Health

Health Care
4:05 am
Fri December 20, 2013

How Fraud Flourishes Unchecked In Medicare's Drug Plan

Originally published on Mon December 23, 2013 3:47 pm

With just a handful of prescriptions to his name, psychiatrist Ernest Bagner III was barely a blip in Medicare's vast drug program in 2009.

But the next year he churned them out at a furious rate — not just psychiatric drugs, but expensive pills for asthma, cholesterol, heartburn and blood clots.

By the end of 2010, Medicare had paid $3.8 million for Bagner's drugs — one of the highest tallies in the country. He added another $2.6 million the following year, records analyzed by ProPublica show.

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The Two-Way
6:30 pm
Thu December 19, 2013

New York City Extends Smoking Ban To E-Cigarettes

Jim Watson AFP/Getty Images

New York's City Council has approved extending the city's strict smoking ban to include electronic cigarettes, which emit a vapor.

The measure was pushed by outgoing Mayor Michael Bloomberg and backed by public health advocates in the city. It comes just weeks after New York became the first major city to raise the age for buying tobacco to 21.

Earlier this month, New York City Health Commissioner Thomas Farley said that "more research is needed on electronic cigarettes," but that "waiting to act could jeopardize the progress we have made over the last few years."

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Shots - Health News
4:16 pm
Thu December 19, 2013

Poll: Americans Favor Age Restrictions On Morning-After Pill

Katherine Streeter for NPR

Originally published on Mon December 23, 2013 3:50 pm

Emergency contraception has been embroiled in controversy pretty much from the start.

But this year the legal wrangling over who can buy the Plan B One-Step morning-after pill without a prescription came to an end. A federal judge in New York ruled in April that the morning-after pill also had to be made available over the counter to girls 16 and under.

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Shots - Health News
1:36 pm
Thu December 19, 2013

How To Make Sense Of Confusing, New Blood Pressure Advice

Some people with only slightly elevated blood pressure might be able to relax a bit, if they're doctors go along new treatment guidelines.
iStockphoto

If you're confused about the latest recommendations for treating high blood pressure, take heart. Doctors are confused, too.

On Wednesday, a panel of specialists called the Eighth Joint National Committee published guidelines saying that many people over 60 don't need to start taking medications to lower blood pressure until it's above 150/90 millimeters of mercury.

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Shots - Health News
2:26 am
Thu December 19, 2013

Congress Poised To Permanently Fix Its Medicare Payment Glitch

It's health results — not the number of treatments — that should count, leaders say.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Thu December 19, 2013 11:56 am

The two-year budget deal approved by the Senate on Wednesday is aimed at preventing another government shutdown.

It also includes a familiar annual rider — language to avert a steep pay cut to doctors who treat Medicare patients. But this time might be different, with a fix that lasts. After more than a decade of temporary solutions, it appears Congress might be on the verge of permanently solving its persistent problem in the way it makes Medicare payments to doctors.

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The Salt
2:00 am
Thu December 19, 2013

This Stanford Ph.D. Became A Fruit Picker To Feed California's Hungry

Sarah Ramirez runs an organization that brings excess produce to the hungry. Here, she gleans apples from a front yard.
Scott Anger KQED

Originally published on Sun December 22, 2013 9:16 am

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Shots - Health News
6:57 pm
Wed December 18, 2013

Mixing It Up 50,000 Years Ago — Who Slept With Whom?

Research excavations like these in Siberia's Denisova Cave are yielding clues to the mating choices of early hominids.
Bence Viola Nature

Originally published on Fri December 20, 2013 12:39 pm

In a remote cave in Siberia, scientists have found a 50,000-year-old bone from a toe that tells a story about life — and love — among some of the earliest humans.

They did it by analyzing DNA from that bone.

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Shots - Health News
4:44 pm
Wed December 18, 2013

HIV Treatment Keeps A Family Together And Growing In Kenya

When Benta Odeny was diagnosed with HIV, she started to protect her husband Daniel from the virus by taking antiretroviral medications. The same drugs also helped her give birth to an HIV-negative daughter, Angelia.
Gregory Warner NPR

Originally published on Thu December 19, 2013 4:17 pm

Daniel and Benta Odeny married late by African standards: Both were in their 30s. And they'd only just hit their third anniversary when Benta started coughing blood.

The cough lasted a couple of weeks. So Benta went to the doctor. She had HIV. But Daniel was still HIV negative.

"She thought it was the end of the world," Daniel says.

Benta thought that Daniel would leave her and she would die alone. She had seen it happen many times to other women in her situation.

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Shots - Health News
3:05 pm
Wed December 18, 2013

People Buying Health Insurance Get A Bit More Time To Pay

Oregon is still using paper applications to enroll people through the Affordable Care Act.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Wed December 18, 2013 5:34 pm

There are seven shopping days left until Christmas. But there are just five days until another important deadline — the last day to sign up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act if you want coverage to start January 1.

After a slow start, activity on the federal website HealthCare.gov has been heavy all month. And with the deadline approaching, some people are getting worried that they won't get signed up in time.

And this being the health care law, it's complicated. There is more than one deadline.

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Shots - Health News
1:25 pm
Wed December 18, 2013

An Apple A Day Keeps The Doctor Away, And Statins Do, Too

Not covered by Obamacare, but still sweet.
Cristian Baitg iStockphoto

Originally published on Thu December 19, 2013 4:17 pm

We're all supposed to be eating right, but most of us are not doing a very good job of that.

Could you eat an apple a day?

Adding in that one piece of fruit could improve cardiovascular health on a par with prescribing of cholesterol-lowering statins for everyone over age 50, according to a report published Tuesday in BMJ.

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