Health Desk

Health
3:35 pm
Tue December 24, 2013

A Vet Finds PTSD Relief With Pot, Though The Law Creates Hurdles

Originally published on Wed December 25, 2013 9:33 am

Ryan Begin hasn't always been the life-loving pot smoker he is today. Back in 2005, the sergeant nearly lost half his arm to an IED while serving in Iraq and was sent home for reconstructive surgery. Upon his return to Belfast, Maine, Begin was plagued by physical pain and outbursts of aggression. He was prescribed a cocktail of drugs as his treatment.

"They took the soul out of me. All that stuff, it drained my soul, it blackened my soul," Begin says.

Begin's mother, Anna, noticed the prescription drugs seemed to exacerbate his post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms.

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The Two-Way
3:03 pm
Tue December 24, 2013

Teen Daughter Of New NYC Mayor Admits Drug And Alcohol Abuse

Originally published on Wed December 25, 2013 6:28 am

The teenage daughter of New York City Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio released a video on Tuesday discussing her struggle with clinical depression and substance abuse.

In the nearly five-minute video, Chiara de Blasio acknowledges that she drank alcohol and smoked marijuana, but says she's now clean after being treated at an outpatient center.

"Getting sober is always a positive thing," she says, encouraging others in her situation to also get help.

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Shots - Health News
2:40 pm
Tue December 24, 2013

Could Pot Help Veterans With PTSD? Brain Scientists Say Maybe

There's data to support the notion that pot, or a drug based on its active ingredient, could help ease the fears of PTSD.
Ted S. Warren AP

Originally published on Wed December 25, 2013 10:50 am

Veterans who smoke marijuana to cope with post-traumatic stress disorder may be onto something. There's growing evidence that pot can affect brain circuits involved in PTSD.

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Health
1:06 pm
Tue December 24, 2013

After A Cancer Diagnosis, Lessons In Priorities

Originally published on Wed December 25, 2013 9:30 am

Teaching high school English came naturally to David Menasche but a terminal brain cancer diagnosis forced him to leave the classroom. So he visited some of his former students to see what impact he's had on them. He writes about the experience in his forthcoming book, The Priority List.

Shots - Health News
11:40 am
Tue December 24, 2013

Drugmaker Names Pill After CEO Who Sought Daughter's Cure

Martine Rothblatt, CEO of United Therapeutics, is the namesake of the company's latest drug, Orenitram.
Ron Levine Getty Images

Originally published on Tue December 24, 2013 3:25 pm

It's not every day that the Food and Drug Administration approves a drug three months ahead of schedule. Or approves a pill that could take the place of injections. Or gives the OK to a medicine named for the CEO who started a company to help her sick daughter.

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Health Care
10:58 am
Tue December 24, 2013

Healthcare Rollout Mixed On Deadline Day

Another deadline for the Affordable Care Act has been pushed back. Guest Host Celeste Headlee speaks to Kaiser Health News reporter Mary Agnes Carey and Washington Post reporter Sarah Kliff and what the decision means and how the healthcare rollout is going across the country.

NPR Story
4:16 am
Tue December 24, 2013

Administration Extends Health Insurance Deadline Again

Originally published on Wed December 25, 2013 6:24 am

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. Good morning. I'm David Greene with Steve Inskeep. There's a lot of last-minute shopping going on today. And that goes for health insurance, too. Yesterday was supposed to be the deadline to sign up on the government's new insurance website for coverage that begins January first.

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Humans
1:57 am
Tue December 24, 2013

Tired Of Doom And Gloom? Here's The Best Good News Of 2013

A Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner concludes its first flight in September. Overall, plane-related fatalities have decreased dramatically this year.
Stephen Brashear Getty Images

Originally published on Wed December 25, 2013 6:24 am

Being a news consumer means you're constantly on the receiving end of bad news. War, unemployment, crime, political dysfunction — it can be enough to make you think we humans aren't doing anything right. But good news: We are. As the year draws to an end, here's a look at a few areas of real progress in the U.S. and around the world.

