In a 5-4 decision Monday, the Supreme Court allowed a key exemption to the health law's contraception coverage requirements when it ruled that closely held for-profit businesses could assert a religious objection to the Obama administration's regulations. What does it mean? Here are some questions and answers about the case.
Originally published on Mon June 30, 2014 12:54 pm
The Supreme Court has ruled that family owned and other closely held companies can opt out of the Affordable Care Act's provisions for no-cost prescription contraception in most health insurance if they have religious objections.
The owners of the Hobby Lobby chain of arts and crafts stores and those of another closely held company, Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp., had objected on the grounds of religious freedom.
The ruling affirms a Hobby Lobby victory in a lower court and gives new standing to similar claims by other companies.
Originally published on Mon June 30, 2014 10:40 am
Updated at 10:48 a.m. ET
The Supreme Court ruled Monday that some public employees cannot be required to contribute to unions.
In a 5-4 ruling split along ideological lines, the court recognized a category of "partial public employees" who cannot be required to contribute union bargaining fees. The court said the current practice, which permits automatic deductions, violates the First Amendment rights of those nonmembers who disagree with the union's positions.
Ever wonder why children can so easily figure out how to work the TV remote? Or why they "totally get" apps on your smartphone faster than you? It turns out that young children may be more open-minded than adults when it comes to solving problems.
Lauren Kay has never met her therapist in person. The 24-year-old entrepreneur found it difficult to take time off work for appointments.
So she started seeing a psychotherapist online.
"It's definitely been different," she says. Kay, who lives in New York, found her counselor through an online therapy service called Pretty Padded Room. When it's time for an appointment, all she has to do is log in to the website, click a link and start video chatting.
They're odds. That's all they are. Not fate, just probabilities. Lauren Weinstein, cartoonist, is having a baby, and she's told — out of the blue — that she and her husband are both carriers of the gene that causes cystic fibrosis. They are sent to a genetic counselor. What happens next — told in five beautifully drawn, emotionally eloquent cartoons — tells what it's like to walk the edge for a few weeks. She's so many things (sad, funny, scared, puzzled), and then there's the ender. Take a look.
Americans are waiting longer to become parents. Whatever the pros and cons of that trend, here's some potentially good news for those older moms: They may be more likely to live longer.
Women who had their last child after the age of 33 had twice the odds of "exceptional longevity" — defined as living to about 95 — as did women who had their last child before age 29, according to a study published this week in the journal Menopause.
What's worse, a shot in the arm or a spritz up the nose? Children increasingly have a choice when it comes to vaccination for influenza.
On Thursday, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, a panel that advises the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on vaccinations, voted for the spritz up the nose. It recommended that healthy children ages 2 through 8 get FluMist, a nasal spray flu vaccine, instead of the traditional flu shot.
He was a little boy, 9 years old. He and his mother had both been infected with Ebola. She likely caught the virus while washing a deceased Ebola victim, as is often the custom for burials in Guinea. Then she probably infected her child.
Once she began showing symptoms, she and her son were locked in a house for four days because neighbors were so scared of the virus. Medical workers learned of the case. And the mother and son were driven to a treatment center in the back of a pickup truck, along a dirt road.
Perhaps we should have expected that the contradictory stories about a middle-aged man's heart attack would lead to a vigorous conversation about whether the doctors and nurses or the patient and his wife were right in their descriptions.
Neanderthals clubbed their way to the top of an ancient food chain, slaying caribou and mammoths. But a peek inside their prehistoric poop reveals that the meat-loving early humans may have also enjoyed some salad on the side.
Researchers excavating a site in southern Spain where Neanderthals lived 50,000 years ago were initially looking for remnants of food in fireplaces. Then they stumbled upon tiny bits of poop — which turned out to be the oldest fecal matter from a human relation ever discovered.
Think about people dying from drinking too much, and you probably think of the classic disease of alcoholics, cirrhosis of the liver. Or perhaps an alcohol-fueled car crash. But there are many more ways to kill yourself with alcohol, unfortunately, and they account for 1 in 10 deaths in working-age adults, according to a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The announcement that popular over-the-counter acne treatments can cause rare but life-threatening reactions sure got our attention. Who among us hasn't slathered that stuff on our face?
The reactions include throat tightness, shortness of breath, wheezing, low blood pressure, fainting and collapse. Hives and swelling of body parts where the products were not applied were also reported. And 44 percent of the people affected were sick enough to be hospitalized.
Gov. Pat Quinn has signed off on a measure that allows psychologists in Illinois to prescribe medication to patients.
The governor signed the legislation Wednesday in Chicago. It was sponsored by Sen. Don Harmon of Oak Park and Rep. John Bradley of Marion, both Democrats. Psychologists have to receive specific training for prescription-writing privileges and be required to work with a coordinating physician.
An Ebola outbreak in West Africa is now the largest and most deadly outbreak of that virus ever recorded. The first cases were confirmed in Guinea in March. Health officials thought they had a handle on this. They did not. A rash of new cases popped up in neighboring Sierra Leone and Liberia. So we're going to talk about this with NPR's Jason Beaubien, who's been following the story. Hi, Jason.
Many families with children who have autism count on their insurance to help pay for expensive, long-term treatment. But a recent bulletin issued by the Connecticut Insurance Department may undermine existing coverage protections, some advocates say, and they are concerned that other states might follow suit.
Underneath the charm of Martha's Vineyard's picturesque beaches, peaceful woods and luxury homes is a problem: Since August, there have been six overdose deaths on the island.
"That's a phenomenal rate for a community of 16,000 people — and that's not to mention the overdoses that haven't been fatal," says Charles Silberstein, an addiction specialist and psychiatrist at Martha's Vineyard Hospital. "We've had overdoses for years, but I don't think we've ever seen this kind of number or frequency."
For fifteen years, Urvashi Rangan, director of consumer safety and sustainability for Consumer Reports, has been pointing out that "natural" is just about the most misleading label that you'll ever see on a food package. Yet consumers still look for that word, food companies still love to use it and the Food and Drug Administration can't or won't define it.