Health

If you’ve been following the rollout of the Affordable Care Act in New Hampshire, you might be struggling to keep up with the twists and turns - from legislation passed in 2012 that barred creation of a state-run marketplace, to the thousands of letters Anthem Blue Cross mailed to policyholders this month, telling them their health plans did not meet the law’s coverage standards.

Now that the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, has launched, just how affordable will it make health insurance in New Hampshire? We hosted a special panel featuring Laura Knoy, host of NHPR's The Exchange, along with Tiffany Eddy of the Live Free or Die Alliance for a town hall discussion broadcast live on the web on Tuesday, November 19th. 

You can listen to the unedited audio from the event right here:

kiss kiss bang bang via Flickr Creative Commons

In 1994, the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine confirmed what anybody who’s tried to give up coffee suspected: caffeine is chemically addictive. It’s also the world’s most popular psychoactive drug… 80% of American adults consume it in some form. Withdrawal symptoms from caffeine are so dreadful that they are cited as a mental disorder in the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.

Here to unpack the chemical effect that caffeine can have on the human brain is Joseph Stromberg, journalist and science writer based in Washington, D.C. His work has been featured in Smithsonian Magazine and Slate.

Medicaid Expansion Plan Approved By Commission

Oct 8, 2013

New Hampshire is one of just a handful of states that hasn’t yet answered the Medicaid expansion question. Remember, when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on the federal health law last summer, it said Washington could not force states to expand their  Medicaid programs that provides health care to the poor. States, instead, must be given a choice.

And so, for the better part of three months now, a special commission has been studying whether to add 50,000 more low income individuals to the program.

Two hospitals and a health clinic in Nashua, N.H., are teaming up to open a new outpatient surgery center.

The Surgery Center of Greater Nashua brings together St. Joseph Hospital, Southern New Hampshire Medical Center and Dartmouth-Hitchcock Nashua. Its first procedure — a knee surgery — is scheduled for Tuesday, with a ceremonial opening on Wednesday.

Exeter Hospital Employees Treated For Scabies

Oct 3, 2013
NHPR Staff

New Hampshire's Exeter Hospital says 33 employees are being treated for scabies after contracting it from a patient at the hospital.

About 300 more staff members are being treated as a precaution, but have not shown symptoms of scabies, a contagious skin condition caused by mites.

The hospital also said it is going to notify 165 patients about a possible exposure.

The hospital said it reported the exposure to state officials on Sept. 27.

Concord Hospital Names New CEO

Oct 2, 2013

Concord Hospital is getting a new CEO.

The hospital Board of Trustees has selected Robert Steigmeyer. He is expected to start the first week of January 2014.

Steigmeyer has been the chief executive officer at Geisinger Community Medical Center in Scranton, Pa., since 2012 and a leader of a community medical center that eventually joined it.

Texas to Mexico via Flickr Creative Commons

The number of  shocking events over the past year is overwhelming … the Newtown school massacre; the Boston Marathon bombings; devastating tornadoes in Oklahoma.

Although the specifics of each catastrophe varies, media coverage adheres to a similar script involving communal resilience, collective support, and predictions of post-traumatic stress among victims and witnesses – even those thousands of miles away. In recent years, a small branch of positive psychology has been exploring the possibility that adversity can be a source of strength and wisdom.  Mark Obbie recently wrote about post-traumatic growth for Pacific Standard magazine.

Lidor via flickr Creative Commons

With enrollment for healthcare plans under “Obamacare” set to begin tomorrow, NHPR’s health reporter, Todd Bookman, has kept a steady eye on the rollout of the affordable care act. He put together an easy-to-follow guide to what the new healthcare law means for New Hampshire residents, and joins us in the studio to run through some of those points.

The Fuller Public Library in Hillsborough hosts book groups, a story hour for preschoolers, and the occasional knitting workshop.

Also on the calendar this month? An hour-long presentation on the Affordable Care Act.

“Tonight, this is probably going to feel like you are drinking from  a fire hose,” says Kelly Clark, State Director for AARP New Hampshire.

