health care

Virginia Alvino Young / 90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh received a perfect score on the Human Rights Campaign’s annual assessment of LGBTQ-friendly laws.

Cities were scored on the inclusiveness of laws, policies and services for LGBTQIA residents. The HRC lauded Pittsburgh for its ban on conversion therapy and its non-discrimination policies. The city received additional recognition for its high score despite Pennsylvania lacking fully-inclusive non-discrimination protections.

Highmark's Allegheny Health Network Announces $1B Expansion

Oct 18, 2017
Keith Srakocic / AP

Highmark Health will spend $1 billion to expand its Allegheny Health Network hospital chain, including a new 160-bed hospital in Pittsburgh's North Hills suburbs, four smaller neighborhood hospitals, and renovations to existing hospitals, the Pittsburgh-based company announced Wednesday.

Highmark Health, the parent of health insurer Highmark Inc. and its eight-hospital network, announced earlier this year that it's spending $315 million on a new cancer institute at its flagship Allegheny General Hospital in Pittsburgh, and other expansions of its facilities in Erie.

Wolf Blames Trump, Congress For Spiking Health Coverage Cost

Oct 16, 2017
Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf's administration is blaming President Donald Trump for a sharp increase in the cost of health insurance that'll take effect next year for residents who buy individual plans.

Wolf's administration released the approved 2018 rates Monday, saying the average increase will be just over 30 percent. Wolf's office said the increase would've been less than 8 percent if Trump hadn't halted cost-sharing reduction payments to insurers or created uncertainty around the fate of the individual mandate.

J. Scott Applewhite / AP

Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf, Pennsylvania's leading hospital association and advocates for the poor all reacted strongly Friday to a move by the Trump administration to stop paying cost-sharing subsidies that have helped lower the price of health insurance policies sold through the Healthcare.gov marketplace.

Michael Conroy / AP

Child advocates warn that Senate Republicans’ latest proposal to repeal the Affordable Care Act could threaten child welfare funding. Cuts to Medicaid, advocates said, could force states and counties to divert limited child welfare dollars to cover the cost of health care to children in out-of-home placement.

Matt Rourke / AP

The Pennsylvania budget crisis continues. Governor Tom Wolf said there will be no cuts or delays in state services if lawmakers can reach an agreement on how to fund the $32 billion budget by October 1st. That means the legislature has nine days to come up with more than $2.2 billion. And now, complicating the conversation, a credit rating agency downgraded Pennsylvania's credit rating.

Kathleen J. Davis / 90.5 WESA

In McKees Rocks Thursday morning, U.S. Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA) spoke out against the Senate Republican plan to repeal and replace Obamacare with the Graham-Cassidy bill.

He was joined by Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald, Allegheny County Health Department director Karen Hacker and Michelle Schwartzmier, whose 20-year-old daughter died of a heroin overdose earlier this year.

J. Scott Applewhite / AP

Congress is back in session, and they have less than two weeks of legislative days to solve a slew of problems. By the end of the month, Congress needs to: 

Bigstock / via WHYY

Teenagers are often thought of as irresponsible — or even reckless. But a group of local researchers recently came to a different conclusion about what's going on in the teenage brain.

Stereotypes about young people and their brains abound, and scientists have not been immune to those ideas, said Dan Romer, research director at the University of Pennsylvania's Annenberg Public Policy Center.

First, it was raging hormones that explained those wacky teens. Then, Romer said, it was the fact that the prefrontal cortex doesn't fully develop until adulthood.

Bill Sikes / AP

Two legal organizations say health insurer Aetna revealed the HIV status of patients in several states by mailing envelopes with a large, clear window that showed information on purchasing HIV prescriptions.

The Legal Action Center and the AIDS Law Project of Pennsylvania say some patients' relatives and neighbors learned of their HIV status as a result.

Aetna says that "this type of mistake is unacceptable" and that the company is reviewing processes to ensure it never happens again.

Keith R. Stevenson / Pocono Record via AP

When Carolyn Choate was diagnosed with stage three breast cancer in 2003, her tumor had already grown the size of a golf ball. Doctors gave her three years to live.

Fourteen years later, Choate is kayaking the Delaware River for a cause that's close to her heart: continuing the work of the woman who saved her life.

"This trip is our tribute to Dr. Angela Brodie," Choate said. "She's not here to see me finish this, but we want her work to continue."

Heather Kresge / Pittsburgh Democratic Socialists of America

When Arielle Cohen was first approached about joining the local Democratic Socialists of America chapter, she hesitated.

“What I said exactly was: ‘I’m definitely a capital "F" feminist, but I think I’m a lower "s" socialist,’” Cohen said.

Marcus Charleston / 90.5 WESA

The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, Pennsylvania's largest health system, says it has reached a deal to acquire Pinnacle HealthSystem of Harrisburg.

It's expected to be completed Sept. 1 if it meets regulatory approval.

