KUNM

Alison Kodjak

Alison Fitzgerald Kodjak is a health policy correspondent on NPR's Science Desk.

Her work focuses on the business and politics of health care and how those forces flow through to the general public. Her stories about drug prices, limits on insurance and changes in Medicare and Medicaid appear on NPR's shows and in the Shots blog.

She joined NPR in September 2015 after a nearly two-decade career in print journalism, where she won several awards—including three George Polk Awards—as an economics, finance, and investigative reporter.

She spent two years at the Center for Public Integrity, leading projects in financial, telecom, and political reporting. Her first project at the Center, "After the Meltdown," was honored with the 2014 Polk Award for business reporting and the Society of Professional Journalists Sigma Delta Chi award.

Her work as both reporter and editor on the foreclosure crisis in Florida, on Warren Buffet's predatory mobile home businesses, and on the telecom industry were honored by several journalism organizations. She was part of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists team that won the 2015 Polk Award for revealing offshore banking practices.

Prior to joining the Center, Alison spent more than a decade at Bloomberg News, where she wrote about the convergence of politics, government, and economics. She interviewed chairmen of the Federal Reserve and traveled the world with two U.S. Treasury secretaries.

And as part of Bloomberg's investigative team she wrote about the bankruptcy of General Motors Corp. and the 2010 Gulf Oil Spill. She was part of a team at Bloomberg that successfully sued the Federal Reserve to release records of the 2008 bank bailouts, an effort that was honored with the 2009 George Polk Award. Her work on the international food price crisis in 2008 won her the Overseas Press Club's Malcolm Forbes Award.

Fitzgerald Kodjak and co-author Stanley Reed are authors of In Too Deep: BP and the Drilling Race that Took It Down, published in 2011 by John Wiley & Sons.

She's a graduate of Georgetown University and Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism.

She raises children and chickens in suburban Maryland.

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

Updated 4:21 p.m. ET Aug. 1

Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., and Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., announced today that the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions committee will hold bipartisan hearings on ways to stabilize the Affordable Care Act marketplaces for 2018.

The hearings will start the week of Sept. 4. Their aim is to act by Sept. 27, when insurers must sign contracts to sell individual insurance plans on HealthCare.gov for 2018.

Tymia McCullough fidgets in front of a mirror in her hotel room as her mom, Susie Pitts, puts the final touches on her hair and nervously drills her on what she is going to say when she gets to Capitol Hill.

"And this is where you let them know that Medicaid is what?" Pitts asks.

"Health assurance," Tymia responds.

"Health insurance that does what?"

"It pays for the need to see your doctor," Tymia says.

Tymia is just 11 years old. She came to Washington last week to lobby Congress over health care. Her family saw it as a life-or-death fight.

Updated at 2:54 p.m. ET

After the Senate's attempt to replace the Affordable Care Act collapsed Monday, Republican leaders immediately began talking about repealing the health care law in hopes of coming up with a replacement later.

But by midafternoon Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's plan to hold a vote on a repeal-only bill had faltered, too.

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Is Medicaid the best health care possible?

A lot of people who use it seem to think so.

A new study released by Harvard's Chan School of Public Health shows that people enrolled in Medicaid are overwhelmingly satisfied with their coverage and care.

It was about a year ago that Ornella Mouketou walked into the emergency room at the George Washington University Hospital in Washington, D.C., and told them she wanted to end her life.

She was in her early 20s, unemployed and depressed.

"I was just walking around endlessly. I was walking around parks, and I was just crying all the time," she says. "It was like an empty black hole."

We've received hundreds of responses to our callout for questions about the Senate Republicans' proposed overhaul of the Affordable Care Act. Earlier this week, we answered questions about continued coverage for serious health conditions and insurance premiums for older adults. Today, we begin with a question from a young adult who says he's excited about the potential repeal of Obamacare.

Since Senate Republicans released the draft of their bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act last week, many people have been wondering how the proposed changes will affect their own coverage, and their family's: Will my pre-existing condition be covered? Will my premiums go up or down?

The bill is still a work in progress, but we've taken a sampling of questions from All Things Considered listeners and answered them, based on what we know now.

Medicaid is the government health care program for the poor.

That's the shorthand explanation. But Medicaid is so much more than that — which is why it has become the focal point of the battle in Washington to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

We're going to bring another voice into the conversation now - NPR health policy correspondent Alison Kodjak.

Alison, what did you hear in that interview just now?

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

And NPR's Alison Kodjak, who covers health policy and is covering this legislation, is in our studios once again. Alison, what did you hear there that was significant?

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

And NPR's Alison Kodjak, who covers health policy issues and is covering this bill, has been listening in with us. And she's on the line. Alison, what did you hear that was significant there?

The Senate vote on a bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act is, according to conventional wisdom, one week away.

And we still don't know what's in the bill.

Not having concrete information is deeply uncomfortable for a journalist like me.

