Bridges to Health

Health--it's what we all have in common:  whether we're trying to maintain our health through good habits or improve our failing health.  "Bridges to Health" is 90.5 WESA's health care reporting initiative examining everything from unintended consequences of the Affordable Care Act to transparency in health care costs; from a lack of access to quality care for minority members of our society to confronting the opioid crisis in our region. It's about our individual health and the well-being of our community.

Health care coverage on 90.5 WESA is made possible in part by a grant from the Jewish Healthcare Foundation.

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.

Barney Moss / Flickr

Pennsylvania’s children are faring a bit better than their counterparts nationally in education, according to a new report form the Annie E. Casey Foundation.

The 2017 Kids Count Data Book ranks the commonwealth 18th in the U.S. for overall child well-being.

Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

Five insurers are seeking an average 9 percent increase in rates for health coverage in Pennsylvania through the federal Healthcare.gov marketplace in 2018, a significant drop from this year's increase.

The state Department of Insurance said Thursday that proposals filed before last week's deadline could still change, and won't be approved until just before open enrollment starts in the fall.

However, Insurance Commissioner Teresa Miller warned that an effort by the Trump administration or Congress to undermine the marketplaces could drive up premiums.

Susan Walsh / AP

Katie Horowitz is making dinner at her home in Morningside. On this night, it’s sautéed spinach with chicken breasts boiled in broth.

“One of the hardest parts of this diet is that you have to cook everything,” Horowitz said. “I have a really busy job, and it’s really challenging to find time.”

Horowitz was diagnosed last year with Crohn’s disease, a chronic inflammatory bowel condition, and is now on a very restrictive diet. She’s been hospitalized several times, and her doctor said she’ll likely need surgery someday.

Bob Casey Says Medicaid Cuts Would Hurt Special Education

May 20, 2017
Ben Allen / WITF

The Republican-backed health care bill that passed the U.S. House would cut $880 billion from the Medicaid program over the next decade.

Pennsylvania's senior U.S. Senator says that move will not only rob people of heath care, but hurt the commonwealth's schools.

Democratic Senator Bob Casey says most people don't realize Medicaid funds help provide special education services, health screenings, and early intervention pre-k programs that benefit children with disabilities.

Flickr user A.

Hospital policies that restrict how pharmaceutical companies may market their drugs to doctors change physician prescribing behavior, according to a new study published Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

The study, a joint effort of Carnegie Mellon University and six other higher education institutions, showed that when such policies were in place, marketed drugs were prescribed 8.7 percent less often while non-marketed drugs were prescribed about 6 percent more often.

County Health Rankings & Roadmaps / University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute

Rates of obesity, sexually transmitted diseases, breast cancer screenings and childhood poverty are all on the rise as Allegheny County fell in state rankings released by the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute.

Wolf Urges Mixed Pennsylvania Delegation To Defeat GOP Bill

Mar 22, 2017
Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

Reaction to Republican health care legislation speeding toward a vote was mixed Wednesday among Pennsylvania's 18-member U.S. House delegation, as Gov. Tom Wolf made another attempt at urging them to defeat it, saying it would jeopardize people's lives.

In a letter Wolf's office released publicly, the Democratic governor said the GOP health care bill would blow a $2.5 billion to $3 billion hole in the state government's deficit-riddled finances.

NPR

The Republican health care bill under consideration in the House of Representatives would change health coverage for a lot of people. It would no longer require that Americans buy health insurance, for instance, and it would eliminate current subsidies, replacing them with a fixed refundable tax credit. To help Americans understand where Congress stands on the debate over this legislation, NPR and Member stations around the country have compiled a database of Congressional members’ positions on the bill.

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Frank Franklin II / AP

This story was updated at 2:51pm on Wednesday, March 8, 2017.

Allegheny County Council voted to ban the use of e-cigarettes and vaping devices in all public places where smoking is also prohibited after a lengthy debate Tuesday evening.

Residents on both sides of the issue spoke passionately about whether people should be allowed to vape in restaurants, theaters, retail stores, athletic arenas and other public spaces.

Liver Transplant Surgical Pioneer Dr. Thomas Starzl Dies

Mar 6, 2017
Gene J. Puskar / AP

Dr. Thomas Starzl, who pioneered liver transplant surgery in the 1960s and was a leading researcher into anti-rejection drugs, has died. He was 90.

The University of Pittsburgh, speaking on behalf of Starzl's family, said the renowned doctor died Saturday at his home in Pittsburgh.

Katie Meyer / WITF

Pennsylvania gets a failing grade for its efforts to protect children from high levels of lead in the water at their schools, according to a report released two weeks ago from Public Interest Research Groups, a national federation of left-leaning, independent nonprofits.

It advises—among other things—that schools install water filters as soon as possible while working on longer-term solutions.

Jacquelyn Martin / AP

On Feb. 17, 2016, Kelsey Williams got some devastating news.

“I went in for my routine anatomy 20-week ultrasound with my second child – my husband and I have a 4-and-a-half year old – and nothing had been indicated as anything but typical up to that point in the pregnancy," she said.

Andrew Malone / Flickr

Allegheny Health Network announced it is launching same-day appointment services for primary care and some specialties starting on Monday, Jan. 23.

AHN medical director for clinical access Elie Aoun said the change is part of a broader effort to make care more “patient-centered.”

“One of the biggest pet peeves or frustrations with health care is the amount of time it sometimes can take to get in to be seen,” he said.

Megan Harris / 90.5 WESA

 

 


Gynecologist Colleen Krajewski tells anyone who will listen -- intrauterine devices are "the Cadillac of birth control right now.”

Quinn Dombrowski / flickr

Allegheny Health Network hopes to fill a gap in coverage for new moms with an Intensive Outpatient Program. Clinical psychologist Rebecca Weinberg said treatment for mothers suffering from pregnancy-related depression often jumps between regular outpatient care and expensive in-patient care.

A new three-hour intensive outpatient program at Western Pennsylvania Hospital three days a week will offer intensive group therapy, medication management and allow women to bring their babies with them.

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