The Philadelphia Inquirer reports the two health systems have been working on the deal since March.

Matt Rourke / AP

A commission created by President Donald Trump asked him to declare a state of emergency over the nation’s opioid epidemic. Earlier this week, he declined. On Thursday, according to a White House pool report, he changed his mind.

The declaration would free the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to grant additional funding for resources, address leadership shortfalls and make changes to Medicaid coverage.

Carolyn Kaster / AP

Placing much of the blame on smoking, a study chronicling the ongoing health crisis in Appalachia has concluded that the 13-state region suffers from a growing disparity in infant mortality and life expectancy, two key indicators of "a nation's health and well-being."

Liz Reid / 90.5 WESA

The meeting space was standing-room-only at the Carnegie Library branch in East Liberty at Monday’s launch of Pittsburgh’s Human Library project.

A library is, essentially, a collection of information and stories that live inside books, on tape or via DVD. In a human library, the stories are told aloud by the people who lived them. The idea started in Denmark in 2000, as a way to break down stereotypes and has since made its way around the world.

Virginia Alvino Young / 90.5 WESA

One afternoon nearly three years ago, Masedi Thata Kewamodimo walked to the radio station near her university in Botswana and said she wanted to go public about being HIV positive. Now she is visiting Duquesne University through the Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders.

Back home, she focuses on HIV advocacy and helping people cope with the daily challenges of the stigmatizing status by speaking on government-owned radio stations, which reach everyone in the country. 

PACast

Data from 2016 is still being calculated, but according to Gov. Tom Wolf, the number of drug overdose deaths is continuing to rise in the commonwealth. 

In an effort to combat the opioid epidemic, he is encouraging anyone connected with the fight to take a newly created certificate program.

NPR

This week, Republicans in Congress will try to rally votes behind a bill that proposes major changes to the way Americans get health care and how much they pay. In Pennsylvania, millions could be affected. Use this Q&A to explore how the bill would affect you.

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Liz Reid / 90.5 WESA

Andrea Rosso thinks, in the future, doctors who work with older adults will regularly time them walking down hallways. But it won’t be to find out if they’re slowing down for physical reasons; it will be to determine if they are in the early stages of cognitive disorders such as Alzheimer’s and dementia.

Scientists have known for about five years that slower walking speeds are linked to cognitive decline. Now researchers at the University of Pittsburgh are starting to figure out why, and they believe that the connection lies in a region of the brain called the right hippocampus.

Katie Meyer / WITF

U.S. Senator Pat Toomey’s live TV town hall got off to a raucous start Wednesday, with advocacy groups from across the state showing up outside the Harrisburg studio to criticize the Republican for his support of the Senate GOP’s Affordable Care Act replacement bill.

Toomey spent much of the hour-long event defending the bill, which he helped author.

Liz Reid / 90.5 WESA

Allegheny County Council approved on Wednesday a proposed mandate to perform blood lead level testing on all children between 9 and 12 months of age and again at age two.

Jason Redman / AP

The Congressional Budget Office predicts 14 million Americans who currently have insurance would be without it next year if the Senate Republican version of the health care overhaul bill is adopted.

That's leaving officials behind some rural health systems worried.

Heritage Valley Health System / Facebook

A health network that fell victim to a worldwide cyberattack last week says that all acute, ambulatory and ancillary care services have been restored at its medical neighborhoods and satellite community locations.

Heritage Valley Health System made the announcement Monday. The cyberattack affected the entire health system on June 27.

Virginia Alvino Young / 90.5 WESA

On a breezy Wednesday morning, a tour group of gardeners and members of Pittsburgh's nonprofit community visited all the green spaces the neighborhood of Homewood had to offer. They saw the personal gardens of resident Amir Rashad, walked through shared plots and the garden manned by Operation Better Block.

J. Scott Applewhite / AP

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.

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Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

Lawmakers in Washington are still reading through the finer details of the Senate GOP's new healthcare bill, but opponents are already warning it’ll give states an impossible choice—either cut services, or spend billions more on healthcare.

Jim Mone / AP

The state Department of Health granted a dozen licenses this week to companies that will grow and process medical marijuana in Pennsylvania. These 12 permittees have six months to become operational, which the state has yet to clearly define.

WESA's Liz Reid and The Incline's Sarah Anne Hughes discuss what Pennsylvanians can expect from medical marijuana in the state.

Irina Zhorov / Keystone Crossroads

The Pennsylvania Senate unanimously agreed Tuesday to create a bipartisan group tasked with investigating lead exposure in the state.

Liz Reid / 90.5 WESA

Allegheny Health Network and Highmark are partnering to invest $200 million in a 50,000 square-foot academic cancer center on the North Side and satellite cancer care offices throughout the region.

Allegheny General Hospital president Jeff Cohen said the satellite centers are meant to improve access and make health care more affordable and convenient for patients.

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