KHN’s ‘What the Health?’: Staffing Up at HHS

More than a month into the Biden administration, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, the nominee to run the Department of Health and Human Services, finally got his confirmation hearings in the Senate, along with nominees for surgeon general and assistant secretary for health. Meanwhile, the Supreme Court announced it would hear a case challenging the Trump administration’s regulation that effectively evicted Planned Parenthood from the federal family planning program. Margot Sanger-Katz of The New York Times, Tami Luhby of CNN and Alice Miranda Ollstein of Politico join KHN’s Julie Rovner to discuss these issues and more. Also this week, Rovner interviews HuffPost’s Jonathan Cohn, whose new book, “The Ten Year War: Obamacare and the Unfinished Crusade for Universal Coverage,” is out this week.

‘It’s a Minefield’: Biden Health Pick Must Tread Carefully on Abortion and Family Planning

President Biden vowed to reverse reproductive health restrictions enacted by President Trump. His pick to run HHS, Xavier Becerra, fought the Trump efforts but must now navigate a difficult legal and political landscape.

New Covid Cases Plunge 25% or More As Behavior Changes

End of holiday gatherings or fear of the virus may be at play – or hope for the vaccine

California Counties ‘Flying the Plane as We Build It’ in a Plodding Vaccine Rollout

In California, the largest vaccination campaign in U.S. history is run largely by the same overworked and underfunded local health departments tasked with covid-19 testing and contact tracing. It’s a daunting undertaking as the pandemic continues to surge.

Even With Senate Control, Democrats Will Need Buy-In From GOP on Key Health Priorities

With a majority too small to eliminate the filibuster, Democrats will not have enough votes in the Senate to pass many of their plans without Republicans and will also have only a razor-thin majority in the House. This combination could doom many Democratic health care proposals, like offering Americans a government-sponsored public insurance option, and complicate efforts to pass further pandemic relief.

Health Insurer Financial Performance Through September 2020

In this brief, we analyze third quarter data from 2018 to 2020 to examine how insurance markets performed financially through the end of September. Average margins remained relatively high compared to the same point in recent years, suggesting many ins…

KHN’s ‘What the Health?’: Vaccines Coming Soon but COVID Relief Bill Still Stalled

Even as the Food and Drug Administration nears emergency authorization for the first vaccine to protect against COVID-19, Congress remains at loggerheads over a COVID relief bill that could also provide the funding to fully distribute the vaccines. Meanwhile, President-elect Joe Biden announced the first members of his health team. Joanne Kenen of Politico, Kimberly Leonard of Business Insider and Mary Ellen McIntire of CQ Roll Call join KHN’s Julie Rovner to discuss these issues and more. Also this week, Rovner interviews Michael Mackert of the University of Texas-Austin, an expert on communicating public health information.

Trump Plan May Set Clock Ticking on Many Health Rules — Setting Off Alarms

The Department of Health and Human Services has proposed that the new administration review about 2,400 regulations that affect tens of millions of Americans, on everything from Medicare benefits to prescription drug approvals. Those not analyzed within two years would become void.

With Becerra as HHS Pick, California Plots More Progressive Health Care Agenda

Gov. Gavin Newsom said he has already begun discussing California health care priorities with Xavier Becerra, tapped this week by President-elect Joe Biden to serve as his Health and Human Services secretary.

Senate Republicans Throw the Brakes on Timing for Becerra Hearings

Republican spokespeople for the committees responsible for vetting Health and Human Services nominations said the Senate may not hold hearings on California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, President-elect Joe Biden’s pick to lead the department, until the Senate approves committee assignments for the new Congress. That could delay the start of the process.

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