Health Desk

Law
4:59 pm
Tue March 3, 2015

Round 2: Health Care Law Faces The Supreme Court Again

Supporters of the Affordable Care Act celebrate outside the Supreme Court in 2012, after a divided court upheld the law as constitutional by a 5-to-4 vote. The latest battle, which the Supreme Court hears Wednesday, is over whether people who buy insurance through federally run exchanges are eligible for subsidies.
David Goldman AP

Originally published on Wed March 4, 2015 6:52 am

Round 2 in the legal battle over Obamacare hits the Supreme Court's intellectual boxing ring Wednesday.

In one corner is the Obama administration, backed by the nation's hospitals, insurance companies, physician associations and other groups like Catholic Charities and the American Cancer Society.

In the other corner are conservative groups, backed by politicians who fought in Congress to prevent the bill from being adopted.

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It's All Politics
4:20 pm
Tue March 3, 2015

4 Reasons Both Parties Should Be Sweating Bullets Over King V. Burwell

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (from left), Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid and House Speaker John Boehner have reasons to watch the Supreme Court case closely — and to worry about its outcome.
Drew Angerer Getty Images

Originally published on Wed March 4, 2015 12:54 pm

The Supreme Court will hear arguments on Wednesday in another case that threatens the survival of Obamacare. This one doesn't challenge the constitutionality of the law itself, it merely challenges the legality of one of the most important parts of the system — subsidies so that everyone can afford health care. If the court strikes down the subsidies for people who live in states that chose not to set up their own exchanges, and who get their health coverage from the federal marketplace — healthcare.gov — it would begin to unravel the entire Obamacare project.

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Shots - Health News
4:03 pm
Tue March 3, 2015

FDA Mandates Tougher Warnings On Testosterone

AndroGel, a testosterone replacement made by AbbVie, is seen at a pharmacy in Princeton, Ill.
Bloomberg via Getty Images

Originally published on Wed March 4, 2015 4:03 pm

The Food and Drug Administration said Tuesday that it is requiring drugmakers to warn patients that testosterone products may increase the risk for heart attacks and strokes.

Testosterone replacements are approved to treat men with low testosterone related to medical problems, such as genetic deficiencies, chemotherapy or damaged testicles.

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The Salt
3:40 pm
Tue March 3, 2015

Tea Tuesdays: Kenyan Farmers See Green In The Color Purple

Three varieties of Kenyan purple tea from What-Cha: silver needle purple varietal white tea (from left), hand-rolled purple varietal oolong, steamed purple varietal green tea-style tea.
Jeff Koehler for NPR

Originally published on Tue March 10, 2015 1:40 pm

Across the picturesque highlands of Kenya's Great Rift Valley, fields of tea shimmer in shades of emerald, lime and moss under the equatorial sky.

Some of these fields, though, are now darkened with patches of purple. The purple comes from leaves with high levels of anthocyanins, natural pigments that also give cranberries, blueberries and grapes their color.

These purple leaves are Africa's newest — and most intriguing — tea.

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Law
3:10 pm
Tue March 3, 2015

Affordable Care Act To Face Critical Test At Supreme Court

Originally published on Tue March 3, 2015 5:25 pm

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

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Shots - Health News
3:10 pm
Tue March 3, 2015

10 Questions Some Doctors Are Afraid To Ask

Vidhya Nagarajan for NPR

Originally published on Wed March 4, 2015 4:03 pm

Imagine that the next time you go in for a physical, you're told there's a new tool that can estimate your risk for many of the major health problems that affect Americans: heart disease, diabetes, depression, addiction, just to name a few.

It's not a crystal ball, but might hint at your vulnerability to disease and mental illness — long before you start smoking or drinking, gain a lot of weight, develop high blood pressure or actually get sick.

And all you have to do is answer 10 yes-or-no questions about your childhood:

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Goats and Soda
2:47 pm
Tue March 3, 2015

Psst, We'll Pay You A Bribe If You Read This Story

People all over the world pay bribes because they think the benefit — better health care, education for their kids — is worth the cost.
Ryan Kellman NPR

Your child is sick and requires admission to the hospital. As the clerk tut-tuts over the shortage of beds, he casts a speculative eye over his clipboard. The situation becomes clear: It's time to break out the wallet and cough up a bribe. Again.

Paying bribes for essential health services might seem alien to most of us in the Western world, but it's a fact of life for an estimated 1.6 billion people around the globe, according to a new book.

