Health Desk

Health Care
7:07 am
Sat October 26, 2013

'Loyal Soldier' Sebelius Vows To Stay Put, Fix HealthCare.gov

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius speaks Thursday in Phoenix.
Laura Segall Getty Images

Originally published on Sat October 26, 2013 10:19 am

This has not been an easy month for Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.

Republican Sen. Pat Roberts of Kansas — who learned the political ropes working for Sebelius' father-in-law, then a Kansas congressman — called for her to step down over the debut of HealthCare.gov, the problem-plagued website where people are supposed to apply for coverage under the Affordable Care Act.

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Shots - Health News
5:26 pm
Fri October 25, 2013

For Obamacare To Work, It's Not Just About The Numbers

Ashley Hentze (left) gets help signing up for the Affordable Care Act from a volunteer in Florida. The government says that 40 percent of the expected enrollees for 2014 must be young and healthy for health insurance premiums to remain affordable.
Chris O'Meara AP

Originally published on Mon October 28, 2013 2:38 pm

Relatively few people have enrolled in new health insurance plans since the Affordable Care Act exchanges launched this month. But some health care experts say it's early days yet — and that getting the right proportion of healthy, young new enrollees is just as important as how quickly people sign up.

The Congressional Budget Office projects that 7 million people will buy health insurance for 2014 through the new exchanges, integral to the implementation of the government's new health care law.

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The Salt
5:12 pm
Fri October 25, 2013

Aging Well: Keeping Blood Sugar Low May Protect Memory

Eating right and exercise are key to controlling blood sugar. So maybe you should skip that doughnut.
Pink Sherbet Photography Flickr

There's a growing body of evidence linking elevated blood sugar to memory problems.

For instance, earlier this year, a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine concluded that higher glucose may be a risk factor for dementia, even among people without type 2 diabetes.

So the question is, at what point does the risk of cognitive decline set in?

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Shots - Health News
4:30 pm
Fri October 25, 2013

Pennsylvania Governor Talks Up Plan To Expand Medicaid His Way

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett speaks at St. Christopher's Hospital for Children in Philadelphia on Wednesday. Corbett visited the hospital to promote his Healthy Pennsylvania initiative.
Matt Rourke AP

Originally published on Fri October 25, 2013 6:55 pm

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett may have been watching fellow Republican Gov. John Kasich of Ohio who bypassed the Republican Legislature in his state this week to expand Medicaid.

As part of the Affordable Care Act, states have the option to make coverage available to low-income adults, with the federal government picking up the entire tab for the first three years.

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Shots - Health News
2:28 pm
Fri October 25, 2013

What If Husbands Had A GPS To Help Wives With Breast Cancer?

Recalculating ...
Katherine Streeter for NPR

Originally published on Mon October 28, 2013 2:39 pm

When I make a wrong turn, the woman's voice in my GPS says, "Route recalculation." Then she tells me how to get back on track.

How I wish this electronic tool could be adapted for men whose wives have breast cancer.

Imagine a device that would help us correct course when we try our best to support the women we love — and inevitably mess up. As a breast cancer husband who did just about everything wrong when my wife was diagnosed, I would have been very grateful for a little back-seat driving.

Let's consider some examples.

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The Two-Way
1:33 pm
Fri October 25, 2013

Administration: A Month Needed To Fix Obamacare Enrollment Site

The HealthCare.gov insurance exchange site shown on Oct. 1, when it opened. Since then, it's been plagued with problems.
Karen Bleier AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Fri October 25, 2013 2:37 pm

A subcontractor that built a portion of the HealthCare.gov website that's now working relatively well is being promoted to oversee a thorough revamping of the entire glitch-prone portal, and work will be done by the end of next month, the White House says.

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Shots - Health News
1:18 pm
Fri October 25, 2013

Why Engineers Want To Put B Vitamins In 3-D Printers

This riboflavin-rich material can be used to print intricate, microscopic structures in three dimensions.
Courtesy of North Carolina State University

Almost every day it seems there's a new use for 3-D printing.

