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Back in 2015, Brazil reported a horrific a surge in birth defects. Thousands of babies were born with brain damage and abnormally small heads, a condition called microcephaly.

Scientists quickly concluded the Zika virus was the culprit. So when Zika returned last year during Brazil's summer months of December, January and February — when mosquitoes are most active — health officials expected another surge in microcephaly cases.

But that never happened.

Dental assistant Kim Weston updates a chart at the Odessa Brown Children's Clinic in Seattle. Weston has worked at the clinic for more than a decade.
KUOW Photo/Patricia Murphy

Last week while lawmakers in Washington, D.C., were gnashing their teeth over what health insurance in the U.S. should look like, patients and providers in King County were wrestling with some of the same challenges they faced before the Affordable Care Act was in place.

You'd think that a vaccine that protects people against more than a half dozen types of cancer would have patients lining up to get it. But the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine, which can prevent roughly 90 percent of all cervical cancers as well as other cancers and sexually transmitted infections caused by the virus, has faced an uphill climb since its introduction more than a decade ago.

Bill Radke talks to Jon Talton, Seattle Times economics columnist, about what it would mean for the Northwest if the proposed cuts to the National Institutes of Health funding were enacted.

Harborview Medical Center in Seattle.
Flickr Photo/camknows (CC-BY-NC-ND)

Bill Radke talks to Anne Newcombe, the clinical director of emergency services at Harborview Medical Center, about what the hospital has seen since the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare, was implemented.   

President Trump is doing his best to put a good face on defeat in his party's attempt to replace the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.

His strategy is simple: declare that the law is failing. And he is selling that message in his own distinctly Trumpian way: concocting it out of simple, bold words and then hammering that message home, over and over: Obamacare, in his words, will "explode."

When Kathleen Muldoon had her second child everything was going smoothly. The delivery was short, the baby's APGAR score was good and he was a healthy weight.

"Everyone said he was amazing," says Muldoon.

For Jernica Quiñones, the reality of sudden infant death syndrome, or SIDS, hit close to home this year when a friend woke up on New Year's Day and discovered the lifeless body of her baby girl.

That's why Quiñones' 4-month-old son, Bless'n, has spent a lot of his life so far sleeping in a cardboard box.

The 33-year-old mother of five took part in a program in New Jersey that promotes safe sleep education through the distribution of "baby boxes" that double as bassinets.

Congressman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin speaking at CPAC 2011 in Washington, D.C.
Flickr Photo/Gage Skidmore (CC BY-SA 2.0)/https://flic.kr/p/cVEJJh

House Republicans, short of votes, withdrew their health care bill on Friday afternoon, just before it was supposed to go to the floor.

The bill was pulled after President Trump asked Speaker Paul Ryan to halt the debate without a vote, according to The Associated Press. 

KUOW PHOTO/BOND HUBERMAN

The fate of President Trump's health care plan comes down to the wire.

We get into the pros and cons of Seattle's proposed soda tax and homeless levy.

How generous might Washington state get when it comes to paid leave?

And some people are pretty surprised to find out that their car tabs are way more expensive this time around.

The Affordable Care Act's tax penalty for people who opt out of health insurance is one of the most loathed parts of the law, so it is no surprise that Republicans are keen to abolish it. But the penalty, also called the individual mandate, plays a vital function: nudging healthy people into the insurance markets, where their premiums help pay for the cost of care for the sick. Republican lawmakers think they have a better alternative.

John Krahne received alarming news from his doctor last December. His brain tumors were stable, but his lung tumors had grown noticeably larger.

The doctor recommended a drug called Alecensa, which sells for more than $159,000 a year. Medicare would charge Krahne a $3,200 copay in December, then another $3,200 in January, as a new year of coverage kicked in.

A new report finds that the Republican bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act would reduce the federal deficit by $337 billion over a decade but would also leave 24 million more Americans uninsured during that same period.

Flickr Photo/Alex Proimos (CC BY-NC-2.0)/https://flic.kr/p/bt29wL

Kim Malcolm talks with Kaiser Health News reporter Julie Rovner about how immigrants and refugees may be affected by the American Health Care Act, the House Republicans' replacement plan for the Affordable Care Act.

Kaiser Health News is a national health policy news service. It is an editorially independent program of the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.

File photo of a flu shot.
Flickr Photo/Fort Meade (CC-BY-NC-ND)/http://bit.ly/1jxhkty

Millions of Americans will experience major changes to their health coverage if both chambers of Congress pass the Republican health care bill that's currently under consideration in the House of Representatives.

