Health Desk

Shots - Health News
3:04 pm
Tue November 12, 2013

Clinton To Obama: Honor Promise That People Can Keep Coverage

Bill Clinton says President Obama should figure out a way to honor his promise that people who like their insurance can keep it.
OZY via Facebook

Originally published on Tue November 12, 2013 4:38 pm

If you haven't heard about it yet, President Clinton sounds off on all things Obamacare during a provocative video interview with OZY, an online magazine.

Right off the bat, Clinton affirms his support for the law, despite its problems. "The big lesson is that we're better off with this law than without it," he says.

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Parallels
1:22 pm
Tue November 12, 2013

Do For-Profit Schools Give Poor Kenyans A Real Choice?

Young students in a Bridge International Academy school in Nairobi, in September. On the surface, there's little to distinguish these schools from others in the developing world. But Bridge's model relies on teachers reading lessons from tablets.
Frederic Courbet for NPR

Originally published on Tue November 12, 2013 5:21 pm

Bridge International Academies has set up more than 200 schools in Kenya over the past four years, and plans to open 50 more in January.

Using a school-in-a-box model, Bridge's founders say it gives primary schoolkids a quality education for roughly $5 a month.

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Health
10:25 am
Tue November 12, 2013

Trans Fat Ban Could Bring Smaller Waistlines ... But At What Cost?

Transcript

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

This is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. I'm Michel Martin. Later today, in our parenting conversation and in honor of Native American Heritage Month, we want to take a closer look at research that suggests that the use of Native American imagery for sports and school mascots could actually be psychologically damaging to Native American children. We want to find out more about this later this hour.

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Shots - Health News
9:56 am
Tue November 12, 2013

Despite Health Law, Uninsured Rely On Prevention Care Patchwork

Footprints mark the spot where immigrants stand while taking eye tests at the Salud Family Health Clinic in Ft. Collins, Colo. The nonprofit provides health care to immigrants seeking asylum and migrant farm workers.
John Moore Getty Images

The federal health law gave a huge boost to insurance coverage for preventive care, mandating that nearly all health plans provide cancer screenings, checkups and, more controversially, contraceptives to people without an extra charge.

But those requirements won't help the 30 million or so people who are expected to remain uninsured despite the law. They will still lean on a patchwork of prevention services whose federal and state funding are anything but certain.

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Shots - Health News
2:02 am
Tue November 12, 2013

The Case Against Brain Scans As Evidence In Court

When researchers at Weill Cornell Medical College scanned teenage brains, they found that the area that regulates emotional responses has to work harder to keep impulses in check.
Courtesty Kristina Caudle Developmental Neuroscience

Originally published on Tue November 12, 2013 4:39 pm

It's not just people who go on trial these days. It's their brains.

More and more lawyers are arguing that some defendants deserve special consideration because they have brains that are immature or impaired, says Nita Farahany, a professor of law and philosophy at Duke University who has been studying the use of brain science in court.

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Shots - Health News
2:01 am
Tue November 12, 2013

WHO Rates Typhoon's Medical Challenges "Monumental"

A woman comforts a pregnant relative suffering labor pains at a makeshift birthing clinic in typhoon-battered city of Tacloban, Philippines on Nov. 11.
Erik de Castro Reuters /Landov

Images of the swath of devastation wrought by Typhoon Haiyan in the central Philippines are reminiscent of the tsunami's aftermath in Banda Aceh, Indonesia nearly a decade ago.

And indeed, the World Health Organization grades the great typhoon of 2013 as a Category 3 disaster – its most severe category.

"The scale [of the typhoon's damage] is huge," Dr. Richard Brennan of the World Health Organization tells Shots. "It's monumental. This is one of the biggest emergencies we've dealt with in some time."

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Shots - Health News
5:17 pm
Mon November 11, 2013

First Estimate On Insurance Sign-Ups Is Pretty Darned Small

Mario Ricart , an insurance agent with Sunshine Life and Health Advisors, talks with Naylie Villa about buying insurance under the Affordable Care Act on Nov. 5 in Miami.
Joe Raedle Getty Images

Originally published on Tue November 12, 2013 7:53 am

The Obama administration later this week will issue much anticipated enrollment numbers for the first month of the Affordable Care Act.

