filibuster against Obamacare.
Alex Wong Getty Images

Well, it's almost Oct. 1, the day of a threatened government shutdown and the day state health insurance exchanges are scheduled to begin operations.

Those are the online marketplaces created by the Affordable Care Act where people can compare health plans and sign up for coverage.

Would closing down the government delay the opening of the health exchanges?

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3:20am

Thu September 19, 2013
Shots - Health News

Employers Trim Health Costs By Cutting Coverage For Spouses

Originally published on Thu September 19, 2013 10:05 am

Workers prepare orders to be loaded for shipment at a UPS Healthcare Supply Chain and Distribution Center in Atlanta on March 12. The company recently announced that it would no longer offer coverage for spouses who had their own job-based insurance.
Robin Nelson Bloomberg via Getty Images

When UPS told workers that it would no longer offer health coverage for spouses who had their own job-based insurance, it caused a big stir. But the shipping giant has plenty of company.

So many employers are trying to cut back on health coverage for spouses that it has become a trend. The practice began well before the Affordable Care Act passed, and the connection to the law, in some cases, isn't that direct.

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3:21am

Mon September 16, 2013
Shots - Health News

Getting Personal With Your Health Insurance Exchange Questions

Originally published on Mon September 16, 2013 11:15 am

The final countdown: It's time to figure out how insurance through the health exchanges will work for you.
Katherine Streeter for NPR

With the launch of new health insurance exchanges just about two weeks away, many of the questions in this month's mailbag focused less on the big picture and more on exactly how the law will operate for individuals.

We can't answer every question we get. But here is a sampling of questions that were really popular, or that would apply to a lot of people.

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2:54am

Fri September 6, 2013
Shots - Health News

After A Decade, Congress Moves To Fix Doctors' Medicare Pay

Originally published on Mon September 9, 2013 7:59 am

I think I see the problem.
iStockphoto.com

Hear the words health care and Congress, and you think fight, right?

And you'd be forgiven, particularly because the House has now voted some 40 times in the past two years to repeal or otherwise undo portions of the Affordable Care Act.

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5:27pm

Wed September 4, 2013
Shots - Health News

Bill Clinton Steps Up To Dispel The Confusion Over Obamacare

Originally published on Tue September 10, 2013 5:22 pm

He's back! Unabashed wonk and former president Bill Clinton detangles the health care law.
Danny Johnston Associated Press

With the launch of the major piece of the Affordable Care Act less than a month away, the Obama administration is escalating the public relations push with one of their most effective weapons – former President Bill Clinton, now known to many as explainer in chief.

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5:15pm

Thu August 29, 2013
Shots - Health News

Study: Price Shocks On Health Exchanges Appear Unlikely

Originally published on Fri August 30, 2013 3:18 pm

What's the prognosis for health insurance rates?
iStockphoto.com

With new health insurance exchanges set to launch in just over a month, there's been a lot of chatter about how shocking the rates might be.

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9:44am

Wed August 28, 2013
Shots - Health News

Despite Distaste For Health Law, Americans Oppose Defunding

Originally published on Wed August 28, 2013 4:49 pm

Defunding strikes most Americans as the wrong prescription for the Affordable Care Act.
Ricardo Reitmeyer iStockphoto.com

Opponents of the Affordable Care Act often talk about how unpopular it is.

And this month's tracking poll from the Kaiser Family Foundation bears them out. Negative views of the law (42 percent) top positive ones (37 percent).

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3:06am

Mon August 19, 2013
Shots - Health News

You Ask, We Answer: More Of Your Questions About The Affordable Care Act

Originally published on Mon August 19, 2013 11:06 am

From left, Garrett Berntsen, Jennifer Majer and William Shields compare notes at The Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies in Washington, D.C. Twenty-somethings have new choices under Obamacare.
Heather Rousseau NPR

The Oct. 1 launch of the new health insurance exchanges is now less than two months away, and people are starting to pay attention to the changes these new marketplaces may bring to the nation's health care system.

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3:20am

Thu August 8, 2013
Shots - Health News

Obamacare Foes Make Final Push To Stop Health Law's Implementation

Originally published on Thu August 8, 2013 10:47 am

A screenshot from the FreedomWorks website, which is urging citizens opposed to the Affordable Care Act to opt out of the law's requirement to have insurance. It asks Americans to symbolically "burn your Obamacare card." In reality, no such card will exist.
FreedomWorks

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