Cancer Treatment Centers of America is eyeing a spot in New Hampshire. The for profit chain wants to build a hospital in the Northeast. CTCA successfully lobbied Georgia to change its regulations so a specialty hospital could be built in that state. The company is hoping lawmakers in New Hampshire will make similar changes. A proposed law would exempt specialty cancer hospitals from certain regulations and also from Medicaid taxes.
How many times have you ordered an entrée at a restaurant only to end up with a pile of food on your plate you then feel obligated to take home in a doggie bag? Overly large portions must have some appeal for restaurant goers…after all, some chains rely marketing campaigns that talk about little else…
Lawmakers are now considering whether to give exemptions to for-profit cancer centers so they can do business in the state. Under current regulations these cancer centers are likely to be deemed redundant. But a new bill would allow them to avoid what is known as a Certificate of Need--to which all other hospitals must comply. These centers would also be exempt from Medicaid taxes.
A little over a year ago, a Massachusetts bone marrow registry made headlines for hiring models in blue wigs and black skirts to attract prospective donors. To make matters worse, the registry was part of a scheme to charge insurance companies extremely high fees for lab tests.
New Hampshire has one of the worst prescription drug abuse problems in the country. The state now ranks 5th in the nation for percentage of residents who abuse medications such as percocet, vicodin, and oxycodone, according to the Federal Centers for Disease Control. The problem is especially alarming among young people. New Hampshire has the second highest rate of 18-25 year olds who abuse prescription drugs in the nation.
Danielle Fiore , 24, says she was addicted to painkillers for most of her childhood.
"I had fractured my ankle and I was prescribed vicodin and it felt good. I was ten or eleven," she says. "As time went on I would get something else hurt or a toothache or something and I would get more painkillers. I have a bunch of teeth missing because I would complain and get them pulled so I would get pain killers."
Currently New Hampshire has no prescription drug monitoring program. The program, which is up and running in 48 other states, is initially funded through federal grants. The proposal to create a centralized prescription database that doctors and law enforcement could check to track so called "doctor shoppers" has been defeated several times in the state Legislature. A new bill is now being considered this session and its sponsor Senator Majority Leader Jeb Bradley, R-Wolfeboro, is hopeful that there is enough support for a statewide prescription monitoring program this time. He cites the growing number of overdose deaths in the state from prescription drugs. In the last decade overdose deaths from these medications have more than tripled.
For those who oppose a statewide prescription drug database privacy is a major issue. Rep. Neal Kurk, R-Weare, says such a program goes against the Granite State's core philosophy.
"This is New Hampshire, this is the 'Live Free or Die' state, " says Kurk. "One of the major reasons this bill has not been adopted is because most people feel it’s the independent philosophy, personal responsibility philosophy that prevails and that government should be small and not interfere with people’s lives."
Many of the state's independent pharmacists are also against a monitoring program because they worry they will end up footing the bill. The database would be drawn from pharmacy records. Rick Newman, a lobbyist for the New Hampshire Independent Pharmacy Association, says the small business people he represents will be end up carrying the burden of the costs of such a database.
"I can’t sit here as anyone with any kind of intelligence and disagree that’s there's a problem with people abusing prescription drugs in this country, of course there is," says Newman. "The question becomes whose burden is that? We can’t pass laws to put the burden on the small business person because they happen to be one part of the pipeline."
Emergency room doctors and those that treat pain say they are often confronted by patients who may be faking symptoms to get narcotics for their addiction or to sell on the street.
"I want people who have legitimate pain to get the proper pain medications that they need," say Dr. David Heller, an emergency room physician at Portsmouth Hospital. "But I don’t want to feed somebody’s addiction and I don’t want to write a prescription for drugs that are going to be sold to my kids or my kid's friends."
The alarming spike in type-1 diabetes. Though type-2, commonly known as adult-onset diabetes, has been in the spotlight recently with Food Network star and butter-abuser Paula Deen's announcement that she is living with the condition, type-1 is also on the rise. The worldwide annual growth rate has climbed past three-percent. With its serious health risks and lack of a cure, public health researchers are scrambling to find the cause of type-1's recent spike.
