Health Desk

Health Care
3:40 pm
Tue November 19, 2013

Mixed Messages On Cancelled Health Plans Leave Consumers Confused

Originally published on Tue November 19, 2013 4:54 pm

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

This week, millions of Americans in the private insurance market are scratching their heads, trying to figure out where they stand. Last week, President Obama reversed course and said insurance companies could continue to sell policies that don't comply with the Affordable Care Act for another year.

NPR's John Ydstie talked to several people whose policies were cancelled, but now could be re-instated.

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Around the Nation
3:40 pm
Tue November 19, 2013

New York City Raises Smoking Age From 18 To 21

Originally published on Tue November 19, 2013 4:54 pm

New York City raised the smoking age, officially, from 18 to 21 Tuesday, making it the first large U.S. city to do so.

Parenting
11:17 am
Tue November 19, 2013

China Eases One Child Policy, What's Next?

Transcript

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

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All Tech Considered
11:12 am
Tue November 19, 2013

This Slide Shows Why HealthCare.gov Wouldn't Work At Launch

A slide from McKinsey & Co.'s outside review of HealthCare.gov, in the spring.
House Energy and Commerce Committee

Originally published on Thu November 21, 2013 8:07 am

This is a story of contrast between two popular methods of software development. One is called "waterfall," the other, "agile."

Waterfall development favors listing a huge set of requirements for a system up front, letting developers go away for months (if not longer) and expecting a huge software product in the end.

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Shots - Health News
9:21 am
Tue November 19, 2013

Spiritual Healers Keep Watch For Plague In Uganda

Yoset, a spiritual healer near Arua, Uganda, works with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to detect the plague in his village.
Courtesy of Mary Hayden

Originally published on Thu November 21, 2013 8:28 am

When medical anthropologist Mary Hayden visits her colleague Yofet, he tells her, "Mary, you don't need to call before you arrive because I already know you're coming."

Yoset, you see, is a traditional healer in northern Uganda. "The spirit comes over him and tells him how to treat people," Hayden tells Shots.

But recently, Yoset's practice has expanded beyond the ethereal. He and about 40 other healers and herbalists are helping to track down the plague in Uganda for scientists here in the U.S.

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Shots - Health News
1:56 am
Tue November 19, 2013

Wisconsin Chooses Its Own Path To Overhaul Medicaid

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference in March.
Pete Marovich Getty Images

Originally published on Tue November 19, 2013 11:28 am

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker is one of 25 Republican governors who are rejecting the health law's expansion of Medicaid. But Wisconsin's own Medicaid program, known as BadgerCare, is more generous than that of many states, and now Walker wants to transfer many people out of BadgerCare and into the insurance marketplace created by the Affordable Care Act.

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The Two-Way
4:13 pm
Mon November 18, 2013

Princeton To Distribute Meningitis B Vaccine

Princeton University's Nassau Hall. The New Jersey university has seen seven cases of bacterial meningitis since March.
Daniel Hulshizer AP

Originally published on Mon November 18, 2013 5:06 pm

Princeton University has decided to distribute a vaccine for meningitis B that has not been approved for use in the United States.

As we've reported, the New Jersey university has seen seven cases of bacterial meningitis since March.

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Your Health
4:05 pm
Mon November 18, 2013

Critics Warn Latest Cholesterol Guidelines Invite Overtreatment

Alan Crawford iStockphoto

Originally published on Tue November 19, 2013 3:15 pm

The launch of new treatment guidelines isn't a good time for confusion and controversy.

But that's precisely what's happening to a set of sweeping new guidelines aimed at slashing the U.S. rate of heart attacks and strokes — the first reboot of such advice in seven years.

If such guidelines are going to work, Dr. Steven Nissen points out, they have to convince.

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Shots - Health News
3:12 pm
Mon November 18, 2013

Using Birth Control Pills May Increase Women's Glaucoma Risk

Estrogen affects cells in the eye's retina, which may help explain a possible link between glaucoma and estrogen levels.
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Wed November 20, 2013 10:37 am

Taking birth control pills may increase a woman's risk of eye disease later in life, a study finds, because they may reduce protective levels of estrogen.

Doctors have long known that cells in the eye have estrogen receptors. But in the past few years they've started looking into whether the changes in a woman's estrogen levels as she goes through life could affect her risk of glaucoma.

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The Salt
10:57 am
Mon November 18, 2013

Coffee Maker Cooking: Brew Up Your Next Dinner

Parallel processing: Couscous cooks in the coffee maker's carafe while broccoli and cauliflower steam in the basket.
Morgan Walker/ NPR

Originally published on Fri November 22, 2013 6:36 pm

A few months ago, we introduced you to the wild world of dishwasher cooking. Poach salmon while cleaning dirty plates? No problem.

But some of you expressed concerns about having your sockeye sit so close to soapy water and the high energy cost of running a dishwasher.

Well, we've stumbled upon another wacky cooking method that may overcome these issues: using your coffee maker.

