KFF Health News
Julie Rovner is chief Washington correspondent and host of KFF Health News’ weekly health policy news podcast, “What the Health?” A noted expert on health policy issues, Julie is the author of the critically praised reference book “Health Care Politics and Policy A to Z,” now in its third edition.
This week, KFF Health News’ weekly policy news podcast — “What the Health?” — celebrates its 300th episode with a wide-ranging discussion of what’s happened in health policy since it launched in 2017 and what may happen in the next decade.
For this special conversation, host and chief Washington correspondent Julie Rovner is joined by three prominent “big thinkers” in health policy: Ezekiel Emanuel of the University of Pennsylvania; Jeff Goldsmith, president of Health Futures; and Farzad Mostashari, CEO of Aledade.
Among the takeaways from this week’s episode:
Since 2017, dissatisfaction has permeated the U.S. health care system. The frustrations of providers, patients, and others in the field point to a variety of structural problems — many of which are challenging to address through policymaking due to the strength of interest-group politics. The emergence of the huge, profitable “SuperMed” firm UnitedHealth Group and the rise of urgent virtual care have also transformed health care in recent years.
As high costs and big profits dominate the national conversation, lawmakers and policymakers have delivered surprises, including the beginnings of regulation of drug prices. Even the Trump administration, with its dedication to undermining the Affordable Care Act, demonstrated interest in encouraging competition. Meanwhile, on the clinical side, a number of pharmaceuticals are proving especially effective at reducing hospitalizations.
Looking forward, the face of insurance is changing. Commercial insurance is seeing profits evaporate, private Medicare Advantage plans are draining taxpayer dollars, and employers are making expensive, short-sighted coverage decisions. Some stakeholders see a critical need to reconsider how to be more efficient and effective at delivering care in the United States.
The deterioration of the patient’s experience signals a major disconnect between the organizational problems providing care and the everyday dedication of individual providers: The local hospital may provide excellent service to a patient experiencing a heart attack, yet Medicare will not pay for patients to have blood pressure cuffs at home, for instance. Low reimbursements for primary care providers exacerbate these problems.
Plus, our experts — drawing on extensive experience making government and private-sector policy and even practicing medicine — name their top candidates for attainable improvements that would make a big difference in the health care system.
Further reading by the panelists from this week’s episode:
Health Affairs’ “Nine Health Care Megatrends, Part 1: System and Payment Reform,” by Ezekiel J. Emanuel.
Health Affairs’ “We Have a National Strategy for Accountable Care, So What’s Next?” by Sean Cavanaugh, Mandy K. Cohen, and Farzad Mostashari.
The Health Care Blog’s “What Can We Learn From the Envision Bankruptcy?” by Jeff Goldsmith.
To hear all our podcasts, click here.
KFF Health News is a national newsroom that produces in-depth journalism about health issues and is one of the core operating programs at KFF—an independent source of health policy research, polling, and journalism. Learn more about KFF.
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