Health Desk

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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The Salt
9:00 am
Thu October 24, 2013

Report: Meat Producers Ignore Pleas For Health, Environmental Reform

Chickens in a mechanized hatchery in Monroe County, Ala.
Buyenlarge/Getty Images

Originally published on Thu October 24, 2013 9:41 am

Five years ago, a landmark report excoriated the animal agriculture industry's practices and laid out a road map for how it could do better. But in the years since, the problems are just as bad — and maybe even worse.

That's the conclusion of the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future. This week, the center scolded the industry again with a review of how it has fared in the years since the Pew Commission on Industrial Farm Animal Production released its original report.

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Shots - Health News
2:16 am
Thu October 24, 2013

Therapists Explore Dropping Solo Practices To Join Groups

The goals of therapy remain the same, but the business side is undergoing big changes.
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Thu October 24, 2013 10:26 am

In the corporate world of American health care, psychologists and other mental health therapists are still mostly mom-and-pop shops. They build their own solo practices, not unlike Lucy in the Peanuts comic strip gang who hung her own shingle: "Psychiatric Help, 5 [Cents] — The Doctor Is In."

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Parallels
2:09 am
Thu October 24, 2013

Following Bloomberg's Lead, Mexico Aims To Fight Fat

A street vendor fries food for lunch customers in Mexico City on July 10. Mexico has now surpassed the United States in levels of adult obesity, according to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization.
Ivan Pierre Aguirre AP

Originally published on Thu October 24, 2013 10:10 am

Nearly a third of all Mexicans are obese, putting Mexico at the top of the list of overweight nations — ahead of the United States.

In the battle against the bulge, lawmakers are taking aim at consumer's pocketbooks. They're proposing a series of new taxes on high calorie food and sodas. Health advocates say the higher prices will get Mexicans to change bad habits, but the beverage industry and small businesses are fighting back.

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All Tech Considered
4:39 pm
Wed October 23, 2013

It's Easy To Blame The Canadians For HealthCare.gov Problems

Heavy Internet traffic and system problems plagued the launch of the new HealthCare.gov insurance exchange site.
Karen Bleier AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Wed October 23, 2013 5:43 pm

President Obama is putting former CEO Jeff Zients in charge of the "tech surge" — the administration's emergency effort to fix the Web portal at the heart of the federal government's new health care market. But what about the contractors that built the system? What's their responsibility?

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Shots - Health News
4:21 pm
Wed October 23, 2013

A Toddler Remains HIV-Free, Raising Hope For Babies Worldwide

HIV-positive babies rest in an orphanage in Nairobi, Kenya. Treatment right after birth may make it possible for HIV-positive newborns to fight off the virus.
Brent Stirton Getty Images

Originally published on Wed October 23, 2013 5:31 pm

A 3-year-old girl born in Mississippi with HIV acquired from her mother during pregnancy remains free of detectable virus at least 18 months after she stopped taking antiviral pills.

New results on this child, published online by the New England Journal of Medicine, appear to green-light a study in the advanced planning stages in which researchers around the world will try to replicate her successful treatment in other infected newborns.

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It's All Politics
3:59 pm
Wed October 23, 2013

White House Turns To 'Rock Star' Manager For Obamacare Fix

Jeffrey Zients was tapped to help fix problems with the Obama administration's heath care website.
J. Scott Applewhite AP

Originally published on Wed October 23, 2013 5:58 pm

Jeffrey Zients isn't exactly a household name. But if he can cure what ails the Affordable Care Act website, he'll be one of the best-known figures in the Obama administration.

Zients (rhymes with Heinz) is the professional manager President Obama turned to in order to solve the by-now-infamous problems with the federal government's health care exchange website.

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Shots - Health News
3:05 pm
Wed October 23, 2013

Why Postponing Insurance Mandate Is No Easy Fix For Obamacare

Patrick Lamanske, of Champaign, Ill., works with Amanda Ziemnisky (right), of the Champaign Urbana Public Health District, to try to sign up his wife, Ping, for health coverage through the Affordable Care Act on Oct. 1.
David Mercer AP

Originally published on Wed October 23, 2013 6:57 pm

The Obama administration has entered full damage-control mode over the balky website intended to enroll people in new health plans under the Affordable Care Act.

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Shots - Health News
11:47 am
Wed October 23, 2013

FDA Asks Dog Owners For Help With Illnesses Linked To Jerky

Jerky treats for dogs and cats have been linked to pet illnesses and deaths. But it's still unclear what is causing the problems.
iStockphoto.com

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

The Food and Drug Administration has a mystery on its hands.

Thousands of dogs and at least 10 cats have become sick after eating various forms of jerky for pets over the past few years. Some 580 animals have died, the agency says. But it's not sure why.

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The Salt
9:31 am
Wed October 23, 2013

When Edible Plants Turn Their Defenses On Us

Rhubarb: delicious with strawberry pie, but steer clear of the leaves.
Rae Ellen Bichell NPR

Originally published on Thu October 24, 2013 11:39 am

Fruits and vegetables are unquestionably essential to a healthful diet.

