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Shots - Health News
12:00 pm
Wed April 16, 2014

Medicare Kept Paying Indicted, Sanctioned Doctors

A check of Medicare's new database of payments to physicians confirms that at least $6 million in 2012 went to doctors who had been indicted or otherwise sanctioned.
iStockphoto

In August 2011, federal agents swept across the Detroit area, arresting doctors, pharmacists and other health professionals accused of running a massive scheme to defraud Medicare.

The following month, several of those arrested — including psychiatrist Mark Greenbain and podiatrist Anmy Tran — were suspended from billing the state's Medicaid program for the poor.

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The Salt
9:22 am
Wed April 16, 2014

Tasting With Our Eyes: Why Bright Blue Chicken Looks So Strange

Does this blue chicken make you queasy? Scientists say there might be an evolutionary reason for that.
Courtesy of Lawrie Brown

There's something unsettling — freakish, even — about Lawrie Brown's photos of everyday meals.

In one photo, the California-based photographer has placed a shockingly blue raw chicken atop a bed of rice and peas. In another, pink cereal puffs float in a sea of yellow milk. And Brown slathers three hefty scoops of green ice cream with purple fudge in a third, with blood-red cherries as garnish. Other photos in her "Colored Food Series" feature green corn, blue crackers and green spaghetti.

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Shots - Health News
3:40 am
Wed April 16, 2014

Is Obamacare A Success? We Might Not Know For A While

Hundreds in California rushed to get health insurance just before the deadline.
Justin Sullivan Getty Images

Originally published on Wed April 16, 2014 9:06 am

After months of focusing on how many people have or haven't signed up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act, we now have a rough total (7.5 million), and everyone's keen to get to the bigger questions: How well is the law working? How many of those who signed up have paid their premiums and are actually getting coverage? How many were uninsured before they signed up? And just how big has the drop been in the number of uninsured people?

Unfortunately, the answers to some of these questions simply aren't knowable — or, at least, not knowable yet.

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Around the Nation
3:37 am
Wed April 16, 2014

After Losing A Leg, Woman Walks On Her Own — In 4-Inch Heels

Heather Abbott of Newport, R.I., shows off her "high-definition" prosthetic leg, which allows her to wear high heels and skirts.
Stephan Savoia AP

Originally published on Wed April 16, 2014 11:16 am

Returning to watch the Boston Marathon was never a question for Heather Abbott. After losing her leg in the bombing last year, watching the race is just one item on a long list of things she did before and intends to do again. Also on that list: wearing 4-inch heels.

"Sometimes, I think: Why am I doing this to myself? Because I could just wear regular flat shoes," Abbott says. "I don't want to give things up that I love to do, so I'm going to get used to it and figure it out."

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Shots - Health News
5:29 pm
Tue April 15, 2014

Risks Of Popular Anxiety Drugs Often Overshadowed

Xanax and Valium, prescribed to treat anxiety, mood disorders and insomnia, can be deadly when mixed with other sedatives.
Dean812 Flickr

Originally published on Tue April 15, 2014 6:40 pm

When actor Philip Seymour Hoffman died of an overdose in February, the New York City medical examiner ruled that his death was the result of "acute mixed drug intoxication." Heroin, cocaine and a widely prescribed class of drugs known as benzodiazepines, or benzos, were found in his system.

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Medical Treatments
4:15 pm
Tue April 15, 2014

With Some Drug Combinations, Overdose Might Be In The Prescription

Originally published on Tue April 15, 2014 5:29 pm

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

The dangerous practice of mixing benzodiazepines and opiates doesn't just lie with people like Sayra Small, who was abusing heroin. New research suggests that part of the problem may lie with primary care doctors who are prescribing a mix of benzos for anxiety and opioids for pain.

Those are the findings of Dr. Sean Mackey. He joins us now. He is the chief of pain medicine at Stanford School of Medicine. Welcome to the program.

SEAN MACKEY: Great to be here, thank you.

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Shots - Health News
3:14 pm
Tue April 15, 2014

Despite Worries, Boston Survivor Heads Back To The Start Line

Carol Downing is still haunted by memories of last year's marathon. But she's excited about reuniting with other survivors.
Michael Dwyer AP

Originally published on Tue April 15, 2014 9:24 pm

At last year's Boston Marathon, Carol Downing was just a half a mile from the finish line when bombs exploded and injured two of her daughters. This year, she's going back to complete the race.