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Shots - Health News
8:47 am
Tue March 3, 2015

GOP Faults Shift Of Funds To HealthCare.Gov From NIH And CDC

How much flexibility does the Department of Health and Human Services have to move funding around within its budget?
Saul Loeb AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Tue March 3, 2015 8:55 am

House Republicans are questioning why the Obama administration transferred money last year from the National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to pay for the operation of the federal health insurance marketplace.

"Now it appears that we are robbing Peter to pay Paul in order to finance the disaster that is HealthCare.Gov," said Rep. Jody Hice, a Republican congressman from suburban Atlanta.

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Shots - Health News
7:27 am
Tue March 3, 2015

Alleged Patient Safety Kickbacks Lead To $1 Million Settlement

Originally published on Tue March 3, 2015 4:08 pm

Dr. Chuck Denham, once a leading voice for patient safety, will pay $1 million to settle civil allegations that he took kickbacks to promote a drug company's product in national health quality guidelines, the Justice Department announced Monday.

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Shots - Health News
3:03 am
Tue March 3, 2015

What Shapes Health? Webcast Explores Social And Economic Factors

Mitchell Funk/Getty Images/Harvard

Originally published on Wed March 4, 2015 11:14 am

Health is more than the sum of its parts. Sometimes in surprising ways, factors such as childhood experiences, housing conditions, poor diets and health care access drive who ends up sick — and who does not.

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Shots - Health News
2:37 am
Tue March 3, 2015

Abortion Restrictions Complicate Access For Ohio Women

Abortion-rights opponent Brian Normile of Beavercreek, Ohio, holds up a poster during a prayer vigil outside Planned Parenthood in Washington, D.C., in January.
Alex Wong Getty Images

Originally published on Tue March 3, 2015 7:12 pm

Ohio may not have gotten the national attention of say, Texas, but a steady stream of abortion restrictions over the past four years has helped close nearly half the state's clinics that perform the procedure.

"We are more fully booked, and I think we have a harder time squeezing patients in if they're earlier in the pregnancy," says Chrisse France, executive director of Preterm. It's one of just two clinics still operating in Cleveland, and its caseload is up 10 percent.

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Shots - Health News
2:37 am
Tue March 3, 2015

Improving Housing Can Pay Dividends In Better Health

Uzuri Pease-Greene, right, leads a walk through the public housing complex in the Potrero Hill neighborhood of San Francisco where her family lives. She is working to have the old buildings replaced.
Talia Herman for NPR

Originally published on Tue March 3, 2015 4:20 pm

Faiza Ayesh giggles with delight as she describes her brand-new two-bedroom apartment in Oakland, Calif. She shares her home with her husband and three little girls, ages 3, 2 and 5 months. Ayesh, 30, says she just loves being a stay-at-home mom. "It's the best job in the world."

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Shots - Health News
4:50 pm
Mon March 2, 2015

Walk A Little Faster To Get The Most Out of Your Exercise Time

Government guidelines say exercising 2.5 hours a week will keep you healthy, but a study says you can get the job done in less time if you rev it up.
iStockphoto

Some people — who are they? — have no problem fitting regular aerobic exercise into their lives. The rest of us want to know how much we have to exercise to see health benefits. Now we have some answers: You may want to go just a tad longer and harder than you'd thought.

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Goats and Soda
3:51 pm
Mon March 2, 2015

How 'Flower Beds' Give Love And Lentils To Moms And Babies

Mina, a 22-year-old mother in Jamkani, Chhattisgarh, says sending her child to the Fulwari gives her more time to farm and collect forest wood.
Ankita Rao for NPR

Originally published on Mon March 2, 2015 7:09 pm

Chhattisgarh is one of the world's worst places to raise a baby, let alone be one. The state in central India has some of the worst health indicators in the country, including sky-high child mortality and extreme malnutrition.

For decades, aid organizations tried to improve the health of moms and babies in Chhattisgarh. Little made a dent. But then a garden of flowers rose up in the state.

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On Aging
3:23 pm
Mon March 2, 2015

GAO Report Urges Fewer Antipsychotic Drugs For Dementia Patients

About 1 in 3 patients with dementia who live in nursing homes are being sedated with antipsychotic drugs, the GAO says. Outside nursing homes, about 1 in 7 dementia patients are getting the risky drugs.
Wladimir Bulgar iStockphoto

Originally published on Tue March 3, 2015 12:16 am

Older adults with Alzheimer's Disease or other forms of dementia are at risk of being prescribed dangerous antipsychotic medication whether they live in nursing homes or not. That's according to a study from the Government Accountability Office published Monday.

