Health

Marilyn Tavenner, the administrator of the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, who oversaw the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, will step down.

Tavenner announced her departure on Friday in a message to staff.

"I have great pride and joy knowing all that we have accomplished together since I came on board five years ago in February of 2010," Tavenner said.

Obama administration officials have warned that ambitious experiments run by the health law's $10 billion innovation lab wouldn't always be successful. Now there is evidence their caution was well placed.

Only a small minority of community groups getting federal reimbursement to reduce expensive hospital readmissions produced significant results compared with sites that weren't part of the $300 million program, according to partial, early results.

Americans, by and large, don't seem all that worried about what happens to the information in their medical records.

A NPR-Truven Health Analytics Health Poll found that data privacy didn't appear to bother most respondents. Privacy worries ran highest for information held by health insurers, but even then only 16 percent of people expressed concern.

ct.gov

This year’s flu has been hitting the nation especially hard, and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention has listed the virus’ hold on Utah as widespread. In Utah County alone there have been nine flu-related deaths.

To help counteract the illness, hospitals across the state have been turning to a Utah-developed technology that has drastically cut the time it takes doctors to learn whether at patient is sick with the flu, or not.

It's a new way to do silk screening, that's for sure.

Bangalore-based Achira Labs has figured out a way to hand weave diabetes test strips from silk. That sounds pretty luxurious compared to the standard materials of plastic or paper. But silk turns out to have several advantages in a country like India, where weavers who can work a handloom are abundant and the material is readily available and inexpensive.

A trip to Disneyland is on many families' bucket lists, but that dream probably didn't including catching the measles.

Nine people who visited Disneyland or Disneyland California Adventure Park during December have confirmed measles cases, state health officials said Wednesday. Seven of the patients live in California and two live in Utah.

As New Year's resolutions go, cutting back on food and drink are right at the top of the list. And while those vowing to change their eating habits may cut the carbohydrates or say a sweet goodbye to sugar, for regular drinkers, the tradition may involve what's known as a "dry January": giving up booze for a month.

But could such a short-term breakup with alcohol really impart any measurable health benefits?

Copyright 2015 Montana Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.mtpr.org.

Potent Bird Flu Spotted In West, Utah May Be Next

Jan 5, 2015
turkey
www.markey.senate.gov

Utah officials are warning hunters and owners of backyard poultry flocks to be wary of a highly-pathogenic strain of avian influenza virus that could appear in the state.

Though currently no affected birds have been reported, Utah is on the migratory path of affected animals, which have been found in Oregon, California and Washington.

Dr. Warren Hess, a veterinarian for the state, said the virus is carried by water fowl, but the effects are felt by domesticated birds.

It's a tradition as old as New Year's: making resolutions. We will not smoke, or sojourn with the bucket of mint chocolate chip. In fact, we will resist sweets generally, including the bowl of M&M's that our co-worker has helpfully positioned on the aisle corner of his desk. There will be exercise, and the learning of a new language.

It is resolved.

So what does science know about translating our resolve into actual changes in behavior? The answer to this question brings us — strangely enough — to a story about heroin use in Vietnam.

Young children are especially susceptible to the seasonal flu, and annual flu immunizations are the best way to protect them.

But many children under 9 require two doses of the vaccine to be fully protected, and only about half of those who need two doses get both. That's in addition to the one-third of children in the United States who don't get flu immunizations at all.

What'll it take to drive those numbers up? Simply texting parents a few reminders may help.

When Priscilla Graham-Farmer went to get her hair done in Newark, N.J., recently, she noticed the elevator in the building was broken, so she took the stairs. And that's when Graham-Farmer saw him: a young guy sprawled out, not breathing.

"He was literally turning blue," she says. "And everybody was walking over him."

But Graham-Farmer stopped. And looked closer. She saw that he had a needle and some cotton balls. The guy had clearly overdosed.

"I'm screaming in the hallway," Graham-Farmer remembers. "Nobody's answering."

Editor's note, Jan. 15, 2015: Mae Keane was one of the last "radium girls," but not the last one. Please scroll down to the bottom of this page to see the full correction note.


Before turning the page on 2014, All Things Considered is paying tribute to some of the people who died this year whose stories you may not have heard — including Mae Keane.

In the early 1920s, the hot new gadget was a wristwatch with a glow-in-the-dark dial.

"Made possible by the magic of radium!" bragged one advertisement.

It's time to set the table for 2015. What will be the next kale? Has the cupcake breathed its last?

