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In this edition of “Explained by KHN” Emmarie Huetteman covers how the $1.9 trillion covid relief law will make health insurance coverage significantly more affordable for millions of people.
As the crisis crushed smaller providers, some of the nation’s richest health systems thrived, reporting hundreds of millions of dollars in surpluses after accepting huge grants for pandemic relief. But poorer hospitals — many serving rural and minority populations — got a smaller slice of the pie and limped through the year with deficits and a bleak fiscal future.
After 9/11, as our defenses against international and bioterrorism hardened, our defenses against infectious diseases shrank. By the time a deadly virus arrived on our shores last year, nearly two-thirds of Americans were living in counties that spend more than twice as much on policing as they spend on public health.
Same building. Same procedure. Same doctor. But now you’re charged a hospital facility fee. For one Ohio Medicare patient, the copay for a shot that used to cost her about $30 went up to more than $300.
After a bruising confirmation process, Xavier Becerra was sworn in as secretary of Health and Human Services this week. The Senate also confirmed the nominations of former U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy to return to the post he held in the Obama administration, and former Pennsylvania health secretary Rachel Levine as assistant secretary for health. Levine is the first openly transgender person to receive Senate confirmation. Meanwhile, questions continue to swirl around the AstraZeneca covid vaccine, which some public health experts worry will create more hesitancy toward other vaccines.
Democrats’ $1.9 trillion covid relief package will offer some of the most significant help for Americans to pay for health insurance in a decade. But the temporary provisions are complicated. KHN offers tips for consumers.
The $1.9 trillion covid relief bill expands subsidies for private insurance plans. That will lighten the burden on consumers, but it locks taxpayers into yet more support for the health care industry.
Covid vaccinations are ramping up, so “An Arm and a Leg” checked in on the effort in Philadelphia, where capitalism and compassion have clashed.
Progressive and conservative Democratic lawmakers, as well as President Joe Biden, are in favor of authorizing federal officials to negotiate with drugmakers over what Medicare pays for at least some of the most expensive brand-name drugs and to base those prices on the drugs’ clinical benefits. Such a measure could put Republicans in the uncomfortable position of opposing an idea that most voters from both parties generally support.
President Joe Biden may want to continue the previous administration’s efforts to lower drug prices and make medical costs transparent.