health care

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New research out of Yale says doctors should accept more types of kidneys for organ transplant. The study comes at a time when there's a growing need for kidneys.

U.S. VA

Dr. Linda Schwartz was a long-time Commissioner of Connecticut's Department of Veterans Affairs. Six months ago, she left to begin a new career at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs after being confirmed last fall as Assistant Secretary for the VA's Office of Policy and Planning. 

Barbara Wells / Creative Commons

Nearly 25 percent of the state’s population gets its drinking water from a private well. Now the state is calling on residents who own those wells to test them regularly. 

It might seem silly to miss work for a rash. But people who have eczema often have to put a lot of time and money into managing the itchy, inflamed rashes they get over and over. Lindsay Jones, who lives in Chicago, was diagnosed with eczema when she was 2 weeks old.

Mark Fischer (Flickr Creative Commons)

The nation's highest court again has the future of the president's signature health care law in its hands. 

The Supreme Court will hear arguments Wednesday from opponents who say it's being wrongly implemented. The case is called King v. Burwell, and the plaintiffs say the federal government is breaking the law when it pays subsidies to people buying health insurance through the three-dozen states in the federal exchange.

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This hour, we sink our teeth into, well, teeth! We find out why oral hygiene is so important to our health, and why Americans are so obsessed with straight, white smiles.

A little later, Canadian writer Michael Hingston tells us the fascinating history of the tooth fairy. 

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For one year, journalist Karen Brown set out to learn why more young doctors aren't choosing primary care. Her findings are now the subject of a new documentary, “The Path to Primary Care: Who Will Be The Next Generation of Frontline Doctors?” 

This hour, Karen joins us along with some primary care professionals to weigh in on the latest trends, and to tell us what the future of primary care looks like both here in the northeast and across America.

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AIDS Connecticut’s syringe exchange program is the first in the state to start distributing Naloxone to injecting drug users. The medication can be administered to reverse opioid overdoses.

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We’re finally going to do a show about you! And when I say this, I’m not talking to the people listening, but to the microbes living in their armpits and belly buttons. This hour, we tell the humans what you little guys have been doing for them all along -- and how much more you might be able to do with a few tweaks from science.

Tim Samoff / Creative Commons

For the third year in a row, a proposal to allow the terminally ill to receive medication to end their lives will be before Connecticut legislators.

One of the main opponents has already launched a campaign against the bill. 

When people without health insurance get around to filing their taxes this year, they may find that they have to pay a penalty. State officials are working on a fix. 

The Affordable Care Act mandates that everyone have insurance or face a fine. Last year was the first year the penalty applied, but some people may not know they owe it until they prepare their 2014 taxes -- and it's already too late to sign up for health insurance for 2015.

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With sex education being a big political issue in many states, what does this all mean for the future of sex education funding in America? 

This hour, local and national experts weigh in on how public schools are talking to students about their sexual health. We learn about the history of sex education in the U.S., and find out where it's all headed in the future.

Homelessness in Greater Hartford: Meet Sal Pinna

Feb 20, 2015
Susan Campbell / WNPR

Salvatore Pinna, 52, grew up on Long Island and came to Connecticut 20 years ago. In official parlance, Pinna is chronically homeless, which is how the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development describes someone who has been homeless for a year or more, or who has had at least four incidences of homelessness in three years, and has a disability. 

Pinna more than fits the description. He has effectively been homeless since he came to Connecticut in the '90s. Some of that time he spent living on the streets and sleeping under bridges. 

Chion Wolf

Salvatore Pinna moved to Connecticut 20 years ago. The 52-year-old has been living on the streets and under bridges since he moved here. He's one of many chronically homeless people in the state.

This hour, we meet Sal and hear the first of a series of stories about homelessness in Greater Hartford, where the 100-Day Challenge is about to begin, an initiative to try to to eliminate barriers and connect stakeholders -- to create a plan to end chronic homelessness -- in 100 days.

Alyssa L. Miller / WNPR

My mother was an Alzheimer's patient. I think it's fair to say the disease killed her although like a lot of people in their 80's with serious illnesses, she got caught in a whirlpool of problems that made it hard to pin the blame on any one thing.

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Parents in the town of Fairfield are locking horns with public school teachers over the best way to keep kids with food allergies safe. Part of that controversy is over who is responsible for reading food labels.

If you have a kid in public school, chances are you might have gotten a note from your teacher about what foods are okay to bring to class, like fresh fruit, and what foods aren't, like peanuts or cheese. But what about packaged or store-bought foods, where sometimes the food labels aren't so clear?

Bortoletto family

Ten million uninsured people nationwide have enrolled in private health care coverage under the Affordable Care Act known as Obamacare. But it doesn't cover everyone living in the U.S., like undocumented residents. This includes the Bortoletto sisters who live in Connecticut.  