In medicine, the printers are already making prosthetic hands, hearing aid cases and parts of human ears.

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Shots - Health News
11:57 am
Fri October 25, 2013

Why Hiking The Age For Medicare Eligibility Wouldn't Save Much

President Obama and House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio talk with reporters at the White House after a meeting about the federal budget deficit and economy in Nov. 2012. Some Republicans have proposed raising the Medicare eligibility age to 67.
Carolyn Kaster AP

Americans are living and working longer than ever. And Medicare, the health plan that's supposed to help senior citizens, is facing budget problems sooner rather than later.

By 2023, about 70 million people will get health care paid for by Medicare, and their tab is expected to hit about $1.1 trillion in that year.

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Author Interviews
11:47 am
Fri October 25, 2013

Craig Venter: Life at the Speed of Light

Transcript

IRA FLATOW, HOST:

This is SCIENCE FRIDAY. I'm Ira Flatow. Craig Venter was the first person to ever create a living thing from scratch, a cell, a bacterium, into which was inserted manmade genetic material - DNA. And for all intents and purposes, it was alive, moving, reproducing. It opened up a whole new world of what he and we now call synthetic biology, creating stuff from genetic code as we need it.

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Animals
11:47 am
Fri October 25, 2013

Discover the Inner Beauty of the Naked Mole Rat

Transcript

IRA FLATOW, HOST:

Up next, it's time for our video pick of the week. And making his debut on SCIENCE FRIDAY is our new video producer, Luke Groskin. Hey, Luke.

LUKE GROSKIN, BYLINE: Hi, Ira.

FLATOW: You like this seat? Get used to it.

GROSKIN: It's nice and comfy.

FLATOW: All right. What have you got for us this week?

GROSKIN: Well, today we're going to regale ourselves in the inner beauty of the naked mole rat.

(LAUGHTER)

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Science
11:46 am
Fri October 25, 2013

The Real-Life Walking Dead

Cotard's syndrome, also known as Walking Corpse Syndrome, is a rare disorder that causes sufferers to believe they are dead. The exact cause is unknown. Doctors Thomas Linden and Andres Hellden describe effects of the syndrome that they observed in patients who took a common antiviral medication.

Mental Health
11:46 am
Fri October 25, 2013

Uncovering the Brain of a Psychopath

What makes someone a psychopath? Can these traits be passed through family lines? Neuroscientist James Fallon, and author of The Psychopath Inside: A Neuroscientist's Personal Journey Into the Dark Side of the Brain, discusses his scientific and personal exploration into the antisocial mind.

Fitness & Nutrition
10:27 am
Fri October 25, 2013

How To 'Eat Good' In The 'Hood'

Originally published on Fri October 25, 2013 12:30 pm

Eating healthy can be a challenge, especially if you're on a tight budget. Host Michel Martin asks health guru and rapper Stic, of the rap duo Dead Prez, for his suggestions on eating well while on a so-called "hood" budget.

The Salt
10:03 am
Fri October 25, 2013

Does Bacon Really Make Everything Better? Here's The Math

According to big data, this bacon and avocado sandwich should be a party for your tastebuds.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Sat October 26, 2013 1:53 pm

You'd have to be living under a rock to miss the signs of our cultural obsession with bacon.

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TED Radio Hour
9:26 am
Fri October 25, 2013

What Does Electroshock Therapy Feel Like?

Sherwin Nuland speaking at TED.
TED

Originally published on Tue December 17, 2013 8:49 am

Part 1 of the TED Radio Hour episode Turning Points. Watch Sherwin Nuland's other TEDTalk on hope.

About Sherwin Nuland's TEDTalk

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TED Radio Hour
9:26 am
Fri October 25, 2013

Can Everything Change In An Instant?

"These thing that were a part of me before the crash, are still present in me" - Joshua Prager
James Duncan Davidson TED

Part 4 of the TED Radio Hour episode Turning Points.

