Health

Medical diagnostic equipment
Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

  More than a dozen insurance companies want to be part of a health care exchange that provides coverage to Michiganders under the new federal health care law.

Blue Cross Blue Shield, Humana, McLaren, United Healthcare and ten other insurance companies have applied to be part of the new health care exchange.

Beginning in October, Michiganders will be able to use a federally run exchange to compare the health care plans.  It’s all part of the Affordable Care Act, also known as "Obamacare," which takes effect in 2014.

It’s coming.

In just six months, the Affordable Care Act will be going into full-effect. While many changes are already in place, 2014’s the big year for the law — it’s the year when all citizens are required to get insured.

But what if you already have insurance? How will you know what subsidies you’re eligible for? And where do we find these subsidies?

James Gathany, Center for Disease Control and Prevention

Michigan’s West Nile Virus season is getting off to an earlier than normal start.

State health officials report a wild turkey in Gratiot County tested positive for the mosquito-borne illness last month.

Angela Minicuci is with the Michigan Department of Community Health. She says the first signs of West Nile don’t usually appear in Michigan until the end of June or the beginning of July.

“So to see it toward the end of May is a little bit earlier than usual…but it’s not strange considering how strong of a West Nile year we had last year,” says Minicuci.

Photo courtesy of the Snyder administration.

The Michigan Legislature is getting closer to approving a state spending plan.

On Wednesday, the state Senate passed a education funding bill. And after lawmakers come back from the Mackinac Policy Conference, a broader budget is slated to pass next week.

But so far, debate on proposed appropriations have been mostly divided on party lines.

One issue on the partisan divide: Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act.

The federal healthcare law called for broadening health insurance coverage to low-income adults — including some 400,000 in Michigan.

Out of 30 Republican governors, only six supported the expansion. Gov. Rick Snyder was one of them.

"Expansion will create more access to primary care providers, reduce the burden on hospitals and small businesses, and save precious tax dollars,” Snyder said in a press release in February. "This makes sense for the physical and fiscal health of Michigan."

But federal funding for the expansion of Medicaid has been left out of the Republican-supported budget, running counter to Snyder’s recommendation.

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Last year, some 8,100 refugees and asylum seekers fled their home countries and came to Michigan hoping to start a new life.

Many of these people might have wanted to stay at home, but war and organized violence made it impossible, and the United States opened its doors to them.

The World Health Organization estimates a full 50 percent of these refugees are suffering from mental illness.

The doctors and therapists who work with these refugees believe that number is too low.

What is life like for these wartime refugees and asylum seekers in Michigan? And what's being done to ease their transition into their new life and help treat these people as they suffer from psychiatric disabilities?

Hussam Abdulkhalleq is the program supervisor at the ACCESS Psychosocial Rehabilitation Center in Dearborn, the largest Arab-American human services non-profit in the nation.

He joined us today in the studio.

Listen to the full interview above.

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A new study at the University of Michigan is looking at why hormone-based treatments stop working for some men with advanced prostate cancer.

About 50 percent of men with prostate cancer have what's called a gene fusion that may cause some treatments to stop working, says Dr.Maha Hussain, a U-M professor of medicine and urology who is a co-leader for the prostate cancer program.

"We found out that potentially the fusions, if they occur in a patient, may likely be more responsive to newer forms of hormone treatment."

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The University of Michigan Health System and St. Joseph Mercy Ann Arbor are working together to improve care for patients age 70 or older.

The Acute Care for Elders (ACE) unit is housed on the tenth floor of St. Joe's East Tower.

It's one of the few in the country that will follow a model of care intended to help older patients recover from illness or injury.

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You've probably seen those funny signs in backyard pools that say, "We don't swim in your toilet, so please don't pee in our pool."

Well, it's not a joke.

Martha Stanbury is with the Michigan Department of Community Health. She says if pools aren't properly maintained, they can make you sick.

University of Michigan

An Ohio baby is likely alive today because of the collaborative ingenuity of two University of Michigan doctors and their teams.

Kaiba Gionfriddo has a condition called tracheobronchomalacia – a blockage of the airway to the lungs. The condition affects about 1 in 2,200 babies born in the U.S. Many grow out of it by the time they’re two or three years old. Sometimes the disorder is misdiagnosed as asthma.

Kaiba stopped breathing every day, and his parents, April and Bryan Gionfriddo, were told their child would probably not survive.

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A planned mega-merger between two of Michigan’s largest health systems has been scuttled.

Beaumont and Henry Ford health systems are two of southeast Michigan’s three largest health care providers.

