Health

The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services says it's working to reduce the error rate in Medicaid payments to providers and hospitals.

A new report from State Auditor Beth Wood says North Carolina improperly spent $835 million last year.

Condoms
Inga / Wikipedia

Wake County reported more than 200 syphilis cases last year. Wake County's Public Health Director Sue Lynn Ledford says that's a big up-tick compared to fewer than 40 cases in 2003. A majority of new cases involve African-American men who are HIV positive.

An image of author Laura Wright
Ashley Evans

Note: this is a rebroadcast from November 5, 2015.

For author Laura Wright, being a vegan is a choice in diet and identity. It shapes what she eats and wears, as well as how she is perceived in a culinary culture that revolves around meat.

Image of Kate Bowler with her son and husband
Kate Bowler

When Kate Bowler was diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer last year, she thought, “well, isn’t this ironic?” Bowler is a scholar of the prosperity gospel, the theology that those with the right kind of beliefs will receive God’s grace. As she grapples with her diagnosis, she reflects on life, death, and where faith fits into the picture. She wrote about it in the New York Times, "Death, The Prosperity Gospel, And Me."

The Aedes aegypti mosquito is known as the primary carrier of the Zika virus.
U.S. Department of Agriculture

The Wake County Health Department confirmed another case of the Zika virus this week.

It is the fifth confirmed case in North Carolina since the outbreak in Brazil. But scientists here say differences in mosquito species, climate and lifestyle make it much more difficult for the virus to spread. 

Host Frank Stasio talks with Michael Reiskind, entomology professor at North Carolina State University, about why he thinks a Zika outbreak in North Carolina is not likely.

Is Medical Marijuana Safe?

Feb 19, 2016
Dank Depot / Flickr Creative Commons

RTI International scientists say better labeling and governmental regulations are needed for medical marijuana.

Each state creates its own regulations, and products can vary a lot. The researchers say many medications are poorly labeled with misleading information about chemical contents. 

Blue Cross and Blue Shield has said it might remove some of its health insurance policies under the Affordable Care Act.
Jed Record / Flickr Creative Commons

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina CEO Brad Wilson recently told the News and Observer that the company might have to consider pulling some of its health insurance policies offered under the Affordable Care Act.

Wilson cited financial losses of more than $100 million in the first year of ACA coverage.

The popularity of the tiny house such as this one has grown in recent years due to its exposure on television. Thava Mahadevan sees a purpose for tiny houses in mental healthcare.
Tammy Strobel / Flickr Creative Commons

A village of tiny homes to house people with mental illnesses could be coming to northern Chatham County.

Many people with mental illnesses live on a federal income of about $750 per month, called the Supplemental Security Income, which creates a challenge for them to find safe and affordable housing.

Sarah Razak / Flickr Creative Commons

Water contamination in Flint, Mich., is perhaps the most prominent minority health crisis in America right now. It is affecting a majority African-American city, and raising questions about whether state leaders disproportionately distributed resources.

This type of intersection between public health and social justice is the theme of this year's Minority Health Conference at UNC-Chapel Hill. 

North Carolina is considering changes to state health insurance plans that would eliminate the 80/20 plans.
TaxRebate.org.uk / Flickr Creative Commons

The Board of Trustees that manages the state health insurance plans for government employees is considering major changes to the state health plan.

The board is considering proposed elimination of the 80/20 plan. The measure is in response to a legislative order to reduce costs for the more than 690,000 employees and retirees who receive health benefits through the state. 

Aedes aegypti mosquito
James Gathany / CDC

Health care professionals and researchers across the state are ramping up to assist in the fight against the mosquito-borne Zika virus. 

Infections in pregnant women in Brazil are thought to be behind a steep increase in cases of microcephaly  in that country.  The condition results in babies having abnormally small brains and heads.

A picture of vials of blood for testing.
GrahamColm / Wikipedia

Doctors may soon be able to conduct a blood test to determine if a patient needs an antibiotic. 

Researchers at Duke Health have developed a process that identifies markers in the blood of patients with respiratory complaints. They show the difference between a viral infection and one that's caused by bacteria.

Image of Ken Dodge, professor of public policy at Duke
Duke University

Note: This is a rebroadcast from last year.

There is a common metaphor in the scientific community that uses flowers to describe children’s sensitivity to their environments. A child like a dandelion will turn out fine despite the circumstances she is raised in, while a child like an orchid will flounder without a nourishing environment, but blossom with care and support. 

A picture of a dog standing in snow.
Poligraf Poligrafovich / Wikipedia

Temperatures are holding steady at freezing and below. So animal advocates and veterinary professionals are urging owners not to leave pets outside if they can avoid it.

Latino child
Lillian Zepeda / Flickr Creative Commons

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) has helped close the health insurance gap for North Carolina's Latino children, according to a national report.

A stamp of heroin.
Psychonaught / Wikipedia

Nash County Sheriff Keith Stone suspects five deaths in his eastern North Carolina county in the past two weeks were caused by unintentional drug overdoses.

Don Taylor is a professor of public policy at Duke University.
Duke University

Eighty percent of people who die in the United States are on Medicare, making end-of-life policies a crucial component of the Medicare system.

This month marks a number of significant changes to Medicare’s policies including the once-controversial funding for physicians to discuss end-of-life issues with their patients as well as updates to the hospice payment system. 

A picture of a man using an e-cigarette.
www.vaping360.com / Vaping3650/Flickr

The number of underage teens who smoke cigarettes has dropped since regulators began imposing stiff advertising restrictions in the 1970s. But a new report from the Centers for Disease Control says the number of young people who say they're exposed to ads for electronic cigarettes has skyrocketed.

A picture of a homeless man bundling up on a bench.
Ed Yourdon / flickr.com/photos/yourdon/4299779303

Freezing temperatures led Wake and Guilford County homeless shelters to issue a white flag alert Monday night, allowing anyone who came to the shelters a guaranteed safe place to spend the night.

National Weather Service Meteorologist Barrett Smith said an arctic air mass is responsible for the cold snap. Temperatures have dropped more than 50 degrees since the warm spell around Christmas.

Day Care
Wikimedia Commons

New research suggests childcare can improve the brain development of kids who live in chaotic homes.

A picture of a homeless man and a shopping cart.
Matthew Woitunski / Wikipedia

Greensboro's homeless population is now guaranteed a safe place to spend the night when the weather drops to dangerous temperatures. This "white flag" emergency system was created after the city's two shelters turned people away on such nights last winter because they reached capacity.

A picture of a bed in an emergency room.
Jacob Windham from Mobile, USA / Wikipedia

North Carolina would need to increase the number of beds at its psychiatric hospital in Butner by 165 percent to get the waiting list down to one day.

Researchers from UNC's Gillings School of Global Public Health published their findings in the journal Psychiatric Services.

Ashley Hentze, left, of Lakeland, Fla., gets help signing up for the Affordable Care Act from Kristen Nash, a volunteer with Enroll America, a private, non-profit organization running a grassroots campaign to encourage people to sign up for health care, T
Chris O'Meara / ASSOCIATED PRESS

It's the last day to sign up for a health insurance plan under the Affordable Care Act that begins January 1.

A picture of a round wall thermostat.
midnightcomm / Flickr

County social service agencies are now accepting applications for the state's Low Income Energy Assistance Program. Qualified LIEAP applicants will get a one-time credit to be applied to their utility account.

A bunch of red balloons.
LeAnn E. Crowe / Flickr

It's World AIDS Day, a time when health educators work to raise awareness about the threat of HIV/AIDS. The state Department of Health and Human Services estimates that more than 36,000 North Carolinians are living with HIV

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