Health Desk

Shots - Health News
5:21 pm
Mon October 21, 2013

How Long Do They Really Have To Fix That Obamacare Website?

The mood wasn't sunny at the White House Rose Garden on Monday, as President Obama addressed the errors plaguing the computer system for health insurance enrollment.
Mark Wilson Getty Images

Originally published on Mon October 21, 2013 7:06 pm

They've got a few weeks.

But if federal officials can't get the new online insurance marketplace running smoothly by mid-November, the problems plaguing the three-week-old website could become a far bigger threat to the success of the health law, hampering enrollment and fueling opponents' calls to delay implementation, analysts say.

Read more
It's All Politics
5:03 pm
Mon October 21, 2013

5 Questions Kathleen Sebelius Must Answer

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius is likely to have a very long day when she testifies before Congress about the Affordable Care Act website problems.
Mark Wilson Getty Images

Originally published on Mon October 21, 2013 6:12 pm

The hottest hot seat in Washington is the one occupied by Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, whose office confirmed Monday she'll testify about the Internet disaster that is HealthCare.gov, the Affordable Care Act website.

Read more
Shots - Health News
4:29 pm
Mon October 21, 2013

Scientists Grow New Hair In A Lab, But Don't Rush To Buy A Comb

Maybe someday Jerry won't be laughing at George's follicularly challenged scalp. But despite scientific advances there's still no cure for baldness.
NBC NBC via Getty Images

With a tiny clump of cells from a man's scalp, scientists have grown new human hair in the laboratory.

But don't get too excited. A magic cure for baldness isn't around the corner. The experimental approach is quite limited and years from reaching the clinic — for many reasons.

The scientists have grown the hair only on a tiny patch of human skin grafted onto the back of a mouse. And as wispy locks go, the strands are pretty pathetic. Some hairs were white, and some didn't even make their way out of the skin.

Read more
All Tech Considered
3:56 pm
Mon October 21, 2013

The HealthCare.gov 'Tech Surge' Is Racing Against The Clock

HealthCare.gov has been plagued with problems since the health insurance exchange site opened Oct. 1.
Karen Bleier AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Tue October 22, 2013 9:10 am

A "tech surge" is underway to help clean up the code of the error-plagued HealthCare.gov site.

Read more
Your Health
3:56 pm
Mon October 21, 2013

E-Cigarettes: A Nearly $2bn Industry, A Regulatory Wild West

Originally published on Tue October 22, 2013 4:37 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. We begin this hour trying to understand the soaring popularity of electronic cigarettes. Anecdotally, you'll hear ex-smokers say e-cigarettes are a godsend that helped them quit tobacco.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: I found these and I was like, wow, that'll get me there. I'll be OK.

Read more
Shots - Health News
12:53 pm
Mon October 21, 2013

Breast Milk Bought Online Has High Levels Of Bacteria

A lab technician at the Mothers' Milk Bank Northeast in Newton Upper Falls, Mass., prepares donated breast milk for pasteurization in August 2012. The process kills harmful bacteria.
Elise Amendola Associated Press

Online breast milk marketplaces can be a godsend for a mother who might not be producing enough for her baby but still wants her child to get the the health benefits of breast milk. But milk sold on one popular website had more bacterial contamination than that from a milk bank, a study finds.

Read more
U.S.
11:41 am
Mon October 21, 2013

Obama Says He's 'Frustrated' About Health Care Site Issues

Originally published on Tue October 22, 2013 2:37 pm

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

NPR's business news starts with an acknowledgement of trouble by President Obama.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

INSKEEP: OK, the president is speaking right now to reporters and others in the White House Rose Garden. Our White House correspondent Scott Horsley has been listening in. He's in our studios. Hi, Scott.

SCOTT HORSLEY, BYLINE: Good to be with you, Steve.

INSKEEP: OK, the president's talking about Obamacare. What's he saying?