She runs through a slide show for a group of about two dozen residents. It touches on all the main points of the law: the exchanges, the mandates, subsidies, and Medicaid.

gamma_man via Flickr Creative Commons

Public health officials say a horse from Ossipee has tested positive for eastern equine encephalitis. A horse in Derry tested positive for the mosquito-borne disease last week. The most recent finding raises the risk level for the town of Ossipee from "remote" to "high." The surrounding towns of Tamworth, Madison, Freedom, Effingham, Wakefield, Brookfield, Wolfeboro, Tuftonborough and Moultonborough will increase to a "moderate" risk level.

Todd Bookman / NHPR

  At an event organized by the New Hampshire Women’s Health Network and Planned Parenthood of Northern New England, Senator Shaheen praised the law as the single biggest advancement in women’s health in her lifetime.

Rakka via Flickr Creative Commons

Celiac disease is a serious autoimmune disorder caused by a reaction to a gluten protein affecting one in one-hundred Americans. Despite the low percentage of those intolerant to wheat products, more people are experimenting with the anti-gluten diet and claim to enjoy health benefits like better skin and fewer allergies.  But is this fad just that...or is there some medical substance behind these claims?

danceforparkinsons.org

A few years after he was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease, writer, producer, and Public Radio host Dave Iverson learned that the Mark Morris Dance Group was teaching dance to people with Parkinson's at its Brooklyn headquarters.  Dave was touched - and produced a special on the dance group for the PBS Newshour and the PBS series Frontline.

More recently, he's rounded up a team of pros to film students preparing for their first public performance. He’s launched a Kickstarter project called “Capturing Grace" to finish the film.

Also joining us is David Levanthal – who until recently was one of the Mark Morris Dance Group’s most celebrated dancers. He’s now focusing entirely on dance for PD, the program working with Parkinson’s patients.

thomselomsen via Flickr Creative Commons

Despite our reputation as one of the healthiest states, young people here abuse alcohol at much greater rates than the rest of the country. With this comes other risky behaviors – from drunk driving to assault, as well as a greater chance of addiction down the road. We’ll look at how the state’s communities are tackling this issue.

Guests:

ratterrel via Flickr Creative Commons

With more than a third of Americans classified as obese, behavioral scientists are experimenting with ways to ‘nudge’ grocery shoppers away from the chips and dip aisle and into the produce section.

Michael Moss is investigative reporter for the New York Times and winner of the 2010 Pulitzer Prize for explanatory reporting. He wrote about research going on in American Supermarkets. 

Kids Culinary Arts Equips Children With Life-Skill

Aug 24, 2013
Cheryl Senter

Kids Culinary Arts teaches kids cooking and nutrition during after school programs, vacations and summer camps. The organization works in school districts and towns to get kids cooking and eating healthy foods. Matthew and Nicole Heiter, 11 and nine years old, have become experienced hands in the kitchen. Their mother, Lauren credits Kids Culinary Arts.

The advertising industry has made a bundle pitching feminine hygiene products, but even that expression, “feminine hygiene products,” illustrates how ads for tampons and pads avoid addressing what they are actually used for. But maybe you’ve seen the viral video that bucks the tradition of menstruation stigmatization…no blue liquid, no white tennis outfits, just a sassy twelve year-old girl, telling it like it is...

macalit via Flickr Creative Commons

Got milk tolerance? Only about one-third of adults on earth can properly digest dairy. A project uniting archaeologists, chemists and geneticist is studying the history of milk in Europe, where “lactose persistence”, the ability to digest milk as an adult, is thought to have emerged only seven and a half thousand years ago. There’s been a wave of discoveries suggesting that a number of “lactose hot spots” where ancient humans developed the genetic mutation for tolerating milk –  experienced significant advantages which allowed ancient humans to survive and changed the course of human history.  Mark Thomas is an evolutionary geneticist at University College London and co-founder of LeCHE, a collaborative research project that traces lactose persistence in early Europe.

The commission tasked with deciding if New Hampshire should expand its Medicaid program heard from a panel of experts Tuesday.

Speakers from the National Conference of State Legislatures and National Governors Association were in Concord to discuss options for Medicaid expansion, and to detail what other states are pursuing.

NHPR Health reporter Todd Bookman sits down with All Things Considered Host Brady Carlson to recap the hearing.

 

The state’s University System says it saved $10 million last year by switching how it provides health insurance for employees.

