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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12:09pm

Fri June 15, 2012
Shots - Health Blog

Insurers Wait For Verdict On Health Care Law And Their Bottom Line

Originally published on Fri June 15, 2012 6:25 pm

Demonstrators both for and against the health care law turned out on the steps of the Supreme Court on March 27, the second day of oral arguments before the court.
John Rose NPR

All eyes these days are trained on the U.S. Supreme Court, which is expected to rule sometime this month on the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act.

But some people are waiting more anxiously for the court to rule than others. Among them are those with a major financial stake in whether the law goes forward or not and if so, in what form.

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5:00pm

Thu June 7, 2012
Shots - Health Blog

Abortion-Rights Advocates Pin Hopes On Defense Bill

U.S. Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), center, speaks as Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), right, and Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) at a April news conference on Capitol Hill.
Alex Wong Getty Images

Since Republicans took back the U.S. House in the 2010 elections, abortion has been a fairly constant theme. The House took eight separate abortion-related votes in 2011 — the most in a decade, according to NARAL Pro-Choice America.

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7:08pm

Tue June 5, 2012
Shots - Health Blog

Romney's Health Care Prescription Gives Some Conservatives Heartburn

Originally published on Wed June 6, 2012 8:33 am

Mitt Romney (right), at the time the governor of Massachusetts, greets then-Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt during a National Governors Association forum in February 2006. Romney reportedly has tapped Leavitt to head his presidential transition team.
Charles Dharapak AP

GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney insists that when it comes to health care, his first priority is the full repeal of the 2010 Affordable Care Act.

But some of his actions of the past few days have conservatives scratching their heads.

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3:27pm

Fri May 25, 2012
Shots - Health Blog

Backers Of Cost-Free Coverage For Birth Control Fault Legal Challenges

Andrew Shaw iStockphoto.com

You know all those lawsuits now pending around the country charging that the Obama administration's rule requiring most health insurance plans to offer no-cost contraception is a violation of religious freedom?

Well, a whole bunch of supporters of the rule are chiming in now to say that argument has no legal merit.

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5:27pm

Wed May 23, 2012
Shots - Health Blog

By Putting Patients First, Hospital Tries To Make Care More Personal

Originally published on Wed May 23, 2012 7:22 pm

Patient Bob Berquist with Gregory Wagner, a doctor in the emergency department. Berquist, who volunteers at Fauquier Hospital, was admitted for low blood sugar when another nurse noticed he seemed dizzy.
John Rose NPR

No one likes to go to the hospital.

But some hospitals around the nation are trying to make their patients' stays a little less unpleasant.

They're members of an organization called Planetree, which was founded by a patient named Angelica Thieriot, who had a not-so-good hospital experience back in the 1970s.

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5:19pm

Tue May 22, 2012
Shots - Health Blog

Woman Charged In Death Of Fetus Is Out Of Jail

Bei Bei Shuai, seen in a file photo, was charged with murder in the Jan. 2, 2011, death of her 3-day-old daughter Angel Shuai, after eating rat poison.
Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Dept. AP

Bei Bei Shuai is out of jail for the first time since March 2011.

Shuai, a Chinese immigrant who lives in Indiana, is still facing charges of murder and feticide following a failed suicide attempt in December 2010, when she was 33 weeks pregnant.

She was released today after posting a $5,000 bond.

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4:21pm

Mon May 21, 2012
Shots - Health Blog

Catholic Groups Sue Obama Administration Over Birth Control Rule

In a compromise, President Obama proposed to allow religious universities and charities offer birth control coverage through their own health insurers.
iStockphoto.com

So much for compromise.

A total of 43 Catholic educational, charitable and other entities filed a dozen lawsuits in federal court around the nation Monday, charging that the Obama Administration's rule requiring coverage of birth control in most health insurance plans violates their religious freedom.

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1:20pm

Mon May 21, 2012
Shots - Health Blog

Health Think Tank Crunches Health Prices For The Masses

Originally published on Tue May 22, 2012 9:06 am

Ricardo Reitmeyer iStockphoto.com

It turns out we may not know nearly as much about all the money spent on health care in the U.S. as we thought we did.

But there's a new group that wants to, well, remedy that.

The problem, Martin Gaynor, chairman of the Health Care Cost Institute, told Shots, is that "two-thirds of the population has private [health] insurance, but most of the information comes from Medicare."

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4:16pm

Fri May 18, 2012
Shots - Health Blog

Bail Granted For Indiana Woman Charged In Attempted Feticide

Originally published on Mon May 21, 2012 1:21 pm

Bei Bei Shuai, seen in a file photo, was charged with murder in the Jan. 2, 2011, death of her 3-day-old daughter Angel Shuai, after eating rat poison.
Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Dept. AP

Bei Bei Shuai is a step closer to leaving jail for the first time since March 2011, when she was arrested for the murder of her 3-day-old daughter Angel.

The girl, who was delivered by cesarean section, died after Shuai's unsuccessful suicide attempt in December 2010, while she was pregnant.

