health care

Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers hosted her first town hall of the year Thursday night in Spokane. According to the Town Hall Project, which tracks these events across the nation, she’s the first Republican member of Congress from Washington or Oregon to hold a town hall event in 2017.

Updated at 8:15 p.m. ET

The Republican's seven year quest to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act descended into chaos Thursday night as the Senate prepared for an unwieldy, all-night session.

Senate Republicans have at least narrowed the options on what comes next for the Affordable Care Act — casting two separate votes since Tuesday that knocked out a "repeal-only" proposal and rejected a plan for replacement.

So, as lawmakers resume debate on Thursday, they will be staring at basically one possibility: a so-called "skinny repeal" that would surgically remove some key provisions from Obamacare, while leaving the rest intact — at least for now.

"Joe rises" by Jason Taellious is licensed under CC by 2.0 http://bit.ly/2w1orBq

The Tacoma area leads the state in hospitalizations for conditions that may be preventable, such as complications from diabetes, a new study says.

The report, released this week by the state's Office of Financial Management, found two neighboring state legislative districts had the highest rates of hospital visits deemed "potentially preventable."

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.

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.

Broken teeth are all too often a punchline in conversations about poor people in rural places. But for Heather Wallace, dental problems are anything but funny.

"Basically it's just like a nerve pain. Your whole body locks up; you have to stop for a second to try to breathe," she said. "And sometimes if it hurts bad enough, you might cry."

After a lifetime of smoking, Juanita Milton needs help breathing.

She's tethered to an oxygen tank 24/7 and uses two drug inhalers a day, including Spiriva, which she calls "the really expensive one."

"If I can't afford it, I won't take it," Milton says.

The 67-year-old's chest was heaving one recent morning from the effort of walking down the hallway into the kitchen. Her voice was constricted as she loaded medication into a device about the size of her palm.

For most of his life, Carl Goulden had near perfect health. He and his wife, Wanda, say that changed 10 years ago. Carl remembers feeling, "a lot of pain in the back, tired, fatigue, yellow eyes — a lot of jaundice."

Wanda, chimes in: "Yellow eyes, gray-like skin." His liver wasn't working, she explains. "It wasn't filtering."

Carl was diagnosed with hepatitis B. Now 65 and on Medicare, he had a flower shop in Littlestown, Pa., back then, so had been buying health insurance for his family on the market for small businesses and the self-employed.

Health care is a trillion-dollar industry in America, but are we getting what we pay for? Dr. Elisabeth Rosenthal, a medical journalist who formerly worked as a medical doctor, warns that the existing system too often focuses on financial incentives over health or science.

Lourdes Flores Valdez says she got her diabetes under control after she was able to sign up for Medi-Cal, California's version of Medicaid, under the Affordable Care Act's expanded eligibility rules. Sitting in an exam room at the UMMA Community Clinic's Fremont Wellness Center in South Los Angeles, she suddenly veers away from discussing the health law and starts talking about her husband, who is in the United States illegally.

President Trump is offering some Twitter support for the Obamacare replacement plan put forward by House Republicans.

In a tweet Tuesday morning, Trump described the GOP blueprint as "Our wonderful new Healthcare Bill." He suggested it would be a welcome change from the Affordable Care Act, which he called "a complete and total disaster."

"I'm proud to support the replacement plan released by the House of Representatives," the president said Tuesday afternoon during a White House meeting with GOP lawmakers.

Building on weeks of mounting pressure to address high prescription drug prices, three influential U.S. senators have asked the government's accountability arm to investigate potential abuses of the Orphan Drug Act.

Back in the day, people paid for routine, primary medical care on their own and used insurance only when something serious came up. Some primary care doctors are betting that model can thrive again through a monthly subscription for routine care and a high-deductible insurance policy to take care of the big stuff.

But the changes raise questions about whether that approach really leads to more effective and efficient health care.

Courtesy of PracticeWise

Aaron Beck was 19 years old, depressed, and almost out of hope when he decided to try therapy for the first time.

