Health Desk

Health Care
4:22 pm
Fri January 24, 2014

Texas Sets Up Roadblock For Health Care Navigators

Originally published on Fri January 24, 2014 6:29 pm

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

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.

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The Salt
2:58 pm
Fri January 24, 2014

Can Mom's Pregnancy Diet Rewire Baby's Brain For Obesity?

Choose wisely: What Mom eats during pregnancy can set the stage for obesity in her baby.
Meg Vogel NPR

Originally published on Sat January 25, 2014 6:07 pm

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.

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Shots - Health News
11:43 am
Fri January 24, 2014

When Elderly Are Hospitalized, Families Face Tough Decisions

Who will help make decisions when an older family member is hospitalized?
iStockphoto

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.

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The Salt
9:15 am
Fri January 24, 2014

Dry January: Giving Up Booze For A Month Does Have Benefits

Give your liver a break every now and then.
iStockphoto

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?

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Shots - Health News
2:42 am
Fri January 24, 2014

Life-Support Battle Over Pregnant Texas Woman Heads To Court

Erick Munoz stands with an undated family photograph of himself, his wife, Marlise, and their son Mateo. Erick Munoz is now fighting to have a Texas hospital remove his pregnant wife from life support, saying she is brain-dead.
Courtesy Munoz Family MCT/Landov

Originally published on Fri January 24, 2014 7:38 am

The case of the Texas woman, 22 weeks pregnant and being kept on life-support machines at a Forth Worth hospital against her husband's wishes, goes before a judge in North Texas on Friday.

Marlise Munoz has been on respirators and ventilators since she was found unconscious in her home in November, when she was 14 weeks pregnant.

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Shots - Health News
4:30 pm
Thu January 23, 2014

Texas Issues Tough Rules For Insurance Navigators

Cedric Anthony and Alysia Greer are two of the navigators working in Houston neighborhoods for United Labor Unions Local 100.
Carrie Feibel

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.

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The Salt
3:45 pm
Thu January 23, 2014

Potential Carcinogen In Colas Has FDA Reviewing Data

4-MEI, a chemical created during the manufacturing of caramel color used to dye sodas brown, is under new scrutiny.
iStockphoto

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.

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Shots - Health News
2:30 pm
Thu January 23, 2014

Contagious Cancer In Dogs Leaves Prehistoric Paw Prints

The sexually transmitted cancer is common in street dogs around the world.
Noel Celis/AFP/Getty Images

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."

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Shots - Health News
12:48 pm
Thu January 23, 2014

How Will Medicare Pull Back The Curtain On Pay For Doctors?

A snippet of the data ProPublica obtained from the federal government about Medicare Part D, the prescription drug benefit for seniors.
ProPublica

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.

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The Salt
9:55 am
Thu January 23, 2014

An Innovative Plan To Reel In Sport Fishermen To Feed The Hungry

Students prepare fish cakes that will be part of a free dinner offered at Parkside Neighborhood Center in Portland, Maine.
Courtesy of Samantha Laster

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.

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Shots - Health News
7:15 pm
Wed January 22, 2014

A Growth Factor Heals The Damage To A Preemie's Brain — In Mice

A baby born too soon continues to develop and grow inside an incubator at the neonatal ward of the Centre Hospitalier de Lens in Lens, northern France.
Philippe Huguen AFP/Getty Images

A naturally occurring substance called epidermal growth factor appears to reverse a type of brain damage that's common in very premature infants.

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Shots - Health News
4:27 pm
Wed January 22, 2014

In North Carolina, Workarounds Help The Poor Find Health Coverage

John Martin, 24, was uninsured until a health care navigator told him he could get coverage through his parents' health plan.
Jenny Gold

Originally published on Wed January 22, 2014 7:01 pm

In the mountains of western North Carolina, Julia Buckner spends hours driving around what she calls God's country.

Buckner is a health navigator. Her job — and her passion — is to help the rural residents of some of the poorest counties in North Carolina sign up for coverage through the Affordable Care Act.

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Shots - Health News
3:36 pm
Wed January 22, 2014

How A Little Chill In The Air Could Help You Lose Weight

Researchers say that setting your thermostat a little lower can help you burn more calories.
iStockphoto

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.

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Intelligence Squared U.S.
2:06 pm
Wed January 22, 2014

Debate: Is The Affordable Care Act Beyond Repair?

Dr. Scott Gottlieb and Megan McArdle face off against Jonathan Chait and Dr. Douglas Kamerow over the Affordable Care Act in a debate moderated by John Donvan in January.
Samuel LaHoz Intelligence Squared US
  • Listen To The Full Audio Of The Debate
  • Listen To The Broadcast Version Of The Debate

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.

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Health
12:57 pm
Wed January 22, 2014

Latino Immigrants Find A Better Life In U.S., Poll Says

Originally published on Wed January 22, 2014 1:41 pm

Transcript

CELESTE HEADLEE, HOST:

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.

