While repealing the Affordable Care Act seems to have fallen off Congressional Republicans’ to-do list for 2023, the Medicare and Medicaid cutbacks are back. The GOP wants Democrats to agree to cut spending on both programs in exchange for a vote to prevent the government from defaulting on its debts.
Meanwhile, health care workers across the country — from nurses to doctors to pharmacists — are feeling the pressure to care not only for the growing number of insured patients seeking care, but also more seriously ill patients who are difficult and sometimes even violent.
This week’s panelists are KHN’s Julie Rovner, Joanne Kenen of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and Politico, CNN’s Tami Luhby, and Axios’ Victoria Knight.
Among the takeaways from this week’s episode:
- Conservative House Republicans hope to capitalize on their new legislative clout to cut government spending, as the fight against raising the debt ceiling offers a glimpse of possible debates this year over expensive federal benefit programs like Medicare.
- House Speaker Kevin McCarthy has said Republicans will protect Medicare and Social Security, but the rise of conservative firebrands — like the new chairman of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee — raises questions. questions about what “protecting” these programs means to Republicans.
- A record number of Americans registered for insurance coverage this year under the Affordable Care Act. Years after congressional Republicans last tried to repeal it, the once-controversial program, also known as Obamacare, appears to be following the trajectory of other established federal rights programs: Evolve, Grow and become less controversial over time.
- Recent reports show that while Americans had less trouble paying for health care last year, many still delayed care because of cost. The findings underscore that having insurance is not enough to keep care affordable for many Americans.
- Healthcare workers are increasingly calling for better staffing, with a nurses’ strike in New York and recent reports of pharmacist burnout providing some of the latest arguments on how staffing issues widespread staffing can interfere with patient care. There is bipartisan agreement in Congress to address the nursing shortage, but what they would do is another question.
Plus, for extra credit, the panelists recommend their favorite health policy stories of the week that they think you should also read:
Julie Rovner: Roll Call’s “NIH Missing Top Leadership at Start of a Divided Congress”, by Ariel Cohen
Tami Luhby: “CNN Field Emergencies: A Look at How NFL Medical Teams Prepare for a Game Day Emergency,” by Nadia Kounang and Amanda Sealy
Joanne From: “Don’t Fear the Handshake” from The Atlantic, by Katherine J. Wu
Victoria Knight: The Washington Post’s “The Last of Us” Zombie Mushroom Is Real and Found in Health Supplements”, by Mike Hume
Also mentioned in this week’s podcast:
“As France Set to Delay Retirement, Older Workers Are in a Dilemma,” from The New York Times, by Liz Alderman
“Stat Congressional Medicare Advisors Warn of Rising Drug Prices, Despite New Price Negotiation,” by John Wilkerson
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