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Shots - Health News
2:34 pm
Mon March 2, 2015

Can Family Secrets Make You Sick?

Maria Fabrizio for NPR

Originally published on Tue March 3, 2015 4:28 pm

In the 1980s, Dr. Vincent Felitti, now director of the California Institute of Preventive Medicine in San Diego, discovered something potentially revolutionary about the ripple effects of child sexual abuse. He discovered it while trying to solve a very different health problem: helping severely obese people lose weight.

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Shots - Health News
2:18 pm
Mon March 2, 2015

Take The ACE Quiz — And Learn What It Does And Doesn't Mean

Robert Wood Johnson Foundation; Source: CDC

Originally published on Tue March 3, 2015 3:23 pm

An ACE score is a tally of different types of abuse, neglect, and other hallmarks of a rough childhood. According to the Adverse Childhood Experiences study, the rougher your childhood, the higher your score is likely to be and the higher your risk for later health problems. You can take the test below:

So, you've got your score. Now what?

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The Two-Way
4:09 am
Mon March 2, 2015

Nurse Treated For Ebola To Sue Texas Hospital

Nina Pham, 26, who became the first person to contract Ebola within the United States, tells the Dallas Morning News that she worries about continued health issues and will sue the hospital where she contracted Ebola.
Uncredited AP

Nurse Nina Pham tells the Dallas Morning News that while she is Ebola free, she suffers residual effects from contracting the disease from a patient she cared for last fall at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas.

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Shots - Health News
3:06 am
Mon March 2, 2015

People With Low Incomes Say They Pay A Price In Poor Health

Hanna Barczyk for NPR

Originally published on Tue March 3, 2015 6:39 am

When you ask people what impacts health you'll get a lot of different answers: Access to good health care and preventative services, personal behavior, exposure to germs or pollution and stress. But if you dig a little deeper you'll find a clear dividing line, and it boils down to one word: money.

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Shots - Health News
3:04 am
Mon March 2, 2015

Poll Explores Our Perception Of How Factors Large And Small Shape People's Health

Alyson Hurt/NPR

Originally published on Tue March 3, 2015 6:38 am

We often think of health as a trip to the doctor or a prescription to treat or prevent diseases. Or maybe it's an operation to fix something that's gone wrong.

But a new poll by NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health reveals that Americans perceive health as being affected by a broad range of social and cultural factors.

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Goats and Soda
3:02 am
Mon March 2, 2015

Liberia's President: Ebola Re-Energized Her Downtrodden Country

Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, photographed in Washington, D.C., on February 26.
Ariel Zambelich NPR

Originally published on Mon March 2, 2015 8:55 am

There's a lot to celebrate in Liberia: The number of new Ebola cases have been declining, kids are going back to school and life is returning to some semblance of normalcy.

Last year, Ebola struck the country and since then, it has killed more than 4,000 Liberians. But among the three hardest-hit countries in West Africa, Liberia has been the fastest at containing the outbreak. Just last week, the region reported 99 new cases of Ebola. Only one of those came out of Liberia.

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Goats and Soda
4:39 pm
Sun March 1, 2015

The Brother Went To Fight Ebola. So Did His Sister. Mom Was 'A Wreck'

How do siblings get around the "no touching" rule during the Ebola outbreak in Sierra Leone? Alex and Jen Tran grabbed a rare hug when they were geared up for training.
Courtesy of Alex Tran

Originally published on Sun March 1, 2015 6:43 pm

When Alex Tran went off to Sierra Leone to work as an epidemiologist, his parents were worried. His mom was "a wreck," according to his sister Jen, who followed him into the Ebola hot zone a few weeks later.

Last fall as the Ebola outbreak raged in West Africa, Alex, 28, was working at USAID. Jen, who's a registered nurse, was deployed with the U.S. Navy on a ship in the Arabian Gulf. They both were itching to get to the front lines of the epidemic to help.

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Code Switch
4:29 pm
Sun March 1, 2015

How Pittsburgh's Freedom House Pioneered Paramedic Treatment

Freedom House paramedics, who first were deployed in the 1960s, provided a crucial service for Pittsburgh residents. The program became a national model for emergency medical transport and care.
Courtesy of University of Pittsburgh

In the 1960s, Pittsburgh, like most cities, was segregated by race. But people of all colors suffered from lack of ambulance care. Police were the ones who responded to medical emergency calls.

