Robert Siegel

The opioid epidemic has been fueled by soaring numbers of prescriptions written for pain medication. And often, those prescriptions are written by dentists.

"We're in the pain business," says Paul Moore, a dentist and pharmacologist at University of Pittsburgh School of Dental Medicine. "People come to see us when they're in pain. Or after we've treated them, they leave in pain."

In the seven years since the Affordable Care Act was passed, CEOs of U.S. health care companies have made a lot of money.

Their compensation far outstrips the wage growth of nearly all Americans, according to reporter Bob Herman, who published an analysis this week of "the sky-high pay of health care CEOs" for the online news site, Axios.

Among the troubling developments of the nation's opioid crisis: a large number of babies born prenatally exposed to opioids.

On a recent reporting trip, we visited Trinity Hospital in Steubenville, Ohio, where according to the acting CEO, 1 in 5 babies are born with prenatal opioid exposure. Other hospitals report as many as 1 in 8 newborns exposed to opioids in the womb.

When people talk about jobs in Ohio, they often talk about the ones that got away.

"Ten years ago, we had steel. Ten years ago, we had coal. Ten years ago, we had plentiful jobs," says Mike McGlumphy, who runs the job center in Steubenville, Ohio, the Jefferson County seat.

Today, the city on the Ohio River is a shell of its former self. And health care has overtaken manufacturing as the county's main economic driver.

Renée Fleming and Francis Collins have something unexpected in common: music.

Collins, the director of the National Institutes of Health, plays guitar. Fleming, of course, is a renowned soprano.

Reyna Gordon was an aspiring opera singer fresh out of college when she began contemplating the questions that would eventually define her career.

"I moved to Italy when I finished my bachelor of music, and I started to take more linguistic classes and to think about language in the brain, and music in the brain," she says. "What was happening in our brains when we were listening to music, when we were singing? What was happening in my brain when I was singing?"

Those questions led her to a graduate program in neuroscience in Marseilles, France.

Trying to make out what someone is saying in a noisy environment is a problem most people can relate to, and one that gets worse with age.

At 77, Linda White hears all right in one-on-one settings but has problems in noisier situations. "Mostly in an informal gathering where people are all talking at once," she says. "The person could be right beside you, but you still don't hear them."

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ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

How well do we understand and act on probabilities that something will happen? A 30 percent chance of this or an 80 percent chance of that?

As it turns out, making decisions based on the odds can be an extremely difficult thing to do, even for people who study the science of how we make decisions.

Federal officials have announced that a young Mississippi girl, once thought to have been cured of HIV, now once again has detectable levels of the virus. This is a setback not just for the child, but also for hope of eradicating HIV in infants with a potent mix of drugs at birth.

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Long-time fans of the comedy website, "Funny or Die," know this already. But for the rest of you, this is the theme song of "Between Two Ferns." The Web series mimics a low-budget, cable-access interview program.

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Now, health and electrical lighting. Last month, Mariana Figueiro showed me something she has developed to help seniors avoid falls in the night. Figueiro researches health applications at the Lighting Research Center at Rennselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York. Her project is a nightlight. But it's not just a single bulb. It's a string of yellow lights that border the darkened entrance to, say, a bathroom.

It's a doorway and around the frame of the doorway are the yellow LEDs?

MARIANA FIGUEIRO: That's correct.

People who are uninsured now have one more day to sign up for health coverage that start on the first of 2014. On Monday, the White House extended the deadline to sign up for plans under the Affordable Care Act from midnight on Dec. 23 to Christmas Eve at midnight, describing the move as a way to accommodate people in different time zones.