More than 36,000 runners hope to cross the finish line for the Boston Marathon this year. Downing plans to be among them. But she's worried.

"There's definitely some fear of going back," Downing says. "I know that for the whole time of the 26.2 miles, I'm going to be wondering if my family is safe."

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Shots - Health News
12:50 pm
Tue April 15, 2014

Details On Abortion Coverage Still Elusive In Some Health Plans

Abortion coverage was a key sticking point during the congressional debate on the new health law. Lawmakers eventually agreed to let states decide.
Mark Wilson Getty Images

Originally published on Tue April 15, 2014 4:29 pm

If you bought health coverage through one of the online insurance marketplaces, you might have a tough time determining whether your plan covers abortion services.

Though Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius got an earful from members of Congress about the problem at a hearing last November, little's been done yet to clear up the confusion in some states.

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Shots - Health News
3:25 am
Tue April 15, 2014

Voodoo Dolls Prove It: Hunger Makes Couples Turn On Each Other

Volunteers with lower levels of blood sugar stuck more pins in voodoo dolls of their spouses than people with higher levels.
Courtesy of Brad Bushman

Originally published on Tue April 15, 2014 5:03 pm

A lot of us know what can happen when we get hungry. We get grumpy, irritable and sometimes nasty.

There's even a name for this phenomenon: "Hangry, which is a combination of the words hungry and angry," says psychologist Brad Bushman from Ohio State University.

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Shots - Health News
3:24 am
Tue April 15, 2014

The 7.5 Million Insured Through Obamacare Are Only Part Of The Story

President Obama announced in early April that more than 7 million people had signed up for health insurance through the exchanges.
Win McNamee Getty Images

Originally published on Tue April 15, 2014 3:08 pm

Want to know how many people have signed up for private insurance under Obamacare? Like the health care law itself, the answer is complicated.

The Obama administration is tracking the number of plans purchased on HealthCare.gov and on the state exchanges, and this month reported that it had exceeded expectations by signing up 7.5 million people. In addition, federal officials have said that 3 million people have enrolled in Medicaid this year.

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Consumer
3:22 am
Tue April 15, 2014

Where's The Whole Grain In Most Of Our Wheat Bread?

The most healthful loaves of bread contain chunks of grain still intact, like the seeded loaf on the right. Whole wheat loaves, like the one in the middle, may contain few whole grains and may be made up mostly of refined flour, like the white bread on the left.
Meg Vogel NPR

Originally published on Tue April 15, 2014 12:06 pm

We've all heard the advice to eat more whole grains, and cut back on refined starches.

And there's good reason. Compared with a diet heavy on refined grains, like white flour, a diet rich in whole grains — which includes everything from brown rice to steel-cut oats to farro — is linked to lower rates of heart disease, certain cancers and Type 2 diabetes.

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Shots - Health News
6:00 pm
Mon April 14, 2014

Gene Linked To Alzheimer's Poses A Special Threat To Women

Women make up nearly two-thirds of the people in the U.S. diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Mon April 14, 2014 7:35 pm

A gene associated with Alzheimer's disease appears especially dangerous to women and may be one reason that more women than men are diagnosed with the disease.

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Shots - Health News
2:55 pm
Mon April 14, 2014

Why Babies Cry At Night

More than just hungry or wet?
George Marks Getty Images

Originally published on Tue April 15, 2014 2:07 pm

Somewhere between bliss and exhaustion. That's how the first few months of parenting often feel, as sleepless nights blur into semicomatose days.

Most of us chalk up a baby's nighttime crying to one simple fact: He's hungry.

But could that chubby bundle of joy have a devious plan?

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Author Interviews
1:17 pm
Mon April 14, 2014

Modern Medicine May Not Be Doing Your Microbiome Any Favors

According to Dr. Martin Blaser, the overuse of antibiotics has contributed to killing off strains of bacteria that typically live in the gut.
Joe Raedle Getty Images

Originally published on Mon April 14, 2014 8:18 pm

There are lots of theories about why food allergies, asthma, celiac disease and intestinal disorders like Crohn's disease have been on the rise. Dr. Martin Blaser speculates that it may be connected to the overuse of antibiotics, which has resulted in killing off strains of bacteria that typically live in the gut.