Air Safety

Let's start with flying. It's not a lot of fun: baggage fees, pat-downs, cramped seating, disappointing snacks.

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Health Care
3:22 pm
Mon December 23, 2013

Insurers Dismayed Over Obamacare Rule Changes

Originally published on Mon December 23, 2013 4:56 pm

At the last minute, the Obama administration gave consumers more time to sign up for health insurance starting Jan. 1. People will now have until the end of Christmas Eve, giving them an additional day. The administration hopes a late surge of enrollments will boost numbers, which have lagged far behind expectations. The insurance industry is hoping the same thing. But it is also expressing dismay over recent changes to the law that allow some people to opt out of the individual mandate or purchase plans otherwise prohibited under the law.

Health Care
3:20 pm
Mon December 23, 2013

White House Gives Another Day For Health Exchange Sign Ups

Originally published on Mon December 23, 2013 4:56 pm

People who are uninsured now have one more day to sign up for health coverage that start on the first of 2014. On Monday, the White House extended the deadline to sign up for plans under the Affordable Care Act from midnight on Dec. 23 to Christmas Eve at midnight, describing the move as a way to accommodate people in different time zones.

Shots - Health News
3:16 pm
Mon December 23, 2013

Alabama Blue Cross Shares Obamacare Tax Woes With Customers

Kajdi Szabolcs iStockphoto

Insurance companies aren't crazy about their share of the health law's taxes, but mostly they've complained to politicians and regulators.

At least one health plan wants to bring consumers into the loop.

"Affordable Care Act Fees and Taxes" is a separate line on bills Blue Cross Blue Shield of Alabama is sending to individual customers.

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The Two-Way
1:23 pm
Mon December 23, 2013

White House Grants Extra Day For Obamacare Sign-Up

This image shows part of the HealthCare.gov website in Washington on Friday noting a Dec. 23 enrollment deadline for coverage starting Jan. 1.
Jon Elswick AP

Originally published on Mon December 23, 2013 2:03 pm

A midnight deadline to sign up for health coverage under the Affordable Care Act that starts Jan. 1 has been extended by a day in what the White House describes as an effort to accommodate people in different time zones.

The deadline that had been midnight on Dec. 23 has been pushed to Christmas Eve at midnight.

The Washington Post reports:

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Around the Nation
10:58 am
Mon December 23, 2013

Can Urban Farming Brighten Detroit?

Transcript

CELESTE HEADLEE, HOST:

This is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. I'm Celeste Headlee. Michel Martin is away. Coming up, it's almost Christmas and that means you're probably sick to death of holiday songs. So just ahead, we will give you a break from "Let it Snow" and "Silent Night" with a little Caribbean music from soca superstar, Bunji Garlin. That's in just a moment. First, to Detroit, though, and Brightmoor is perhaps one of the toughest neighborhoods in Detroit.

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Health
10:58 am
Mon December 23, 2013

Coping With Loss Amid Holiday Cheer

The holidays can be difficult if you've lost a loved one through suicide. Guest host Celeste Headlee gets tips for coping. She hears from Eric Marcus of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, whose father and sister-in-law took their own lives and psychiatrist Christine Moutier.

Shots - Health News
2:46 am
Mon December 23, 2013

Screening Newborns For Disease Can Leave Families In Limbo

Vera Wojtesta was one of 300 babies flagged by New York's newborn screening program as at risk of having life-threatening Krabbe disease.
Ben Shutts Courtesy of the Wojtesta family

Originally published on Tue December 24, 2013 3:24 pm

For Matthew and Brianne Wojtesta, it all started about a week after the birth of their daughter Vera. Matthew was picking up his son from kindergarten when he got a phone call.

It was their pediatrician, with some shocking news. Vera had been flagged by New York's newborn screening program as possibly having a potentially deadly disease, and would need to go see a neurologist the next day.

