Health news headlines – July 18th

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Mosquito

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Getting specialty care a challenge with some ACA plans

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“Narrow networks” keep the price of some Obamacare insurance plans low, but they also keep certain hospitals and physicians out of reach for sick patients

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Dr. Charu Sawhney of Hope Clinic in southwest Houston listens to the lungs of Mang Caan, a refugee from Burma. (Photo by Carrie Feibel/Houston Public Media)

Primary care doctors have reported problems making referrals for patients who have purchased some of the cheaper plans from the federal insurance marketplace.

Complaints about narrow networks with too few doctors have attracted the attention of federal regulators and have even prompted lawsuits.

 ‘Oh by the way, when you sign up, make sure you sign up for the right plan.’

But they’re also causing headaches in the day-to-day work of doctors and clinics. “The biggest problem we’ve run into is figuring out what specialists take a lot of these plans,” said Dr. Charu Sawhney of Houston. Continue reading

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Health news headlines – July 17th

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Biohazard

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State disciplines health care providers – July 15 update

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Seal_of_WashingtonPeriodically Washington State Department of Health issues an update on disciplinary actions taken against health care providers, including suspensions and revocations of licenses, certifications, or registrations of providers in the state.

The department also suspends the credentials of people who have been prohibited from practicing in other states.

Information about health care providers is also on the agency’s website.

To find this information click on “Provider Credential Search” on the left hand side of the Department of Health home page (www.doh.wa.gov).

The site includes information about a health care provider’s license status, the expiration and renewal date of their credential, disciplinary actions and copies of legal documents issued after July 1998.

This information is also available by calling 360-236-4700.

Consumers who think a health care provider acted unprofessionally are also encouraged to call and report their complaint.

Here is the July 16th update issued by the Washington State Department of Health: Continue reading

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A small business owner shops for health insurance

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By Heidi de Marco
KHN Staff Writer

This KHN story was produced in collaboration with .

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Sandra Lopez  (Photo by Heidi de Marco/KHN).

NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. — Alongside one of this city’s canals, blocks from the beach, Sandra Lopez is finally living her idea of the American dream.

In 1996, six years after crossing the border from Mexico without papers, she began working at Las Fajitas, a popular Mexican restaurant as a cashier and cook. With the help of her boss, she received a work visa in 2001.

Eleven years after that, she bought the business – a bustling establishment where Lopez knows most customers by name. Mexican lanterns hang from the ceiling, and cheers from a soccer match on TV fill the room.

Lopez said the income from her small business fluctuates monthly. “People think that because you own a business, you have lots of money…that life is easy,” she said. “But it’s hard work and I have so many bills to pay.”

Lopez, her husband, and an adult child in the household live on about $46,000 a year.

For years, she felt she couldn’t afford health insurance for herself, let alone her half dozen employees: “How can I offer them something I don’t even have?” Continue reading

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Senate Democrats fight to reverse Supreme Court, state abortion restrictions

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Most of the momentum in fights over birth control and abortion has been in the direction of opponents of late. But you wouldn’t know that by watching the U.S. Senate.

Democrats who control the chamber have scheduled a vote for Wednesday on a bill that would effectively reverse the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby ruling regarding contraceptive requirements in the Affordable Care Act.

And on Tuesday the Judiciary Committee heard testimony on a separate, sweeping measure that would invalidate many state abortion restrictions. Continue reading

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Health news headlines – July 16th

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Photo courtesy of Steve “Woodsy” Wood

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Readers’ questions about contraceptive coverage and Medicare enrollment

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Q. How will my health insurance change now that the Supreme Court has ruled that some employers that have religious objections to contraceptives don’t have to provide birth control coverage?