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10:47am

Thu May 17, 2012
Shots - Health Blog

Embattled Hospital Debt Collector Taps Politicians For Defense

Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson announces a lawsuit against Accretive Health in Jan., saying the company failed to protect the confidentiality of health care records for thousands of Minnesota residents. The charges have widened to include the company's tactics in collecting debts.
Jim Mone AP

So what do you do when you're accused of hitting up sick patients in the hospital to pay their bills — sometimes even before they get treatment?

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4:24pm

Wed May 9, 2012
The Salt

Hospital Food So Fresh, Even The Healthy Come To Dine

Originally published on Wed May 23, 2012 10:48 am

Executive chef Tony DeWalt picks some lettuce from the Fauquier Hospital's culinary healing garden.
John Rose

Twice a week, local seniors in Warrenton, Virginia, flock to a hip new dinner spot called the Bistro on the Hill for good food, a great view, and musical accompaniment by a retired piano player from a nearby Nordstrom's.

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1:40pm

Tue May 8, 2012
Shots - Health Blog

When Religious Rules And Women's Health Collide

Originally published on Tue May 8, 2012 4:18 pm

Hospital rules can affect a woman's options for care.
iStockphoto.com

When you go to the hospital these days, chances are good that it will be affiliated with a religious organization. And while that may might just mean the chaplain will be of a specific denomination or some foods will be off limits, there may also be rules about the kind of care allowed.

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3:56pm

Tue May 1, 2012
Shots - Health Blog

Are Democrats Reaching On Latest 'War On Women' Claim?

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi speaks at a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington last week.
Jacquelyn Martin AP

The latest skirmish in the so-called war on women has to do with, of all things, interest rates on student loans. More specifically, the effort by House Republicans to offset the cost of a federal student loan bill by cutting funding from a $15 billion preventive health fund included in the 2010 Affordable Care Act.

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3:34pm

Thu April 26, 2012
Shots - Health Blog

Health Insurers Set To Pay $1.3 Billion In Rebates

Originally published on Thu April 26, 2012 3:51 pm

Come summer, mailboxes of 1 in 3 buyers of individual health insurance buyers could get rebate checks.
JS Callahan/tropicalpix iStockphoto.com

If you buy your own health insurance, there's nearly a 1 in 3 chance that come this summer you'll get a nice little surprise in the mail: money back from your health insurance company.

At least that's the prediction from an analysis by the Kaiser Family Foundation.

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3:32am

Tue April 24, 2012
Shots - Health Blog

If The Health Care Overhaul Goes Down, Could Medicare Follow?

Originally published on Tue April 24, 2012 5:18 am

A growing number of health experts are warning of potential collateral damage if the Supreme Court strikes down the entire 2010 Affordable Care Act: potential chaos in the Medicare program.

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4:36pm

Tue April 17, 2012
Shots - Health Blog

Seniors In Medicare 'Doughnut Hole' More Likely To Stop Heart Drugs

Falling into the "doughnut hole" of Medicare drug coverage led people to stop taking medicines more often than to search for cheaper alternatives.
iStockphoto.com

Medicare patients who reach the annual gap in coverage for prescription drugs known as the "doughnut hole" are 57 percent more likely than those with continuous insurance coverage to stop taking drugs for heart-related conditions such as high blood pressure or heart disease.

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6:58pm

Tue April 10, 2012
Shots - Health Blog

Panel Proposes A New Tax To Pay For Public Health

It may sound counterintuitive, but a panel of experts from the Institute of Medicine has concluded that the best way to slow the nation's breakneck spending on medical care is to impose a tax on every health care transaction.

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4:01pm

Mon April 9, 2012
Shots - Health Blog

With Cancer Care, The U.S. Spends More, But Gets More

Originally published on Mon April 9, 2012 4:03 pm

Newer cancer treatment drugs have raised the cost of treatment even more.
iStockphoto.com

By now it's hardly news that the U.S. spends more than every other industrialized country on health care. But a new study suggests that at least when it comes to cancer care, Americans may actually be getting decent value.

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3:18pm

Thu April 5, 2012
Shots - Health Blog

Fox In Socks! Dartmouth Names Its Medical School After Dr. Seuss

Originally published on Thu April 5, 2012 5:04 pm

An imagined new facade for Dartmouth's school of medicine (with apologies to Dr. Seuss).
Adam Cole NPR

At the college of Dartmouth, in the year '24
There lived a young humorist named Theodor.
Though boozing was banned as a crime and a sin,
Theo hosted a party with plenty of gin.
But then in through the door without even a knock
Burst the grinch who stole gin-mas: Dean Craven Laycock.

The dean started shouting. His face turned bright red.
"Put down your tumbler and listen up, Ted!
I'm kicking you out of those clubs that you're in.
Your work won't be published at Dartmouth again!"

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4:51pm

Wed April 4, 2012
Shots - Health Blog

Drug Spending Levels Off, But Not For The Usual Reasons

Originally published on Wed April 4, 2012 6:10 pm

The one group for whom prescription drug spending rose last year was young adults ages 19 to 25.
Roel Smart iStockphoto.com

U.S. spending on prescription drugs grew just barely in 2011, according to the annual report from IMS Health, which keeps track of these things.