About Joshua Prager's TEDTalk

When Joshua Prager was 19, a devastating bus accident left him paralyzed on his left side. He returned to Israel twenty years later to find the driver who turned his world upside down. Prager tells his story and probes deep questions of identity, self-deception and destiny.

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Health
5:43 am
Fri October 25, 2013

FDA Wants Stricter Rules For Some Prescription Drugs

The Food and Drug Administration announced Thursday that it's recommending tighter regulation of some prescription painkillers. David Greene reports.

Health Care
5:43 am
Fri October 25, 2013

A Tale Of Two HealthCare.gov Users

Kimberly Cartier and Chelsea Altman have had two very different experiences trying to use the new health care exchange website. David Greene explains what happened.

Health
2:27 am
Fri October 25, 2013

Clinics Close As Texas Abortion Fight Continues

In July, abortion rights advocates marched in Austin, Texas, to protest legislation that could shut down all but five abortion clinics and restrict abortion rights throughout the state.
Tamir Kalifa AP

Originally published on Fri October 25, 2013 9:52 am

The fight over abortion in Texas is being played out in federal court, where abortion rights activists are challenging a new state law.

The measure bans abortions at 20 weeks, adds building requirements for clinics and places more rules on doctors who perform abortions. Some clinics have shut down, saying they can't comply with the law set to go into effect Oct. 29.

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U.S.
5:25 pm
Thu October 24, 2013

Feds Recast Child Prostitutes As Victims, Not Criminals

The FBI and Department of Justice are working to encourage local law enforcement agencies to view child prostitutes as potential human trafficking victims rather than criminals.
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Mon October 28, 2013 12:48 pm

Across the country, newly formed task forces made up of local, state and federal law enforcement officers are starting to view what was once seen as run-of-the-mill prostitution as possible instances of sex trafficking.

With support and funding from the FBI and the Justice Department, agencies are starting to work together to identify and rescue sex trafficking victims and arrest their pimps.

The new approach is being hailed by victims of trafficking and their advocates as a much-needed paradigm shift — and, the FBI says, is reaping results.

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The Salt
5:25 pm
Thu October 24, 2013

Almonds For Skinny Snackers? Yes, They Help Curb Your Appetite

The protein, unsaturated fat composition and fiber in almonds all very likely play a role in helping to curb appetites.
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Sat October 26, 2013 1:54 pm

Americans seem to have a love affair with snacking.

As a society, we eat twice as many snacks as we did a generation ago. Women, on average, nosh on upwards of 400 snack calories per day, according to federal survey data. And men consume almost 600 calories a day in between meals.

So, if nibbling is our new pastime, researchers have a suggestion for one satiating snack that seems to help control our appetites: almonds.

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Shots - Health News
5:24 pm
Thu October 24, 2013

FDA Seeks To Tighten Controls On Hydrocodone Painkillers

Hydrocodone, sold as Vicodin and other brand names, may face tighter restrictions on prescribing and use.
Toby Talbot AP

Originally published on Thu October 24, 2013 5:50 pm

The Food and Drug Administration Thursday announced that it wants the federal government to impose tough new restrictions on some of the most widely used prescription painkillers.

The FDA said it planned to recommend that Vicodin and other prescription painkillers containing the powerful opioid hydrocodone be reclassified from a "Schedule III" drug to a "Schedule II" drug, which would impose new restrictions on how they are prescribed and used.

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All Tech Considered
4:14 pm
Thu October 24, 2013

A Diagram Of HealthCare.gov, Based On The People Who Built It

An attempt to draw out the various parts of HealthCare.gov's tech system, based on the testimony of its contractors.
Elise Hu NPR

Originally published on Wed October 30, 2013 11:52 am

One of the major issues that's emerged since the failed rollout of HealthCare.gov is that there was no lead contractor on the project. (CGI Federal was the biggest contractor — awarded the most expensive contract — but says it did not have oversight over the other parts of the system.) Instead, the quarterbacking was left to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, a subagency of the Department of Health and Human Services.

