Health

Aundreá Murray / WNPR

State officials gathered at the capital city on Wednesday to announce a new initiative aimed at ending homelessness among veterans and the disabled within the next two years.

Are you thinking about tax day yet? Your friendly neighborhood tax preparer is. IRS Commissioner John Koskinen declared this tax season one of the most complicated ever, partly because this is the first year that the Affordable Care Act will show up on your tax form.

Tax preparers from coast to coast are trying to get ready. Sue Ellen Smith manages an H&R Block office in San Francisco, and she is expecting things to get busy soon.

"This year taxes and health care intersect in a brand-new way," Smith says.

Asthma affects children regardless of where they live and whether they are rich or poor. But scientists have long thought that living in poor urban neighborhoods adds an extra risk for this troublesome lung inflammation. A new study suggests that's not necessarily the case.

Asthma is often triggered by something in the environment, so in the 1960s, scientists started looking for places where asthma was especially bad.

Mason Masteka/flickr creative commons

With the food-centric holiday season behind us, many of us would like to trim down a bit. Articles and studies about weight control are everywhere. But our returning metabolic specialist, Dr. Reza Yavari, says that most of the top ten weight loss tips are incorrect. You've heard a calorie is a calorie is a calorie? Not so much, according to Yavari.

Oscar Annermarken / Creative Commons

Connecticut’s diabetes rate ranks lower than the national average, but Hispanics and African-Americans are more than twice as likely to have the disease compared with their white neighbors, and are at greater risk of dying from diabetes-related causes.

Fear is one of the strongest and most basic of human emotions, and it's the focus of Fearless, the second episode of Invisibilia, NPR's new show on the invisible forces that shape human behavior.

This segment of the show explores how a man decided to conquer his fear of rejection by getting rejected every day — on purpose.

The evolution of Jason Comely, a freelance IT guy from Cambridge, Ontario, began one sad night several years ago.

Kaiser Health News

Open enrollment for the second year of the Affordable Care Act ends in one month, but how many people have signed up so far? 

How many peanuts did you snack on last week? If you don't remember, you're not alone. We humans are notoriously bad at remembering exactly what and how much we ate. And if there's one pattern to our errors, it's that we underestimate — unintentionally and otherwise.

And yet, for decades, researchers who want to amass large quantities of data about how much Americans eat and exercise have had to rely on individuals to self-report this information.

The Massachusetts doctor who was cured of the deadly Ebola virus is going to return later this week to West Africa to work in the missionary hospital where he was infected.             

 Four months after he was declared Ebola-free, and with his strength and stamina now back, Dr. Rick Sacra will leave Thursday for Liberia, where he had spent much of the last two decades working for a missionary organization.

-aniaostudio-/iStock / Thinkstock

The story of a Connecticut girl fighting for the right to choose how to treat her cancer has filled the headlines. Cassandra C's case centers on her refusal of chemotherapy. Chemotherapy is one of the more common treatments for cancer.

The Connecticut Supreme Court's ruling that 17-year-old Cassandra could be forced to undergo cancer treatment sparked thousands of impassioned comments on NPR.org and Facebook.

Update at 3:05 ET: The Connecticut Supreme Court ruled unanimously Thursday afternoon that the state can require Cassandra to continue treatment.

Her mother, Jackie Fortin, said she's disappointed by the decision. "She knows I love her and I'm going to keep fighting for her because this is her decision," Fortin said. "I know more than anyone, more than DCF, that my daughter is old enough, mature enough to make a decision. If she wasn't, I'd be making that decision."

Here's our original story, reported Thursday morning:

The head of the Massachusetts health connector is stepping down after a tumultuous year in which the state's health care exchange failed and was later rebuilt.

Wikimedia Commons

This year's flu shot might not work as well as in previous years, so focus is now on a new vaccine created in Connecticut.

Josh/flickr creative commons

The congenial New York foot specialist Dr. Rock Positano is known nationally for helping patients avoid foot and ankle surgery. Which explains why he was featured on the front page of The New York Times expressing dismay at those women who choose cosmetic foot surgery to force their feet into high-end designer shoes. It happens regularly, says Positano, and then the same women seek his help to repair the damage done. "Sadly, I can't do a thing for them," he says. "It's too late."

c-hit.org

Connecticut hospitals reported record numbers of patients killed or seriously injured by hospital errors in 2013, with large increases in the numbers of falls, medication mistakes and perforations during surgical procedures, a new state report shows.

The people who live in the northwest corner of New Mexico consider Darlene Arviso to be a living saint.