Blaser is an expert on the human microbiome, which is the collection of bacteria, viruses, fungi and other microbes that live in and on the body. In fact, up to 90 percent of all the cells in the human body aren't human at all — they're micro-organisms.

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Health
12:35 pm
Mon April 14, 2014

Why Do More Latina Teens Get Pregnant?

Transcript

CELESTE HEADLEE, HOST:

I'm Celeste Headlee and this is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. Michel Martin is away. There has been a lot of progress in reducing the number of teen pregnancies over the last few decades. Rates have declined across all ethnic groups. But according to new figures from the Centers for Disease Control, the teen birthrate among Hispanics is stubbornly high.

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Health
12:35 pm
Mon April 14, 2014

Getting Enough Vitamin D: More Than Milk And Sunshine

Transcript

CELESTE HEADLEE, HOST:

I'm Celeste Headlee and this is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. Michel Martin is away. Some surprising news now about vitamin D. According to two major reviews in the British Medical Journal published last week, people with low levels of vitamin D could be more likely to die from cancer, heart disease and a number of other illnesses.

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Shots - Health News
12:10 pm
Mon April 14, 2014

Patients Often Win If They Appeal A Denied Health Claim

A 2011 GAO report that sampled data from a handful of states suggests that, even before Obamacare, patients got the claim denial overturned 39 to 59 percent of the time when they appealed directly to the insurer.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Tue April 15, 2014 5:29 pm

Federal rules ensure that none of the millions of people who signed up for Obamacare can be denied insurance — but there is no guarantee that all health services will be covered.

To help make sure a patient's claims aren't improperly denied, the Affordable Care Act creates national standards that allow everyone who is denied treatment to appeal that decision to the insurance company and, if necessary, to a third party reviewer.

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Shots - Health News
3:22 am
Mon April 14, 2014

Mind Over Milkshake: How Your Thoughts Fool Your Stomach

Bianca Giaever for NPR

Originally published on Mon April 14, 2014 2:58 pm

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The Two-Way
11:52 am
Sun April 13, 2014

Marijuana Vending Machine Unveiled In Colorado

A customer eyes marijuana samples at a Denver dispensary. The makers of a newly unveiled vending machine are hoping to change how pot is sold in stores.
Theo Stroomer Getty Images

An automated pot-selling machine was unveiled at an event held at an Avon, Colo., restaurant Saturday, promising a potential new era of selling marijuana and pot-infused snacks from vending machines directly to customers.

Its creators say the machine, called the ZaZZZ, uses biometrics to verify a customer's age. The machine is climate-controlled to keep its product fresh.

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Shots - Health News
5:09 am
Sun April 13, 2014

My Journey From Homeless Drug Addict To Magna Cum Laude

Maria Fabrizio for NPR

I was fighting a rat for the remnants of a corn dog I'd salvaged from the trash. That's when I realized I'd crossed the final line I had drawn.

I had told myself, as long as I don't shoot up, I'm OK. As long as I'm not homeless, I'm OK. But now I was shooting up and homeless, and there was nowhere left to draw. I had reached the bottom line of my existence.

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The Salt
5:15 pm
Sat April 12, 2014

When Your Child's Food Allergies Are A Matter Of Life And Death

Laurel Francoeur's son Jeremy is severely allergic to peanuts, tree nuts, eggs, soy, sesame and shellfish.
Courtesy of Laurel Francoeur

Originally published on Sat April 12, 2014 6:46 pm

Laurel Francoeur's son Jeremy was about a year old when he had his first life- threatening allergic reaction. She took him to the doctor when hives started to cover his whole body. Tests revealed severe allergies to peanuts, tree nuts, eggs, soy, sesame and shellfish.

Like many parents of children with severe food allergies, Francoeur faces a host of unique challenges.

"It's a lot of planning," she says. "You have to always plan where you're going, how you're going to eat when you get there. Will the food be safe? Will he have something to eat?"

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Africa
9:56 am
Sat April 12, 2014

Guineans Scramble To Defend Themselves Against Deadly Virus

Originally published on Sat April 12, 2014 1:26 pm

A recent outbreak of Ebola in Guinea has the country on edge. Guineans have never experienced the deadly virus, and are learning quickly how to protect themselves.

