Health

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

A picture of an elderly couple holding hands.
Garry Knight / Flickr

The federal Administration for Community Living has awarded Orange County $900,000 over the next three years to help make the community a more inclusive place for families touched by Alzheimer's disease and dementia.

Physician Assistant, Duke Medicine, Rural Health
Leoneda Inge

This is the Affordable Care Act’s third open enrollment season and Obama Administration officials expect at least one million more people will enroll by the end of next year. 

The increase in the country’s insured population has resulted in major growth in one profession in particular – the physician assistant. This year, Duke University is celebrating the 50th anniversary of its Physician Assistant Program, the oldest in the country.

A picture of a young man with his head in his hands.
Sander van der Wel / Wikipedia

More adults are coming under the legal authority of guardians. Many adults who are declared incompetent by a court have a relative who takes over guardianship. But for those who don't, the state takes over that role.

The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services said in an e-mail that there were about 3,000 adults with public guardians in 2007. That number is expected to double by about 2017.

Eight year old kids play soccer match organized as a part of Fairfax Police Youth Club" Soccer League.
Jarek Tuszynski / Wikipedia

Concerns over concussions and other head injuries have prompted new recommendations from US Soccer.  The new guidelines suggest that soccer players ten years old and younger should not be heading the ball during games or in practice. 

Coronavirus
CDC/Dr. Fred Murphy / Wikipedia

Scientists at UNC Chapel Hill have discovered a new virus that's a distant relative of SARS. They published their findings in the journal Nature Medicine this week.

doctor, child, health child health
Courtesy of Pixbay.com

Child health insurance coverage in North Carolina is at a record high of nearly 95 percent, and researchers at Georgetown University say the increase is thanks to the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

A picture of downtown Belhaven.
Property Wizard / Wikipedia

Belhaven Mayor Adam O'Neal says the eastern North Carolina town plans to use eminent domain to buy the local hospital Vidant Health closed last year.

Mayor Adam O'Neal says the new $5.5 million dollar clinic Vidant is building in the town isn't enough.

A picture of a stack of cash, a stethoscope and a piggy bank.
401kcalculator.org / Flickr

Open enrollment began this week for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act. North Carolinians will see some of the highest premium increases in the nation for individual and small group plans.

Blue Cross and Blue Shield will be allowed to charge an average of 32.5 percent more next year for individual plans, and six percent more for small groups. Aetna will be able to charge individual customers an average of nearly 24 percent more per month.

Concertina wire surrounding a prison
Kate Ter Harr / Flickr Creative Commons

Note: This is a rebroadcast from earlier this year.

A recent report by Human Rights Watch documents widespread abuse of mentally ill inmates in prisons across America. The abuses include dousing with chemical sprays, being shocked with stun guns and strapping inmates to beds for hours at a time.

Prison Bars
Michael Coghlan / Flickr Creative Commons

Increasing prison population means higher healthcare costs for taxpayers. In addition, the rising number of elderly people in prison means more chronic diseases with higher treatment costs.

Policymakers are considering early release as one viable option for reducing elderly populations behind bars. 

Host Frank Stasio talks with Triangle Business Journal reporter Jason deBruyn about the latest. 

A picture of corn rows.
Huw Williams / Wikipedia

Inmates at seven North Carolina prisons have grown 16,250 pounds of fresh produce for local food banks and soup kitchens since the Combating Hunger program launched last spring.

The initiative is a partnership with the nonprofit Harvest Now, which has helped set up similar programs in other states.

North Carolina Public Safety Department Spokesman Keith Acree says this will allow nearby charities to provide more nutritious food to people in their communities.

A picture of a young man with his head in his hands.
Sander van der Wel / Wikipedia

The North Carolina chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) is hosting a two-day mental health conference in Raleigh. Discussion will focus heavily on the best practices for discussing and preventing suicide.

This week, the North Carolina Child Fatality Task Force reported 46 children died by suicide last year, more than double the number in 2010.

Child death rates in North Carolina have held steady in recent years despite a downward trend since the 1990s.
Lotus Carroll / Flickr Creative Commons

The state's child fatality rate remained relatively unchanged in 2014 despite an increase in suicide. That's according to data released by the North Carolina Child Fatality Task Force.

A picture of a young couple.
Kelly Boone / Wikipedia

The nonprofit SHIFT NC has been awarded a $3.5 million grant from the Centers for Disease Control to help health centers coordinate and improve services for teens in Durham.

The Bull City's pregnancy rate is above the state average.

A picture of a patient and a doctor meeting over a web connection.
Cisco Systems

Cisco Systems employees can now make appointments at the tech company's private medical practice in the Research Triangle Park.

The new LifeConnections Health Center offers medical, mental, vision, telehealth and holistic care, and an in-house gym. It replaces a smaller telehealth-only clinic on the grounds. RTP is the third of Cisco's LifeConnections Centers. This facility will serve about 5,000 employees and their families.

Aziz Sancar
Dave DeWitt

Aziz Sancar and Paul Modrich have both devoted their professional lives to DNA repair. That might seem like a small enough area of research that, if two of the most important scientists in the field live and work a few miles apart, they would be frequent collaborators.

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