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health care

Melissa and her husband started trying to have a baby right after they got married. But nothing was happening. So they went to a fertility clinic and tried round after round of everything the doctors had to offer. Nothing worked.

"They basically told me, 'You know, you have no chance of getting pregnant,' " says Melissa, who asked to be identified only by her first name to protect her privacy.

But Melissa, 30, who lives in Ontario, Canada, didn't give up. She switched clinics and kept trying. She got pregnant once, but that ended in a miscarriage.

Oregon's troubled health insurance exchange is one step closer to being dismantled.

Veterans Affairs Puget Sound will get $22 million over the next two years and plans to hire more than 120 additional medical personnel for specialties like mental health and geriatric care. 

The money is part of more than $15 billion set aside by Congress to fund the Veterans Access, Choice and Accountability Act. The bill is designed to help veterans access health care more quickly. 

Flickr Photo/Greg McMullin (CC-BY-NC-ND)

Ross Reynolds interviews journalist and author Steven Brill about his new book, "America’s Bitter Pill: Money, Politics, Backroom Deals, and the Fight to Fix Our Broken Health Care System."

While finishing the book Brill had his chest sawed open for emergency heart surgery. A dream he had the night before the operation revealed a truth about the health care system. 

New Kidney Transplant Rules Aim For Equity

Jan 22, 2015

More than 100,000 people in the U.S. are waiting for a kidney transplant. That’s a longer waiting list than for any other organ. Each year, only about one-sixth of those patients will get one.

Who’s next in line is a delicate and high-stakes question and the answer has recently changed. From the Here & Now Contributors Network, Joanna Richards of WCPN reports from Cleveland.

Doctor
Flickr Photo/Alex Proimos (CC-BY-NC-ND)/https://flic.kr/p/bt29wL

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 HealthCare.gov 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.

The Puget Sound VA has new initiatives focusing on accessibility and quailty of care for veterans.
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.

Harborview Medical Center in Seattle.
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, HealthCare.gov'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.

Three times in one week, 34-year-old Michael Granillo returned to the emergency room of the Northridge Hospital Medical Center in Southern California, seeking relief from intense back pain. Each time, Granillo waited a little while and then left the ER without ever being seen by a doctor.

"I was in so much pain, I wanted to be taken care of 'now,' " says Granillo. "I didn't want to sit and wait."

Catholic and other religious hospitals and universities have been arguing in federal court for much of the past two years that they shouldn't have to offer or facilitate birth control as part of their employee health plans because it violates their religious beliefs.

But what happens when the insurance company is itself Catholic? It turns out that Catholic health plans have for years been arranging for outside firms to provide contraceptive coverage to their enrollees.

KUOW Photo/Ruby de Luna

One of the public health clinics slated for closure got a reprieve today as King County Executive Dow Constantine announced a partnership that would keep the White Center Public Health Clenter at Greenbridge open through the 2016 fiscal year.

Washington State University's Board of Regents unanimously approved a plan Friday to establish a medical school in Spokane.

The leaders of Oregon's struggling health insurance exchange will be grilled by state lawmakers in a series of hearings at the capitol on Monday and Tuesday.

UW And WSU Face Off In The 'Apple Cup' Of Medical Schools

Sep 12, 2014

Marcie Sillman talks with Holly Greenwood, executive director of Washington's Rural Healthcare Collaborative, about what a medical school based in Spokane could do for the rural health care shortage.

Marcie Sillman talks with bioethicist Arthur Caplan about the implications of involving people in a research study without their consent. Caplan directs the bioethics division at New York University's Langone Medical Center.

Marcie Sillman talks with freelance journalist Lisa Stiffler about infection rates and patient safety in Washington hospitals.

O.S.T. and L.H. – their initials in court documents – are minors diagnosed with autism. Their families sued Regence, the health insurance company, for not covering all therapies related to their condition.

Expanded coverage for young adults under the Affordable Care Act substantially raised inpatient hospital visits related to mental health, finds a study conducted by researchers at Indiana and Purdue universities.

That looks like good news: Better access to care for a population with higher-than-average levels of mental illness that too often endangers them and people nearby.

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