Health

When Barbara Marder was diagnosed with lung cancer three years ago, she had part of her right lung removed, went through a round of chemotherapy and tried to move on with her life.

"I had hoped that everything was fine — that I would not create difficulty for my children, that I would get to see my grandchildren grow up," says Marder, 73, of Arnold, Md.

But a routine scan a year later found bad news: The cancer was back — this time in her other lung.

More than 100 people have contracted measles, most exposed after visits to Disneyland. The resurgence of the illness has given new life to the debate over whether parents should vaccinate their children. This week, that debate became political. While most government leaders are urging people to inoculate their children, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), himself a medical doctor, told CNBC he's known of cases in which vaccines have caused "profound medical disorders." Missouri School of Journalism professors Earnest Perry, Mike McKean and Amy Simons discuss the issue on KBIA-FM's media criticism program, "Views of the News.”


Dan Ox / Flickr

Megan Oberg had a rough time after her first two deliveries. One moment she'd be happy, in another, not really. And she said that's pretty typical.

 

“Most women who have given birth can tell you some time during the first two weeks you tend to have some ups and downs as far as mood swings, as the hormones leave the system,” Oberg said.

 

For her third pregnancy she decided she wanted to try something new.

 


The ongoing measles outbreak linked to Disneyland has led to some harsh comments about parents who don't vaccinate their kids. But Juniper Russo, a writer in Chattanooga, Tenn., says she understands those parents because she used to be one of them.

"I know what it's like to be scared and just want to protect your children, and make the wrong decisions," Russo says.

NPR — along with seven public radio stations around the country — is chronicling the lives of America's troops where they live. We're calling the project "Back at Base." This story is part of a three-part series about veteran benefits (Part 1 / Part 2).

NPR — along with seven public radio stations around the country — is chronicling the lives of America's troops where they live. We're calling the project "Back at Base." This is the first of a three-part series about veteran benefits (Part 2 / Part 3).

Viruses are usually thought of as the bad guys — causing everything from Ebola and AIDS to hepatitis and measles. But scientists have been following the curious story of a particular virus that might actually be good for you.

The virus is called GB Virus-C, and more than a billion people alive today have apparently been infected with it at some point during their lives, says Dr. Jack Stapleton, an infectious disease specialist at the University of Iowa.

fhcmo.org

  It’s no secret that health insurance can be a confusing topic.

“There's not a ton of health insurance literacy,” said Aaron Swaney, Outreach Enrollment Specialist for the Family Health Center in Columbia. ”But that's true from people who have never had health insurance before to people who work in the healthcare field.”  

  

Nixon plans improvements to veterans' services

Jan 27, 2015
Missouri Veterans Commission

  Governor Jay Nixon told a packed room of Missouri veterans that he's working to make sure the state's veterans’ homes will continue to serve their needs.

The governor said he's not only committed to renovating four of the state's existing veterans homes but also wants to secure funds to build a new home for those still looking for care.

"For every veteran receiving quality medical care and services at one of our veterans' homes, there's a veteran on a waiting list because there's not enough space," Nixon said.

Carl Krawitt has watched his son, Rhett, now 6, fight leukemia for the past 4 1/2 years. For more than three of those years, Rhett has undergone round after round of chemotherapy. Last year he finished chemotherapy, and doctors say he is in remission.

Now, there's a new threat, one that the family should not have to worry about: measles.

In his State of the Union speech earlier this week, President Obama pitched a plan to boost what he called "middle-class economics." He asked Congress to help him make community college free, cut taxes for the middle class — and also do this:

"Send me a bill that gives every worker in America the opportunity to earn seven days of paid sick leave," Obama said. "It's the right thing to do."

NPR and ProPublica have been reporting about nonprofit hospitals that seize the wages of lower-income and working-class patients. Now, Sen. Chuck Grassley, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, says hospitals could be breaking the law by suing these patients and docking their pay. And he wants some answers.

Sharyn Morrow / Flickr

Prescription drug abuse can start with a routine problem, like lower back pain. A doctor will prescribe medication for the patient, but the pain doesn't go away. So the patient takes more medicine. 

And this behavior could lead to an addiction, said Len Paulozzi, an epidemiologist for the CDC. He finds patterns of drug abuse. 

NEC Corporation of America / Flickr

There is a long list of to-do’s when applying for a medical license in Missouri. Applicants have to provide detailed verification of their degrees, residency and previous work experience. Tack on several months for the state medical board to review all these items, and the whole process can take a lot of time.

Most physicians go through this process when they are first applying for a medical license. But the Federation of State Medical Boards (FSMB) found that many doctors don’t stop at one license.


