health care

Affordable Care Act
5:03 pm
Mon April 7, 2014

Connecticut to Share Its Obamacare Computer Code

Credit Michael Himbeault / Creative Commons

Connecticut's Obamacare enrollment website did well enough this year to attract the interest of other states. Officials from Access Health CT said they are finalizing a deal with the state of Maryland to share computer code.

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Not Parkinson's?
3:33 am
Mon April 7, 2014

Involuntary Shaking Can Be Caused By Essential Tremors

Deep brain stimulation eased Shari Finsilver's tremors, but didn't stop them entirely. Here she uses both hands to stabilize a glass of water.
Marvin Shaouni for NPR

Originally published on Mon April 7, 2014 3:51 pm

Katharine Hepburn had it. So did playwright Eugene O'Neill and Sen. Robert Byrd. Essential tremor is a condition that causes involuntary shaking.

While it usually develops in middle age, it can start much earlier. Shari Finsilver was aware of her hands shaking as a child.

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Affordable Care Act
4:09 pm
Tue April 1, 2014

Obamacare Enrollment Surged in Connecticut as Deadline Expired

Credit Slawomir Fajer/iStock / Thinkstock

President Obama said that more than seven million people have signed up for insurance coverage under the Affordable Care Act. Connecticut saw a huge surge in enrollments as Monday's deadline passed. 

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Affordable Care Act
2:13 pm
Tue April 1, 2014

Obama: The Affordable Care Act Is Working, 'Helping People... Coast To Coast'

The HealthCare.gov website has been a source of delays and confusion for those trying to sign up for health insurance under the ACA.
Jon Elswick AP

Originally published on Tue April 1, 2014 5:00 pm

This post was updated at 4:40 p.m. ET. with Obama's comments.

President Obama emerged from the White House on Tuesday to rousing applause. He announced that 7.1 million Americans had signed up for health care through the federal exchanges set up by the Affordable Care Act.

"This law is doing what it's supposed to do," Obama said at the Rose Garden. "It's working. It's helping people from coast to coast."

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Health Insurance
10:23 am
Mon March 31, 2014

ACA Expected to Increase Demand for Primary Care Doctors; Quinnipiac University Responds

With the open enrollment deadline looming, organizations across Connecticut are helping people sign up for health insurance coverage. Health centers are open Monday in many cities, including Bridgeport, Hartford, New Haven, Norwich, and Waterbury, with extra in-person help. 

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Affordable Care Act
9:57 am
Mon March 31, 2014

Seven Things to Watch As the Health Care Enrollment Deadline Passes

Credit scyther5/iStock / Thinkstock

Just because open enrollment for people who buy their own health insurance formally closes March 31 doesn't mean debate over the health law will take a hiatus. After more than four years of strident rhetoric, evidence about how the law is actually working is starting to trickle in. 

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Affordable Care Act
5:19 pm
Wed March 26, 2014

Federal Obamacare Deadline Extends, But Connecticut's Does Not

Credit Gubcio / iStock / Thinkstock

As the deadline to sign up for insurance under the Affordable Care Act approaches, the federal government now says it will give some people extra time to enroll. But that change won't apply to people in Connecticut.

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Obamacare
4:07 pm
Tue March 25, 2014

As Obamacare Deadline Approaches, Penalties Loom for Those Who Miss It

Gov. Dannel Malloy sells Obamacare as the enrollment deadline approaches.
Credit Jeff Cohen / WNPR

Officials say enrollment in the state's health insurance marketplace is surging as the March 31 deadline to sign up approaches. 

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Affordable Care Act
10:37 am
Tue March 25, 2014

Last Chance To Ask About Health Law Before Sign-Up Deadline

iStockphoto

Originally published on Tue March 25, 2014 11:23 am

This is it. The deadline to sign up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act this year is March 31. With time running out, the questions about how the health law and the exchanges work keep pouring in. Here are a few more to check out while the clock ticks down.

My son will be 19 in May. I claim him as a dependent on my taxes. If I don't provide for his medical coverage and he is unemployed and makes no income, how is he supposed to pay his penalty? Or are they going to take his penalty out of my tax return because he is a dependent on my return?

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Business of Medicine
11:58 am
Mon March 24, 2014

Hospital Mergers in Connecticut Raise Concerns Over Patient Costs

Yale-New Haven Hospital acquired the Hospital of St. Raphael in September 2012.
Credit Connecticut Health I-Team

Hospital administrators in Connecticut who have been involved in the unprecedented streak of mergers and consolidations often tout the financial benefits and efficiencies of such moves.

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Access Health CT
7:31 am
Mon March 24, 2014

Customers Rush To Retail Store In Connecticut To Buy Obamacare

DeLisa Tolson signed up for health insurance at a retail store set up by Connecticut's exchange. She says she was so happy with the experience, she told all her friends.
Jeff Cohen/NPR

Originally published on Mon March 24, 2014 12:25 pm

Mike Dunn stands inside a store in downtown New Haven, looking through the big glass windows at his future customers outside. He's not selling phones or food or clothes. He's selling Obamacare.

