Ohio Amish reconsider vaccines amid measles outbreak

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Photo: Sarah Jane Tribble/WCPN

 This story is part of a partnership that includes WCPNNPR and Kaiser Health News. 

The Amish countryside in central Ohio looks like it has for a hundred years. There are picturesque pastures with cows and sheep, and big red barns dot the landscape.

But something changed here when, on an April afternoon, an Amish woman walked to a communal call box.

She called the Knox County Health Department and told a county worker that she and a family next door had the measles. Continue reading

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The ‘right-to-try’ for the terminally ill

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Austin Leclaire, 15, and his brother Max, 12, of Pembroke, Massachusetts both have Duchenne muscular dystrophy, but only Max is in a clinical trial and receiving developmental drugs for the disease. (Justin Ferland Photography)

By Michael Ollove
Stateline

Fifteen-year old Austin Leclaire and his brother Max, 12, of Pembroke, Massachusetts, share the deadly degenerative disease Duchenne muscular dystrophy. But over the course of the past 144 weeks, the boys’ physical conditions have progressed in opposite directions.

Max has regained functions – he has abandoned his wheelchair and can now run, tote his own backpack to school and even ride a bike. Austin’s capabilities are diminishing. He cannot walk at all, and he’s lost the ability to brush his teeth or hold a water bottle. He expects that soon he won’t be able to play drums anymore, one of his few remaining physical pleasures.

The difference in their  trajectories is that Max has been in a clinical trial for nearly three years, during which he has been given weekly infusions of the experimental drug eteplirsen, manufactured by Sarepta Therapeutics Inc. Austin was deemed unqualified to get the drug because of his more advanced condition. Continue reading

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Health news headlines – June 24th

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EKG tracing

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More than 750 hospitals face Medicare crackdown on patient injuries

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During a hernia operation, Dorothea Handron’s surgeon unknowingly pierced her bowel. It took five days for doctors to determine she had an infection.

By the time they operated on her again, she was so weakened that she was placed in a medically induced coma at Vidant Medical Center in Greenville, North Carolina.

Comatose and on a respirator for six weeks, she contracted pneumonia. “When they stopped the sedation and I woke up, I had no idea what had happened to me,” said Handron, 60. “I kind of felt like Rip Van Winkle.”

Because of complications like Handron’s, Vidant, an academic medical center in eastern North Carolina, is likely to have its Medicare payments docked this fall through the government’s toughest effort yet to crack down on infections and other patient injuries, federal records show. Continue reading

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Bread and grains

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Top five stories of the week

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The number five 5

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Women’s Health – Week 42: Overview of the Reproductive System

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tacuin womenFrom the Office of Research on Women’s Health

Overview of the reproductive system A healthy reproductive system is an important part of a woman’s overall health.

Your reproductive health is influenced by many factors – these include age, lifestyle, habits, genetics, medicines, and exposure to chemicals in the environment.

The female reproductive system contains two main parts: internal and external. Continue reading

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Senators offer bill to ease readmission penalties on safety-net hospitals

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Hospital Entrance SignBy Jordan Rau
KHN
JUNE 19TH, 2014

A bipartisan group of senators introduced legislation on Thursday to make Medicare take the financial status of hospital patients into account when deciding whether to punish a hospital for too many readmissions.

The bill attempts to address one of the main complaints about the readmissions program: that hospitals serving large numbers of low-income patients are more likely be penalized. Continue reading

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Health news headlines – June 22nd

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Can our plan kick off our daughter because her job offers coverage?

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Question markBy Michelle Andrews
KHN

Q. My 24-year-old daughter was covered under her father’s health insurance, which is a grandfathered plan. She started working and was offered coverage through her employer. My husband’s employer said she had to sign up for her employer’s insurance and could not stay on his policy. Is that true?

A. Not anymore. Continue reading

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Health news headlines – June 21

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Anthrax

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Medicare billing outliers often have disciplinary problems

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Doctors with unusual billing patterns often have been disciplined by their state medical boards or have faced accusations against their licenses.Stethoscope Doctor

By Charles Ornstein
ProPublica, June 20, 2014

Over the past couple months, media organizations including ProPublica have been busy dissecting data released by Medicare on payments made to health professionals in 2012.

We’ve uncovered unusual billing patterns :Doctors who only bill for the most complicated and high-priced office visits, and ambulance companies in New Jersey who ferry patients to and from dialysis appointments dozens of times a year.

But one thread connecting various stories by us and others is how often doctors with unusual billing patterns have been disciplined by their state medical boards or have faced accusations against their licenses. Continue reading

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Consumer group urges hospitals to stop promoting questionable screenings

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H for hospitalBy Julie Appleby
KHN/JUNE 19TH, 2014

Consumer advocacy group Public Citizen on Thursday called on 20 hospital systems to stop partnering with companies that offer low-cost screenings for heart disease and stroke risk, saying the promotions are “unethical” and the exams are more likely to do harm than good.

In recent years, more hospitals have paired with firms offering such testing packages, partly to build community goodwill and referrals.

Hospitals say residents benefit from the testing packages, which can cost less than $150, because some will discover they are at higher risk for heart problems or stroke early enough to take steps to reduce their risks.

But some medical groups and consumer advocates object to the programs, saying they are a waste of money for most consumers. Continue reading

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Washington among top-ranked states for long-term care

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A younger man's hand holding the hand of an elderly manThe state with the highest marks long-term services and support for the elderly, disabled and their caregivers was Minnesota, followed by Washington, Oregon, Colorado and Alaska.

The lowest ranked states were: Indiana, Tennessee, Mississippi and Alabama, and, coming in last, Kentucky, according to a new report.

The report “Raising Expectations: A State Scorecard on Long-Term Services and Supports for Older Adults, People with Physical Disabilities and Family Caregivers,” evaluates 26 indicators in five key dimensions that make up the Long-Term Services and Supports (LTSS) system in each state. It was produced by  AARP, The Commonwealth Fund and The SCAN Foundation.

Major Findings

Minnesota, Washington, Oregon, Colorado, Alaska, Hawaii, Vermont, and Wisconsin, in this order, ranked the highest across all five dimensions of the scorecard..

These eight states clearly established a level of performance at a higher tier than other states—even other states in the top quartile. But even these top states have ample room to improve.

The cost of long sterm continues to outpace affordability for middle-income families, and private long-term care insurance is not filling the gap. Continue reading

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UW’s King Holmes named to NIH’s Council of Councils

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HolmesDr. King Holmes, chair of the Department of Global Health at the University of Washington and director of the University of Washington Center for AIDS and STDs has been named to the US National Institutes of Health’s Council of Councils.

The council advises the NIH Director on policies and activities of the Division of Program Coordination, Planning, and Strategic Initiatives, including making recommendations on research that represents important areas of emerging scientific opportunities, rising public health challenges, or knowledge gaps that deserve special emphasis or would otherwise benefit from strategic planning and coordination.

Holmes was one nine new members appointed to the 27-member council.

To learn more go here.

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