"Everybody knows me around here. They'll be waving at me," she says from behind the wheel of the St. Bonaventure Indian Mission water truck. "They call me the water lady."

That's because Arviso hauls water for tribe members of the Navajo Nation, where, on average, residents use 7 gallons a day to drink, cook, bathe and clean. The average person in the U.S. uses about 100 gallons a day.

Jonathan McNicol/WNPR

At Grossology, a new exhibit at the Connecticut Science Center, one of the first things you see is a nine- or ten-foot-tall model of a human nose with six- or seven-foot-tall nostrils. As you enter, you're surrounded by things like the olfactory epithelium and the conchae, and you learn things like how the Eustachian tubes regulate the pressure around your ear drums and so then a stuffy nose makes your ears feel clogged.

aJ Gazmen/flickr creative commons

For over a century, IQ scores have been viewed by scientists as placing an upper limit on what a person can ever achieve: a cognitive glass ceiling, a number tattooed on the soul.

Shattering decades of that kind of dogma, scientists began publishing studies in 2008 showing that “fluid intelligence”—the ability to learn, solve novel problems, and get to the heart of things—can be increased through training. But is it all just hype?

When the Affordable Care Act passed, many people focused on the law's creation of marketplaces to help the uninsured buy coverage, often with the help of federal subsidies.

Her head draped with thin white fabric in the Ethiopian Orthodox tradition, Konjit walked to the stately entrance to the Holy Trinity Cathedral in Addis Ababa. But the soft-spoken 26-year-old did not go inside to pray because of her "sin." Days before, she had had an abortion; she had become pregnant after her birth control failed.

Like many women in Ethiopia, Konjit felt caught between two powerful forces when making decisions about reproductive health: the church and the state [note: we are using only her first name to protect her privacy].

Alberto Ortiz/flickr creative commons

That's what we learned from neuroscientist Dr. Seth Horowitz of Brown University; true silence is non-existent. "In truly quiet areas," he writes in his book, The Universal Sense, "you can even hear the sound of air molecules vibrating inside your ear canals or the fluid in your ears themselves."

Kathleen Schassler

Candid online posts describing the challenges of breastfeeding fill the Facebook page of Breastfeeding USA’s Connecticut chapter. The daily stream of anecdotes, questions and comments alternate in tone from exasperated to celebratory.

A Split View On Obamacare's Past And Future

Dec 29, 2014

Kevin Counihan and Michael Cannon look at the Affordable Care Act and see very different things.

Cannon is part of the brain trust behind a Supreme Court case that could result in the repeal of a part of the exchanges he says is illegal.

When Priscilla Graham-Farmer went to get her hair done in Newark, N.J., recently, she noticed the elevator in the building was broken, so she took the stairs. And that's when Graham-Farmer saw him: a young guy sprawled out, not breathing.

"He was literally turning blue," she says. "And everybody was walking over him."

But Graham-Farmer stopped. And looked closer. She saw that he had a needle and some cotton balls. The guy had clearly overdosed.

"I'm screaming in the hallway," Graham-Farmer remembers. "Nobody's answering."

Florence Allen Jones used to teach in Washington, D.C., before coming back home to Liberia.

Now she's part of the education ministry's teaching-by-radio team. Working with UNICEF and another nonprofit, Talking Drum, in Monrovia, the capital of Liberia, the government aims to provide lessons to children across the country, hit by the Ebola outbreak. Most schools closed this past summer and will likely remain closed for months.

Jeff Cohen / WNPR

Kevin Counihan began 2014 as the head of Connecticut's health care marketplace under the Affordable Care Act. Now, he's the head of the entire federal Obamacare effort. WNPR checked in with him recently.

On Tuesday, the Food and Drug Administration recommended a change in the discriminatory and unscientific policy that effectively prohibited men who have sex with men from donating blood for life. Those guidelines kept any man who had sex with another man — even just once — since 1977 from donating blood forever.

While gay discrimination has been reduced in so many other areas of life, up until now, there hasn't been enough medical or political will to intervene on the blood ban. That policy perpetuated stigma without improving safety.

This time last year, federal officials were scrambling to get as many people enrolled in health insurance through HealthCare.gov as they could before the start of the program on Jan. 1.

Now, with the technical problems mostly fixed, they're facing a different problem: the possibility that the Supreme Court might rule that the subsidies that help people afford coverage are illegal in the 37 states where the federal government is running the program.

Facebook

New Haven police officers who normally work on their own are patrolling with a partner now, following the fatal shooting of two New York City officers in a squad car last weekend.

Pages