"I was skeptical," he said. "It was kind of my last chance. If it didn't work, I didn't think anything would, and I was ready to just let things in."

He turned to Community Youth Services in Olympia, an organization that provides mental health care, among other services, to teenagers and young adults.

A federal judge has ruled against the proposed acquisition of the health insurance company Humana by its larger rival, Aetna.

The decision is a victory for former President Obama's Justice Department, which sued Aetna last year to block the $34 billion merger, NPR's Yuki Noguchi reported.

The suit alleged that the merger would hurt competition in the health care market, leading to higher prices for consumers and fewer services for Medicare patients.

Marketplace officials calculate a customer's subsidy, so why is the customer held responsible for repayments? Why are so many of my prescriptions held up for authorization by my Medicare drug plan? Here are answers to some recent questions from readers.

Obamacare Plans Don't Always Include Top Cancer Centers

Jan 3, 2017

Being told that you have cancer can be scary. Discovering that your health insurance plan doesn't give you access to leading cancer centers may make the diagnosis even more daunting.

As insurers in the plans set up under the Affordable Care Act shrink their provider networks and slash the number of plans that offer out-of-network coverage, some consumers are learning that their treatment options can be limited.

Andrew Harnik / AP Photo

Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers expects the Trump administration and Congress to act soon to deal with the Affordable Care Act and possibly change Medicare.

Now that Republicans will actually have the numbers to do away with Obamacare, McMorris Rodgers says some provisions of the landmark law will likely be spared.

The federal government will pay more than $100,000 to give someone a kidney transplant, but after three years, the government will often stop paying for the drugs needed to keep that transplanted kidney alive.

Constance Creasey is one of the thousands of people who find themselves caught up by this peculiar feature of the federal kidney program.

Each Wednesday at St. Francis Episcopal Church on the north side of San Antonio, dozens of refugees from all over the world come for free care at the Refugee Health Clinic.

Students and faculty at the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio have teamed up to operate one of the only student-run refugee clinics in the country.

Updated at 6:45 p.m. ET

After more than a year of delays, Texas health officials are moving to block the women's health provider Planned Parenthood from receiving Medicaid funds beginning next month.

In October 2015, Texas officials told Planned Parenthood that the state intended to bar the organization from the public insurance program. Planned Parenthood responded with a lawsuit seeking an injunction against the state.

In a study that is sure to rile male doctors, Harvard researchers have found that female doctors who care for elderly hospitalized patients get better results. Patients cared for by women were less likely to die or return to the hospital after discharge.

Previous research has shown that female doctors are more likely to follow recommendations about prevention counseling and to order preventive tests like Pap smears and mammograms.

Tai Boxley needs a hysterectomy. The 34-year-old single mother has uterine prolapse, a condition that occurs when the muscles and ligaments supporting the uterus weaken, causing severe pain, bleeding and urine leakage.

Boxley and her 13-year-old son have health insurance through her job as an administrative assistant in Tulsa, Okla. But the plan has a deductible of $5,000 apiece, and Boxley's doctor said he won't do the surgery until she prepays her share of the cost.

Think globally; act locally. The old motto has new validity as the nation gets ready for the change of administration in the other Washington.

Regional leaders on climate change are forging ahead, despite President-elect Trump’s threat to withdraw from the Paris accord. 

In 2014, Washington’s Medicaid program resumed covering dental care for adults. That was celebrated by advocates for the poor. But on Thursday, a panel of lawmakers will hear about ongoing challenges to that program.

Some women have been worried that they will lose insurance coverage for contraception under the Trump administration, but coverage for other women's health benefits could also be at risk.

Donald Trump and Republicans in Congress are vowing to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, the signature health care overhaul of President Obama.

Trump has offered a few ideas of where he'd like to see a health care overhaul go, such as a greater reliance on health savings accounts, but he hasn't provided a detailed proposal.

Women across the country are rushing to get IUDs. Or at least, they're tweeting about rushing to get long-term birth control, according to a surge of messages on social media.

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