Three and a half months after funding expired for the Children’s Health Insurance Program, CHIP is finally refinanced, this time for six years. That was one of several health policies attached to the short-term spending bill Congress passed Monday, which reopened the federal government after a weekend shutdown.

The spending bill also delayed — again — several unpopular health care taxes that are intended to help fund the Affordable Care Act, including the “Cadillac tax” on very generous health plans.

This week’s “What The Health?” panelists are Julie Rovner of Kaiser Health News, Joanne Kenen of Politico, Alice Ollstein of Talking Points Memo and Paige Winfield Cunningham of The Washington Post.

In addition to those topics, they discuss new leadership at the Department of Health and Human Services, after the Senate confirmed Alex Azar to lead the agency, and efforts by religious conservatives at HHS to make it easier for health workers to decline to participate in abortions, physician-assisted death or other controversial health procedures.

Among the takeaways from this week’s podcast:

  • Now that Congress has funded the Children’s Health Insurance Program, health care advocates are lining up to push for funding for community health centers, which serve about 1 in 12 Americans and ran out of federal funding on Oct. 1.
  • At the same time, the bipartisan effort in the Senate to pass legislation to stabilize the ACA’s marketplaces seems to be losing steam.
  • The new HHS rule that protects workers who have conscientious objections to services — such as providing birth control, treating transgender patients or performing abortions — addresses protections already contained in similar state and federal laws.

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

Julie Rovner: Politico’s “The religious activists on the rise inside Trump’s health department,” by Dan Diamond.

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Alice Ollstein: The Washington Post’s “Trump’s 24-year-old drug policy appointee to step down by month’s end,” by Robert O’Harrow Jr.

Paige Winfield Cunningham: The Texas Tribune, “Dangerous Deliveries: Is Texas doing enough to stop moms from dying?” by Marissa Evans and Chris Essig.

To hear all our podcasts, click here.

And subscribe to What the Health? on iTunesStitcher or Google Play.


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