A. Although the recent decision in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores allows a “closely held” company to decline to cover contraception, the health law requirement that most plans provide such coverage without cost to consumers remains in effect and will continue to apply to women in most plans, say experts. Continue reading

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Health news headlines – July 15th

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How to protect your children from cancer – CDC

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Cancer Prevention Starts in Childhood

Tips from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Photo of two parents and three children sitting outside

You can reduce your children’s risk of getting cancer later in life.

Start by helping them adopt a healthy lifestyle with good eating habits and plenty of exercise to keep a healthy weight.

Then follow the tips below to help prevent specific kinds of cancer. Continue reading

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Helping the mentally ill join the workforce

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Photo courtesy of Sanja Gjenero

Photo courtesy of Sanja Gjenero

By Michael Ollove
Stateline

By his own admission, for many years Cyrus Napolitano’s mental illness—bipolar disorder—did not make him an ideal employee.

Perhaps the worst moment came when he walked into the Brooklyn McDonald’s he was managing to discover some now-forgotten worker infractions.

“Whatever it was,” he said last week, “it triggered an explosion where I was screaming at the top of my lungs and beating a path of destruction all the way to the back, knocking everything off shelves and kicking the back door with my boot.”

He left the job at McDonald’s, as he did various other jobs over the decades—as a waiter, a bartender, a concierge at a luxury condo building. During one eight-year period in the 2000s, after his third suicide attempt, he could barely work at all.

But that was some time ago. Thanks to his eventual involvement with Fountain House, a community mental health center in Manhattan, Napolitano, now 53, is in his fourth year of steady, part-time employment as the “scanning clerk” at an international law firm, a stress-free job he credits with helping him manage his illness. Continue reading

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Why are obstetricians among the top billers for group psychotherapy in Illinois?

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Question markBy Charles Ornstein
ProPublica, July 13, 2014

This story was co-published with The Chicago Tribune.

A few years ago, Illinois’ Medicaid program for the poor noticed some odd trends in its billings for group psychotherapy sessions.

Nursing home residents were being taken several times a week to off-site locations, and Medicaid was picking up the tab for both the services and the transportation.

And then there was this: The sessions were often being performed by obstetrician/gynecologists, oncologists and urologists — “people who didn’t have any training really in psychiatry,” Medicaid director Theresa Eagleson recalled.

Continue reading

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Veterans’ needs ‘should drive where they get their care,’

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On Capitol Hill, lawmakers resume work this week to resolve differences over legislationaimed at alleviating long wait times for medical care at the Department of Veterans Affairs hospitals and clinics after reports that some veterans may have died awaiting appointments and that some VA staff falsified records to cover up excessive wait times.

Five senior VA leaders – including former department secretary Eric Shinseki –have resigned in the past six weeks.

Both the House and Senate have passed bills that would allow veterans to seek medical care outside of the VA system if they meet certain conditions, including living more than 40 miles from a VA medical facility.

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Dr. Kenneth Kizer

Dr. Kenneth Kizer, a former VA undersecretary for health, spoke recently with KHN’s Mary Agnes Carey about the issue of the VA contracting with outsideproviders for medical care.

Kizer, the founding chief executive officer and president of the National Quality Forum, is now director of the Institute for Population Health Improvement at the University of California, Davis.

An edited transcript of that interview follows. Continue reading

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Keep your cool in hot weather – CDC

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Sun Orange Orb by Cris DeRaudGetting too hot can make you sick. You can become ill from the heat if your body can’t compensate for it and properly cool you off.

Heat exposure can even kill you: it caused 7,233 heat-related deaths in the United States from 1999 to 2009.

Learn about heat-related illness and how to stay cool and safe in hot weather

.Main things affecting your body’s ability to cool itself during extremely hot weather:

  • High humidity. When the humidity is high, sweat won’t evaporate as quickly, which keeps your body from releasing heat as fast as it may need to.
  • Personal factors. Age, obesity, fever, dehydration, heart disease, mental illness, poor circulation, sunburn, and prescription drug and alcohol use can play a role in whether a person can cool off enough in very hot weather.

Continue reading

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