The Salt
4:07 pm
Fri April 11, 2014

The Latest Wacky Food Adventure: A Year Without Sugar

A new memoir highlights the experience of a family going without sugar for an entire year.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Fri April 11, 2014 7:15 pm

Why would anyone put her family of four through a radical food experiment that would deprive her children of Halloween candy and chocolate-chip cookies?

A cynic who happens upon Eve Schaub's recently published book, Year Of No Sugar, might say that banning sugar from your home for a year to document the effects on your family is no more than a gimmick veiled in a health halo, and a harsh one, at that. "This experiment was pretty much guaranteed to wreak all kinds of unpredictable havoc with our lives," Schaub admits early on in the memoir. "I loved it."

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Shots - Health News
4:06 pm
Fri April 11, 2014

Ebola Drug Could Be Ready For Human Testing Next Year

In this colored transmission electron micrograph, an infected cell (reddish brown) releases a single Ebola virus (the blue hook). As it exits, the virus takes along part of the host cell's membrane (pink, center), too. That deters the host's immune defenses from recognizing the virus as foreign.
London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine Science Source

Originally published on Fri April 11, 2014 8:13 pm

The Ebola outbreak in West Africa is terrifying because there's no drug to treat this often fatal disease. But the disease is so rare, there's no incentive for big pharmaceutical companies to develop a treatment.

Even so, some small companies, given government incentives, are stepping into that breach. The result: More than half a dozen ideas are being pursued actively.

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News
4:06 pm
Fri April 11, 2014

As Sebelius Steps Down, Obama Taps Budget Director To Replace Her

Originally published on Fri April 11, 2014 8:13 pm

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Melissa Block.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

And I'm Audie Cornish. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius got a fond farewell today from President Obama. She's resigning after a rocky tenure marred by the botched rollout of the government's health insurance exchange last fall. The president's tapping his budget director, Sylvia Mathews Burwell, to replace Sebelius. NPR's Scott Horsley has more.

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Commentary
4:06 pm
Fri April 11, 2014

This Week In Politics: Sebelius, Civil Rights And Immigration

Originally published on Fri April 11, 2014 8:13 pm

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

And now we turn to our Friday political commentators, E.J. Dionne of The Washington Post and David Brooks of the New York Times. Welcome back to you both.

DAVID BROOKS: Good to be here.

E.J. DIONNE: Good to be with you.

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It's All Politics
3:34 pm
Fri April 11, 2014

5 Things To Know About Obama's Nominee For Health Secretary

President Obama, flanked by outgoing Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius (left) and his nominee to be her replacement, Budget Director Sylvia Mathews Burwell, speaks in the Rose Garden of the White House Friday.
Charles Dharapak AP

Originally published on Fri April 11, 2014 7:28 pm

On the same day the White House formally announced the resignation of Kathleen Sebelius as secretary of health and human services, President Obama also nominated her successor: Sylvia Mathews Burwell.

Here are five things to know about Burwell, who will have the task of overseeing the implementation of the Affordable Care Act during a midterm election year:

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Shots - Health News
1:59 pm
Fri April 11, 2014

How A Person Can Recover From Ebola

Testing for Ebola, a scientist in a mobile lab at Gueckedou, Guinea, separates blood cells from plasma cells to isolate the virus's genetic sequence.
Misha Hussain Reuters /Landov

Originally published on Fri April 11, 2014 3:38 pm

At least eight Ebola patients in Guinea have beaten the odds. They have recovered and been sent home. In past outbreaks, the death rate has been as high as 90 percent. In Guinea so far, about 60 percent of the 157 suspected cases have ended in death.

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Shots - Health News
11:05 am
Fri April 11, 2014

This Jet Lag App Does The Math So You'll Feel Better Faster

You've been there, and you know it doesn't feel good. But an app based on the science of circadian rhythms could help reduce the suffering of jet lag.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Fri April 11, 2014 3:45 pm

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Politics
5:12 am
Fri April 11, 2014

Health Secretary Kathleen Sebelius To Step Down

Originally published on Fri April 11, 2014 7:37 am

The move comes about 6 months after the disastrous roll out of the health insurance website. It was eventually fixed, but not before delivering a severe blow to the president's approval ratings.

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