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 Blog
2:32 am
Tue April 24, 2012

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

Originally published on Tue April 24, 2012 4:18 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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Shots - Health Blog
3:36 pm
Tue April 17, 2012

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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Shots - Health Blog
5:58 pm
Tue April 10, 2012

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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Shots - Health Blog
3:01 pm
Mon April 9, 2012

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

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

Originally published on Mon April 9, 2012 3:03 pm

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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Shots - Health Blog
2:18 pm
Thu April 5, 2012

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

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

Originally published on Thu April 5, 2012 4:04 pm

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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Shots - Health Blog
3:51 pm
Wed April 4, 2012

Drug Spending Levels Off, But Not For The Usual Reasons

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

Originally published on Wed April 4, 2012 5:10 pm

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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Shots - Health Blog
5:21 pm
Mon April 2, 2012

As Health Care Giants Merge, Pharmacies Aren't Happy

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

Originally published on Mon April 2, 2012 6:57 pm

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

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Shots - Health Blog
5:33 pm
Thu March 29, 2012

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

Originally published on Thu March 29, 2012 7:09 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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Shots - Health Blog
11:01 pm
Tue March 27, 2012

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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Shots - Health Blog
11:01 pm
Tue March 27, 2012

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

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

Originally published on Wed March 28, 2012 9:56 am

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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Shots - Health Blog
3:01 am
Fri March 23, 2012

How The Health Law Could Survive Without A Mandate

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

Originally published on Fri March 23, 2012 11:24 am

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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Shots - Health Blog
4:56 pm
Thu March 22, 2012

Answers To Your Questions About The Health Care Overhaul Law

iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Thu March 22, 2012 5:05 pm

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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Shots - Health Blog
1:54 pm
Wed March 21, 2012

How Obama Lost The Messaging War Over Health Care Law

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

Originally published on Wed March 21, 2012 7:44 pm

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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Shots - Health Blog
4:13 pm
Mon March 12, 2012

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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Shots - Health Blog
3:50 pm
Wed March 7, 2012

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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Shots - Health Blog
11:45 am
Tue March 6, 2012

How Birth Control Saves Taxpayers Money

iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Tue March 6, 2012 1:16 pm

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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Shots - Health Blog
2:44 am
Mon March 5, 2012

Pet Therapy: How Animals And Humans Heal Each Other

Ryan Shank-Rowe, 9, takes part in a therapeutic riding program at Little Full Cry Farm in Clifton, Va., last month.
Maggie Starbard NPR

Originally published on Fri March 9, 2012 9:51 am

Those of us who own pets know they make us happy. But a growing body of scientific research is showing that our pets can also make us healthy, or healthier.

That helps explain the increasing use of animals — dogs and cats mostly, but also birds, fish and even horses — in settings ranging from hospitals and nursing homes to schools, jails and mental institutions.

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Shots - Health Blog
12:04 pm
Thu March 1, 2012

Majorities In Senate And Public Support Birth Control Coverage

Suitable for health insurance coverage?
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Thu March 1, 2012 5:10 pm

The Senate has turned back an attempt to kill President Obama's new rules requiring most health insurance plans to provide contraceptives without additional cost.

The 51-48 vote against an amendment to an unrelated highway bill (Yes, that's just how the Senate works) was mostly along party lines.

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Shots - Health Blog
3:39 pm
Thu February 23, 2012

Law Student Makes Case For Contraceptive Coverage

Sandra Fluke, a third-year law student at Georgetown University, testifies Thursday about contraceptives and insurance coverage during a hearing before the House Democratic Steering and Policy Committee.
Alex Wong Getty Images

Congress is in recess this week, but that didn't stop House Democrats from holding a hearing to take testimony from a Georgetown law student who was barred from testifying in last week's hearing about President Obama's policy on contraceptives, health insurance and religiously affiliated organizations.

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Shots - Health Blog
4:59 pm
Wed February 22, 2012

High Court Punts On California Medicaid Ruling

A key legal case challenging cuts in Medicaid pay for doctors, hospitals and pharmacists is heading back to California.
Keith J. R. Binns iStockphoto.com

The Supreme Court has officially declined to decide one of its bigger cases of the term: whether or not doctors, hospitals and other health care providers can sue a state to challenge cuts in the Medicaid health program for the poor.

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Shots - Health Blog
3:20 pm
Fri February 17, 2012

Fight Over Contraceptive Coverage Heats Up In Court

iStockphoto.com

The fight over who pays for birth control isn't confined to Congress or the campaign trail. It's burning in federal court, too.

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Shots - Health Blog
3:31 pm
Thu February 16, 2012

Doctors 'Disgruntled' And Frustrated By Looming Medicare Cuts

A looming 27.4 percent cut in Medicare reimbursements likely won't happen. But next year, any cuts could be greater.
iStockphoto.com

The good news for the nation's doctors — and the millions of Medicare patients they care for — is that assuming everything goes as planned, the 27.4 percent cut in reimbursements that would have taken effect March 1 won't.

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It's All Politics
2:33 pm
Wed February 15, 2012

Why Romney's Shaggy Dog Story Won't Die

A man holds a sign during a "Dogs Against Romney" demonstration outside the 136th Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show at New York's Madison Square Garden, on Tuesday.
Shannon Stapleton Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Thu March 27, 2014 8:49 am

It's the story that continues to, well, dog Republican presidential front-runner Mitt Romney. And, according to some experts, it could jeopardize his standing with voters who care about animals. And yes, it turns out, that is not an insignificant voting bloc.

The incident happened back in 1983, and it's been public since 2007. But it seems that only now a critical mass of voters is hearing it for the first time.

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Shots - Health Blog
4:41 pm
Mon February 13, 2012

Why Catholic Groups' Health Plans Say No To Contraceptives, Yes To Viagra

Covered? Usually.
Joe Raedle Getty Images

If health insurance plans offered by Catholic-sponsored entities refuse to cover contraceptives for women because of the religion's moral teachings banning artificial birth control, do they cover Viagra for men?

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Shots - Health Blog
6:57 pm
Fri February 10, 2012

With Contraceptive Coverage Plan 2.0, Obama Pleases Allies, But Not Everyone

President Obama, flanked by Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, announces the revamp of the contraception-care policy on Friday.
Pablo Martinez Monsivais AP

Originally published on Fri February 10, 2012 7:44 pm

President Obama's latest proposed change in how contraceptives are covered by employer health insurance may not have ended the controversy that has raged for the past three weeks. But what the administration is calling an "accommodation" for religious employers has apparently mollified key allies who had opposed his original plan.

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