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Shots - Health News
5:00 pm
Mon November 11, 2013

Aid Groups Struggle To Reach Survivors Of Typhoon Haiyan

Military personnel from the U.S. and the Philippines unload relief goods at the Tacloban airport, Nov. 11, 2013. Some reports estimate that 10,000 people may have died in the city of Tacloban.
Ted Aljibe AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Tue November 12, 2013 7:08 am

Aid agencies are scrambling to try to get water and food to people in the Philippines who've been left homeless or injured by Typhoon Haiyan.

But reaching some of the areas ravaged by the intense storm is proving difficult. Even when aid can make it onto the islands, it's still not clear what supplies are needed the most.

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Shots - Health News
3:57 pm
Mon November 11, 2013

$4.2 Billion Deal Highlights Drug Profits From Rare Diseases

Flemming Ornskov, CEO of Shire, says the company's offer for ViroPharma is part of a broader push into orphan drugs.
Bloomberg via Getty Images

Originally published on Tue November 12, 2013 7:14 am

Two drugmakers you may have never heard of just agreed to a big deal.

Ireland's Shire says it's paying $4.2 billion for ViroPharma, which makes a drug to treat a rare condition called hereditary angioedema. People with the inherited condition are prone to swelling that can be life-threatening. About 1 in 50,000 people have the genetic mutation that causes the problem.

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Shots - Health News
12:33 pm
Mon November 11, 2013

Movies Rated PG-13 Feature The Most Gun Violence

Gun violence has become increasingly common in PG-13 movies like The Avengers, released in 2012.
Zade Rosenthal AP

Parents who rely on movie ratings to decide what their children can watch may think that PG-13 films have fewer villains flashing guns than R-rated movies.

But they're wrong.

The PG-13 movies actually show more gun violence, a study finds.

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U.S.
9:49 am
Mon November 11, 2013

Military Women Combat Challenges in Service

Originally published on Tue November 12, 2013 8:38 am

On Veteran's Day, we honor those who have served by talking with five women who have fought for this country. All five are also authors. We hear how they hope to encourage a new generation of women in the military. Join @TellMeMoreNPR for a Live Twitter chat at 11:00am ET. We will talk about women in combat, race in the military, balancing career & motherhood and why women choose to serve.

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Shots - Health News
8:27 am
Mon November 11, 2013

Sweat Your Way To A Healthier Brain

He feels smarter already.
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Tue November 12, 2013 7:14 am

Moving your body may be the best way to protect your brain.

Physical exercise can ease depression, slow age-related memory loss and prevent Parkinson-like symptoms, researchers reported at the Society for Neuroscience meeting underway in San Diego.

The findings — some in animals, some in people — suggest that people may be making a mistake if they're relying primarily on crossword puzzles and brain-training games for mental wellness.

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Science
2:20 am
Mon November 11, 2013

Lessons In Leadership: It's Not About You. (It's About Them)

Ronald Heifetz draws on his training as a psychiatrist to coach aspiring leaders at Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government.
Ben de la Cruz NPR

Originally published on Mon November 11, 2013 6:15 pm

Ronald Heifetz has been a professor of public leadership at Harvard's Kennedy School for three decades, teaching classes that have included aspiring business leaders and budding heads of state. Each year, he says, the students start his course thinking they'll learn the answer to one question:

As leaders, how can they get others to follow them?

Heifetz says that whole approach is wrong.

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Shots - Health News
2:18 am
Mon November 11, 2013

Self-Employed And With Lots Of Questions About Health Care

Illustration by Katherine Streeter for NPR

Originally published on Mon November 11, 2013 1:36 pm

The health care exchanges may be open, but there's no question they're still kind of a mess.

"The rollout has been excruciatingly awful for way too many people," Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius conceded to the Senate Finance Committee last week.

But mess or not, the law is going forward, people are trying to use it, and they have questions. Here are some of yours, and our answers.

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World
5:11 pm
Sun November 10, 2013

Lighting Up The Investigative Path With Polonium-210

Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat boards a helicopter in Ramallah, the West Bank, for the start of his journey to a hospital in France on Oct. 29, 2004. He died 2 weeks later.
Scott Nelson Getty Images

Originally published on Sun November 10, 2013 5:58 pm

With a Swiss forensics investigation pointing to polonium-210 as a possible cause of Yasser Arafat's death, the radioactive element is back in the news.