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Shots - Health News
2:13 am
Wed October 23, 2013

States' Refusal To Expand Medicaid May Leave Millions Uninsured

Protesters fill the Miami office of state Rep. Manny Diaz Jr. on Sept. 20 to protest his stance against expansion of health coverage in Florida.
Joe Raedle Getty Images

Originally published on Thu October 24, 2013 11:12 am

President Obama on Tuesday appointed one of his top management gurus, Jeffrey Zeints, to head the team working to fix what ails HealthCare.gov, the troubled website that's supposed to allow residents of 36 states to enroll in coverage under the Affordable Care Act.

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Shots - Health News
2:12 am
Wed October 23, 2013

Haitian Cholera Strain Spreads To Mexico

A nurse treats a cholera patient at the Juan Pablo Pina Hospital in San Cristobal, Dominican Republic, in August. Health officials say that the strain of cholera circulating in the country— the same one that first appeared in Haiti three years ago — has also caused outbreaks in Cuba and now Mexico.
Erika Santelices AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Wed October 23, 2013 12:21 pm

A South Asian strain of cholera that was introduced into Haiti three years ago this month has now spread to this continent's mainland.

Mexico is the fourth Western Hemisphere country to experience the cholera outbreak. It's a disease that's very hard to stamp out once it gets into an area with poor water and sanitation.

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Shots - Health News
3:54 pm
Tue October 22, 2013

Doctors Enlist Therapists To Deliver Better, Cheaper Care

Tyler Engel with his parents, Dave and Jennifer. His doctor and therapist worked with the family to help Tyler recover from a concussion.
Kristian Foden-Vencil OPB

Originally published on Wed October 23, 2013 11:21 am

The state of Oregon is trying some experiments to bring different kinds of medical professionals under the same roof. Patients can see different kinds of doctors in one visit, and the hope is it will provide better patient care, eventually at less cost to the state.

This can make sense in a primary-care setting, where doctors often have to deal with stomachaches and migraines that stem from mental rather than physical problems.

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Shots - Health News
3:54 pm
Tue October 22, 2013

Online Insurance Brokers Stymied Selling Obamacare Policies

Independent online insurance brokers, like eHealth, haven't yet been able to sell subsidized health insurance policies.
eHealthInsurance.com

Originally published on Tue October 22, 2013 6:18 pm

Consumers aren't the only ones frustrated by problems with the online health insurance exchanges being run by the feds.

Private companies that sell health insurance on the Internet are also in a bind. Websites like eHealthInsurance.com that were planning to start selling new, subsidized health care policies on Oct. 1 still can't offer them to customers.

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Science
2:58 pm
Tue October 22, 2013

Antibiotics Can't Keep Up With 'Nightmare' Superbugs

On Tuesday night, PBS' Frontline will investigate how decades of antibiotic overuse has led to the emergence of drug-resistant superbugs.
Courtesy of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Originally published on Tue October 22, 2013 5:15 pm

We're used to relying on antibiotics to cure bacterial infections. But there are now strains of bacteria that are resistant to even the strongest antibiotics, and are causing deadly infections. According to the CDC, "more than 2 million people in the United States every year get infected with a resistant bacteria, and about 23,000 people die from it," journalist David Hoffman tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross.

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Shots - Health News
2:30 pm
Tue October 22, 2013

How Health Law Affects Fertility Treatment, Health Savings Accounts

More questions. More answers.
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Wed October 23, 2013 11:22 am

The health insurance marketplaces are finally open, though technical problems have hindered sign-ups.

With the deadlines for having health insurance looming, people want details about the available plans and access to health savings accounts. Some also want to know about penalties if they don't buy insurance. Here are some recent questions and answers.

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Shots - Health News
2:19 pm
Tue October 22, 2013

Want Your Daughter To Be A Science Whiz? Soccer Might Help

Very few girls get the recommended 60 minutes of exercise daily. But physical activity could help with school, a study says.
evoo73 Flickr

Originally published on Wed October 23, 2013 11:22 am

Girls who were more physically active at age 11 did better at school as teenagers, a study finds. And the most active girls really aced science.

It's become pretty much a given that children do better academically when they get regular exercise, even though schools continue to cut or even eliminate recess time. But there's surprisingly little hard evidence to back that up.

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The Salt
11:37 am
Tue October 22, 2013

Meatless Monday Movement Gets More Veggies On The Menu

One of the meatless dishes prepared at Benson Brewery in Omaha, Neb., for Meatless Monday is zucchini ribbon salad with a dressing made from roasted garlic and tahini, and garnished with green onions and toasted pine nuts.
Courtesy of Vegan Omaha

Originally published on Wed October 23, 2013 2:31 pm

America's relationship with meat is an indulgent one. At 270 pounds of meat per person per year, Americans consume more than almost anyone else in the world. (Mostly, we have our livestock producers' successes to thank for making meat cheap and abundant for us.)

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Parenting
11:35 am
Tue October 22, 2013

Maryville Case: A Parent's Worst Nightmare

Transcript

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

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