It's morning meeting time at Our Place Day Services, a day center for adults with disabilities, housed in a small concrete and glass building on Lovers Lane in Slinger, Wis.

About 30 people are gathered here, around a long table, reciting the pledge of allegiance. One man paces alongside the table, another sits in a wheelchair a few feet away. There's a woman holding a baby in her lap and a friendly dog — a goldendoodle — wandering around greeting people with a sniff and a lick.

Nevadans will find out this week whether their state will become the first in the country to allow anyone to buy into Medicaid, the government health care program for the poor and disabled.

Earlier this month, Nevada's legislature, where Democrats hold the majority, passed a "Medicaid-for-all" bill, and it's now on Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval's desk awaiting his signature or veto. If he does not act by Friday, it will automatically become law.

Nancy and Dan Gapinski of Glendale, Wis., remember a time when they couldn't really communicate with their own son.

"He used to not really have any kinds of conversations with us. He did a lot of echoing things that we said, and scripting from movies," Nancy Gapinski says as she and her husband wait for their son Ben's school bus to arrive. "A lot of times kids didn't know how to respond to him then, and didn't know what he was trying to say and conversations wouldn't really go anywhere."

Editor's note: This story has been updated to include information on how Sanofi Pasteur was chosen as the company to license the Zika vaccine.

The U.S. Army is planning to grant an exclusive license to the French pharmaceutical company Sanofi Pasteur, Inc. to manufacture and sell a Zika vaccine the Army developed last year.

And that has Rebekah Gee, Louisiana's secretary of health, worried about paying for it.

Health care groups that represent doctors and patients are warning members of Congress that the House Republicans' plan to overhaul the Affordable Care Act would hurt people who need insurance most.

This story was updated on May 24 to clarify include new information on proposed cuts to Medicaid.

The proposed budget unveiled Tuesday by the Trump administration doubles down on major cuts to biomedical research; programs to fight infectious disease outbreaks; health care for the poor, elderly and disabled; and prevention of HIV/AIDS.

President Trump gave a eulogy on Thursday for the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.

"Obamacare is collapsing. It's dead. It's gone," Trump said in a news conference with Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos.

"There's nothing to compare it to because we don't have health care in this country," he went on.

That left some Obamacare customers scratching their heads — figuratively — on Twitter.

President Trump has been saying in recent weeks that the Affordable Care act, or Obamacare, is "dead."

So he's threatened to cut off crucial payments to health insurance companies that help low-income customers pay day to day health care expenses.

That plan, however, may just end up bringing more people into the Affordable Care Act insurance markets.

At a town hall meeting in Willingboro, N.J., on Wednesday, U.S. Rep. Tom MacArthur was confronted by angry constituents who demanded to know how the Republican health care bill that he helped write would affect rape victims.

A young man named Joseph said he understood that the bill would allow insurance companies to deem rape a pre-existing condition and deny coverage to people who have been raped.

Town hall meetings got loud for some Republican members of Congress this week, as they defended the passage of the American Health Care Act by the House of Representatives. Constituents have been asking a lot of questions, and we've been fact-checking the answers given by some leading GOP lawmakers.

Tom Reed, R-N.Y., at a town hall meeting in his district

"The pre-existing reform is not repealed by this legislation."

Fact check: That's not the whole truth

House Republicans approved their plan to replace the Affordable Care Act on Thursday.

Here's a rundown of key provisions in the American Health Care Act and what would happen if the Senate approves them and the bill becomes law.

Buying insurance

Updated at 7:15 p.m. ET

House Republicans are bringing their health care bill back for a vote on Thursday. The American Health Care Act was pulled from the House floor just minutes before an expected vote in March, which was seen as a stark failure of Republicans on a key campaign promise.

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy said Wednesday evening that they are confident in having enough votes to pass the bill in its latest form early Thursday afternoon.

As Republicans in Congress debate changes to the Affordable Care Act, insurance executives across the country are trying to make plans for next year.

Companies that sell policies on the exchanges created by the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, face fast-approaching deadlines to inform states about what plans they want to sell, and what they intend to charge.

House Republicans are mulling over new changes to their health care proposal, hoping to wrangle enough votes to pass a bill that would allow them to keep their campaign pledge to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.

The latest proposal allows states to make changes to the ACA's rules governing health insurance policies and markets, in an effort to allow some states to offer stripped-down policies with lower premiums.

Kansas state Sen. Barbara Bollier is a Republican who has been fighting for years to get her colleagues to agree to expand Medicaid.

For years she pushed against what she described as a "Tea Party-ish" Senate and a governor who wouldn't consider the issue. In return for her efforts, she was stripped of her committee assignments and sidelined.

When House Speaker Paul Ryan says he wants to repeal the Affordable Care Act so that people can buy insurance that's right for them, and not something created in Washington, part of what he's saying is that he wants to get rid of so-called essential health benefits.

That's a list of 10 general categories of medical care that all insurance policies are required to cover under the Affordable Care Act.

Pages