National

Planet Money
3:52 am
Fri December 21, 2012

When The Doctor Works For The Insurance Company

This won't hurt a bit.
Dmitry Naumov iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Fri December 21, 2012 11:16 am

Some insurance companies are taking a page out of their own history books: running their own doctors' offices and clinics. Though the strategy previously had mixed results, insurers think that by providing primary care for patients, they might reduce costly diseases and hospital stays in the long run.

Dr. Michael Byrne spent eight years working for a Brooklyn hospital and he saw firsthand why the United States spends more on healthcare than any other country in the world.

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Shots - Health News
3:50 am
Fri December 21, 2012

Medicare Starts To Reward Quality, Not Quantity, Of Care

In a push to improve quality, Medicare will pay some hospitals more and others, including Boston's Massachusetts General, less.
Steven Senne AP

Originally published on Fri December 21, 2012 11:16 am

It's no longer enough for hospitals to just send a bill to Medicare and get paid.

The nation's biggest insurer is starting to dole out bonuses and penalties to nearly 3,000 hospitals as it ties almost $1 billion in payments to the quality of care provided to patients.

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StoryCorps
3:22 am
Fri December 21, 2012

Santa Claus Is Driving To Town

In December, when Boyd Applegate isn't driving his big-rig truck, he dresses up as Santa and hand-delivers gifts under Christmas trees. It's a pastime he's enjoyed for more than 20 years.
StoryCorps

Originally published on Fri December 21, 2012 11:16 am

Boyd Applegate never set out to become a real bearded Santa Claus. No, the calling found him.

The 56-year-old, who was last on StoryCorps talking about volunteering at the polls on Election Day, is a big-rig truck driver. He's logged nearly 5 million miles on the road.

"Santa Claus was a byproduct of truck driving," he explained to his sister, Rhonda Dixon, at StoryCorps. "Because I drive a truck, I can have a beard that's a little bit longer than most people."

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Shots - Health News
6:32 pm
Thu December 20, 2012

YouTube-Inspired Food Dares: Don't Try This At Home, Kids

GloZell demonstrates the chubby bunny challenge.
YouTube

Originally published on Wed December 26, 2012 11:20 am

Back in March, we told you about the "cinnamon challenge" — a game of dubious origin that involves eating a tablespoon of cinnamon powder without any liquid to wash it down. Experts at the nation's network of poison centers were warning parents about the game after the number of calls related to teens ages 13 to 19 increased dramatically from 2011. Their symptoms included choking, gagging, vomiting and other respiratory problems.

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The Two-Way
6:31 pm
Thu December 20, 2012

In Christmas Message, Queen Elizabeth Returns To 3-D After 59 Years

Queen Elizabeth II wears 3-D glasses during a visit to the University of Sheffield, in 2010. This year, the queen's annual Christmas message will broadcast in 3-D.
WPA Pool Getty Images

It's been 80 years since Britain's royal family began broadcasting a Christmas message — and 60 years since Queen Elizabeth took up the duty. Now, the monarch will deliver her 2012 holiday address in 3-D.

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Around the Nation
5:09 pm
Thu December 20, 2012

Connecticut Residents Reevaluate Gun Control After Newtown Shootings

Originally published on Thu December 20, 2012 10:18 pm

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Melissa Block.

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

And I'm Robert Siegel.

Tomorrow, the National Rifle Association will hold a news conference here in Washington, weighing in, for the first time, since last Friday's shootings in Newtown, Connecticut. Twenty children and six adults were killed at Sandy Hook Elementary. In and around Newtown, a public debate about gun violence and how the nation should respond has picked up in recent days.

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Law
5:08 pm
Thu December 20, 2012

Chicago Inmates Still On The Run After Hollywood-Style Escape

Originally published on Thu December 20, 2012 10:18 pm

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

From NPR News, it's ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

And I'm Melissa Block.

In Chicago, there was a remarkable jailbreak this week. Two convicted bank robbers escaped from their high-rise cell, some 200 feet above the street. Federal and local authorities have been searching for the men since Tuesday. They don't know how the pair got away without anyone noticing. From member station WBEZ, Susie An reports that the escapees' unlikely plan depended on an awful lot of bed sheets.

