Julie Rovner | KERA News

Julie Rovner

It may or may not be a punt, but the Obama administration wants to let states play a bigger role in deciding what constitutes an "essential health benefits" package when it comes to health insurance.

The Department of Health and Human Services issued what it called a "bulletin" outlining a policy it hopes to impose. In other words, it's not even yet a formal regulation.

There's not much that's new in the Medicare proposal just unveiled by Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.)

So why is it getting so much attention? One word. No, not plastics. Politics!

Women's health advocates were quick to cry foul Wednesday when Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius overruled the opinion of the Food and Drug Administration that the popular "morning after" emergency contraceptive "Plan B One Step" should be allowed to be sold without a prescription — and without age restrictions.

In a surprising twist, the Obama administration has overruled the Food and Drug Administration and will not allow teenage girls to buy the emergency contraceptive Plan B One-Step without a prescription.

The decision punctuates one of the longest-running public health sagas in recent memory. The FDA had decided that a version of the morning-after emergency contraceptive pill could be sold without a prescription regardless of the age of the buyer.

The Food and Drug Administration will not be removing age restrictions for a morning-after birth control pill — a decision that's likely to prolong a fight that has raged for more than eight years.

You know that shortage of nurses people have been warning about for about the last decade or two? Fuhgeddaboudit!

Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they're out to get you.

That could be the motto this week for abortion rights groups that immediately sprang into battle mode when it was discovered that Siri, Apple's new artificially intelligent personal assistant, wasn't so, well, intelligent when it came to abortion.

It turns out, however, that it was all much ado about not so much.

The Catholic Church says new federal regulations requiring employers to provide no-cost prescription birth control as part of their health insurance plans infringe on their religious liberty.

Can you say blip?

Apparently that's what last month's all-time low popularity numbers were for President Obama's health overhaul law, according to this month's tracking poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Overall, the federal Affordable Care Act still remains slightly more unpopular (44 percent) than popular (37 percent), but that's down from last month's 51-34 split.

Obama administration officials have announced another round of grants to states to help build the insurance marketplaces, called "exchanges," that will help individuals and small businesses buy health insurances beginning in 2014.

But the real news is who's getting the $220 million. Nine of the 13 states in this round of grants are headed by GOP governors.

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney has been labeled a flip-flopper. And when it comes to abortion, the former governor of Massachusetts appears to have changed his position from being in favor of abortion rights to being opposed.

But now some people are asking if Romney ever supported abortion rights at all? Backers of abortion rights don't think so.

Republican Newt Gingrich's presidential stock is rising in the polls. And his newfound popularity is also bringing new scrutiny to what he's been up to since he stepped down as Speaker of the House in 1998.

Well, here's another twist in the debate over whether birth control is an essential health benefit. More than 1.5 million American women use birth control pills for reasons other than preventing pregnancy, a new analysis finds.

Who didn't see this coming?

The Supreme Court has added a case challenging the constitutionality of the provision of last year's health overhaul requiring nearly every American to have health insurance beginning in the year 2014 to the list of cases it will hear this term.

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