Although the Affordable Care Act is the law of the land, there are ongoing fights in many states over how to carry it out. One conflict concerns navigators, the insurance counselors who are supposed to help people learn about the law. This week saw two major developments: a federal judge put a strict Missouri law on hold, saying the state didn't have the right to regulate the work of navigators. But in Texas, state officials did just that this week.
Carrie Feibel of member station KUHF in Houston reports on the new rules in Texas.
Moms-to-be are often reminded that they're eating for two. It's tempting to take this as an excuse to go for that extra scoop of the ice cream. (Believe me, I've been there.)
But a solid body of research suggests that expectant mothers should be walking away with the opposite message: Pregnancy should be a time to double-down on healthful eating if you want to avoid setting up your unborn child for a lifetime of wrestling with obesity.
It's never easy making medical choices for family members who are too sick to speak for themselves. But researchers say families of the elderly should be ready to do so.
When people over 65 end up in the hospital, about half of them eventually need someone else in the family to make decisions for them, according to findings published in the latest issue of JAMA Internal Medicine.
Originally published on Fri January 24, 2014 11:37 am
As New Year's resolutions go, cutting back on food and drink are right at the top of the list. And while those resolved to change their eating habits may cut the carbohydrates or say a sweet goodbye to sugar, for regular drinkers, the tradition may involve what's known as a dry January: giving up booze for a month.
But could such a short-term breakup with alcohol really impart any measurable health benefits?
Texas has imposed strict new regulations on the insurance helpers, or navigators, who work in the community to enroll people in health plans under the Affordable Care Act.
The navigators must register with the state, undergo a background check and fingerprinting, and complete 20 hours of additional training — beyond the 20 to 30 hours of federal training they've already received.
A new study from Consumer Reports finds varying levels of a chemical compound classified as a possible human carcinogen in many popular brands of soda.
The findings have prompted the Food and Drug Administration to take a new look at the compound, 4-methylimidazole — or 4-MEI for short. It is found in the caramel color that soda makers use to dye the drinks brown.
Originally published on Mon January 27, 2014 11:36 am
Our four-legged friends suffer from many of the same cancers that we do. But one type of dog tumor acts like no other: It's contagious.
The tumor spreads from one pooch to another when the dogs have sex or even just touch or lick each other.
"It's a common disease in street dogs all around the world," says geneticist Elizabeth Murchison at the University of Cambridge. "People in the U.S. and U.K. haven't heard of it because it's found mostly in free-roaming dogs in developing countries."
The federal government said last week that it would begin releasing data on physician payments in the Medicare program. Somehow, the move seems to have ticked off both supporters and opponents of broader transparency in medicine.
Originally published on Thu January 23, 2014 1:41 pm
Portland, Maine, native Hollis McLaughlin's recollection of his mother's fish cookery produces a wistful expression as he takes a bite of the fish cakes given to him as part of the regular Wednesday night meal he is served free of charge at the Parkside Neighborhood Center.
Originally published on Fri January 24, 2014 7:11 am
When it comes to tackling obesity, eating right and staying active are usually the way to go. But a research team in the Netherlands says there's an environmental factor that might help and that is often overlooked: the cold.
We're not talking bone-chilling temperatures that'll make you shiver endlessly, but a milder cold between 62 and 77 degrees.
The Affordable Care Act had ardent critics and supporters long before last fall's troubled launch of the HealthCare.gov website. Opponents of Obamacare say the law will reduce, not increase, the number of health plans available to Americans and that fewer consumers will be able to afford care than before. And delays in implementation of portions of the ACA, they argue, demonstrate how the Obama administration has been forced to undermine its own law in order to keep it running.
This is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. I'm Celeste Headlee. Michel Martin is away. Coming up, the compelling personal story of Texas gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis helped raise her national profile. But she now concedes some details of that story might be inaccurate. The Beauty Shop ladies weigh in. That's later.
Originally published on Fri January 24, 2014 7:12 am
The more we learn about sitting, the more perilous it seems to be.
Flabby muscles, fuzzy thinking and all manner of cardiovascular disease can get started or get worse when we're hanging out on the couch, stuck in traffic or just parked in a chair for too long.
Now there's evidence that heart failure — when your heart becomes too weak to pump enough blood through your arteries — can be brought on by a sedentary lifestyle and also, more generally, a lack of physical activity.
Originally published on Wed January 22, 2014 3:22 pm
Long John Silver's has gained some notoriety in the past for serving up what the food police dubbed the most unhealthful meal in America. (aka heart attack on a hook.)
But the fast-food chain is out to change its reputation. One step in this new direction: a quick transition from partially hydrogenated oils that contain bedeviled trans fats. Today, the chain announced it is moving to a 100 percent soybean oil that is trans-fat free.
Originally published on Tue January 21, 2014 5:55 pm
If you've ever shopped at Whole Foods, you've probably noticed that some of the foods it sells claim all kinds of health and environmental virtues. From its lengthy list of unacceptable ingredients for food to its strict rules for how seafood is caught and meat is raised, the company sets a pretty high bar for what is permitted on its coveted shelves.
Originally published on Wed January 22, 2014 3:42 pm
Preventive health care services are supposed to be covered under the Affordable Care Act so that people don't have to pay out of pocket to get recommended screening tests. But some people are discovering that these supposedly free services can be costly.
Originally published on Tue January 21, 2014 5:58 pm
When it comes to feeding little kids, adults know best. But some nutritionists now argue that children could also benefit from a bit of autonomy at mealtimes.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends that parents let kids as young as 2 years old serve themselves at home. And in 2011, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics advised that child care providers should serve meals "family-style" — present kids with a few different dishes and allow them to take what they want.
Latino immigrants in the U.S. say the quality and affordability of health care is better in the U.S. than in the countries they came from, according to the latest survey by NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard School of Public Health. But many report having health care problems.
The U.S. Supreme Court hears arguments Tuesday in an Illinois case that could drive a stake through the heart of public employee unions.
At issue are two questions: whether states may recognize a union to represent health care workers who care for disabled adults in their homes instead of in state institutions; and whether non-union members must pay for negotiating a contract they benefit from.
To understand why a growing number of states actually want to recognize unions to represent home health care workers, listen to Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan:
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Melissa Block.
Hospitals in rural America are adjusting to many new requirements under the Affordable Care Act. For those in states that are not extending their Medicaid roles, that task is even more challenging. Rural lobbies are pushing states for the expansion, saying without it, their hospitals could close.
This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Melissa Block.
At the end of December, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sibelius said that more than two million people had signed up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act, but she didn't reveal information about their ethnicity. Supporters of the law say that Latino enrollment is vital to its success. Latinos are the most uninsured racial or ethnic group in the country and the obstacles to their enrollment remain high.
Every hospital has a price list but it is hard for the average consumer to figure out what a hospital really charges for care. Traditionally, the price on that list is nowhere near what it actually expects you or an insurance company to pay.
When Melissa Shenewa and her husband imagined their first weeks with their new baby, they pictured hours of cuddling. Instead, they're enduring hours of inconsolable crying.
Their 6-week-old son, Aladdin, is a colicky baby. He cries for hours, usually in the middle of the night. They've tried everything they could think of. Nothing helps.
"Being a parent when your child is screaming in pain for hours on end and there's nothing you can do, you feel helpless," says Shenewa, 24, who lives in Houston. "You feel like you're not a good parent."