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The Health Law

Physician assistants are pushing to be renamed “physician associates,” complaining their title is belittling and doesn’t convey what they do. “We don’t assist,” they insist. Doctors’ groups fear there’s more than just a name in play.

Medicare officials say complaints are rising from seniors lured into private plans with misleading information or enrolled without their consent. In response, officials have threatened to penalize the private companies selling Medicare Advantage and drug plans if they or agents working on their behalf mislead consumers.

Democratic negotiators on Capitol Hill appear to be nearing a compromise on President Joe Biden’s social spending agenda, spurred partly by Democratic losses on Election Day in Virginia. Meanwhile, the Supreme Court hints it might allow abortion providers to sue Texas over its restrictive new ban. But the relief, if it comes, could be short-lived if the court uses a second case, challenging a law in Mississippi, to weaken or overturn Roe v. Wade. Alice Miranda Ollstein of Politico, Margot Sanger-Katz of The New York Times and Mary Ellen McIntire of CQ Roll Call join KHN’s Julie Rovner to discuss these issues and more. Also this week, Rovner interviews KHN’s Rae Ellen Bichell, who reported and wrote the latest KHN-NPR “Bill of the Month” feature about an emergency bill for a nonemergency birth.

Blurb: Some front-line workers who die of covid-19 have been considered eligible for accidental death benefits because it is presumed their infection was contracted on the job. But some employers now suggest that if the workers didn’t follow established safety protocols, such as getting vaccinated, those benefits may be denied.

Negotiations on the health parts of President Joe Biden’s domestic agenda are getting serious but have yet to produce a deal every Democrat can support. Meanwhile, the Food and Drug Administration remains without a nominated leader but manages to take the first steps toward approving over-the-counter hearing aids. Joanne Kenen of Politico and Johns Hopkins, Tami Luhby of CNN and Rachel Cohrs of Stat join KHN’s Julie Rovner to discuss these issues and more. Plus, for extra credit, the panelists recommend their favorite health policy stories of the week they think you should read too.

The covid pandemic has caused millions of people, particularly LGBTQ adults, to lose their jobs and enroll in Medicaid or insurance through the Affordable Care Act. Yet these plans often don’t fully cover the basics needed by many transgender Americans, such as injectable estrogen, a hormone therapy commonly used by trans women.

Congress is back in session with a short time to finish a long to-do list, including keeping the government operating and paying its bills. Hanging in the balance is President Joe Biden’s entire domestic agenda, including major changes proposed for Medicare, Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act. Meanwhile, the new Texas abortion law that bans the procedure early in pregnancy is prompting action in Washington. Joanne Kenen of Politico, Mary Ellen McIntire of CQ Roll Call and Sarah Karlin-Smith of the Pink Sheet join KHN’s Julie Rovner to discuss these issues and more. Also, Rovner interviews former FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb about his new book on the covid-19 pandemic.

Private agencies that bring young adults to the U.S. to care for children generally offer basic health insurance, but plans may exclude many types of necessary care. What the agencies might not mention is that au pairs are eligible to enroll in comprehensive coverage on the Affordable Care Act marketplaces and likely qualify for premium subsidies that would make the insurance affordable.

Democrats have hit a snag in their effort to compile a $3.5 trillion social-spending bill this fall — moderates are resisting support for Medicare drug price negotiation provisions that would pay for many of the measure’s health benefit improvements. Meanwhile, the new abortion restrictions in Texas have moved the divisive issue back to the political front burner. Alice Miranda Ollstein of Politico, Rachel Cohrs of Stat and Shefali Luthra of The 19th join KHN’s Julie Rovner to discuss these issues and more. Also this week, Rovner interview’s KHN’s Phil Galewitz about the latest KHN-NPR “Bill of the Month” installment, about two similar jaw surgeries with very different price tags.

The covid pandemic has spotlighted the often-unseen role of public health in Americans’ daily lives. And the picture has not all been pretty. What is public health and why is it so important — and controversial? Dr. Ashish Jha, dean of the Brown University School of Public Health, explains the basics. Then, Joanne Kenen of Politico and Lauren Weber of KHN join KHN’s Julie Rovner to discuss what could happen next.

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