Health news headlines — March 18th

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Can Congress put an end to the annual Medicare payment ritual?

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United States Capitol BuildingBy Susan Jaffe
KHN

Congress is still searching for money to avoid a 24 percent cut in pay for doctors who treat Medicare patients.

But seniors are already paying their share of the cost in premiums, as if the pay cut — scheduled to kick in on April 1 — won’t happen. Continue reading

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Seattle hospitals help ER patients sign up for insurance

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A Swedish staff member helps enroll patients at a December event on First Hill.

By Britt Olsen
Cover King County
Public Health – Seattle & King County

With the blood flow finally stanched by gauze, glue and several hundred dollars’ worth of stitches, you now sit propped up in a stiff but comforting hospital bed.

Your family members survey the damage, and a hospital administrator enters the room, clasping a laptop in her hands.

She is there to sign you up for health insurance. Continue reading

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Thousands of young California immigrants eligible for coverage — but don’t know it

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By Anna Gorman
KHN Staff Writer

MAR 17, 2014

 This KHN story was produced in collaboration with the 

Carlos Velasquez 300

Carlos Velasquez– Photo by Heidi de Marco/KHN

COMPTON, Calif. − Carlos Velazquez’s skateboard slipped out from beneath his feet and he spiraled onto the ground, landing hard on his left arm.

He decided not to go to the doctor after the 2012 accident, resorting to over-the-counter pain medication and home remedies.

The reason: He and his mother had overstayed their visas when he was a child, so he wasn’t eligible for government-funded health insurance. And he couldn’t afford a private plan. Continue reading

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Health news headlines – March 17

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Women’s health — Week 29: Fecal incontinence

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tacuin womenFrom the Office of Research on Women’s Health

Fecal incontinence, or loss of bowel control, can be devastating. People may feel the urge to have a bowel movement and not be able to hold it until they get to a toilet or stool may leak from the rectum unexpectedly, sometimes while passing gas. Continue reading

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Health news headlines — March 16

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An electronic screen showing the NEWS

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UCLA memory program offers ‘gym for your brain’

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UCLA Memory 1

Vikki Helperin, 84, dances with her husband Sidney, 88, a retired anesthesiologist, at the Longevity Center at the University of California Los Angeles Medical Center. He was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s about four years ago, and the couple is hoping the memory sessions will slow the progression of the disease (Photo by Anna Gorman/KHN).

 

By Anna Gorman
KHN Staff Writer
MAR 15, 2014

This KHN story was produced in collaboration with wapo

Just as they had so many times during the past 60 years, Marianna and Albert Frankel stepped onto the dance floor. He took her hand in his, and smiling, waltzed her around the room.

“I remembered how it used to be and we could really do the waltz and he would whirl me around until I got dizzy,” said Marianna Frankel, 82, who is 10 years younger than her husband.

For just a few minutes as the music played, she didn’t think about her husband’s memory loss, the long days of silence or how much he had changed.

The Frankels and about 20 others had come to the University of California Los Angeles Medical Plaza on a breezy Tuesday afternoon to learn ways to boost the memory and help both patients and caregivers cope with what already had been lost.  Continue reading

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What’s in a health word: coinsurance and copay

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deductibles thumbBy Britt Olson
Coverage is Here King County
Public Health – Seattle & King County

When choosing a health care plan, your deductible is a major consideration.

But the word is a confusing piece of insurance jargon.

What is a deductible? And how does it affect the quality of your health insurance? Continue reading

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Drug company agrees to pay $27.6 million to settle allegations involving Chicago psychiatrist

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ProPublica Logoby Kara Brandeisky
ProPublica, March 12, 2014

Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. has agreed to pay more than $27.6 million to settle state and federal allegations that it induced Chicago psychiatrist Michael Reinstein to overprescribe clozapine, a powerful antipsychotic drug.

Reinstein has twice figured into ProPublica investigations.

Four years ago, ProPublica and the Chicago Tribune spotlighted Reinstein’s prescribing pattern, findingthat in 2007 he had prescribed more clozapine to patients in Medicaid’s Illinois program than all of the doctors in the Medicaid programs of Texas, Florida and North Carolina combined. Continue reading

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How states are tackling ‘health disparities’

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Question Q&ABy Michael Ollove
Stateline Staff Writer

African-Americans are more likely to suffer heart disease and diabetes than whites. The cancer death rate for men is a good deal higher than it is for women.

American Indians and Alaska Natives are more likely to smoke tobacco than Hispanics, blacks or whites.

And Native Hawaiian adults are less likely to exercise than other ethnic groups.

These differences are called “health disparities,” and in the last two decades, the federal government and the states have focused on eliminating them. Continue reading

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Health news headlines – March 14th

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Does an IRA withdrawal count as income for exchange subsidies?

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Question markBy Michelle Andrews
KHN

Q. Is a taxable withdrawal from an IRA counted as income? If someone lives entirely off his savings and does not qualify for subsidies on the health insurance marketplace because he has no income, could he withdraw $11,500 early from an IRA and count that as income? Continue reading

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Cost of health care a burden for most U.S. households

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Pill capsule with dollar billsBy Milly Dawson
HBNS Contributing Writer

Since 2001, health care costs have become more burdensome for almost all Americans, at every income level and in every geographic area, finds a new study published in The Milbank Quarterly.

Linda Blumberg, Ph.D., senior fellow in the Health Policy Center at the Urban Institute said that she and her colleagues conducted the study as part of a multiyear project to evaluate effects of the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

“What would things have looked like in 2014, ’15, and ’16 without reform” was a key question motivating their research, she said, adding that “lots of things change absent policy changes,” Blumberg said. Continue reading

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Open enrollment for individual health plans ends March 31

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CalendarFrom the Office of the Insurance Commissioner

March 13, 2014 – Open enrollment for all individual heath insurance plans in Washington state – whether purchased inside or outside Washington’s Exchange, Washington Healthplanfinder – ends March 31.

If you need coverage by April 1, you must apply by March 23. If you apply after March 23, your coverage will begin May 1.  Continue reading

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