Read more
The Two-Way
11:34 am
Mon October 21, 2013

Obama: Health Care Site Is Troubled; Affordable Care Act Is Not

"There's no sugarcoating it: The website has been too slow," President Obama said at the White House on Monday. Obama said the health care system's online problems are being addressed.
Evan Vucci AP

Originally published on Mon October 21, 2013 2:05 pm

The website that's meant to allow Americans to shop and sign up for new medical plans under the Affordable Care Act isn't working as well as it should, President Obama says. But he promised that the problems will be fixed — and he said the Affordable Care Act is bringing many benefits that aren't tied to those problems.

"Nobody is madder than me that the website isn't working as it should — which means that it's going to get fixed," Obama told a crowd at an outdoor address at the White House.

Read more
Shots - Health News
8:27 am
Mon October 21, 2013

First Polio Cases Since 1999 Suspected In Syria

Syrian opposition fighters sit on the front line in the city of Deir Ezzor on Oct. 13. Ongoing violence has ravaged the city since March 2011.
AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Tue October 22, 2013 9:10 am

The World Health Organization is investigating a cluster of possible polio cases in an eastern province of Syria.

If the cases are confirmed, they'd be the first ones in the war-torn nation in more than a decade. The country eliminated polio in 1999.

Syria used to have one of the highest polio vaccination rates in the region. If the virus has returned, it would be a high-profile example of the ramifications of the collapse of Syria's once-vaunted public health system.

Read more
Politics
4:03 am
Mon October 21, 2013

Obama To Address Health Care Website Problems

Originally published on Tue October 22, 2013 2:37 pm

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Now let's look at the politics of the Obamacare rollout with NPR's national political correspondent, Mara Liasson. She's on the line.

Hi, Mara.

MARA LIASSON, BYLINE: Hi, Steve.

INSKEEP: OK. So the standoff is over for the moment. The government is reopened. The battle over the debt ceiling is behind us. And now the focus is on this actual law.

Read more
Shots - Health News
2:05 am
Mon October 21, 2013

Should Severe Premenstrual Symptoms Be A Mental Disorder?

Women's moods can change based on the phases of their menstrual cycle. But does that mean they have a psychiatric disorder?
Katherine Streeter for NPR

Originally published on Tue October 22, 2013 2:37 pm

The way Ronna Simmons of Philadelphia describes it, every two weeks a timer goes off.

Simmons, 24, will have been doing just fine, working, taking care of her daughter. And then suddenly everything changes. Normally cheerful, Simmons says she begins to hate herself.

"I tell everybody, 'I'm not myself right now,' " she says. " 'I'll call you back when I'm Ronna again.'"

Read more
Shots - Health News
2:03 am
Mon October 21, 2013

Enrollments For Health Care Exchanges Trickle In, Slowly

Originally published on Tue October 22, 2013 2:37 pm

The Obama administration's hopes ran high that millions would flock to enroll for health insurance on state and federal exchanges established under the Affordable Care Act.

Those exchanges went online Oct. 1. The administration projected that half a million individuals or families would enroll within 30 days, according to The Associated Press.

But three weeks in, the data suggest the actual number of enrollments is lagging far behind that number.

Read more
Around the Nation
4:19 pm
Sun October 20, 2013

World's Eyes On Washington's New Recreational Pot Rules

Originally published on Sun October 20, 2013 7:02 pm

Washington State has finalized rules for recreational marijuana sales, joining Colorado in beginning to create a legal framework for the pot industry. Randy Simmons, deputy director of the Washington Liquor Control Board, says other states and even other countries are watching Washington's developing system very closely.

The Sunday Conversation
10:03 am
Sun October 20, 2013

Comedian Faces His Addictions To Food And Alcohol

Comedian Jamie Kilstein
Mary d'Aloisio

Originally published on Sun October 27, 2013 6:24 am

In a single week, comedian Jamie Kilstein realized he was both an alcoholic and a food addict.

He has alcoholism in his family, and didn't start drinking till he was legally allowed to. But then, he became a stand-up comic — a job that often pays in drinks.

"I was like, well, I gotta get paid somehow," he tells NPR's Rachel Martin. "I earned this."

While alcoholism is a term most people understand, addiction to food can be a bit murkier. "After my first week of not drinking, I felt really proud of myself," Kilstein says, "but I still felt like there was more."

