Health Care

Arline Feilen lost her husband to suicide in 2013. Three years later, she lost her dad to cancer. And this February, she lost her 89-year-old mom to a cascade of health problems.

"We were like glue, and that first Mother's Day without her was killer. It just dragged me down," said Feilen, who is 56 and lives in suburban Chicago. "It was just loss after loss after loss, and I just crumbled."

After a long, steady rise in the polls, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren is now vying for front-runner status with former Vice President Joe Biden. On Tuesday night, more moderate candidates took aim at her progressive policy positions as unrealistic and expensive.

"Medicare for All" — the single-payer health care plan supported by both Warren and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders — was the main topic in this moderate-progressive fight.

With Anthony Brooks

High-deductible health plans were supposed to encourage patients to shop around for the best deals. Instead, many face financial ruin. What went wrong?

Guests

Noam Levey, writes about national health care policy out of Washington, D.C., for the Los Angeles Times. (@NoamLevey)

Health care helped propel Democrats to victory in a wave of elections in 2018, and it remains a top issue for voters heading into 2020.

But the conversation has changed over two years; while in the last midterms health care debates revolved around protecting the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, after GOP attempts to repeal it, presidential candidates ahead of 2020 are focusing more on overhauling the entire health care system.

The politics of health care are changing. And one of the most controversial parts of the Affordable Care Act — the so-called "Cadillac tax" — may be about to change with it.

The Cadillac tax is a 40% tax on the most generous employer-provided health insurance plans — those that cost more than $11,200 per year for an individual policy or $30,150 for family coverage. It was a tax on employers and was supposed to take effect in 2018, but Congress has delayed implementation twice.

Updated July 26 at 5:34 p.m. ET

Several days after NPR published and aired the following story, Fresenius Medical Care, one of the two largest dialysis providers in the U.S., agreed to waive its $524,600.17 charge.

We all hope for some peace and comfort at the end of life. Hospices are designed to make that possible, relieving pain and providing emotional and spiritual support. But two new government studies released Tuesday morning find that the vast majority of hospices have sometimes failed to do that.

And there's no easy way for consumers to distinguish the good hospices from the bad.

When Mary Kay Gilbert saw her doctor in May for a skin infection on her leg, she wasn't surprised to receive a prescription for an antibiotic cream.

But Gilbert, 54, a nurse and health consultant, was shocked when her physician clicked on the desktop computer and told Gilbert the medicine would cost $30 on her Blue Cross and Blue Shield plan.

"I was like, 'Wow — that's pretty cool that you know that information,' " she recalled telling the doctor in Edina, Minn.

The federal government's rule designed to support health workers who opt out of providing care that violates their moral or religious beliefs will not go into effect in July as scheduled. The effective date has been delayed by four months, according to court orders.

Updated 4:03 p.m.

President Trump signed an executive order Monday on price transparency in health care that aims to lower rising health care costs by showing prices to patients. The idea is that if people can shop around, market forces may drive down costs.

"Hospitals will be required to publish prices that reflect what people pay for services," said President Trump at a White House event. "You will get great pricing. Prices will come down by numbers that you wouldn't believe. The cost of healthcare will go way, way down."

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