health care

Vermont Senate To Debate Lyme Disease Bill

Apr 11, 2014

Doctors and other health professionals would be immune from professional conduct charges if they pursued a hotly debated course of treatment for Lyme disease under a bill given preliminary approval by the Vermont Senate.

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The U.S. is in the middle of a heroin epidemic. It’s something that has become increasingly problematic in northeastern states like Connecticut. This hour, a panel of local reporters and health experts from Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts share their stories. 

We also hear about a controversial decision by the state Department of Children and Families to transfer a transgender teenager to one of Connecticut’s adult prisons, even though, as we’ve discussed on the show, the state now has a “locked” facility for girls like her. WNPR’s Lucy Nalpathanchil joins us with more on that story.

Health Secretary Kathleen Sebelius Is Resigning

Apr 10, 2014

Health Secrerary Kathleen Sebelius is resigning after a five-year term that will no doubt be remembered for the calamitous implementation of President Obama's signature legislation, the Affordable Care Act.

If you remember, when the federal government unveiled HealthCare.gov, where Americans could buy health insurance mandated by Obamacare, the site was essentially useless for weeks after it launched in October.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

Now that the deadline for enrollment in Obamacare has passed, the head of Connecticut's health insurance exchange has said he learned a few lessons.

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A new report called "Healthy Connecticut 2020," from the state Department of Public Health, outlines some of the challenges facing Connecticut health care professionals in the coming decade.

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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.

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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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. 

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."

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. 

Seven Things to Watch As the Health Care Enrollment Deadline Passes

Mar 31, 2014
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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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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.

Jeff Cohen / WNPR

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

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?

Hospital Mergers in Connecticut Raise Concerns Over Patient Costs

Mar 24, 2014
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.

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.

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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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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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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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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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. 

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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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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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!

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.

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. 

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.

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

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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