Aundrea Murray / WNPR

America is growing older, and so is its population of HIV-positive adults. This year, for the first time ever, half of Americans living with HIV are 50 years old and older. For many of them, like Michael Hawkins of New Britain, Connecticut, life presents a unique set of challenges, including increased social isolation. I visited Hawkins recently to learn how he's been coping with HIV. 

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Anthem announced that customers will be able to sign up for credit monitoring services starting Friday.

Responding to a letter sent Tuesday by Connecticut’s attorney general, the health insurer said anyone who had a health plan with them in the last ten years will be allowed to access the protection. 

Chion Wolf / WNPR

Connecticut’s Attorney General has joined with nine other states to ask health insurer Anthem to speed up its plan to protect consumers in the wake of what may be the nation’s biggest-ever data breach.

George Jepsen sent a letter to Anthem's CEO on behalf of attorneys general from Rhode Island, Maine, Nebraska, Pennsylvania, and several other states, calling on Anthem to step up its response to its customers.

Eighty million people, including more than a million in Connecticut, may have been affected by the cyber hack, and Anthem initially said it will provide two years of credit monitoring for customers.

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For the first time ever, the federal government is penalizing more than 700 hospitals across the country for having high rates of things called hospital acquired infections.

Those are potentially avoidable mistakes in health care, like urinary tract infections.

In Connecticut, 14 hospitals are facing the penalty -- and that means they're losing millions of dollars. 

The Affordable Care Act is well-known as a law intended to get more people on health insurance. But it also has provisions intended to improve health care itself. This is one of them.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

Do you know anyone who’s ever had measles, mumps, or rubella? Those diseases have essentially been wiped out in the U.S. because of effective and widespread adoption of vaccines. 

But that might be changing. Dr. Thomas Frieden, Director for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said that last year, there were more than 600 measles cases in the U.S., and that was more than there have been for a long time. "This year, there were 100 in January alone," he said.

Javier Villa has worked at his family's used car dealership in San Juan, Puerto Rico, ever since he finished high school.

Villa, 35, always assumed the insurance plan he had through work would take care of him and his family. But a couple years ago, he ran into a problem.

He was taking a shower one morning when he noticed a lump on the side of his throat. "Very big, like maybe a tennis ball," he says.

The call for more systemic changes to prevent mega-hacks is getting louder after hackers hit Anthem, the nation's second-largest health insurer. The company says cyberthieves gained access to the addresses, employment information and Social Security numbers of 80 million customers and employees.

Eighty million individuals is a lot — it's roughly the populations of California, Texas and Illinois combined.

Flickr Creative Commons / DNA Art Online

Precision medicine includes all the stuff that makes you, you -- your DNA, the stuff inside your gut, your family history -- into medical care.

Now, President Barack Obama wants to funnel $215 million into a "Precision Medicine Initiative," with the hope of one day incorporating things like a person’s genome into everyday medical treatment. 

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The Department of Consumer Protection has drafted regulations that would add three medical conditions to the eleven already in place, that qualify patients in Connecticut to use medical marijuana. They include sickle cell disease, severe psoriasis, and chronic radiculopathy, a type of recurring back pain after surgery.

Commissioner Jonathan Harris said the approval process for medical conditions is rigorous, and "when you boil it down to its essence, the question is whether the palliative use of marijuana would alleviate the pain, alleviate the symptoms, complications or actually slow down the disease process."

LIz West / Creative Commons

More than a million people get cancer every year in the United States, with about 22,000 new cases in Connecticut in 2014. But, thanks to better detection and more advanced treatment, the number of people surviving cancer is growing rapidly. There are 13 million survivors alive today.

So, most of us likely know someone with cancer...a neighbor, a friend, or more often, a member of our family.

The American Cancer Society says that three-out-of-four families have at least one person in their family who has survived cancer...and that number is rising every year. 

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When the Affordable Care Act came into being many people wondered about the future of employer sponsored health coverage, but it turns out that company coverage has been declining for more than a decade. 

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Reportedly, younger women of child-bearing age are paying $10,000 to freeze their eggs, hoping to preserve their viability until the women find mates, or their careers and finances allow them to become pregnant. That's just one issue addressed by Faith's guests, regular contributor Dr. Mary Jane Minkin and new guests Dr. Erin Wysong Hofstatter and Dr. Elena Ratner, all affiliated with Yale's School of Medicine.

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Tenet Healthcare said it is open to resuming talks with the state of Connecticut over its failed deal to buy five hospitals. The company pulls no punches in its response to Governor Dannel Malloy’s invitation.

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