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Shots - Health News
2:27 am
Mon December 23, 2013

Colorado Takes Health Plans To People Shopping For Groceries

The Colorado health exchange van stops at a shopping center in Fort Collins.
Eric Whitney for NPR

Originally published on Mon December 23, 2013 10:38 am

Despite White House and state efforts to promote the Affordable Care Act, some people still don't have health insurance, or any idea how to sign up for it.

Take Corryn Young, a 32-year-old dental hygienist in Fort Collins, Colo. She knows she needs to get health insurance but is a little vague on the details.

"What my income would qualify me for, when I need to be signed up, what type of deductibles they have to offer — that kind of stuff overwhelms me," Young says.

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Shots - Health News
5:10 am
Sun December 22, 2013

For 2 Young Doctors, Working On Christmas Was A Privilege

Katherine Streeter for NPR

Originally published on Mon December 23, 2013 7:03 am

December is supposed to be the time of year filled with family gatherings and holiday good cheer. For medical residents, quite the opposite is true.

There are no school breaks during residency. Being a medical resident is a real job, and a stressful one at that. Residents work long shifts, even with caps that max out at 16 hours for the newbies and up to 28 hours for those beyond the first year.

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The Two-Way
8:13 pm
Sat December 21, 2013

17-Year-Old Colorado School Shooting Victim Claire Davis Dies

Arapahoe County Sheriff Grayson Robinson holds a picture of Claire Davis, 17, at a briefing at Arapahoe High School in Centennial, Colo., the day after the Dec. 13 shooting. Davis died Saturday.
Ed Andrieski AP

Originally published on Mon December 23, 2013 4:56 am

The teenager shot in the head by a classmate at a high school outside Denver died Saturday after being hospitalized for eight days.

Claire Davis, 17, was shot at point blank range with a shotgun on Dec. 13 and had been hospitalized in critical condition.

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All Tech Considered
4:14 pm
Sat December 21, 2013

How An Obscure Government Code — 834 — Became Big In 2013

Oregon is still using paper applications to enroll people in coverage under the Affordable Care Act.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Sat December 21, 2013 9:28 pm

Monday is the last day Americans in most states will be able to enroll in Affordable Care Act health exchanges if they want coverage to start in January. But technical problems have foiled sign-ups from the start, which led an otherwise obscure number to become a big deal in 2013.

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Health Care
4:42 pm
Fri December 20, 2013

White House Announces Another Rule Change For Affordable Care Act

Originally published on Sat December 21, 2013 5:46 pm

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

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Shots - Health News
11:11 am
Fri December 20, 2013

Angelina Didn't Help Educate People About Breast Cancer Risk

A celebrity's efforts to educate the public about health risk may have very limited effects.
Evan Agostini AP

Originally published on Mon December 23, 2013 3:47 pm

Remember when Angelina Jolie decided to have a double mastectomy to reduce her risk of breast cancer? The Hollywood star revealed her experience in The New York Times in May.

Her story got a lot of people talking about preventive mastectomies. But it didn't do much to increase people's understanding of breast cancer risk, a study found.

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Shots - Health News
10:32 am
Fri December 20, 2013

Feds Drop Mandate For People Whose Insurance Was Canceled

Only hours before the deadline to sign up for health insurance that will begin Jan. 1, the Obama administration has offered people whose plans have been canceled a new option. They can sign up for catastrophic coverage instead.

These little-noticed plans cover only three primary care visits, specified preventive services and medical costs that exceed a catastrophic amounts. In 2014, that's $6,300 for an individual.

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TED Radio Hour
8:37 am
Fri December 20, 2013

How Can You Give A Community Better Health?

Ron Finley, renegade gardener, says food is both the problem and the solution.
James Duncan Davidson TED

Part 2 of the TED Radio Hour episode Giving It Away.

About Ron Finley's TEDTalk

Ron Finley plants vegetable gardens in South Central LA — in abandoned lots, traffic medians, along the curbs. Why? For fun, for defiance, for beauty and to offer some alternative to fast food in a community where "the drive-thrus are killing more people than the drive-bys."