Confirming whether the Palestinian leader died from an assassination attempt will be difficult, given polonium's short half-life and the fact that Arafat has been dead nine years, science writer Deborah Blum says.

Whatever happened to Arafat, polonium does have a deadly history.

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Shots - Health News
2:07 pm
Sun November 10, 2013

Why Can't Ted Stay Out Of The Emergency Room?

A nurse's phone call at the right time can prevent a trip to the ER.
W. Steve Shepard Jr. iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Tue November 12, 2013 7:14 am

A 40-something patient I'll call Ted has a list of conditions that would have tongue-tied Carl Sagan. Even though I see Ted in my clinic every month, he still winds up visiting the emergency room 20 times per year.

Yes, 20.

Before he became my patient, he went even more frequently. So, the current situation, bad as it may be, represents halting progress.

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Shots - Health News
2:36 pm
Sat November 9, 2013

How A California Law To Encourage Vaccination Could Backfire

Public school student Julio Valenzuela, 11, grimaces as he gets a vaccination before the start of the school in Lynnwood, Calif., on Aug. 27. Vaccines are required for school attendance.
ROBYN BECK AFP/Getty Images

California has a new law that's supposed to get more of the state's children vaccinated against measles, whooping cough and other infectious diseases.

But the law has taken a strange turn on its way to being put into action, one that may instead make it easier for parents to exempt their children from required vaccinations.

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Health Care
6:14 am
Sat November 9, 2013

Democrats Try To Tweak Health Care Law

Originally published on Sat November 9, 2013 10:24 am

Transcript

DON GONYEA, HOST:

President Obama apologized this week for the fact that some Americans are losing their health plans despite his promises they wouldn't. The President spoke with NBC News.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "NBC NEWS")

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: I am sorry that they are, you know, finding themselves in this situation based on assurances they got from me. We've got to work hard to make sure that they know we hear them and that we're going to do everything we can to deal with folks who find themselves in a tough position as a consequence of this.

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Health Care
6:14 am
Sat November 9, 2013

When Caregivers Are Abusers: Calif. Complaints Go Unanswered

Jim Fossum holds a photograph of his aunt, Elsie Fossum, who died from injuries her caregiver said were the result of a fall.
Mina Kim KQED

Originally published on Sat November 9, 2013 12:32 pm

Nurse assistants and home health aides provide intimate care, bathing, feeding and dressing the elderly, disabled or ill. So what happens when an abusive caregiver hurts a patient?

Public health regulators in California have been letting many complaints sit for years — even when they involve severe injuries or deaths.

'Beaten To A Pulp'

Elsie Fossum's nieces and nephews say she was the aunt you wanted to have.

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Shots - Health News
3:39 pm
Fri November 8, 2013

In Massachusetts, Health Care Prices Remain Hard To Get

The price for an X-ray is murkier than the image.
Ivica Kljucar iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Fri November 8, 2013 7:08 pm

I threw out my back in September playing squash and went to the doctor. She sent me down the hall for X-rays. I may need more of them.

So I'm curious, how much does an X-ray cost? It sounds like a simple question. In most places, it's impossible to find out, but I live in Massachusetts, where a new state law says insurers must be able to tell members, in advance, how much a test, treatment or surgical procedure will cost.

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NPR Story
3:39 pm
Fri November 8, 2013

White House Releases Long-Awaited Rules On Mental Health

The mental health parity law passed in 2008, but it didn't cover people in smaller health plans.
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Sat November 9, 2013 1:35 pm

The Obama administration delivered on a long-delayed health care promise when it issued rules to ensure equal health insurance treatment for people who have problems with mental health or need treatment for substance abuse.

The rules, issued Friday, require that most health insurance plans offer the same amount of coverage for mental health and substance abuse claims as they do for medical and surgical coverage.

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The Salt
3:32 pm
Fri November 8, 2013

Can We Eat Our Way To A Healthier Microbiome? It's Complicated

While no one's sure which foods are good for our microbiomes, eating more veggies can't hurt.
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Mon November 25, 2013 9:27 am

When our colleague Rob Stein got his microbiome analyzed recently in the name of science journalism, we were totally fascinated.

As Stein noted, it may be possible to cultivate a healthier community of bacteria on and inside us by modifying our diets.

Stein was advised to eat more garlic and leeks for his. But we wondered: Are there other foods that promote a healthy microbiome in most people?