There's one week left to get health insurance through the Affordable Care Act marketplaces, and states have gone to great lengths to enroll as many people up as possible. In Connecticut, the exchange has opened two retail storefronts where people can walk in and sign up.

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Affordable Care Act
12:49 pm
Wed March 19, 2014

Doctors Say Obamacare Rule Will Stick Them With Unpaid Bills

A checkup might include more pointed questions about insurance status for people with subsidized health coverage.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Wed March 19, 2014 2:04 pm

Doctors worry they won't get paid by some patients because of an unusual 90-day grace period for government-subsidized health plans.

So several professional groups for doctors are urging their members to check patients' insurance status before every visit. Consumer advocates say these checks could lead to treatment delays or denials for some patients.

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Medicine
8:07 am
Wed March 19, 2014

Cancer Treatments Could Hurt Your Heart

Credit Wikimedia Commons

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for cancer survivors. A relatively new scientific field called "cardio-oncology" is working to change that.

Chemotherapy and radiation may save you from cancer, but they can also do a lot of damage to your heart. 

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The End of Life
4:13 pm
Mon March 17, 2014

Public Testifies on "Aid in Dying" Bill

Credit photonewman/iStock / Thinkstock

A legislative hearing was held Monday on a bill that would allow doctors to prescribe life-ending drugs to the terminally ill.  The session brought emotional testimony from those both in favor and opposed. 

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The Colin McEnroe Show
10:44 am
Mon March 17, 2014

The Scramble on Agunuah, Vaccinations, and More

Credit Alex Proimos / Wikimedia Commons

Mark Oppenheimer writes about religion and a whole bunch of other things. Today, he'll be talking about the difficulty Orthodox Jewish women face in obtaining a certain form of cooperation from their husbands and how that difficulty spawned a black market in coercion and violence.

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End of Life Choices
9:40 am
Mon March 17, 2014

Legislature Hears Testimony on "Aid in Dying"

Supporters of the bill say they want to allow death with dignity.
Credit Nathan & Jenny / Creative Commons

The legislature's Public Health Committee is slated to hear testimony Monday on a bill which would allow physicians to help terminally ill patients to end their lives.

The so called aid-in-dying legislation is likely to draw impassioned advocates on both sides. 

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Congress
6:03 am
Sat March 15, 2014

House Passes Payment Fix For Medicare Docs, But At What Cost?

Medicare's payments to doctors will likely be slashed April 1, unless the U.S. Senate can quickly get a derailed compromise back on track.
iStockphoto

Bipartisan support dissolved this week for compromise legislation that would have fixed a longstanding problem with the way Medicare pays physicians. Though the bill passed the House of Representatives Friday, it now contains a provision almost certain to invite veto unless a Senate version can quickly nudge the ultimate bill back toward compromise.

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Health Care
9:25 am
Fri March 14, 2014

State Lawmakers Consider Requiring Providers to Offer Some Hepatitis C Screenings

Credit Stockbyte / Thinkstock

Connecticut lawmakers are considering a bill on Friday that would require primary health care providers to offer baby boomers a screening test for Hepatitis C, a contagious liver disease. The proposed legislation would affect patients born between 1945 and 1965.

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The Colin McEnroe Show
12:00 am
Fri March 14, 2014

The Nose Lurks Behind the Backdrop of "Between Two Ferns"

Matthew Warshauer is a Professor of History at Central Connecticut State University, and board member of Connecticut Humanities.
Chion Wolf WNPR

President Obama has consistently refused to be a panelist on The Nose, but his appearance this week on "Between Two Ferns" with Zach Galifianakis has given us new hope!

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Lowering Cholesterol
12:00 pm
Thu March 13, 2014

Statins Might Not Cause Aching Muscles, But Diabetes Risk Is Real

Statins are widely prescribed to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, but we may not be getting a clear picture of side effect risks.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Thu March 13, 2014 4:22 pm

People taking cholesterol-lowering statins often report having muscle pain and other side effects. Many quit taking the pills as a result.

But the statins aren't to blame, according to an analysis that found muscle problems no more likely with statins than with a placebo pill.

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Legislative Session
4:25 pm
Wed March 12, 2014

Malloy Wants to Ban Sale of E-Cigarettes to Minors

Governor Malloy speaks about the bill at the Trinity College Boys & Girls Club in Hartford.
Credit Jeff Cohen / WNPR

Governor Dannel Malloy wants to ban the sale of electronic cigarettes to minors. He said the makers of the devices may be trying to hook smokers while they're young. 

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Medication
2:24 pm
Wed March 12, 2014

Healthier Patients May Have To Wait For Costly Hepatitis C Drugs

Sovaldi, a daily oral treatment for hepatitis C, costs $1,000 a pill.
Courtesy of Gilead Sciences

Originally published on Wed March 12, 2014 5:43 pm

Expensive new drugs for hepatitis C may work better than older treatments, but their high cost undermines their value, a panel of experts said Monday during a daylong forum in San Francisco.

