health care

Flickr Photo/Alex Proimos (CC-BY-NC-ND)

For the past two years primary care doctors who saw Medicaid patients were given a pay increase. The extra money was an incentive for doctors to take in new patients who became eligible under Medicaid expansion. But starting January 1, 2015, that pay increase expires. Marcie Sillman talks to KUOW’s healthcare reporter Ruby de Luna about how this change might impact Medicaid patients.

Marcie Sillman talks to David Kopacz about his new book, "Re-humanzing Medicine: A Holistic Framework For Transforming Your Self, Your Practice, and the Culture of Medicine."

This time last year, federal officials were scrambling to get as many people enrolled in health insurance through as they could before the start of the program on Jan. 1.

Now, with the technical problems mostly fixed, they're facing a different problem: the possibility that the Supreme Court might rule that the subsidies that help people afford coverage are illegal in the 37 states where the federal government is running the program.

Flickr Photo/cursedthing (CC-BY-NC-ND)

Jeannie Yandel talks with Pat Justis, rural health manager at the Washington State Department of Health, about the myriad of health issues facing rural areas.

Courtesy of Washington Healthplanfinder

Open enrollment for health insurance started last Saturday. It’s the time for people to buy a health plan, or to renew what they already have. And for the first time this year, the state’s health exchange is offering health plans for small businesses. 

Marcie Sillman interviews KUOW health reporter Ruby de Luna about some of the changes the Washington state Health Exchange has made. Last year more than a million Washington state residents signed up for health insurance through the Washington Health Plan Finder website.  Saturday is the first day of open enrollment. People need to sign up or renew their health care plans by February 15, 2015. 

Flickr Photo/hapal (CC-BY-NC-ND)

Ross Reynolds has a wide-ranging discussion of end-of-life issues with Atul Gawande, author of “Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End."  

Gawande discusses  several issues such as how medical science views death as a failure, and does not always examine how medical treatments affect people at the end; innovations in assisted living and hospice to not only improve the quality of life, but also allow people to live longer; and how health care professionals are trying to become better at end of life care.

KUOW Photo/John Ryan

If today is a typical day in the United States, about 200 hospital patients will die with an infection they picked up while they were in the hospital.

Only one patient in the United States has ever died of Ebola, and many deadly diseases spread much more easily than Ebola.

Flickr Photo/camknows (CC-BY-NC-ND)

Ross Reynolds talks to Heather Stephen-Selby about nurses' preparedness for Ebola in Washington state. Stephen-Selby is the assistant executive director of practice, education and research for the Washington State Nurses Association. 

Also Dr. Scott Lindquist, Washington's chief epidemiologist, explains how the state is preparing and what the state still needs to do.

Flickr Photo/Penn State (CC-BY-NC-ND)

Ross Reynolds talks with Group Health family practitioner Dr. Matt Handley about a new report that looks at unnecessary medical testing in Washington state.

Exactly one year ago, the Obamacare insurance exchanges stumbled into existence. Consumers struggled to sign up for its online marketplace — and the Obama administration was pummeled. Eventually,'s problems were mostly fixed, and two weeks ago, the administration announced 7.3 million people have bought insurance through it so far this year.

So, was the health exchanges' first year a success — or something less?

Ask President Obama, and he says you measure the Affordable Care Act's success this way:

The heavyset man with a bandage on his throat is having trouble repeating a phrase. "No ifs ..." he says to the medical students and doctors around his bed at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston.

"Can I hear you say no ifs, ands or buts?" says Dr. Allan Ropper, the Harvard neurologist in charge. The patient tries again. "No ifs, buts, ands or," he says.

Kevin Wiehrs is a nurse in Savannah, Ga. But instead of giving patients shots or taking blood pressure readings, his job is mostly talking with patients like Susan Johnson.

Johnson, 63, is a retired restaurant cook who receives Medicare and Medicaid. She has diabetes, and has already met with her doctor. Afterward, Wiehrs spends another half-hour with Johnson, talking through her medication, exercise and diet.

Mobile Medical
KUOW Photo/Kara McDermott

About twice a month, King County’s Mobile Medical van comes to Renton. It opens at 4:30, but it’s often slow until closer to 6:30, when the church across the street begins serving hot meals for homeless people.

The inside of this RV has been retrofitted so there’s an exam room, a nurse’s station and a waiting area.  A generator gives off a droning buzz as it powers this efficient little clinic.

Dow Constantine in the KUOW studios.
KUOW Photo/Jason Pagano

Marcie Sillman talks to King County Executive Dow Constantine  about the new 2015-2016 budget.