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Politics
5:03 pm
Thu December 20, 2012

Fiscal Cliff Negotiations Settle Back Into Standstill

Originally published on Thu December 20, 2012 10:18 pm

Just days after a deal on the fiscal cliff seemed imminent, things appeared on the verge of falling apart. How did it happen? David Welna talks to Robert Siegel about how the internal politics of the House have complicated a deal to avert massive, automatic tax hikes and spending cuts.

Energy
5:03 pm
Thu December 20, 2012

Next In Line For A Fracking Boom, California Looks At The Rules

Most hydraulic fracturing in California is done to extract to oil in areas like this field in Kern County. The state is drafting fracking regulations for the first time.
Craig Miller KQED

Originally published on Thu December 20, 2012 10:18 pm

The controversial drilling technique known as hydraulic fracturing has created an oil and gas boom around the country. In states like Texas, Pennsylvania and Colorado, there's been heated debate about rules that protect groundwater and public health.

California is now wading into that arena with the release of the state's first fracking regulations. The state's earthquake-prone geology, however, could bring particular concerns.

Fracking itself isn't new. The technology behind it, though, has changed.

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The Salt
4:02 pm
Thu December 20, 2012

Big Food And The Big, Silent Salt Experiment

Food companies have begun quietly reducing salt in regular foods because low-salt items like these don't sell as well.
Mel Evans AP

Originally published on Thu December 20, 2012 10:18 pm

Have you noticed, perhaps, that some of your store-bought salad dressings or spaghetti sauces taste a little less salty lately?

Probably not. The companies that make those products are doing their best to keep you from noticing. Yet many of them are, in fact, carrying out a giant salt-reduction experiment, either because they want to improve their customers' health or because they're worried that if they don't, the government might impose regulations that would compel more onerous salt reductions.

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It's All Politics
3:05 pm
Thu December 20, 2012

Cory Booker Eyes (Chris Christie-Free) Path To His Political Future

Newark Mayor Cory Booker greets a 13-year-old at a relief center for those affected by Superstorm Sandy, in November.
Julio Cortez AP

Originally published on Thu December 20, 2012 3:25 pm

Here was the choice facing Newark Mayor Cory Booker: Run next year against New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, whose popularity would have made the Republican exceedingly difficult to beat; or fix his gaze on the Senate seat now occupied by an 88-year-old fellow Democrat, Sen.

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The Two-Way
2:56 pm
Thu December 20, 2012

Gun Control: 'Only Modest Change' In Opinion Since Newtown Shootings

A Sig Sauer handgun on sale at a shop in Tucker, Ga.
Erik S. Lesser EPA /LANDOV

Originally published on Fri December 21, 2012 9:25 am

"The public's attitudes toward gun control have shown only modest change in the wake of last week's deadly shooting at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn.," the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press reported Thursday afternoon.

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Politics
2:10 pm
Thu December 20, 2012

Assault-Style Weapons In The Civilian Market

According to Tom Diaz of the Violence Policy Center, more people in the United States die every year from gun-related incidents than have been killed in all terrorist attacks worldwide since the 1960s.
iStockPhoto

As the country reels after Friday's massacre in Newtown, Conn., the question of how assault rifles like the one used at Sandy Hook Elementary School entered the civilian market is front and center.

The semi-automatic weapon found at the site where Adam Lanza shot to death 20 children and six adults, for example, is a variant of a type of gun developed for troops during Vietnam.

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National Security
2:10 pm
Thu December 20, 2012

Preparing For The World Of 2030

Transcript

NEAL CONAN, HOST:

This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Neal Conan, in Washington. A new report for the National Intelligence Council describes the world of today as a transition point in world history, like 1815, 1919, 1945 and 1989, when the path forward was not clear-cut, the report says, and the world faced the possibility of different global futures.

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Around the Nation
2:03 pm
Thu December 20, 2012

The Secrets Of Making Time Fly While You Wait

Originally published on Thu December 20, 2012 2:19 pm

Transcript

NEAL CONAN, HOST:

The holidays might summon images of the traditional family dinner or wool-clad carolers, but we might want to forget equally likely moments: that frustrating wait for the bus, the anxiety next to an immobile luggage carousel. So what do you do to keep calm and content while waiting out life's inevitable delays? Besides your smartphone, what do you use to fill waiting time? Give us a call, 800-989-8255. Email: talk@npr.org. You can also join the conversation on our website. That's at npr.org, click on TALK OF THE NATION.

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