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Shots - Health News
12:27 pm
Wed January 22, 2014

Failing To Get Off The Couch May Contribute To Heart Failure

I'll be what I am, a sedentary man.
iStockphoto

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.

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The Salt
12:24 pm
Wed January 22, 2014

Long John Silver's Throws Trans Fats Overboard

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.

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The Salt
2:51 pm
Tue January 21, 2014

Whole Foods Bans Produce Grown With Sludge. But Who Wins?

A woman shops in the produce section at Whole Foods in New York City. The company recently announced it would prohibit produce farmed using biosolids in its stores.
Stephen Chernin/Getty Images

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.

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Shots - Health News
1:23 pm
Tue January 21, 2014

Preventive Medical Care Can Come With Unexpected Costs

Insurers still charge copays for some contraceptives.
Laura Garca iStockphoto

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.

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Parenting
11:00 am
Tue January 21, 2014

Can You Really Parent Long Distance?

Originally published on Tue January 21, 2014 11:52 am

Transcript

CELESTE HEADLEE, HOST:

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The Salt
9:57 am
Tue January 21, 2014

Why Letting Kids Serve Themselves May Be Worth The Mess

Adults tend to overestimate how much small children can eat, a child development researcher says.
Getty Images/iStockphoto.com

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.

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Shots - Health News
4:15 am
Tue January 21, 2014

Diabetes, Cost Of Care Top Health Concerns For U.S. Latinos

A customer buys produce at the Euclid Market in the Boyle Heights neighborhood of East Los Angeles in December. The market was reopened in 2013 as part of a project to promote healthy eating among the city's Hispanic population.
Courtesy of UCLA Fielding School of Public Health

Originally published on Tue January 21, 2014 11:57 am

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.

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Law
2:18 am
Tue January 21, 2014

A Union For Home Health Aides Brings New Questions To Supreme Court

One of the questions before the U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday is whether non-union members must pay for negotiating a contract they benefit from.
Jonathan Ernst Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Tue January 21, 2014 11:40 am

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:

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Shots - Health News
2:16 am
Tue January 21, 2014

Mild-Mannered Stingrays Can Inflict A World Of Hurt

The round stingray is native to the eastern Pacific coast and is notorious for injuring swimmers and surfers.
laszlo-photo/Flickr

Originally published on Wed January 22, 2014 7:08 am

Want to get away? Thinking about a place with warm water and soft sand? Sounds nice. But think twice before you wade into that inviting surf. Chances are there are stingrays in the area.

Every year, these timid, shellfish-eating cousins of the shark inflict excruciating injuries on thousands of swimmers and surfers from the Bahamas to Bahrain to both coasts of the United States.

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Health Care
3:55 pm
Mon January 20, 2014

Rural Regions Lobby For State Medicaid Expansion

Originally published on Mon January 20, 2014 6:44 pm

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

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.

Susanna Capelouto reports.

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Health Care
3:55 pm
Mon January 20, 2014

Language Remains A Barrier In Latino Health Care Enrollment

Originally published on Mon January 20, 2014 6:44 pm

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

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.

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Around the Nation
4:19 am
Mon January 20, 2014

Miami Children's Hospital Sheds Light On Upfront Costs

Originally published on Mon January 20, 2014 7:04 am

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.

Shots - Health News
2:39 am
Mon January 20, 2014

Can Probiotics Help Soothe Colicky Babies?

You tried burping. You tried bouncing. You tried swaddling. Now what?
iStockphoto

Originally published on Tue January 21, 2014 2:53 pm

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."

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Shots - Health News
2:37 am
Mon January 20, 2014

In Michigan, Businessmen And Politicians Agree On Medicaid

Henry Ford Hospital treats Detroit residents. About 1 in 3 residents of that city is uninsured, and the hospital CEO hopes Medicaid expansion will increase the number of people with health insurance.
Eric Whitney

Originally published on Mon January 20, 2014 12:45 pm

Republican Party leaders say opposition to the Affordable Care Act is their No. 1 campaign issue for the midterm election.

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Shots - Health News
2:28 am
Mon January 20, 2014

In These Gyms, Nobody Cares How You Look In Yoga Pants

Kendall Schrantz, center, stretches after a class at Downsize Fitness in Fort Worth.
Lauren Silverman for NPR

Originally published on Wed January 22, 2014 7:46 am

If you want to lift weights or use the treadmill at Downsize Fitness, you have to be at least 50 pounds overweight.

Kendall Schrantz is a fan – and a member.

The 24-year-old has struggled with her weight since she was in the second grade. The looks she got at other gyms made her uncomfortable.

But now she drives more than an hour to Downsize Fitness in Fort Worth three times a week, just to exercise.

"It's worth every single penny I paid for gas," she said. "It's worth the time I spend on the road, the miles."

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