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The Two-Way
3:06 pm
Fri November 8, 2013

Mental Health Moves Closer To Parity In New Insurance Rules

Former Rep. Patrick Kennedy (left) is welcomed by Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, during a hearing about mental health parity rules Thursday. A new rule issued by the Obama administration aims to increase parity for how insurers handle mental health issues.
Chip Somodevilla Getty Images

Originally published on Fri November 8, 2013 7:28 pm

Many health insurers must treat coverage of mental health and substance abuse in the same way they handle treatments for physical illness, according to a new rule issued Friday by the Obama administration.

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Shots - Health News
11:34 am
Fri November 8, 2013

Polio In The Middle East And Africa Could Threaten Europe

A doctor vaccinates a child against polio at a health clinic in Damascus, Syria, on Nov. 6. To stop the disease from spreading beyond Syria, health officials plan to vaccinate 20 million children in the region.
Youssef Badawi EPA /LANDOV

Polio outbreaks in the Middle East and Africa could spread to Europe if precautions aren't taken, researchers say.

The recent discovery of the poliovirus in Syria, Somalia and Israel should be a wake-up call for European health officials, according to epidemiologist Martin Eichner at the University of Tuebingen in Germany.

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Science
11:29 am
Fri November 8, 2013

Biosecurity for the Age of Redesigned Life

Forget dissecting frogs and building potato batteries. High school students today are learning genetic engineering--and some are even redesigning life. Bioethicists and the FBI have taken note and are rethinking biosecurity for the synthetic biology revolution.

Your Health
11:29 am
Fri November 8, 2013

Navigating Dietary Supplement Regulations

Echinacea, vitamins, and other dietary supplements have become a $5 billion industry, but the products don't need to be pre-approved by the FDA before they go on the market. How do we know what is really in our supplements? What regulations are currently in place? How can we keep ourselves safe and informed?

Shots - Health News
2:06 am
Fri November 8, 2013

Persistence Pays Off For Uninsured Alaskan

Hairdresser Lara Imler used to be an accountant. She doesn't miss her old job, except for the insurance.
Annie Feidt

Originally published on Fri November 8, 2013 9:17 am

Despite all the problems with HealthCare.gov, a few dozen Alaskans have managed to enroll in a health plan through the marketplace. Lara Imler is one of them.

Imler, a 37-year-old hair stylist in Anchorage, ditched her office job as an accountant in 2004. She says she loves making people feel better about themselves and is a lot happier cutting hair than she was sitting in front of a computer. But she does miss one big thing about her old job: "I had health insurance, and it was wonderful."

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The Salt
5:55 pm
Thu November 7, 2013

How 17th Century Fraud Gave Rise To Bright Orange Cheese

Shelburne Farms' clothbound cheddar has a bright yellow color because it's made from the milk of cows that graze on grasses high in beta-carotene.
Courtesy of A. Blake Gardner

Originally published on Fri November 8, 2013 8:46 am

The news from Kraft last week that the company is ditching two artificial dyes in some versions of its macaroni and cheese products left me with a question.

Why did we start coloring cheeses orange to begin with? Turns out there's a curious history here.

In theory, cheese should be whitish — similar to the color of milk, right?

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Shots - Health News
4:44 pm
Thu November 7, 2013

Doctors Slow To Embrace Recommended HPV Testing

The human papilloma virus causes most cervical cancers. That's why HPV testing is now recommended for women ages 30 to 65.
Science Photo Library

For decades the annual Pap test was women's chief protection against cervical cancer. That all changed when a test for human papillomavirus, the cause of most cervical cancer, was approved in 2003.

With the HPV test, women don't need to get Pap tests as often. But that message hasn't gotten through to many doctors.

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All Tech Considered
4:21 pm
Thu November 7, 2013

Facebook Takes On Cyberbullies As More Teens Leave Site

On Wednesday, Facebook released a digital resource center to expand its efforts against online harassment.
Facebook

Originally published on Thu November 7, 2013 5:18 pm

Facebook has rolled out a tool to address online harassment that some digital safety advocates are calling a beneficial, but belated, first step.

The social networking site with 1.2 billion users worldwide released a "bullying prevention hub" this week. It's essentially an online resource center with suggestions for teens, parents and educators on how to address bullying — both online and off — and take action on Facebook.

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