"Back in those days, you had to hope and pray you had nothing serious," recalls filmmaker and Hollywood paramedic Gene Starzenski, who grew up in Pittsburgh. "Because basically, the only thing they did was pick you up and threw you in the back like a sack of potatoes, and they took off for the hospital. They didn't even sit in the back with you."

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The Two-Way
12:38 pm
Sun March 1, 2015

6 In 10 Young Republicans Favor Legal Marijuana, Survey Says

A user prepares to roll a marijuana cigarette on the first day of legal possession of marijuana for recreational purposes in the District of Colombia on Thursday.
Alex Brandon AP

Originally published on Sun March 1, 2015 8:28 pm

Nearly two-thirds of Millennials who identify as Republican support legalizing marijuana, while almost half of older GOP Gen-Xers do, according to a recently released Pew survey that could be an indicator of where the debate is heading.

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Health
7:18 am
Sun March 1, 2015

Coming To Terms With The Pressure Of Weight

Originally published on Tue March 3, 2015 2:07 pm

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

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Shots - Health News
6:03 am
Sun March 1, 2015

How A Group Of Lung Cancer Survivors Got Doctors To Listen

Chris Newman, seen at her home in Los Molinos, Calif., calls the change she helped get made to lung cancer treatment guidelines a "small, but very important victory."
Courtesy of Chris Newman

Originally published on Mon March 2, 2015 2:09 pm

A group of lung cancer survivors was chatting online last May about what they thought was a big problem: Influential treatment guidelines published by a consortium of prominent cancer centers didn't reflect an option that several people thought had saved their lives. They wanted to change that.

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Goats and Soda
6:03 am
Sun March 1, 2015

The Art Of Syrian Refugees Sends A Message. Is Anyone Listening?

In "Exile From One's Country," Mohammed Al-Amari captures the pain of a Syrian girl.
Courtesy of Mohammed Al Amari

When Syrian artist Mohammed Al-Amari, 27, fled the country's civil war last winter he couldn't carry much. Just some clothes, and little else, he says. But he did manage to bring some "colors" with him — watercolors, pastels and even a few of his paintings.

Al-Amari and his wife didn't want to leave their home in Daraa province in southwestern Syria. They stayed for the first three years of the war, but eventually moved from their village to another one that was further from the conflict.

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Shots - Health News
3:57 pm
Sat February 28, 2015

One Man's Race To Outrun Alzheimer's

Greg O'Brien gathers his thoughts before a run in 2013. "Running is essential," he says.
Michael Strong Living With Alzheimers

Originally published on Mon March 2, 2015 2:09 pm

This is the third in NPR's series "Inside Alzheimer's," about the experience of living with the illness. In parts one and two, Greg O'Brien talked about what it was like to get the diagnosis of Alzheimer's, and how he thinks about the future.

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Goats and Soda
11:29 am
Sat February 28, 2015

While New England Gets Snow, West Africa Gets Sand

The Harmattan haze can become so dense in Dakar, Senegal, it dims the sun and grounds flights.
Joe Penney Reuters /Landov

Originally published on Sat February 28, 2015 1:11 pm

Would you kindly bear with me a little while I have a good old moan, please? I'm feeling rather wretched. No, not because I've finally kicked a lingering lurgy that turned out to be bronchitis and stole my voice. But because one of the reasons I blame for the illness is back: the Harmattan.

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The Salt
12:52 pm
Fri February 27, 2015

When Food Is Too Good To Waste, College Kids Pick Up The Scraps

Student volunteers with The Campus Kitchens Project evaluate produce. The initiative gets high-school and college students to scavenge food from cafeterias, grocery stores and farmers' markets, cook it and deliver it to organizations serving low-income people in their communities.
Courtesy of DC Central Kitchen

Originally published on Tue March 3, 2015 8:50 am

Back in 2011 when I was a student at the University of Maryland in College Park I once noticed a massive pile of trash in front of a dining hall. A closer look revealed that it was mostly food — a half-eaten sandwich, a browning apple and what appeared to be the remains of the day's lunch special.

The heap was gross, but intriguing. Turned out it was a stunt to get students thinking about how much food they throw out each day.

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