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'What The Health?' Is Health Care Spending Still The Hungry, Hungry Hippo?

Congress is trying to wrap up its work for the year, but unsettled questions remain about the Children's Health Insurance Program, the fate of the individual mandate insurance requirement from the Affordable Care Act and other health issues. Meanwhile, outside Washington, major mergers are happening within the health care system and the federal government reports that the rate of increase in health spending slowed in 2016.

This week's "What the Health?" guests are:

Julie Rovner of Kaiser Health News Stephanie Armour of The Wall Street Journal Alice Ollstein of Talking Points Memo Margot Sanger Katz of The New York Times

They discuss these topics and other health news of the week, including the state of open enrollment for 2018 health insurance.

Among the takeaways from this week's podcast:

The iron-clad promises on health care that Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) secured for her vote for the tax bill may be splintering. Although a number of health programs could see funding cut as a result of the tax bill, lawmakers promise that they will protect Medicare. Former Obama administration officials are worried that last-minute insurance enrollment on the federal marketplace could be anemic this year, because the Trump administration has not promoted the law. The merger mania of the past week highlights insurers' interest in having a piece of the action in other parts of the health care system.

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

Julie Rovner:'s "Why Do People Hate Obamacare, Anyway," by Julie Rovner

Stephanie Armour: The New York Times' "Millions Pay The Obamacare Penalty Instead Of Buying Insurance. Who Are They?" by K.K. Rebecca Lai and Alicia Parlapiano

Alice Ollstein: The Washington Post's "Rep. Trent Franks Of Arizona, Who Asked Staffers If They Would Bear His Child As A Surrogate, Says He Will Resign," by Mike DeBonis and Michelle Ye Hee Lee.

Margot Sanger Katz:'s "Emergency Rooms Are Monopolies. Patients Pay The Price," by Sarah Kliff.

To hear all our podcasts, click here.

And subscribe to What the Health? on iTunes, Stitcher or Google Play.

Kaiser Health News (KHN) is a national health policy news service. It is an editorially independent program of the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation which is not affiliated with Kaiser Permanente.

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