Originally published on Tue November 19, 2013 8:35 am
Imagine a tiny computer embedded under your scalp that's constantly tracking your brain activity and zapping you when it senses something awry.
That might sound like science fiction, but a medical device that does that was just approved by the Food and Drug Administration as an option for people with epilepsy that's resistant to treatment with drugs.
Originally published on Sat November 16, 2013 2:48 pm
A seventh case since March of bacterial meningitis among students at New Jersey's Princeton University has federal health officials considering the use of "an emergency vaccine," The Star-Ledger writes.
Not all the action surrounding the health law took place on Capitol Hill this week. Yesterday's vote was just the last of several significant events in the ever-evolving saga that is the Affordable Care Act. NPR's Julie Rovner covers health policy, which these days means pretty much covering the federal health law full time. She joins us in the studio now. Hi, Julie.
This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. Scott Simon is away. I'm Don Gonyea. The Affordable Care Act dominated political headlines again this week. Yesterday, the House passed a Republican bill that would allow insurance companies to renew individual health insurance policies even if the coverage does not provide all the benefits required by the new health care law.
NPR has been following Pansy and Winston Greene, a California couple struggling with an Alzheimer's diagnosis. Three years ago, Pansy learned she had Alzheimer's disease, and over this past summer, the couple told NPR that their day-to-day lives haven't changed much. That's still true. But on this second visit, they each seem to be looking at the future a bit differently.
We've been hearing a lot about health insurance policies that were canceled because they don't comply with the Affordable Health Care Act. That is, in some way, those policies don't meet the standards that the ACA set. And we were wondering in what way these policies typically fall short. And joining us to try to answer that question is Karen Pollitz, senior fellow at the Kaiser Family Foundation. Welcome to the program.
There are 78 million people in the United States with high blood pressure, and half of them don't have it under control.
Hypertension remains a difficult problem to solve, despite decades of persuading and prodding from doctors and health authorities.
So it may be time to try a different tack, one that involves giving people more support and less badgering, according to the American Heart Association, the American College of Cardiology, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Think of it as the "it takes a village" approach to high blood pressure.
I'm Michel Martin and this is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. Now it's time for our weekly visit to the Barbershop where the guys talk about what's in the news and what's on their minds. Sitting in the chairs for a shape-up this week are writer Jimi Izrael, with us from Cleveland. From Boston, health care consultant and contributor to National Review magazine, Neil Minkoff. Here in Washington, Paul Butler, professor of law at Georgetown University. And Corey Dade, contributing editor for The Root. Take it away, Jimi.
The African Maasai ethnic group is known for its deep roots in tradition and culture, including rights of passage for men and female circumcision. Now, young Maasai woman Nice Nailantei Leng'ete is crusading for alternative rites of passage and empowering young girls to continue their education in Kenya. She tells Michel Martin how she stood her ground to promote the dangers of female genital cutting.Note: This conversation may not be comfortable for all listeners.
Originally published on Fri November 15, 2013 3:43 pm
New York City became a leader in pushing restaurants to be more transparent when it required calorie counts on menus in 2006. Now the city's health department has developed a new tool for those who'd like even more detailed information about restaurant food.
The House votes Friday on a bill submitted by GOP Rep. Fred Upton of Michigan, shown with Speaker John Boehner, that seeks to ensure Americans can keep their existing insurance plans even if those policies don't meet standards in the Affordable Care Act.
Originally published on Fri November 15, 2013 6:29 pm
The House has approved a Republican-sponsored bill that would allow insurance companies to continue offering policies that would be canceled because they don't meet the standards of the Affordable Care Act. The Keep Your Health Plan Act, H.R. 3350, was adopted by a vote of 261-157, with 17 members not voting.
We've updated the top of this post with the results of the vote and other news.
Update at 7:30 p.m. ET: States Reportedly Confused By Obamacare Fix
Psychologist Barry Schwartz takes aim at a central tenet of western societies: freedom of choice. In Schwartz's estimation, choice has made us not freer but more paralyzed, not happier but more dissatisfied.
Originally published on Mon November 18, 2013 1:45 pm
If you go back to the 1970s, people with a serious coffee habit often had an accompanying habit: smoking.
And that's why early studies gave coffee a bad rap. Clearly, smoking was harmful. And it was hard for researchers to disentangle the two habits. "So it made coffee look bad in terms of health outcomes," Harvard researcher Meir Stampfer explained to me.
But fast-forward a quarter century, and the rap on coffee began to change.
President Obama has acknowledged the fumbled rollout of his signature health care law has hurt his credibility and that of fellow Democrats. He offered a minor change to the law in hopes of calming Democratic nerves, and beating back bigger changes proposed by House Republicans.
The health care fix announced by President Obama on Thursday may be good news for some consumers, but it creates a big headache for insurance companies and regulators. An insurance industry trade group warns the last-minute change could destabilize the market and lead to higher premiums.
While the health law's insurance markets are still struggling to get off the ground, the Obama administration is moving ahead with its second year of meting out bonuses and penalties to hospitals based on the quality of their care. This year, there are more losers than winners.
Medicare has raised payment rates to 1,231 hospitals based on two-dozen quality measurements, including surveys of patient satisfaction and — for the first time — death rates. Another 1,451 hospitals are being paid less for each Medicare patient they treat for the year that began Oct. 1.
Food labels have become battlegrounds. Just last week, voters in Washington state narrowly defeated a measure that would have required food manufacturers to reveal whether their products contain genetically modified ingredients.
Supporters of the initiative — and similar proposals in other states — say that consumers have a right to know what they're eating.
But there are lots of things we might want to know about our food. So what belongs on the label?
President Barack Obama has signed legislation giving financial incentives to states to stockpile emergency medications in schools that could save lives in the cases of allergic reactions. The deaths of two girls in Illinois and Virginia from severe food allergies helped spur efforts to get schools to stockpile epinephrine.
Epinephrine is considered the first-line treatment for people with severe allergies. The medication is administered by injection through preloaded EpiPens. The measure was co-sponsored by Illinois Sens. Dick Durbin and Mark Kirk.
Remember when President Obama said, "If you like your health plan you can keep it?" Now it's more like, "If you like your health plan you can keep it — for another year, and only if your insurance company says it's OK."
It's not clear whether the administration's proposal to let insurers extend the policies they've been canceling for the past couple of months will solve the president's political problem. But it's sure not going over very well with the insurance industry.
When Typhoon Haiyan hit last Friday, parts of the country were already in desperate shape following a magnitude 7.2 earthquake that struck October 15. The epicenter of that quake was under the island province of Bohol southeast of Tacloban. Since then, a number of makeshift medical facilities have been set up to treat patients with a wide range of issues.
One of the nation's largest and oldest children's hospitals is cracking down on parents who bring their kids herbs, extracts or other dietary supplements.
In what it describes as a break from other hospitals, the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, or CHOP, last month removed most dietary supplements from its list of approved medicines, and established new policies for administering them.
Most women know all too well the pain and discomfort of a urinary tract infection. They also know they'll probably have to trek to the doctor for a urine analysis so they can get a prescription for antibiotics.
Surely there's got to be a better way.
The first step for women with a history of urinary tract infections may be skipping a standard test isn't that good at spotting bladder infections anyway.