NPR Health

The first problem with the airplane bathroom was its location.

It was March. Greg O'Brien and his wife, Mary Catherine, were flying back to Boston from Los Angeles, sitting in economy seats in the middle of the plane. "We're halfway, probably over Chicago," Greg remembers, "and Mary Catherine said, 'Go to the bathroom.' "

"It just sounded like my mother," Greg says. So I said 'no.' "

Mary Catherine persisted, urging her husband of 40 years to use the restroom. People started looking at them. "It was kind of funny," says Greg.

Senate Republicans have little margin for error as they prepare for a vote this coming week on a bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. Some lawmakers are already raising concerns that the bill could aggravate the problem of healthy people going without insurance, driving up costs for everyone else.

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Andy Slavitt understands the inner workings of the U.S. health care system better than most. From 2015 to 2017, he ran the Affordable Care Act, sometimes called Obamacare, as head of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Since leaving that post in January, he's been an outspoken critic of the Republican proposals to dismantle it.

Yesterday, shortly after the release of the Senate bill, he tweeted, "It's the ugly step-sibling of the House bill." And this morning his message was, "We must start over. It's too important."

Could The Best Memory System Be One That Forgets?

Jun 23, 2017

Intuitively, we tend to think of forgetting as failure, as something gone wrong in our ability to remember.

Now, Canadian neuroscientists with the University of Toronto are challenging that notion. In a paper published Wednesday in the journal Neuron, they review the current research into the neurobiology of forgetting and hypothesize that our brains purposefully work to forget information in order to help us live our lives.

The list of perks Dan Teran's company offers sounds pretty dreamy.

Anyone working 120 hours a month gets employer-sponsored medical, dental and vision insurance. His company, Managed by Q, also offers a matching 401(k) retirement program, paid time off, a stock option program for all employees, and 12 weeks of paid parental leave.

Those are highly unusual perks, considering most are part-time workers who work only when they're available. Also, Teran's company does janitorial, building maintenance and temporary secretarial work, where such benefits are almost unheard of.

The AMA's Take On GOP Health Care Plan

Jun 23, 2017

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The secret Senate Republican health care plan is no longer a secret. Details were released yesterday. Republicans want a fast-track vote on the bill by the Fourth of July recess. Here's President Trump.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

Women in their 40s at average risk for breast cancer should talk to their health care provider about the risks and benefits of mammography before starting regular screening at that age, according to guidelines released Thursday by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

In this week's episode of the show and podcast Invisibilia, we explore what happens when you discover a part of yourself that is very different than who you think you are.

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Now we're going to talk to South Dakota Republican Senator John Thune. Thanks for joining us.

JOHN THUNE: Thanks, Kelly. It's great to be with you.

MCEVERS: So what are the problems with Obamacare that you feel this bill fixes?

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Senate Republicans on Thursday unveiled their plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act — also known as Obamacare. The long-awaited plan marks a big step toward achieving one of the Republican Party's major goals.

Updated at 2:32 p.m. ET

Senate Republicans unveiled their long-awaited health care overhaul proposal on Thursday. The Senate bill, called the "Better Care Reconciliation Act," would repeal major parts of the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. The broad outlines of it look a lot like the House bill, the American Health Care Act, which was passed in May.

Thanks to Sigmund Freud, we all know what it means to dream about swords, sticks and umbrellas. Or maybe we don't.

"For 100 years, we got stuck into that Freudian perspective on dreams, which turned out to be not scientifically very accurate," says Robert Stickgold, a sleep researcher and associate professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. "So it's only been in the last 15 to 20 years that we've really started making progress."

The humanitarian aid system is broken.

That's the message of a new paper by Paul Spiegel, a former senior official at the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). The piece was part of a special series on health and humanitarian crises published by the British medical journal The Lancet in early June.

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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

And NPR's Alison Kodjak, who covers health policy issues and is covering this bill, has been listening in with us. And she's on the line. Alison, what did you hear that was significant there?

For the hundreds of rural U.S. hospitals struggling to stay in business, health policy decisions made in Washington, D.C., this summer could make survival a lot tougher.

Eye-popping. That's the word that comes to mind when you hear how many viruses are likely hiding out around the world in animals.

"We expect there are hundreds of thousands of mammalian viruses out there," says Kevin Olival, a disease ecologist at EcoHealth Alliance, who led the study.

Really? Hundreds of thousands?

"Yes, it's likely," Olival says. "Any given mammal species is likely to have 20, 30 or even 100 viruses. When you add that up around the planet, you get a big number."

What's Washington Got To Hide?

Jun 21, 2017

For all the talk of a new era of transparency, it seems like more and more of the U.S. government’s business is taking place behind closed doors.

That’s cause for concern on both sides of the aisle.

The Senate vote on a bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act is, according to conventional wisdom, one week away.

And we still don't know what's in the bill.

Not having concrete information is deeply uncomfortable for a journalist like me.

Rachael Goldring was born with congenital heart disease. Had she been born a few decades earlier, she probably would have died as a baby. Goldring is now 24 and among a population of patients who present new challenges to a health care system unaccustomed to dealing with survivors of once-fatal conditions.

Today there are more adults than kids living with some of these diseases, and medical training is lagging. Young adults who can't find suitable doctors may drop out of care, and their conditions may worsen.

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