We're headed for high times. As states legalize marijuana, cannabis comestibles are coming. Pot brownies — so 1960s — are joined by marijuana mac 'n' cheese and pot pesto. There's a new cooking show called Bong Appetit.

Another crushed leaf is this year's superdrink. Matcha is made from green tea and promises a calmer energy boost than Red Bull. The Japanese have been drinking it for centuries.

Vegan Christmas
http://recipes.millionhearts.hhs.gov/

The holidays can be stressful for anyone planning on cooking a Christmas feast, but especially for those who are trying to cook for their vegan, vegetarian or gluten-free friends and family.

Chef Ian Brandt is the owner of some of Utah’s most beloved vegetarian-friendly restaurants including Sages Café, Vertical Diner and Cali’s Natural Foods in Salt Lake City.

While Brandt said he himself takes a break from cooking and parties during the holidays, he said he’s seen the stress that comes with trying to get a meal to turn out just right. His advice: develop a cookbook of your own.


You're in the supermarket gathering ingredients for eggnog and a Christmas Bundt cake, and you're staring at a wall of egg cartons. They're plastered with terms that all sound pretty wonderful: All-Natural, Cage-Free, Free-Range, Farm Fresh, Organic, No Hormones, Omega-3. And so on.

And yet the longer you stare at them, the more confused you become. You are tired and hungry, so you just grab the cheapest one — or the one with the most adorable chicken illustration — and head for the checkout line.

Medicare has begun punishing 721 hospitals with high rates of infections and other medical errors, cutting payments to half of the nation's major teaching hospitals and many institutions that are marquee names.

It took a few hours for some Cubans to realize the magnitude of President Obama's announcement on Wednesday about changes in the relationship between the U.S. and Cuba, according to Cuban blogger Yoani Sánchez.

California is battling the worst whooping cough epidemic in 70 years.

Nearly 10,000 cases have been reported in the state so far this year, and babies are especially prone to hospitalization or even death.

Six of 10 infants who have become ill during the current outbreak are Latino. There's no conclusive explanation, but there are a few theories that range from Latino cultural factors to a lack of health insurance.

In a small warehouse just off Logan City's main street a group of volunteers move crates of food. Workers are cold and they struggle to move canned goods with gloved hands.

"It is really cold this morning, but we are here every week during the school year come rain or shine," said Nibley resident Peggy Reese.

Reese began the "Still Cool After School" supplemental food program five years ago when she was working at Ellis Elementary. The program brings community volunteers together each week of the school year to gather donated food items. Peanut butter, cereal, soups, and pasta are some of the staples they place inside more than one hundred backpacks. On Fridays the backpacks are distributed throughout elementary schools by administrators in the Logan School District. Together they select students who qualify for federal food assistance and also demonstrate a need for nutrition services on weekends.

As some companies add egg freezing to their list of fertility benefits, they're touting the coverage as a family-friendly perk.

Women's health advocates say they welcome any expansion of fertility coverage. But they say that the much-publicized changes at a few high-profile companies such as Facebook and Apple are still relatively rare, even for women with serious illnesses like cancer who want to preserve their fertility.

For two decades Atlanta restaurant owner Jim Dunn offered a group health plan to his managers and helped pay for it. That ended Dec. 1, after the Affordable Care Act made him an offer he couldn't refuse.

Subsidies under the health law for workers to buy their own coverage combined with years of rising costs in the company plan made dropping the plan an obvious — though not easy — choice.

A government-appointed group of top nutrition experts, assigned to lay the scientific groundwork for a new version of the nation's dietary guidelines, decided earlier this year to collect data on the environmental implication of different food choices.

Congress now has slapped them down.

When it comes to teenage drinking, the typical venue is a party — where some teens play drinking games and binge. It may surprise you to learn that the majority of parents are aware that alcohol is flowing at these events.

On any given weekend, some teenagers receive three to four text messages about parties, says Bettina Friese, a public health researcher at the Prevention Research Center in Oakland, Calif.

Paradoxical: The Link Between Mental Health And Oxygen

Dec 12, 2014
Utah Geological Survey

Utah has long been touted at being the happiest state in America, while paradoxically ranking amongst the highest in the nation for suicides and anti-depressant use. Long-standing theories on why this trend effects Utah and other nearby states have ranged from cultural influences to rural living and higher rates of gun ownership.

However, University of Utah Professor of Psychiatry Perry Renshaw’s research is showing that something much more basic may behind these somewhat incompatible rankings: altitude.

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