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.

Open enrollment for Affordable Care Act insurance doesn't start for another six weeks. But the quirky insurance startup Oscar Health is launching an ad campaign Monday aimed at getting young people to enroll.

The company is boosting its ad spending after the Trump administration announced it would slash its ACA advertising budget by 90 percent.

It's an administrative task for the ages.

Medicare is getting ready to issue all 60 million of its beneficiaries new cards with new ID numbers as way to combat identity theft and fraud.

The rollout begins next April, but the agency is already beginning its outreach campaign.

The Senate is again trying to tackle the politics of health care. Rather than going for sweeping changes, lawmakers are acting more like handymen this time, looking for tweaks and fixes that will make the system that's already in place work better.

After Republicans in the Senate spectacularly failed to deliver on their promise to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, a smaller group of lawmakers is trying a new approach: Bring in the Democrats and aim low.

Congress and the Trump administration could boost insurance coverage by a couple of million people and lower premiums by taking a few actions to stabilize the Affordable Care Act insurance markets, according to a new analysis by the consulting firm Oliver Wyman.

If you're a woman, there's a good chance you've used Johnson's Baby Powder at some point. It smells good, and it can keep you dry.

But is it dangerous?

Dr. Daniel Cramer says yes. He's a professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston. He says talc — the mineral in talcum powder — can cause ovarian cancer.

"Overall, women may increase their risk in general by about 33 percent by using talc in their hygiene," Cramer says.

Updated 4:31 pm August 16: On Wednesday, the White House said it would continue what's known as cost-sharing reduction payments to insurers for another month, buying President Trump some time to decide whether he'll continue the payments long-term or cut them off altogether.

The announcement came a day after the Congressional Budget Office released an analysis that found that ending the payments would increase the deficit by $194 billion over 10 years.

The Trump administration is giving insurance companies an extra three weeks to decide whether to offer insurance plans through the Affordable Care Act markets, and how much to charge.

The extension comes as insurance companies wait for President Trump to decide whether he will continue to make payments to insurance companies that are called for under the Affordable Care Act but that some Republicans have opposed.

Opioid abuse is a crisis, but is it an emergency?

That's the question gripping Washington after President Trump's Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis recommended that the president declare the epidemic a national emergency.

Ten years ago, Fumiko Chino was the art director at a television production company in Houston, engaged to be married to a young Ph.D. candidate.

Today, she's a radiation oncologist at Duke University, studying the effects of financial strain on cancer patients. And she's a widow.

How she got from there to here is a story about how health care and money are intertwined in ways that doctors and patients don't like to talk about.

In Prince George's County, Md., every first responder carries naloxone, the drug that can reverse an opioid overdose.

"We carry it in our first-in bags," says Bryan Spies, the county's battalion chief in charge of emergency services. "So whenever we arrive at a patient's side, it's in the bag, along with things like glucose, aspirin and oxygen."

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.

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

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

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:

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?

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

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

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.

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

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Alison Kodjak, NPR health policy correspondent, is with us and has been listening in. Hi, Alison.

ALISON KODJAK, BYLINE: Hi, Steve.

INSKEEP: So what do you make of what you heard there?

Pages