Podcast: KHN’s ‘What The Health?’ The State Of The (Health) Union

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In his first State of the Union Address, President Donald Trump told the American public that “one of my greatest priorities is to reduce the price of prescription drugs.” But that message could barely begin to sink in before other health news developed: The director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was forced to resign Wednesday after conflict-of-interest reports.

Meanwhile, outside the federal government, Idaho is proposing to allow the sale of individual insurance policies that specifically violate portions of the Affordable Care Act. And three mega-companies — Amazon, Berkshire-Hathaway, and JPMorgan Chase — say they will partner to try to control costs and improve quality for their employees’ health care.

This week’s “What The Health?” panelists are Julie Rovner of Kaiser Health News, Alice Ollstein of Talking Points Memo and Julie Appleby and Sarah Jane Tribble of Kaiser Health News.

Among the takeaways from this week’s podcast:

Despite Trump’s strong rhetoric in the State of the Union Address, the president has taken few actions during his first year in office to reduce drug prices. The president touted that Republicans had repealed the health law’s requirement that individuals get health insurance or pay a penalty. But that change in the law doesn’t go into effect until 2019, so his comments could be confusing to some taxpayers. Idaho officials have announced that they are going to allow insurers to issue policies that don’t meet all the criteria of the federal health law. But it’s not clear that insurers are interested in participating in the experiment. “Alexa, send me my Lipitor!” Can Amazon’s announcement that it and two other corporate behemoths are taking on employees’ health care create a new formula for keeping costs down and improving quality? Email Sign-Up

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Plus, for “extra credit,” the panelists recommend their favorite health stories of the week they think you should read, too.

Julie Rovner: Kaiser Health News’ “ No Car, No Care? Medicaid Transportation At Risk In Some States,” by JoNel Aleccia.

ALSO: JAMA’s “ Are Medicaid Work Requirements Legal? ” by Nicholas Bagley.

Alice Ollstein: Politico’s “ Trump’s Top Health Official Traded Tobacco Stock While Leading Anti-Smoking Efforts,” by Sarah Karlin-Smith and Brianna Ehley.

Julie Appleby: The Atlantic’s “ Why We Forget Most of the Books We Read,” by Julie Beck.

Sarah Jane Tribble: The New York Times’ “ 5-Year-Olds Work Farm Machinery, And Injuries Follow, ” by Jack Healy.

To hear all our podcasts,  click here.

And subscribe to What the Health? on  iTunes,  Stitcher  or  Google Play.

Kaiser Health News (KHN) is a national health policy news service. It is an editorially independent program of the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation which is not affiliated with Kaiser Permanente.

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