Rather than paying an insurance company a fixed amount per employee for health coverage, the University System now uses a self-insured plan, where it pays out of pocket as health bills come in.

Self-insured plans put more risk on the employer, but Todd Leach, Chancellor of the University Stem, says the model made economic sense for his institution.

After a $0.10 cut two years ago, smokers in New Hampshire will again pay an extra dime in tobacco taxes starting today. 

Republicans in the statehouse lowered the tobacco tax in 2011, saying the cut would spur cross-border sales and boost state revenues. But tax receipts have come in $56 million lower in the past two years than the prior biennium.

Lawmakers included an automatic trigger to reset the tax if revenues fell, so today, the tax goes back up to $1.78 per pack.

Todd Bookman / NHPR

The New Hampshire Insurance Department took an overwhelmingly positive view on expansion during its presentation to the Medicaid Expansion Study Commission, the body that will decide if the state grows the health care program for the poor under so-called Obamacare.

Department officials told the nine-member body that expansion would benefit a wide range of groups, including insurance companies, hospitals and employers with low-paid workers.

Tyler Brannen, a health policy analyst with the Department, testified that people who buy their own insurance also stand to gain.

Todd Bookman / NHPR

    Infants who suffer from malnutrition are more likely to have poorer physical health when they grow up.

Research also finds more emotional problems, including anxiety and attention deficit disorder.

But even as the negative long-term impacts of infant malnutrition become clearer to scientists, Dr. Janina Galler is working to push the field of study even further.

When An Emergency Room Closes Its Doors

Jul 22, 2013
Todd Bookman / NHPR

Back in December 2008, with the town of Lyndeborough still frozen from an ice storm, Sue Carita and her husband went to check on a neighbor. Good deed done, they would both slip and fall on the return trip.

“We went home and called our doctors and of course, it was 4:30pm, 5:00pm on a Saturday afternoon, and there was no one there,” she recalls.

In pain, the Caritas sought care at the nearby Milford Medical Center, where x-rays showed she had a broken wrist, her husband a cracked hip.

Todd Bookman / NHPR

As head of Dartmouth’s mission control center for Medivac flights, Mark Pippy spends a lot of time grappling with New England weather.

“Oh, wait ten minutes: it is going to change,” Pippy jokes. “It is always partly cloudy to partly sunny, with a chance of showers, and there will be darkness. And you got it 100% of the time.”

Pippy has spent the past 19 years dispatching copters from Dartmouth’s Lebanon campus and a unit based in Manchester. Together, they fly around 1,400 calls each year. Now, he’s a got a new GPS tool to help.

Some New Hampshire businesses say they welcome news of a recent delay in a key part of the Affordable Care Act. 

On Tuesday, the Obama Administration announced it is postponing the so-called employer mandate by a year, citing a need for more time to simplify regulations. 

It was this provision that Senator Kelly Ayotte, speaking at the Republican National Convention last summer, offered  as a reason why she thinks Obamacare won’t work.

Redbeard Math Pirate via Flickr Creative Commons

The National Parks Service has introduced a major change-up to their fifty-nine park locations nationwide. In collaboration with Michelle Obama’s healthy diet initiative, visitors will have the option to choose from a bevy of healthy, fresh meals at each concessionary. The new program gives new variety to those hungry visitors with no other culinary options, and for the twenty-three million people who visit their locations annually, this health-conscious movement will result in the loss of billions of collective calories. Steve Vogel is a reporter for the national staff of the Washington Post where he frequently covers the federal government, and he joined us to tell us a little more about this change.

A series by Boston Globe reporter Beth Daley explores how the tick-borne illness, Lyme disease continues to spread across the Northeast, all while doctors are increasingly divided on treatments, and the public is in many cases bitterly frustrated by the medical establishment’s response and the lack of ready answers.

Guest

dorkboycomics via flickr Creative Commons

Products like goji berries and quinoa are part of a fast-growing health-food industry – just last year, products derived from the Brazilian açaĺ-berry grossed 200 million dollars in the United States alone. The aggressive marketing of these superfoods are backed up by often misleading, or overblown, claims of their healthful benefits. Tom Philpott is the co-founder of Maverick Farms, a center for sustainable food education in North Carolina. His work on food politics has appeared in Newsweek and The Guardian…he wrote about superfood myths for Mother Jones.

Pages