Read more
Health
6:47 am
Sun October 20, 2013

With Addiction, Breaking A Habit Means Resisting A Reflex

Addiction can come in a lot of forms, but the characteristics are the same.
aurumarcus Getty Images

Originally published on Sun October 20, 2013 10:27 am

The pull of addiction can come from many directions: from food to alcohol to the Internet. So what connects those dependencies?

"Addiction is a memory, it's a reflex. It's training your brain in something which is harmful to yourself," says Dr. Charles P. O'Brien, co-founder of the Center for Studies of Addiction at the University of Pennsylvania.

Read more
Health
6:40 am
Sat October 19, 2013

When The Cost Of Health Insurance Outweighs The Risk

Part-time bartender Jacob Kreider, 33, tells host Scott Simon that he's chosen not to take the medical plan for which he qualifies under the Affordable Care Act. He says he'd rather use the money to pursue his career goals.

Health
6:40 am
Sat October 19, 2013

For 'Young Invincibles,' Insurance Isn't Just A Health Issue

For the Affordable Care Act to work, young, healthy people have to sign up for the new insurance exchanges. But these so-call Young Invincibles have a number of reasons for forgoing coverage. Host Scott Simon talks with Lisa Dubay of the Urban Institute about these 18- to 35-year-olds.

Shots - Health News
4:03 pm
Fri October 18, 2013

Why Scientists Are Trying Viruses To Beat Back Bacteria

Clostridium difficile, a bacterium that causes severe diarrhea, can be difficult to treat with antibiotics.
Stefan Hyman University of Leicester

Not all viruses are bad for us. Some of them might even help up us fight off bacterial infections someday.

Naturally occurring viruses called bacteriophages attack specific types of bacteria. So researchers at the University of Leicester decided to try and take advantage of phages' bacteria-destroying powers to treat infections with Clostridium difficile, a germ that that can cause severe diarrhea and inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract.

Read more
NPR Story
12:48 pm
Fri October 18, 2013

Promising New Treatment for the Deadly Ebola Virus

Transcript

JOHN DANKOSKY, HOST:

Now, for many of us, we first heard about the Ebola virus from the movie "Outbreak," Dustin Hoffman trying to contain an outbreak of an Ebola-like virus in a small California town. Well, in the 18 years since that movie came out, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has documented 18 known outbreaks of Ebola, with the most recent happening last fall in the Congo.

Read more
Shots - Health News
11:01 am
Fri October 18, 2013

To Prevent HIV Infection, Couples Try Testing Together

David Lozano (left) and Kevin Kreinbring stand in front of a painting created by Lozano. The couple says they get tested for HIV together every six months.
Courtesy of David Lozano

Originally published on Fri October 18, 2013 11:56 am

Getting tested for HIV in the U.S. is almost always private, sometimes even secretive. Ditto for disclosing the results.

But some say the approach is outmoded at a time when many at risk for HIV — gay men — are in committed relationships.

Research shows as many as two-thirds of new HIV infections among gay men these days are within committed couples. That's very different from the days when promiscuity fueled the epidemic.

Read more
Shots - Health News
9:46 am
Fri October 18, 2013

Painkiller Overdose Deaths Strike New York City's Middle Class

What's in your neighbor's medicine cabinets may influence overdose risk in the community.
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Fri October 18, 2013 11:12 am

Drug overdoses are usually thought to afflict mainly the poor and troubled. But it looks like OxyContin and other opioid painkillers are changing the picture.

People in stable, middle-class neighborhoods are also dying from opioid overdoses, a study in New York City finds.

Opioids have become among the most popular drugs of abuse in the past decade, with deaths from overdoses of oxycodone, hydrocodone and codeine eclipsing those from heroin and cocaine combined.

Read more
TED Radio Hour
8:38 am
Fri October 18, 2013

Is 'Patient Capitalism' The Answer To Poverty?

Robert Leslie TED

Originally published on Thu December 26, 2013 1:35 pm

Part 5 of the TED Radio Hour episode Haves And Have-Nots.

About Jacqueline Novogratz's TEDTalk

Jacqueline Novogratz, CEO of Acumen Fund, shares stories of how "patient capitalism" can bring sustainable jobs, goods, services and dignity to the world's poor.