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Shots - Health News
2:07 am
Mon November 18, 2013

Gut Bacteria Might Guide The Workings Of Our Minds

Illustration by Benjamin Arthur for NPR

Originally published on Thu December 5, 2013 11:58 am

Could the microbes that inhabit our guts help explain that old idea of "gut feelings?" There's growing evidence that gut bacteria really might influence our minds.

"I'm always by profession a skeptic," says Dr. Emeran Mayer, a professor of medicine and psychiatry at the University of California, Los Angeles. "But I do believe that our gut microbes affect what goes on in our brains."

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Technology
5:10 pm
Sun November 17, 2013

Laboring In The Shadows To Keep The Web Free Of Child Porn

On Thursday, authorities in Canada announced the bust of an enormous international child pornography operation. It was the end of a three-year investigation into a website that trafficked in illicit videos of young boys. More than 300 people have been arrested in connection with the videos, 76 of them in the United States.

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Shots - Health News
2:29 pm
Sun November 17, 2013

Why A Patient's Story Matters More Than A Computer Checklist

Illustration by Daniel Horowitz for NPR

Originally published on Tue November 19, 2013 8:22 am

As I walk to the door of my patient's house on a dirt road outside Tuscaloosa, Ala., I step gingerly. Mrs. Edgars says that she killed a rattlesnake in her flower bed last year.

She is at the door, expecting my visit. Mr. Edgars sits on the couch, unable to recall that I am his doctor, or even that I am a doctor. But he is happy to see me nonetheless.

We chat a moment, then we move on to Mr. Edgars' arthritis. Early on in his dementia he wandered the woods. His wife was afraid he would get lost and die, although the family agreed that this was how he would want it.

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The Salt
10:29 am
Sun November 17, 2013

See How Food Stamp Cuts Are Hitting Across The U.S.

Screen grab of a map that shows hard numbers about who's getting hit by food stamp cuts.
Stateline

Originally published on Mon November 18, 2013 3:20 pm

When you think of Oregon and food, you probably think organic chicken, kale chips and other signs of a strong local food movement. What probably doesn't come to mind? Food stamps.

And yet, 21 percent of Oregon's population – that's one out of every five residents – relies on food stamps to get by. And like many people across the country, these Oregon families who have come to rely on federal food assistance program for meals are learning to make do with less as of this month.

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Around the Nation
7:04 am
Sun November 17, 2013

Bike Evangelist Wants To Put More Riders In The Low Seat

Andrew Duncan Carson makes recumbent bikes out of recycled parts in his garage. He says he'll never ride an upright bike again.
Jon Kalish NPR

Originally published on Mon November 18, 2013 11:24 am

After several knee operations, 66-year-old Marilyn Cowser of Greenfield, Wis., found herself no longer able to Rollerblade or ride her bike.

She was advised to try a recumbent bike, but when Cowser went to her local bike shop, she found they were selling for upwards of $1,500. Cowser wasn't willing to spend that kind of money, so she went to see a guy about a half-hour away who builds recumbents in his garage.

"When I got there, he had them all out," she says. "And I got on this one and took off. I mean, I just went."

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World
4:43 pm
Sat November 16, 2013

UN: Nearly 2 Million Displaced By Typhoon

More than a week after Typhoon Haiyan decimated parts of the Philippines, many residents there are still awaiting help to secure food and shelter. The official death toll has climbed to more than 3,600. And the United Nations now estimates that the storm left nearly 2 million people homeless.

Health Care
4:29 pm
Sat November 16, 2013

States Cool On Obamacare 'You Can Keep It' Fix

President Obama tried to stanch mounting criticism of his health care law this week by announcing that state regulators can let insurance companies renew policies for 2014 that don't meet minimum requirements of the Affordable Care Act. But the change isn't sitting well with some state insurance regulators, and several say they won't go along with Obama's idea.

The New And The Next
4:21 pm
Sat November 16, 2013

Making Moves In Food Delivery, Chess And Health Care

Courtesy of Ozy.com

Originally published on Sat December 7, 2013 2:29 pm

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Parallels
3:26 pm
Sat November 16, 2013

Like Food And Water, Women's Safety A Priority For Relief Aid

A mother breastfeeds her baby inside a chapel that was turned into a makeshift hospital after Typhoon Haiyan battered Tacloban city in central Philippines.
John Lavellana Reuters/Landov

In natural disasters and war zones, food and water aren't the only basic needs, aid and human rights groups say.

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Shots - Health News
2:25 pm
Sat November 16, 2013

New Medical Device Treats Epilepsy With A Well-Timed Zap

The device sits under a patient's skull and tracks brain activity.
Courtesy of NeuroPace

Originally published on Tue November 19, 2013 8:35 am

Imagine a tiny computer embedded under your scalp that's constantly tracking your brain activity and zapping you when it senses something awry.

That might sound like science fiction, but a medical device that does that was just approved by the Food and Drug Administration as an option for people with epilepsy that's resistant to treatment with drugs.

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The Two-Way
11:47 am
Sat November 16, 2013

Princeton Meningitis Cases Spur Emergency Import Of Vaccine

Princeton University's Nassau Hall.
DANIEL HULSHIZER AP

Originally published on Sat November 16, 2013 2:48 pm

A seventh case since March of bacterial meningitis among students at New Jersey's Princeton University has federal health officials considering the use of "an emergency vaccine," The Star-Ledger writes.

