NPR Health

President Obama's re-election sent a message to state capitals: The war over the president's health care overhaul is finished.

Even in Florida, where Republican leaders led the legal battle against Obamacare, there's recognition now that the state has to act fast to comply with the new law.

Two years and $8.4 billion into the government's effort to get doctors to take their practices digital, some unintended consequences are starting to emerge.

One is a lot of unhappy doctors. In a big survey by Medscape, an online site for doctors, 38 percent of the doctors polled said they were unhappy with their electronic medical records system.

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Pakistan has made a lot of progress this year in wiping out polio. There are signs that one type of poliovirus is gone and transmission of other strains seems to be slowing.

But a recent outbreak of polio there has health officials concerned about the overall effectiveness of the effort to eliminate polio in that country.

Chances are you're familiar with the phrase "a well-balanced diet." Two to three servings of meat, poultry or fish; three to five servings of vegetables — you know the drill. When we talk about being "well-balanced" today, we're usually talking about the specific nutrients we put into our body.

While this might seem like a relatively new development — a product of the past 50 years of fitness programs and diet regimes — as it turns out, this idea goes back much further.

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When it comes to health insurance, working for a small company often means making do with less than employees get at big firms.

Small companies offer coverage less often. Even when they do make it available, it may cost more and be less comprehensive. One reason: Small employers just don't have the bargaining clout with insurers that larger firms have.

What's the largest tax break in the federal tax code?

If you said the mortgage interest deduction, you'd be wrong. The break for charitable giving? Nope. How about capital gains, or state and local taxes? No, and no.

Believe it or not, dollar for dollar, the most tax revenue the federal government forgoes every year is from not taxing the value of health insurance that employers provide their workers.

An ancient circumcision ritual is at the center of a present-day legal battle in New York.

The New York City Department of Health wants to require parental consent for a controversial circumcision practice, which it says can spread the herpes virus. But several Jewish organizations are suing to block the new rule, which they say violates their freedom of religion.

A few days ago, two big names in food policy squared off for a formal debate on the following proposition: There is a fundamental and irreconcilable conflict between the food and beverage industry's interests and public health policy interests on obesity.

Researchers at Boston University have found more evidence supporting a link between repeated knocks to the head and chronic brain disease.

The results, just published in the journal Brain, add weight to concerns about the effect of repeated mild head trauma in athletes, whether they're pros or peewees.

When Christine Rowan gave birth prematurely in August, her new baby was having problems breathing. So Rowan brought her daughter, Zoe, to the Children's National Medical Center in Washington, D.C., for genetic testing.

"It's funny because when we first had the testing done, we didn't even really think about the fact the testing was going to lay out all of her DNA," says Rowan, 32, who lives in Northern Virginia.

But while Rowan and her husband were waiting for the results, questions started popping into their heads.

Some good news about texting: A review of studies published by the Cochrane Collaboration finds that smokers trying to quit the habit are helped in a big way by supportive messages sent via text.

When Kerri Sparling was 7 years old, she was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. Her family didn't know anyone with the disease, so they sent her to diabetes camp — "where every single camper had Type 1 diabetes," she says.

"That was my first sense of not only other people who had diabetes, but a true community," says Sparling.

This weekend, 20 people from around the country will meet in a nondescript hotel room in Arlington, Va., and take a vote. A passing stranger who stumbled on this group wouldn't see much of anything, just a bunch of graying academic types sitting around a table.

But millions of people will be touched by that vote because the graying academic types are voting to approve the 5th edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual — the bible of psychiatry.

In the shadow of the Capitol on a recent sunny morning, about 50 home care workers from around the country gather to lobby their legislators for basic labor rights. Most are native-born Americans, but about a quarter are documented immigrants from Africa, Latin America, India and the Caribbean.

The World Health Organization says a new coronavirus has killed two people in Jordan — the third country where the novel microbe has been traced.

That brings lab-confirmed cases to nine, with five fatalities.

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When it comes to public health, there are bad ideas that seemingly can't be stopped and smart ones that don't get their due.

Often, the real trick to improving health is getting both patients and doctors to hear the right message and then do something about it.

So what's the best way to get the word out about a decades-old generic drug that could save the lives of critically injured patients?

Make a comic book.

Never mind that man or woman sitting in the dark deciphering the pictures that reveal the inner workings of your body.

It's common knowledge in medicine that many radiologists pick the lucrative specialty (averaging about $315,000 in pay a year) because the hours are fairly predictable and the typical work doesn't require dealing with patients.

But radiology has an image problem with patients, it seems. Many of them don't know who the doctors are or what they do.

For more than 20 years, the Rev. Eric Williams has educated people about AIDS and helped those who suffer from the disease. But the focus of Williams' ministry isn't something he could have predicted back in 1991.

In those days, Williams was a young pastor who had only recently taken charge of his own church — Calvary Temple Baptist Church in Kansas City, Mo. He had been ordained in 1988.

A new report finds the U.S. birth rate has dropped to its lowest level on record, led by a dramatic decline in births among immigrant women. The trend has been visible at La Clinica del Pueblo, a nonprofit in Washington, D.C., that holds a weekly neonatal clinic.

Tried And True Tricks For Beating A Cold

Nov 29, 2012

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MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

And now to another challenge of the winter months, the common cold. On Tuesday, we asked you to send us your tried and true cures.

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Before Secretary of State Hilary Rodham Clinton passes the reins to her successor, she's got a few loose ends to tie up. One of them is mapping out the U.S.'s continuing efforts to combat AIDS around the world.

So today she unveiled a "blueprint" for what she called an "AIDS-free generation."

Now Clinton isn't talking about ending the HIV pandemic altogether. Rather, she hopes to prevent most new infections from occurring in the first place and to stop HIV-positive people from developing AIDS.

Salad producers haven't succeeded in banishing E. coli and other dangerous microbes from fresh greens, though they've tried hard. As we've reported before, it's a major challenge to both growers and the environment. But one scientist thinks he's making progress – with a spinach spa that zaps bad bugs with ultrasound.

Yesterday, in the Bronx, Chris Veres took his grandfather to see Dr. Bob Murrow. He was worried about his grandfather's heart. Dr. Murrow talked to the family and ordered a cardiogram, which came back normal.

It was a pretty routine visit. But what happens next for the doctor — getting paid by Medicare, the government-run health insurance program for the elderly — is suddenly sort of a big deal.

Whenever the discussion turns to saving money in Medicare, the idea of raising the eligibility age often comes up.

"I don't think you can look at entitlement reform without adjusting the age for retirement," Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said on ABC's This Week last Sunday. "Let it float up another year or so over the next 30 years, adjust Medicare from 65 to 67."

Sofas and other cushy furniture often contain chemicals intended to reduce the risk of fire. But those chemicals may pose health risks of their own, and some researchers are trying to build the case for getting them out of the house altogether.

Eighty-five percent of couches tested in a new study contained at least one flame-retardant chemical in the foam cushioning.

Whooping cough went on a tear in California back in 2010.

There were more than 9,000 pertussis infections in the state, a 60-year high. In recent years, there has been a resurgence of the disease across the country.

Why?

Preparing For The Looming Dementia Crisis

Nov 28, 2012

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