"The price makes it very hard for the health care system," said Steve Pearson, who oversaw the meeting for the California Technology Assessment Forum, a group affiliated with health insurers that holds public meetings to weigh evidence on new treatments.

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Comedy
9:30 am
Tue March 11, 2014

Obama Goes Between The Ferns To Talk With Zach Galifianakis

In an interview with comedian Zach Galifianakis on the Web series Between Two Ferns, President Obama pitched health insurance to a younger audience.
Funny or Die

Originally published on Wed March 12, 2014 8:01 pm

"My mouse pad broke, and I had to get my great-aunt some diabetes shoes."

That's how comedian Zach Galifianakis begins his segment with President Obama in an episode of the online interview show Between Two Ferns that was posted Tuesday. It was an interview unlike any other for a sitting U.S. president, as Galifianakis probed the commander in chief's views with a range of oddball questions.

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Legislative Session
6:20 pm
Thu March 6, 2014

Poll Shows Support for Bill to Aid Suicide for Terminally Ill

Credit photonewman/iStock / Thinkstock

A new poll shows Connecticut voters strongly support legislation allowing doctors to prescribe life-ending drugs to terminally ill patients.

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Spider Venom
11:43 am
Wed March 5, 2014

Could Tarantula Venom Cure Your Aches and Pains?

Researchers at Yale have identified what they say is a more efficient way to screen thousands of spider neurotoxins against different pain receptors in the body. Above, the Peruvian Green Velvet tarantula.
Credit Yale University

Spider venom could be the next big thing to cure pain, according to research reported in the March issue of Current Biology from Yale University.

There are a lot of different components in venom. And here’s a cheery thought: not every part is out to kill you. 

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Maternity Care
1:03 pm
Tue March 4, 2014

Health Law Provides No Guarantees Of Access To Birthing Centers

Nurse midwife Danielle Kraessig seen meeting with Yakini Branch at the PCC South Family Health Center in Berwyn, Ill., in early 2013. While the federal law requires insurers to cover maternity services, birthing centers and midwifery services aren't always included.
M. Spencer Green AP

Originally published on Tue March 4, 2014 6:48 pm

Insurance coverage for maternity care is required in most individual and small group plans under the federal health law, extending such coverage to plans where it used to be rare. But for women who prefer services provided by midwives and birthing centers, there are no coverage guarantees, despite the law's provisions that prohibit insurers from discriminating against licensed medical providers.

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Health Equity
9:18 am
Mon March 3, 2014

Hypertension: Disparities Widen for Black Women

Blood pressure screenings are part of a long-term solution to hypertension among black women, according to experts.
Credit College of DuPage

Hypertension rates among women in all eight Connecticut counties increased from 2001 to 2009, with disparities widening for African American women compared to whites and Hispanics, according to a C-HIT analysis of data from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington.

In fact, nearly one out of every two African American women living in Connecticut suffers from hypertension, a life-threatening condition that can lead to heart attack, stroke and kidney disease, research shows.

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Access Health CT
7:31 am
Fri February 28, 2014

Connecticut Looks To Sell Its Obamacare Exchange To Other States

Kevin Counihan, CEO of Connecticut's health insurance exchange, hopes to be able to market their expertise.
Jeff Cohen/NPR

Originally published on Fri February 28, 2014 11:14 am

Kevin Counihan, the CEO of Access Health CT, is walking through the 15th floor of a downtown Hartford office building that houses Connecticut's health insurance marketplace. He passes the legal department, the IT folks and the consultants, then stops in front of three large, wall-mounted computer screens.

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For Your Health!
11:55 am
Thu February 27, 2014

Dr. Yogi: Physicians Integrate Yoga Into Medical Practice

Yoga may be more than just an exercise. In Maryland, doctors are learning how to use yoga instead of drugs to treat various medical problems.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Fri February 28, 2014 7:50 am

Rajan Narayanan isn't your average yoga instructor. During his classes, he uses words like "neuroplasticity," avoids Sanskrit terms and sometimes shows up to teach in a suit and tie.

And often, as was the case on a recent Monday at a Maryland conference center, most of his students are doctors and nurses.

Stretched out on orange and green yoga mats for a weekend-long workshop, the 30 students learned breathing techniques, lifestyle tips and research findings that support the health benefits of yoga.

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Health Care
4:20 pm
Wed February 26, 2014

Massachusetts Launches Health Care Shopping Experiment

Governor Deval Patrick of Massachusetts signed the law enacting the state's latest phase of health care on August 6, 2012.
Eric Haynes/Governor Deval Patrick's Office

Originally published on Thu February 27, 2014 12:08 pm

To shop for health care, it would help to know what childbirth or a CT scan will cost ahead of time. But is it possible to actually list prices for medical procedures? And will patients armed with the information look for bargains when they seek care?

Massachusetts is trying to find out. Since Jan. 1, hospitals and doctors there have been required to tell patients how much things cost, if they ask. It's part of the state's health care cost control law. We set out to run a test.

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