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Politics
7:03 am
Sat November 16, 2013

How Obama Changed His Health Care Law

Originally published on Sat November 16, 2013 10:22 am

Transcript

DON GONYEA, HOST:

Not all the action surrounding the health law took place on Capitol Hill this week. Yesterday's vote was just the last of several significant events in the ever-evolving saga that is the Affordable Care Act. NPR's Julie Rovner covers health policy, which these days means pretty much covering the federal health law full time. She joins us in the studio now. Hi, Julie.

JULIE ROVNER, BYLINE: Hey, Don.

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Politics
7:03 am
Sat November 16, 2013

With Democrats' Help, House Votes Against Obamacare

Originally published on Sat November 16, 2013 10:22 am

Transcript

DON GONYEA, HOST:

This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. Scott Simon is away. I'm Don Gonyea. The Affordable Care Act dominated political headlines again this week. Yesterday, the House passed a Republican bill that would allow insurance companies to renew individual health insurance policies even if the coverage does not provide all the benefits required by the new health care law.

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Health
4:28 am
Sat November 16, 2013

Despite Early Stages, Alzheimer's Affects Couple's Big Picture

Pansy Greene, 73, is in the early stages of Alzheimer's. She and her husband, Winston, have been married for 57 years. She says her secret to maintaining a normal life is to stay active and positive.
David P. Gilkey NPR

Originally published on Sat November 16, 2013 10:22 am

NPR has been following Pansy and Winston Greene, a California couple struggling with an Alzheimer's diagnosis. Three years ago, Pansy learned she had Alzheimer's disease, and over this past summer, the couple told NPR that their day-to-day lives haven't changed much. That's still true. But on this second visit, they each seem to be looking at the future a bit differently.

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Health Care
4:58 pm
Fri November 15, 2013

What Makes A Health Plan Obamacare-Compliant?

Originally published on Fri November 15, 2013 7:07 pm

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

We've been hearing a lot about health insurance policies that were canceled because they don't comply with the Affordable Health Care Act. That is, in some way, those policies don't meet the standards that the ACA set. And we were wondering in what way these policies typically fall short. And joining us to try to answer that question is Karen Pollitz, senior fellow at the Kaiser Family Foundation. Welcome to the program.

KAREN POLLITZ: Thank you.

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Shots - Health News
3:34 pm
Fri November 15, 2013

Federal Brain Science Project Aims To Restore Soldiers' Memory

President Obama has pledged millions of dollars to fuel research into understanding the workings of the human brain.
Zephyr Science Source

Originally published on Fri November 15, 2013 7:07 pm

When President Obama announced his plan to explore the mysteries of the human brain seven months ago, it was long on ambition and short on details.

Now some of the details are being sketched in.

The BRAIN Initiative will include efforts to restore lost memories in war veterans, create tools that let scientists study individual brain circuits and map the nervous system of the fruit fly.

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Shots - Health News
2:26 pm
Fri November 15, 2013

For Many People, Lowering Blood Pressure Will Take A Village

A third of Americans have high blood pressure, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Half of them don't have it under control.
iStockphoto.com

There are 78 million people in the United States with high blood pressure, and half of them don't have it under control.

Hypertension remains a difficult problem to solve, despite decades of persuading and prodding from doctors and health authorities.

So it may be time to try a different tack, one that involves giving people more support and less badgering, according to the American Heart Association, the American College of Cardiology, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Think of it as the "it takes a village" approach to high blood pressure.

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All Tech Considered
11:34 am
Fri November 15, 2013

Internal Emails Reveal Warnings HealthCare.gov Wasn't Ready

Henry Chao, the project manager of HealthCare.gov, is sworn in to testify before the House Oversight Committee on Wednesday.
J. Scott Applewhite AP

Originally published on Fri November 15, 2013 3:42 pm

HealthCare.gov could barely function on the day the health insurance marketplace debuted, and internal emails show at least some top health officials could see the failure coming.

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Shots - Health News
11:29 am
Fri November 15, 2013

Consumer Guide To Obama's Plan For Canceled Health Policies

President Obama laid out a plan Thursday to allow people who received insurance cancellation notices to keep their coverage, at least for a while.
Charles Dharapak AP

President Obama's pledge to Americans that they could keep their health plans if they liked them began to backfire last month.

Insurers sent cancellation letters to hundreds of thousands of customers holding individual and family policies. Their plans wouldn't comply with the law come Jan. 1.

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Barbershop
11:14 am
Fri November 15, 2013

Can President Obama Get Back In The Game After Health Care 'Fumble'?

Transcript

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

I'm Michel Martin and this is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. Now it's time for our weekly visit to the Barbershop where the guys talk about what's in the news and what's on their minds. Sitting in the chairs for a shape-up this week are writer Jimi Izrael, with us from Cleveland. From Boston, health care consultant and contributor to National Review magazine, Neil Minkoff. Here in Washington, Paul Butler, professor of law at Georgetown University. And Corey Dade, contributing editor for The Root. Take it away, Jimi.

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