About Jacqueline Novogratz

Read more
Politics
3:03 am
Fri October 18, 2013

Obamacare Fight Leads Sen. Roberts To Turn Against Old Friend Sebelius

Kathleen Sebelius stands with Sen. Pat Roberts (right), R-Kan., and former Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole in 2009.
Susan Walsh AP

Originally published on Fri October 18, 2013 12:28 pm

This month's government shutdown grew out of Republicans' insistence on a budget that defunded the Affordable Care Act.

That didn't happen, but Republicans still detest the law — and now there's a movement underway to oust Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.

Read more
The Salt
4:27 pm
Thu October 17, 2013

Moms Petition Mars To Remove Artificial Dyes From M&M's

briser50 Flickr

Originally published on Fri October 18, 2013 10:25 am

If you tear open a packet of M&M's, what's the first thing you notice?

The colors: bright blue, vibrant orange, bold yellow. Kids love this visual stimulation.

But the sponsors of a new petition on Change.org — which is urging M&M-maker Mars to replace the artificial colorings used to create these distinctive hues — say these dyes can make some kids hyperactive.

"In this petition, I'm asking Mars to change to natural colorings," mom Renee Shutters told me by phone. "It's very doable."

Read more
Health Care
4:03 pm
Thu October 17, 2013

Health Exchange Websites Show Improvements, But Still Spotty

Originally published on Thu October 17, 2013 4:54 pm

With the government shutdown over, attention is turning back to the rollout of the federal health law, which has federal and state officials working to fix software glitches on the health exchanges.

Shots - Health News
3:59 pm
Thu October 17, 2013

Brains Sweep Themselves Clean Of Toxins During Sleep

Katherine Streeter for NPR

Originally published on Fri October 18, 2013 4:35 pm

While the brain sleeps, it clears out harmful toxins, a process that may reduce the risk of Alzheimer's, researchers say.

During sleep, the flow of cerebrospinal fluid in the brain increases dramatically, washing away harmful waste proteins that build up between brain cells during waking hours, a study of mice found.

Read more
Shots - Health News
2:59 pm
Thu October 17, 2013

How The GOP's Shutdown Over Obamacare Fell Short

Susan and Jack Cooper of Richardson, Texas, demonstrate against the government shutdown in Dallas this month.
Tony Gutierrez AP

Originally published on Thu October 17, 2013 4:44 pm

Remember how that fight over the budget was all about Obamacare?

Seems like ancient history now, but House Republicans ostensibly shut down the government 17 days ago, demanding first a defunding, and, when that failed, a year's delay in the health law.

Read more
Shots - Health News
12:34 pm
Thu October 17, 2013

Houston, We Have Dengue Fever

Mosquitoes like this Aedes aegypti female can spread dengue fever.
James Gathany CDC

Originally published on Fri October 18, 2013 4:03 pm

Dengue fever is in Houston. And it turns out the mosquito-borne illness isn't exactly a stranger there.

Dengue has been roaming around the city since 2003, according to a study published Wednesday. "There was dengue circulating, and we had no idea that it was here because we just weren't looking," says the study's lead author Dr. Kristy Murray of the Baylor College of Medicine and Texas Children's Hospital.

Read more
Technology
2:06 am
Thu October 17, 2013

If A Tech Company Had Built The Federal Health Care Website

Originally published on Mon October 21, 2013 4:25 pm

HealthCare.gov was meant to create a simple, easy way for millions of Americans to shop for subsidized health care.

Instead, in a little two more than weeks, it has become the poster child for the federal government's technical ineptitude.

Read more
Shots - Health News
3:54 pm
Wed October 16, 2013

To Reduce Patient Falls, Hospitals Try Alarms, More Nurses

Some patients at MultiCare Auburn Medical Center in Washington are given wristbands showing that they have a high risk of falling.
John Ryan KUOW

Originally published on Wed October 16, 2013 5:39 pm

A bad fall in the hospital can turn a short visit into a long stay.

Such falls featured in congressional discussions about patient safety, and in a new study in the Journal of Patient Safety about medical errors. Falls are one part of a multistate clash between nurses and hospitals over how to improve the safety of hospitalized patients.

Read more

Pages