About Ron Finley

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The Two-Way
7:09 am
Fri December 20, 2013

Health Care Rules Relaxed Again, 'Backlash' Follows

HealthCare.gov

Originally published on Fri December 20, 2013 9:06 am

  • From the NPR Newscast: Julie Rovner on the latest changes to the health care program (with an introduction from Jean Cochran)

Word from the Obama administration that Americans who recently had their health insurance canceled will be allowed to buy "catastrophic policies" mostly intended for young adults has upset the insurance industry, NPR's Julie Rovner tells our Newscast desk.

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Health Care
4:05 am
Fri December 20, 2013

How Fraud Flourishes Unchecked In Medicare's Drug Plan

Originally published on Mon December 23, 2013 3:47 pm

With just a handful of prescriptions to his name, psychiatrist Ernest Bagner III was barely a blip in Medicare's vast drug program in 2009.

But the next year he churned them out at a furious rate — not just psychiatric drugs, but expensive pills for asthma, cholesterol, heartburn and blood clots.

By the end of 2010, Medicare had paid $3.8 million for Bagner's drugs — one of the highest tallies in the country. He added another $2.6 million the following year, records analyzed by ProPublica show.

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The Two-Way
6:04 pm
Thu December 19, 2013

New York City Extends Smoking Ban To E-Cigarettes

Jim Watson AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Thu December 19, 2013 6:30 pm

New York's City Council has approved extending the city's strict smoking ban to include electronic cigarettes, which emit a vapor.

The measure was pushed by outgoing Mayor Michael Bloomberg and backed by public health advocates in the city. It comes just weeks after New York became the first major city to raise the age for buying tobacco to 21.

Earlier this month, New York City Health Commissioner Thomas Farley said that "more research is needed on electronic cigarettes," but that "waiting to act could jeopardize the progress we have made over the last few years."

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Shots - Health News
4:16 pm
Thu December 19, 2013

Poll: Americans Favor Age Restrictions On Morning-After Pill

Katherine Streeter for NPR

Originally published on Mon December 23, 2013 3:50 pm

Emergency contraception has been embroiled in controversy pretty much from the start.

But this year the legal wrangling over who can buy the Plan B One-Step morning-after pill without a prescription came to an end. A federal judge in New York ruled in April that the morning-after pill also had to be made available over the counter to girls 16 and under.

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Shots - Health News
1:36 pm
Thu December 19, 2013

How To Make Sense Of Confusing, New Blood Pressure Advice

Some people with only slightly elevated blood pressure might be able to relax a bit, if they're doctors go along new treatment guidelines.
iStockphoto

If you're confused about the latest recommendations for treating high blood pressure, take heart. Doctors are confused, too.

On Wednesday, a panel of specialists called the Eighth Joint National Committee published guidelines saying that many people over 60 don't need to start taking medications to lower blood pressure until it's above 150/90 millimeters of mercury.

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Shots - Health News
2:26 am
Thu December 19, 2013

Congress Poised To Permanently Fix Its Medicare Payment Glitch

It's health results — not the number of treatments — that should count, leaders say.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Thu December 19, 2013 11:56 am

The two-year budget deal approved by the Senate on Wednesday is aimed at preventing another government shutdown.

It also includes a familiar annual rider — language to avert a steep pay cut to doctors who treat Medicare patients. But this time might be different, with a fix that lasts. After more than a decade of temporary solutions, it appears Congress might be on the verge of permanently solving its persistent problem in the way it makes Medicare payments to doctors.

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The Salt
2:00 am
Thu December 19, 2013

This Stanford Ph.D. Became A Fruit Picker To Feed California's Hungry

Sarah Ramirez runs an organization that brings excess produce to the hungry. Here, she gleans apples from a front yard.
Scott Anger KQED

Originally published on Sun December 22, 2013 9:16 am

By some estimates, we Americans throw away about 40 percent of our food, from the cabbage that's wilting in our refrigerators, to the fruit that's falling off the orange tree in our neighbor's backyard.

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