KHN’s ‘What the Health?’: Who Will Run the Biden Health Effort?

The official transition to a Joe Biden administration has finally begun, and he is expected to announce his health care team soon, including a new secretary of Health and Human Services. Meanwhile, as the COVID-19 pandemic worsens in the U.S., officials are preparing for the effort to get Americans vaccinated as soon as vaccines are approved by the FDA. Alice Miranda Ollstein of Politico, Margot Sanger-Katz of The New York Times and Paige Winfield Cunningham of The Washington Post join KHN’s Julie Rovner to discuss these issues and more. Also this week, Rovner interviews KHN’s Julie Appleby, who wrote the latest KHN-NPR “Bill of the Month” installment.

Florida Fails to Attract Bidders for Canada Drug Importation Program

No private firms bid on the $30 million contract to set up and operate the state’s plan to bring in cheaper drugs. The setback is likely to delay by at least several months Florida’s effort to become the first state to import drugs under new federal regulations.

KHN’s ‘What the Health?’: ACA in Peril With Ginsburg’s Seat in Play

The death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is giving new life to the latest constitutional challenge to the Affordable Care Act. It also places anti-abortion activists on the cusp of a court majority large enough to ensure the rollback of the right to abortion and, possibly, some types of birth control. Meanwhile, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar tries to centralize power at the sprawling department plagued by miscommunications and scandals. Anna Edney of Bloomberg News, Kimberly Leonard of Business Insider and Mary Ellen McIntire of CQ Roll Call join KHN’s Julie Rovner to discuss these issues and more. Plus, Rovner interviews KHN’s Sarah Jane Tribble about her new podcast, “Where It Hurts,” debuting Sept. 29.

KHN’s ‘What the Health?’: It’s Scandal Week

President Donald Trump this week issued a prescription drug pricing order unlikely to lower drug prices, and he contradicted comments by his director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on the need for mask-wearing and predictions for vaccine availability. Meanwhile, scandals erupted at the CDC, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services and the Food and Drug Administration. And the number of people without health insurance grew in 2019, reported the Census Bureau, even while the economy soared. Alice Miranda Ollstein of Politico, Tami Luhby of CNN and Sarah Karlin-Smith of the Pink Sheet join KHN’s Julie Rovner to discuss this and more. Plus, for extra credit, the panelists recommend their favorite health policy stories of the week they think you should read, too.

Lack of Antigen Test Reporting Leaves Country ‘Blind to the Pandemic’

A KHN review found more than 20 states either don’t count or have incomplete data on the use of COVID-19 antigen tests, leaving the public in the dark about the true scope of the pandemic.

HHS Plan to Improve Rural Health Focuses on Better Broadband, Telehealth Services

The proposal details a wide-ranging agenda to remedy the gaps in health care and myriad challenges in rural America. In addition to more telehealth options, it includes shifts in hospital payments and expanded funding for school-based mental health programs.

COVID Data Failures Create Pressure for Public Health System Overhaul

Poor information-sharing between hospitals and public health agencies has hurt the response to the pandemic. Some health care systems and IT companies are making inroads, but an overhaul would cost billions.

Could Labs That Test Livestock Ease COVID Testing Backlog for People? Well … Maybe.

Experts say aid from certain veterinary labs could relieve some of the pressure on commercial and hospital-based labs to lessen the current delays in COVID-19 testing and results, but it is unlikely to be a game changer.

KHN’s ‘What the Health?’: The Trump Administration’s War on Fauci

Case counts for COVID-19 are rising in nearly every state, yet a major campaign by the Trump administration this past week was an attempt to discredit Dr. Anthony Fauci, a trusted voice in public health. Meanwhile, in the wake of the Supreme Court’s surprise decision to protect abortion rights, there’s been a flurry of activity on reproductive health issues in lower federal courts. Alice Miranda Ollstein of Politico, Paige Winfield Cunningham of The Washington Post and Erin Mershon of Stat News join KHN’s Julie Rovner to discuss this and more.

Azar Says Federal Law Had Preexisting Conditions Covered Before ACA. Not So Much.

This appears to be an overstatement.

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