Today is my 22nd day back from Liberia, which, as any reporter or health worker who has been in this Ebola hot zone will tell you, is a good day. Yesterday was the last day that I had to report my temperature to the CDC. I've passed the 21-day incubation period for the virus. My temperature is 98.6 degrees. I'm in the clear.

But three weeks ago, I wasn't feeling so good.

Bram Sable-Smith / KBIA

When Mary Ratliff moved to Columbia from Mississippi in 1959, she was leaving one of the epicenters of American segregation and the burgeoning civil rights movement. But that doesn’t mean she escaped experiences of racism and segregation in her new home.

“It was subtle here when I first came," Ratliff said. "In fact I've made the comment many times, that Columbia is 'Big Little Dixie.' It wasn’t a whole lot different from Mississippi.”


Update at 3:05 ET: The Connecticut Supreme Court ruled unanimously Thursday afternoon that the state can require Cassandra to continue treatment.

Her mother, Jackie Fortin, said she's disappointed by the decision. "She knows I love her and I'm going to keep fighting for her because this is her decision," Fortin said. "I know more than anyone, more than DCF, that my daughter is old enough, mature enough to make a decision. If she wasn't, I'd be making that decision."

Here's our original story, reported Thursday morning:

New research finds that eating an avocado per day, as part of an overall diet rich in healthy fats, may help cut the bad kind cholesterol, known as LDL.

Researchers at Pennsylvania State University recruited 45 overweight participants who agreed to try three different types of cholesterol-lowering diets. Their study was published Wednesday in the Journal of the American Heart Association.

Jason Hoffman / KBIA

On the eve of the new legislative session, a group of community and faith leaders gathered in Jefferson City to demand action from lawmakers on Medicaid expansion. 

Images of Money via Flickr

The Affordable Care Act included a temporary bump in the Medicaid fees paid to physicians for certain primary care services. The intention behind the two-year, federally-funded increase was to encourage more physicians to participate in Medicaid to accommodate an expanding pool of Medicaid patients anticipated by the law.

But a 2012 Supreme Court decision opened a window for states to reject Medicaid expansion – Missouri is one of 23 states that have chosen not to expanded coverage – and as of Jan. 1, the Medicaid fee bump is expired as well.

I spoke with Dave Dillon and Andrew Wheeler of the Missouri Hospital Association (MHA) about the impact the fee increase expiration will have on Missouri hospitals.


When your kid's ear is throbbing at 2 a.m., you might want to grab the car keys and head to the emergency room. But now you can pick up your iPhone instead.

A startup called CellScope has built a little ear probe that you clip on top of your iPhone camera. The footage streams into an app where you can view the inside the ear.

Bram Sable-Smith / KBIA

The Missouri Association of Local Public Health Agencies (MoALPHA) was founded in 1994 to support the  city and county public health agencies in the state. I spoke with the incoming chair of the association, Gary Zaborac, about the public health challenges facing Missouri in 2015.


j. stephenconn / Flickr

Cancer medicine that previously could cost thousands of dollars soon will cost Missourians at most $75 a month. 

healthcare.gov

More than 100,000 Missouri residents have signed up for health insurance through a federally run website during the first month of enrollment. 

Missouri lawmakers pre-filed more than 500 bills over the past month that they plan to take up during the next legislative session, which begins on Jan. 7. Here’s a selection of bills related to health care that St. Louis Public Radio’s Health Desk will be keeping an eye on in 2015:   

HB 282: Consumer Rate Review on Health Insurance Plans

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forwardstl / flickr

The Missouri Department of Natural Resources is planning to install air monitors near two power plants that officials say are the largest sources of sulfur dioxide emissions in the state. 

The state agency that provides Medicaid coverage to more than 840,000 Missourians does not have proper oversight over contractors in charge of certain aspects of payment processing, according to an audit released Monday of MO HealthNet.  

The report by the office of Tom Schweich, the Missouri state auditor, identified four areas of concern:

Intel Free Press / flickr

As the use of telemedicine expands it is also growing the footprints of medical professionals, and when doctors licensed in one state begin consulting in another, it presents a problem for state medical boards. KBIA’s Hope Kirwan spoke with Jonathan Linkous, CEO of the American Telemedicine Association, about how states are regulating telemedicine.


On the eastern edge of St. Joseph, Mo., lies the small city's only hospital, a landmark of modern brick and glass buildings. Everyone in town knows Heartland Regional Medical Center — many residents gave birth to their children here. Many rush here when they get hurt or sick.

Katie Hiler / KBIA

This week the EPA will make a final decision on a proposed new rule for the disposal of coal combustion residuals, called CCRs, or coal ash.


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