The maximum workday for first-year medical residents just got substantially longer. The group that sets rules for training doctors announced Friday it will be scrapping the 16-hour cap on shifts worked by doctors who have just graduated from medical school.

As of July 1, the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education will allow these first-year residents, also known as interns, to work 24 hours without a break — and sometimes as long as 28, if a particular transition between doctors demands it.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee said thousands of people’s health coverage would be in jeopardy under the federal government’s Affordable Care Act replacement. In a meeting with the press Thursday, he expressed concern over the proposal, claiming it would cut benefits and increase costs.

"This is the chance. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity," said the speaker, roving the stage with a wireless mic, gesturing at both the audience in front of him and the PowerPoint presentation behind him.

TED Talk? Late-night infomercial? Nope — it was House Speaker Paul Ryan, making a hard pitch for his health care plan after a week of loud conservative criticism.

On International Women’s Day, some women walked out of their workspaces or wore the color red in solidarity. Women in the Washington Senate showed off their scarlet themed wardrobes, but didn’t travel too far. Instead, they helped pass legislation supporting pregnant working women in Washington.

A bill requiring hospitals to inform patients they may be eligible for charity care has passed the Washington State House Thursday.

By law, Washington hospitals can’t turn away people seeking emergency care because they’re not able to pay. The law also requires hospitals to screen low income patients to see if they’re eligible for charity care. 


This spring and summer may be a doozy for Lyme disease, at least in parts of the Northeast.

"We're anticipating 2017 to be a particularly risky year for Lyme," says Rick Ostfeld, a disease ecologist at the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies in Millbrook, New York.

Ostfeld has been studying the debilitating tick-borne disease for more than 20 years, and has developed an early warning system based on mice. For more on that, check out the piece in our sister blog, Goats and Soda.

In the last three years, 33 U.S. states have passed laws aimed at helping dying people get easier access to experimental treatments that are still in the early stages of human testing. Supporters say these patients are just looking for the right to try these treatments.

Such laws sound compassionate, but medical ethicists warn they pose worrisome risks to the health and finances of vulnerable patients.

At a conference in Brussels on Thursday, more than a dozen nations and private funders pledged a combined total of $190 million for international family planning charities that stand to lose their U.S. support as a result of President Trump's Jan. 23 executive action to block U.S. foreign aid funding of groups linked to abortion.

Brothers Galen and Arthur Emery at KUOW.
KUOW Photo/Matt Martin

What should you do if a loved one is contemplating killing themselves? It’s a scary thought — and one most people aren’t prepared to answer.

What a new soda tax could mean for Seattle

Feb 27, 2017
FLICKR PHOTO/Mike Mozart(CC BY 2.0)/https://flic.kr/p/JDwKS6

Bill Radke speaks with Seattle Times economics columnist Jon Talton about a new proposal to tax soda and other sugary drinks in Seattle.

Amy Radil

Being a Daffodil Princess in Pierce County is not about winning a pageant. Kelty Pierce, 19, is emphatic on that point.

In recent days, several Republican lawmakers have faced crowds of constituents at town hall meetings around the country who are angry that they may be in danger of losing their health coverage.

Swedish Hospital's facility on Seattle's First Hill.
Flickr Photo/Matthew Rutledge (CC BY 2.0)

Bill Radke talks to Mike Baker, investigative reporter for The Seattle Times about his investigation into the high volume of surgeries in the neurosurgery department at Swedish's Cherry Hill facility. He documented his findings in a report called "Quality of Care" published in The Seattle Times. 

Welcome to the bat cave. No, we're not talking about the secret headquarters of a superhero.

This is Gomantong — an ancient cave carved out of 20 million-year-old limestone in the middle of the Borneo rain forest in Malaysia. It's part of a vast network of tunnels and caverns. And it's the perfect hideout for bats.

Up at the top are millions of bats. Literally millions. They hang upside down all day long from the cave's ceiling, sleeping and pooping.

Neon Sugar
FLICKR PHOTO/Adam Engelhart (CC BY 2.0)/https://flic.kr/p/fqv6q

A friend might try to talk you out of smoking cigarettes or your alcohol consumption, but would they criticize your sugar habit? What if they knew that not long ago scientists were paid to proclaim the dangers of fat when the facts pointed to sugar and carbohydrates?

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