health care

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Having health insurance is a near necessity, but paying for it is getting increasingly hard for consumers.

When doctors told Robert Madison that his wife had dementia, they didn't explain very much. His successful career as an architect hardly prepared him for what came next.

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United Illuminating has reached an agreement with the state to pay for the massive environmental cleanup of a polluted former power plant site in New Haven.

There’s a proposal to build a 16-bed mental health care facility in Essex County. A non-profit agency serving the Northeast Kingdom wants to partner with the state to add more psychiatric beds.

Supporters say such services are sorely needed, but not everyone agrees on where and how they should be provided.

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New Haven is adding five dental clinics to its public school health centers. But as access to dental care -- especially for children -- is still a concern in some parts of Connecticut.

There's never a shortage of questions about Medicare, the federal health insurance program for people who are 65 or older and some who are disabled. Here are answers to two about respite care and the so-called doughnut hole that limits payments for drugs in Medicare Part D.

Ever heard of a diabetic patient who ate a large muffin before having a blood glucose test, was scolded for giving in to temptation, and then told to just say no to carbs?

How about a cardiac patient who has a worrisome stress test and is shown the door when she admits to eating a few Big Macs?

That kind of response is all too familiar for patients whose brains have been altered by heroin or other opiates.

Vermont will get $4 million during the next four years from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to prevent overdose deaths caused by prescription opiate drugs.

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As homicide rates in Hartford and other cities across the country spike, some are asking whether one high-profile shooting can breed another.

Born in Hartford and raised in Wethersfield, playwright Christopher Shinn pays homage to his Connecticut roots in a new play called "An Opening In Time."

White House

President Obama announced an executive order requiring paid sick leave for more than 300,000 employees of federal contractors Monday morning.

How to Get the Best Medical Care

Sep 3, 2015
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Navigating our healthcare system is frustrating and time-consuming enough when you're healthy. But what if you get a serious diagnosis? You'll probably have to deal with multiple doctors' offices and their front-desk staffs, a hospital or clinic that may not be familiar, and a sudden deluge of paperwork, phone calls, and appointments. The chances for confusion and miscommunication multiply all along the chain -- and this can lead to problems ranging from annoying clerical mistakes to serious medical errors.

As a member of the Navajo tribe, Rochelle Jake has received free care through the Indian Health Service her entire life. The IHS clinics took care of her asthma, allergies and eczema — chronic problems, nothing urgent.

Recently, though, she felt sharp pains in her side. Her doctor recommended an MRI and other tests she couldn't get through IHS. To pay for them, he urged her to sign up for private insurance under the Affordable Care Act.

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A new report is out that scores doctors based on their rates of complications for elective procedures. But some physicians and critics say the effort, while helpful, is limited by the data that it uses. 

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Opioid overuse is America’s “silent epidemic,” affecting far too many of the roughly eight million people on opioid painkillers.

Dr. Thomas Frieden, Director of the CDC says overprescribing is to blame.  "Every single day, 46 Americans die from an overdose of prescription opioid painkillers like Vicodin, Oxycontin or Methadone," he said. "These drugs are commonly prescribed in every community, and a surge in prescriptions has been the main force of this epidemic."

Chion Wolf/ / WNPR

Last month brought big news from major health insurers in the United States.

In early July, Aetna announced it will acquire Humana in a $37 billion deal. Just three weeks later, Anthem and Cigna announced their intention to merge in a $48 billion deal. This effectively reduces the big players in the health insurance market from five down to three.

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The high cost of infertility treatments for some people over 40 in Connecticut may soon covered by their insurance company.

The Department of Insurance has determined a 2006 state law mandating coverage for medically appropriate fertility treatments for men and women is discriminatory because it sets an age limit of 40.

When hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans in 2005 most residents evacuated safely. But thousands lost homes, careers, and the lives they had known. Since then, many seem to have recovered emotionally from the trauma. But some have not.

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There are lots of tools to help us gauge the quality of nearly any product or service we wish to buy, from cars to computers to restaurants. Yet there's no easy way to assess the quality of the doctors who take care of what's most important to us -- our health. 

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The legislature recently made it harder for parents to stay on Husky, Connecticut's version of Medicaid. The state said that around 1,200 people risk losing their insurance coverage at the end of the month if they take no action.

New data shows the opioid epidemic in Massachusetts is worse than public health officials feared.

The number of opioid deaths in 2014 totaled 1,256 according to revised numbers released Tuesday by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.   Initial estimates had 1,008 people dying of drug overdoses last year. 

And, the epidemic shows no signs of lettering up.  An estimated 312 people are thought to have died of an overdose in the first three months of this year. 

The Senate unanimously approved legislation Monday night requiring hospitals across the nation to tell Medicare patients when they receive observation care but haven't been admitted to the hospital as inpatients.

The distinction is easy for patients to miss — until they get hit with big medical bills after a short stay.

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AARP calls it “Valuing the Invaluable”: a new report totes up the unpaid care given by loved ones to family members with chronic, disabling, or serious health problems. 


Could the future of heart health be centered on gene therapy?

Today we talk about heart research and how to prevent heart disease, the leading killer of women and men in the U.S.

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Fifty years ago, President Lyndon Johnson waged a war on poverty  to rebuild America as a “Great Society” where “no child will go unfed, and no youngster will go unschooled.” 

Medicaid was enacted in 1965 as part of sweeping legislation to provide food, education, healthcare and jobs to millions in poverty.  Once a benefit for poor single parents and their kids, Medicaid now covers mental illness, disabilities, the elderly and most recently, millions of the previously uninsured through Obamacare.

Anthem, Cigna Finalize Rumored Merger

Jul 24, 2015

A definitive agreement is in place for Anthem to take over Bloomfield-based Cigna. The deal comes nearly a year into talks, and a month after an earlier attempt was rebuffed.

Health insurer Anthem has struck a deal to acquire rival Cigna for $48 billion — a buyout that would create the country's largest health insurer by enrollment.

The combined entity would have an estimated revenue of $115 billion and cover 53 million people in the U.S.

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Researchers at the University of Connecticut are working to find better ways to vaccinate the elderly against the flu. The normal flu vaccine has a fairly high success rate in the general population, but it’s not as good at protecting people over 65 against influenza.

Highest Prescribers of Cancer Drug Paid as Speakers

Jul 17, 2015
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Eight of the top 10 prescribers of a potent narcotic used for cancer pain were paid more than $870,000 in speaking fees by the drug maker in 2013 and 2014 -- indicating that Derby nurse Heather Alfonso was not the only high prescriber compensated by the company.

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Day Kimball Healthcare and Hartford HealthCare have announced they are considering an arrangement for the Putnam health system to become a member of the Hartford HealthCare network.