Health Desk

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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NPR Story
11:14 am
Fri November 15, 2013

Young Maasai Activist Challenges Circumcision Tradition

The African Maasai ethnic group is known for its deep roots in tradition and culture, including rights of passage for men and female circumcision. Now, young Maasai woman Nice Nailantei Leng'ete is crusading for alternative rites of passage and empowering young girls to continue their education in Kenya. She tells Michel Martin how she stood her ground to promote the dangers of female genital cutting.Note: This conversation may not be comfortable for all listeners.

The Salt
11:07 am
Fri November 15, 2013

Menu Site Makes It Easy To Compare Restaurant Fat Stats

MenuStat, a new website by the New York City Department of Health, allows users to compare the calorie counts of items between restaurants, over time.
Screenshot of MenuStat.org

Originally published on Fri November 15, 2013 3:43 pm

New York City became a leader in pushing restaurants to be more transparent when it required calorie counts on menus in 2006. Now the city's health department has developed a new tool for those who'd like even more detailed information about restaurant food.

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The Two-Way
10:35 am
Fri November 15, 2013

House Approves 'Keep Your Health Plan' Legislation

The House votes Friday on a bill submitted by GOP Rep. Fred Upton of Michigan, shown with Speaker John Boehner, that seeks to ensure Americans can keep their existing insurance plans even if those policies don't meet standards in the Affordable Care Act.
Charles Dharapak AP

Originally published on Fri November 15, 2013 6:29 pm

The House has approved a Republican-sponsored bill that would allow insurance companies to continue offering policies that would be canceled because they don't meet the standards of the Affordable Care Act. The Keep Your Health Plan Act, H.R. 3350, was adopted by a vote of 261-157, with 17 members not voting.

We've updated the top of this post with the results of the vote and other news.

Update at 7:30 p.m. ET: States Reportedly Confused By Obamacare Fix

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TED Radio Hour
8:20 am
Fri November 15, 2013

Are We Happier When We Have More Options?

Robert Leslie TED

Originally published on Thu December 26, 2013 2:06 pm

Part 5 of the TED Radio Hour episode Misconceptions.

About Barry Schwartz's TEDTalk

Psychologist Barry Schwartz takes aim at a central tenet of western societies: freedom of choice. In Schwartz's estimation, choice has made us not freer but more paralyzed, not happier but more dissatisfied.

About Barry Schwartz

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The Salt
8:06 am
Fri November 15, 2013

How Coffee, Citrus And Nuts Help Cut The Risk Of Diabetes

Coffee can help cut your risk of Type 2 diabetes, fresh research shows. Other foods, such as oranges, lemons and other citrus fruits, nuts and beans can also help.
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Mon November 18, 2013 1:45 pm

If you go back to the 1970s, people with a serious coffee habit often had an accompanying habit: smoking.

And that's why early studies gave coffee a bad rap. Clearly, smoking was harmful. And it was hard for researchers to disentangle the two habits. "So it made coffee look bad in terms of health outcomes," Harvard researcher Meir Stampfer explained to me.

But fast-forward a quarter century, and the rap on coffee began to change.

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Politics
4:16 am
Fri November 15, 2013

House To Vote On GOP Solution To Canceled Insurance

Originally published on Fri November 15, 2013 9:49 am

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Renee Montagne.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

And I'm Steve Inskeep. The first part of October was a political disaster for the Republican Party. After being blamed for the government shutdown, the GOP approval rating fell to historic lows.

MONTAGNE: The weeks since have become a political disaster for Democrats. Problems with the Affordable Care Act have knocked President Obama's poll ratings as low as they've ever been.

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Politics
3:50 am
Fri November 15, 2013

Obama Apologizes, Offers Fix To Insurance Cancellations

Originally published on Fri November 15, 2013 9:49 am

President Obama has acknowledged the fumbled rollout of his signature health care law has hurt his credibility and that of fellow Democrats. He offered a minor change to the law in hopes of calming Democratic nerves, and beating back bigger changes proposed by House Republicans.

Business
3:50 am
Fri November 15, 2013

Health Care Cancellation Cure Could Lead To Higher Premiums

Originally published on Fri November 15, 2013 9:49 am

The health care fix announced by President Obama on Thursday may be good news for some consumers, but it creates a big headache for insurance companies and regulators. An insurance industry trade group warns the last-minute change could destabilize the market and lead to higher premiums.

Shots - Health News
2:32 am
Fri November 15, 2013

Medicare Penalizes Nearly 1,500 Hospitals For Poor Quality Scores

Originally published on Fri November 15, 2013 9:49 am

While the health law's insurance markets are still struggling to get off the ground, the Obama administration is moving ahead with its second year of meting out bonuses and penalties to hospitals based on the quality of their care. This year, there are more losers than winners.

Medicare has raised payment rates to 1,231 hospitals based on two-dozen quality measurements, including surveys of patient satisfaction and — for the first time — death rates. Another 1,451 hospitals are being paid less for each Medicare patient they treat for the year that began Oct. 1.

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The Salt
4:59 pm
Thu November 14, 2013

What's The Most Important Thing Food Labels Should Tell Us?

Illustration by Daniel Horowitz for NPR

Originally published on Thu November 14, 2013 6:29 pm

Food labels have become battlegrounds. Just last week, voters in Washington state narrowly defeated a measure that would have required food manufacturers to reveal whether their products contain genetically modified ingredients.

Supporters of the initiative — and similar proposals in other states — say that consumers have a right to know what they're eating.

But there are lots of things we might want to know about our food. So what belongs on the label?

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Health Desk
4:28 pm
Thu November 14, 2013

Food Allergy Awareness Law

President Barack Obama has signed legislation giving financial incentives to states to stockpile emergency medications in schools that could save lives in the cases of allergic reactions.  
The deaths of two girls in Illinois and Virginia from severe food allergies helped spur efforts to get schools to stockpile epinephrine.  

Epinephrine is considered the first-line treatment for people with severe allergies. The medication is administered by injection through preloaded EpiPens.  
The measure was co-sponsored by Illinois Sens. Dick Durbin and Mark Kirk.  

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