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.

If you're looking for cheaper health insurance, a whole host of new options will hit the market starting Tuesday.

But buyer beware!

If you get sick, the new plans – known as short-term, limited duration insurance — may not pay for the medical care you need.

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It was the first — and only — time Dr. Naveed Khan, a 35-year-old radiologist, ever rode in an all-terrain vehicle.

Khan took the wheel from his friend and drove circles in the sand, on a trail along the Red River in Texas.

"As soon as I turned to the side where my body weight was, this two-seater vehicle ... just tilted toward the side and toppled," Khan recalled. It landed on his left arm.

NPR is looking at when and why obstetricians and gynecologists put their patients on bed rest. If you've been pregnant in the past year and were advised to stay on bed rest, we would like to hear from you.

A reporter may reach out to you to follow up on your response. Share your thoughts with us below.

Sometimes IV bags are hard for hospitals to come by. Other times it's injectable folic acid to treat anemias. Right now, the tissue-numbing agent lidocaine is in short supply.

Shortages of commonplace generic drugs have plagued hospitals in recent years. And with short supplies and fewer suppliers for key drugs, there have been price increases.

Consumers who buy insurance through the Affordable Care Act markets may be pleasantly surprised this fall as average premiums are forecast to rise much less than in recent years.

The price of a 2019 policy sold on the ACA exchanges will increase less than 4 percent, according to an analysis of preliminary filings from insurers in all 50 states by ACASignups.net, a website and blog run by analyst Charles Gaba that tracks ACA enrollment and insurer participation.

And those insurers are expanding their offerings.

A Texas man has a heart attack – and good medical insurance – and still finds himself on the hook for $109,000 in medical bills.

Another man in Florida owed $3,400 for a CT scan, after his insurance company pays its part.

Several states are questioning the cost of using pharmacy middlemen to manage their prescription drug programs in a movement that could shake up the complex system that manages how pharmaceuticals are priced and paid for.

People who don't get insurance through their jobs will now be able to buy short-term policies that may be cheaper than Affordable Care Act coverage. These plans won't have to cover as many medical services and are exempt from covering people with pre-existing conditions.

The departments of Health and Human Services, Labor and Treasury announced new rules Wednesday that make it easier for consumers to replace ACA insurance with these short-term policies.

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Rising drug prices, especially in Medicaid, are straining state budgets. Lawmakers across the country are being forced to make tough choices between giving the poor access to medications and other budget priorities, like education.

Eight months pregnant, the drug sales representative wore a wire for the FBI around her bulging belly as she recorded conversations with colleagues at a conference in Chicago. Her code name? Pampers.

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Over the last six years, enough opioids were shipped to the state of Missouri to give every resident 260 pills.

The finding comes from a report released Thursday by Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo. It's the latest in a series of investigations by the senator into the role of drugmakers, distributors and other industry players in fueling the opioid epidemic.

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A federal judge has blocked work requirements for Medicaid patients in Kentucky, just days before new rules mandated by Gov. Matt Bevin's administration were set to go into effect.

In Friday's ruling, U.S. District Judge James Boasberg called the Trump administration's approval of the program, Kentucky HEALTH, "arbitrary and capricious."

Rachel Osborn knows kids who slept in the immigrant detention centers in Texas that have dominated recent headlines.

"We have kids who will say that was the worst part of their journey," Osborn says. "They were traveling for weeks and the hardest part was being in this freezing cold room where, you know, they were fed a cold sandwich and had a thin blanket to shiver under."

And they had no parent or caregiver to comfort them and make them feel safe.

The Trump administration's decision to abandon the Affordable Care Act in an ongoing court challenge could affect some of the most popular pillars of the law — further intensifying the fight over health care in the middle of an election year.

Legislation that would allow terminally ill patients to get access to experimental drugs is headed to the president's desk.

The House on Tuesday passed a "right-to-try" bill that was approved by the Senate in 2017.

"People who are terminally ill should not have to go from country to country to find a cure," said Rep. Michael Burgess, R-Texas, on the House floor Tuesday.

The bill, which President Trump is expected to sign, has patient advocates divided.

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Updated 11:16 EDT: This story now includes information about the Food and Drug Administration's release of a list of complaints against brand-name drugmakers for hindering access to samples for generic testing.

When Celgene Corp. first started marketing the drug Revlimid to treat multiple myeloma in 2006, the price was $6,195 for 21 capsules, a month's supply.

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar has this pen. It's not all that remarkable looking, but he held it up multiple times Monday at a briefing with reporters.

"This pen," he said, "has a lot of power."

And he said he is prepared to use it.

Azar was making the point that in the area of drug prices, the head of HHS — which runs the Medicare and Medicaid programs and buys about $130 billion in prescription drugs each year — can make a lot of changes in the pharmaceutical market. And he doesn't need congressional approval to do it.

President Trump presented a broad-brush outline of how his administration hopes to stem the decades-long increase in prescription drug prices and spending, in a speech Friday in the Rose Garden of the White House.

The administration also released a 39-page document describing a variety of proposals it is either considering or studying in an effort to lower costs to individuals, corporations, the government and the economy as a whole.

A few months ago, I wrote a check for $12,000 but couldn't figure out exactly why.

The payment was to secure a place for my mother at Sligo Creek Center, in Takoma Park, Md. It's a nursing home and rehab center owned by Genesis Healthcare.

My mother was about to be discharged from Holy Cross Hospital, in nearby Silver Spring, after a fall. Medicare wouldn't pay for her rehabilitation care.

Benjamin Hynden, a financial adviser in Fort Myers, Fla., hadn't been feeling well for a few weeks last fall. He'd had pain and discomfort in his abdomen.

In October, he finally made an appointment to see his doctor about it. "It wasn't severe," he says. "It was just kind of bothersome. It just kind of annoyed me during the day."

The doctor, John Ardesia, checked him out and referred him to a nearby imaging center for a CT scan, or CAT scan as it used to be called. The radiologist didn't see anything wrong on the images, and Ardesia didn't recommend any treatment.

The big budget deal reached this week in the House doesn't include a long-sought-after provision to stabilize the Affordable Care Act marketplaces. But the $1.3 billion plan, set to fund the government through September, has lots of new money for medical research, addiction treatment and mental health care.

When Roger Severino tells his story, discrimination is at its heart.

"I did experience discrimination as a child. And that leaves a lasting impression," he tells me.

Severino directs the Office for Civil Rights in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. When I meet with him at his office in the shadow of the Capitol, he talks about his childhood as the son of Colombian immigrants growing up in Los Angeles.

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