The nation's obesity epidemic appears to have hit a plateau, according to the latest federal data released Tuesday.
Obesity soared in the U.S. during the 1980s and 1990s, doubling among adults and tripling among children. That raised widespread alarm and debate about the causes and possible solutions. Obesity can increase the risk for diabetes, heart disease, cancer and other serious health problems.
In the world of weight loss programs, Weight Watchers rules, with more than a million members worldwide. New CEO David Kirchoff is credited with increasing meeting attendance in North America by fourteen percent, and upping online membership by 64%. Those numbers mean money, of course. Weigh Watchers is valued at an estimated at five billion dollars…double that of a year ago.
A new study in the journal Health Affairs estimates that a penny-per-ounce tax on soft drinks and other sugary beverages could prevent about 240,000 cases of diabetes per year, and 8,000 strokes and 26,000 premature deaths over a decade (or 2,600 per year).
Yes, death by soda.
So the analysis got me thinking: Our behavior is hard to predict, right? I know mine is.
Attorneys for the state and for ten N.H. hospitals are in federal court this week. The hospitals are suing the state over major cuts in Medicaid they say are impacting medical services for low income patients.
Ten of the state’s largest hospitals say that $130 million in state Medicaid cuts is not only forcing hospitals to cut services to the poor, but they are also illegal. Gordon Macdonald is the hospital’s attorney.
To life's many small irritations, you might add filling prescriptions.
Starting this year, many Americans may be surprised to find that their local Walgreens pharmacy is no longer in their network. That's because of a contract dispute between the nation's largest drugstore chain and a company that manages prescriptions for health insurance companies.
The hospital delivery room is not a fun place for surprises - the more parents and medical staff know going in, the better the outcome usually is. The Predibirth system helps keep surprises to a minimum by MRI-scanning Junior in the womb* and running virtual simulations of labor - if it sees a potentially serious problem, like baby's head being bigger than expected, doctors can consider planning a c-section in advance.
Updated at 2:52 p.m. ET: Wal-Mart issued a statement Wednesday saying its request for partners to provide primary care services was "overwritten and incorrect." The firm is "not building a national, integrated low-cost primary health care platform," according to the statement by Dr. John Agwunobi, a senior vice president for health and wellness at the retailer.
When the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended a half-dozen years ago that preteen girls be vaccinated against human papillomavirus, two things happened.
A lot of parents and some conservative groups were jarred by the idea of immunizing young girls against a sexually transmitted virus. And uptake of the vaccine has been poor — only about a third of 13- to 17-year-old girls have gotten the full three-shot series.
Today health reporter Elaine Grant shines a light on the epidemic itself, which is costing the U.S. more than $150 billion dollars a year in medical spending alone.
When Jennifer Riccio was in college, she started gaining weight. “I couldn’t really figure out what I was doing differently. In my mind I didn’t really have any difference in eating, or exercise habits at that age.”
Mystified, she visited doctor after doctor.
It was the beginning of a 15-year journey to determine why she kept putting on pounds.
This week, NHPR looks at the challenge of trimming the waistlines of Granite Staters. Our collective habit of taking in more calories than we burn off has been called the country’s biggest self-inflicted wound to our health.
We begin the series with the story of a college student who, as a child, saw his weight growing and growing. Unlike the majority of young adults, he worked his way back to being more healthy and fit.
As NHPR’s Elaine Grant reports, what he went through – and what he learned – is useful for us all.
Mackenzie is a young adult with autism. She is finishing her senior year at Pelham High School and plans to attend college next year. She is also an artist and is considering pursuing a career as a teacher. She and her mother, Deborah, talk with NHPR's Sheryl Rich Kern, addressing the following questions:
Explain how you worked with a counselor at UNH? What steps do you take? What are your expectations?
Mackenzie - what do you see yourself doing after college?