But the reason for the barely discernible increase of 0.5 percent, to $320 billion, was not the expected one.

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6:21pm

Mon April 2, 2012
Shots - Health Blog

As Health Care Giants Merge, Pharmacies Aren't Happy

Originally published on Mon April 2, 2012 7:57 pm

It remains to be seen whether bigger will actually be better.
GMVozd iStockphoto.com

Two of the biggest behind-the-scenes players in the health care industry have become one.

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6:33pm

Thu March 29, 2012
Shots - Health Blog

Thinking The Unthinkable: What If The Whole Affordable Care Act Goes Down?

Originally published on Thu March 29, 2012 8:09 pm

After this week's oral arguments at the Supreme Court, lawmakers and health policy experts are starting to ponder what had — until recently — been unthinkable to many: What if the court strikes down the entire Affordable Care Act?

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12:01am

Wed March 28, 2012
Shots - Health Blog

Supreme Court's Medicaid Decision Could Reach Far Beyond Health Care

Originally published on Wed March 28, 2012 10:56 am

The final argument the Supreme Court will hear about the new health care law is whether its Medicaid expansion unfairly forces states to participate.
Adam Cole NPR

After Tuesday's judicial fireworks, the Supreme Court wraps up arguments on the new health care law Wednesday by focusing on two questions. The first involves what would happen if the "individual mandate" — the core of the law that requires most people to have health insurance — is struck down. Would the rest of the law fall, too, or could some provisions stay?

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12:01am

Wed March 28, 2012
Shots - Health Blog

Court Looks At Whether Mandate Can Separate From Rest Of Health Law

If the Supreme Court rules that the health insurance mandate is unconstitutional, does that invalidate the rest of the law?
Adam Cole NPR

In its second-to-last argument over the Affordable Care Act, the Supreme Court on Wednesday ponders a what-if.

Specifically, if the justices decide that Congress exceeded its constitutional authority in enacting the part of the law that requires most Americans to either have health insurance starting in 2014 or pay a penalty, does that invalidate the rest of the law? And if not, how much, if any, of the rest of the law should it strike down?

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4:01am

Fri March 23, 2012
Shots - Health Blog

How The Health Law Could Survive Without A Mandate

Originally published on Fri March 23, 2012 12:24 pm

Sally Baptiste from Orlando, Fla., waits outside the U.S. Capitol for the vote on the health care bill on March 21, 2010.
Astrid Riecken Getty Images

The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments next week on, among other things, whether the 2010 health law can require most Americans to have health insurance starting in 2014.

The so-called individual mandate is the centerpiece of the law, and the conventional wisdom says the rest of the law will crumble if it is found to be unconstitutional.

But many policy wonks say that's not necessarily the case.

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5:56pm

Thu March 22, 2012
Shots - Health Blog

Answers To Your Questions About The Health Care Overhaul Law

Originally published on Thu March 22, 2012 6:05 pm

iStockphoto.com

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act — the health care overhaul law that President Obama championed and Republicans rejected — turns two on Friday.

The law is headed to the Supreme Court on Monday, where the Justices begin hearing three days of arguments about the constitutionality of the law. Ahead of the big day, we asked for questions from our audiences online and on air. Here's a sampling of questions, edited for clarity and length, and the answers.

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2:54pm

Wed March 21, 2012
Shots - Health Blog

How Obama Lost The Messaging War Over Health Care Law

Originally published on Wed March 21, 2012 8:44 pm

Protesters show their opposition to President Obama's health care overhaul on March 16, 2010, days before it became law.
Jewel Samad AFP/Getty Images

The sweeping health overhaul law turns 2 years old this Friday. And as it heads toward a constitutional showdown at the Supreme Court next week, the debate over the measure remains almost as heated as the day President Obama signed it into law.

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5:13pm

Mon March 12, 2012
Shots - Health Blog

Romney Says No Thanks To Medicare

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney greets supporters at the Whistle Stop cafe in Mobile, Ala., on Monday, his birthday.
Win McNamee Getty Images

So Mitt Romney is turning 65. And on his landmark birthday, he's doing the exact opposite of what roughly 99 percent of Americans do at that age: He's not signing up for Medicare.

The news was broken by the blog Buzzfeed, and quickly confirmed by the Romney campaign.

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4:50pm

Wed March 7, 2012
Shots - Health Blog

1 In 3 Americans Is Having A Hard Time Paying Medical Bills

iStockphoto.com

While politicians and soon, the Supreme Court, are fighting about the fate of the Affordable Care Act, a new government study finds that a growing number of Americans are having difficulty coping with the high cost of health care.

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12:45pm

Tue March 6, 2012
Shots - Health Blog

How Birth Control Saves Taxpayers Money

Originally published on Tue March 6, 2012 2:16 pm

iStockphoto.com

While the controversy continues to swirl around radio talkmeister Rush Limbaugh and his admittedly inappropriate comments about Georgetown Law Student Sandra Fluke, an analysis from the left-leaning Brookings Institution adds an economic twist to the debate over coverage of contraception.

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