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Your Health
3:23 pm
Thu October 24, 2013

Want To Cut Calories? Try Snacking On Calorie-Dense Almonds

Originally published on Thu October 24, 2013 4:57 pm

A new study has found that people who snack on almonds really do eat less throughout the day. It's the combination of fiber, protein and the fact that we don't absorb all the calories we eat since we don't chew them very well. Another reason? They don't have carbs, which stimulate our appetites.

Politics
3:23 pm
Thu October 24, 2013

Obamacare Contractors Head To Capitol Hill For House Hearing

Originally published on Thu October 24, 2013 5:25 pm

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish.

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

And I'm Melissa Block.

On Capitol Hill, it was a day of tough questions and finger-pointing. Lawmakers got their first chance to grill government contractors over the botched rollout of the new government health insurance website. It was the first in a series of hearings. And as NPR's Ailsa Chang reports, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle directed their anger at the contractors and at each other.

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Shots - Health News
3:22 pm
Thu October 24, 2013

Dangerous Fungus Makes A Surprise Appearance In Montana

Histoplasma capsulatum is common in soil in the Midwest and Mid-Atlantic. So how did it get a rancher in Montana sick?
CDC

Originally published on Thu October 24, 2013 5:53 pm

What life-threatening illness can you get from repotting plants, attending a rodeo or going spelunking? If you didn't guess histoplasmosis, you're not alone.

This week's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, chronicle of all things infectious, reports on the surprising appearance of histoplasmosis, a lung infection caused by a fungus, in four people in Montana.

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Shots - Health News
2:55 pm
Thu October 24, 2013

Slaying 'Little Dragons': Guinea Worm Moves Toward Eradication

Hawah Alhassan, 5, contracted Guinea worm in a village near Tamale, Ghana, in 2007. The country eliminated the parasite in 2011.
Wes Pope MCT/Landov

Originally published on Fri October 25, 2013 1:22 pm

The world has eradicated just one human disease: smallpox. But another illness is getting tantalizingly close to elimination.

No, we're not talking about polio; that virus also has its back against a wall. But a report Thursday puts a parasitic worm ahead of polio in the race to extinction.

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Shots - Health News
1:46 pm
Thu October 24, 2013

What's The Real Deadline For Buying Health Coverage?

Which date should be circled on your insurance calendar?
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Tue October 29, 2013 8:56 am

Under the Affordable Care Act, nearly everyone will be required to have health insurance. If they don't, they'll have to pay the federal government a tax penalty.

But it turns out this is a case where there are deadlines, and then there are hard deadlines.

And with the federally run health insurance exchange at HealthCare.gov so mired in technology problems, figuring out the what counts as a real deadline has become a very hot topic.

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Shots - Health News
11:06 am
Thu October 24, 2013

A View Of Insurance Marketplace Problems From 4 States

Despite major problems with health exchanges, a few people have been able to sign up for insurance.
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Thu October 24, 2013 12:33 pm

As snafus with the federal health insurance website have multiplied, some states are making halting progress getting people signed up for coverage. But the picture isn't pretty.

Mississippi and Alaska are depending on the federal government for their sites, and they haven't managed to sign up many people. California and Oregon built their own exchanges, but even those sites are having problems. Here is a roundup from NPR member stations in those four states.

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Health Care
11:03 am
Thu October 24, 2013

Obamacare Website Mess: Whose Fault Is It?

Originally published on Thu October 24, 2013 11:07 am

Transcript

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

I'm Michel Martin and this is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. Coming up, it's no secret that it's getting harder to move on up in this country, to achieve upward mobility that is. Last week, we asked whether the ability of Americans to literally move to different parts of the country is playing a role in this. We heard from so many listeners about this that we decided to dig into the story a bit more, and we'll have that in just a few minutes.

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