University of Michigan researcher Rachael Pierotti took a closer look at the global attitudes about domestic violence. What she's discovered seems to point to a major shift in the way people around the world think of domestic violence.

Pierotti is a graduate student in sociology at U of M and a PhD candidate. Her study was published in the American Sociological Review. She joined us today in the studio to discuss her findings.

Listen to the full interview above.

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Of all the medical diagnoses a physician can make, the diagnosis of ALS--amyotrophic lateral sclerosis--is one of the most devastating. Commonly known as Lou Gehrig's disease, medical researchers are hard at work seeking a cure or at least a way to ease the symptoms of this neurological disease.

The University of Michigan is in the forefront of this research. Researchers are asking the question, can stem cell injections delivered directly into the spine lessen the effects of ALS?

Researchers at the U of M hospital have recently wrapped up phase 1 of a critical trial exploring just how these stem cell injections work in patients with the deadly disease, and they have gotten the go-ahead to proceed with phase 2.

The head researcher of this ALS project, Dr. Eva Feldman joined us today.

Listen to the full interview above.

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A new report says dog bites are a big problem in Michigan.

The American Veterinary Medical Association ranked Michigan sixth in the nation for dog bites.

According to the association, insurance companies paid out $4.6 million in claims for dog bites in Michigan in 2012.

Bonnie Beaver is a former AVMA president. She says they’re not sure exactly how big the problem is.

drummerboy / MorgueFile

A groceries-for-guns exchange is set for Saturday in Detroit. People who turn in an unloaded gun will get a $50 grocery gift card.

Gerald Acker is a partner in the Southfield law firm Goodman Acker, which is sponsoring the event. He says they want to do something about gun violence.

Those who want to opt out of DTE Energy’s smart meter program now face a fee.

According to MLive, the Michigan Public Service Commission “ruled that DTE can charge customers an initial fee of $67.20 and a monthly fee of $9.80 to opt out of the smart meters.”

Melissa Anders reports that:

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Too many babies are dying in Michigan. 

That’s not speculation – that’s based on some disturbing statistics. And even now, in 2013, those statistics say that a baby’s chance of living past his or her first birthday can largely depend on the color of the baby’s skin. 

In Michigan, the infant mortality rate has been persistently higher than the national average.

More specifically, a baby born to a black mother is almost three times more likely to die before its first birthday than a baby born to a white mother. 

Michigan Radio's Dustin Dwyer reported in August about Michigan's infant mortality disparity for State of Opportunity:

Using a three-year moving average for Michigan’s mortality rate for African-American babies, we would be behind every advanced nation, tucked between countries like Malaysia and Syria. 

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37,000 low-income Michiganders and small-business customers may be eligible for health coverage through a new health insurance cooperative, the Lansing State Journal reports.

With $72 million in federal funding, Consumers Mutual Insurance of Michigan is an alternative health care option for families and businesses looking for coverage after provisions of the Affordable Care Act go into effect January 2014.

Centers for Disease Control

You know the old joke, "Doctor, it hurts when I do this?" and the doctor says, "Well, don't do that?"

That's not the case when it comes to arthritis and physical activity.

About two million Michiganders suffer from arthritis. According to state health officials, a sedentary lifestyle can make arthritis worse -- and make you more vulnerable to depression.

"People with arthritis pain do worry about whether those activities will exacerbate pain, and that can be a demotivator for them certainly in getting started," says Annemarie Hodges, who's a public health consultant in the arthritis program at the Michigan Department of Community Health.

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  When parents send their daughters off to college, they do so with their fingers tightly crossed that they will remain safe and sound.

As young women living on their own, a myriad of situations present themselves that could put women in dangerous situations, like walking home late at night and college parties.

Statistics from the Centers for Disease  Control (CDC) support parents' worries.

One in five women report having been raped at some point in their life - the figure is one in 71 for men.

So, what can be done to stop this?

From prep4md / Flickr

The Mount Clemens Community School District is closed Tuesday due to reports of two methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus infections. According to the Detroit Free Press, a teacher and teacher aide were diagnosed with MRSA on Monday. 

School is expected to re-open on Wednesday after custodians disinfect buildings and buses today at the 1600-student district, today said Superintendent Deborah Wahlstrom.

Kelly Klump / Michigan State University

Let's say you're a rat and someone gives you the option of eating vanilla frosting instead of boring old rat food.
 
If you're a female rat, you're probably going to eat that frosting -- six times likely more than males.

It's no secret that eating disorders are more prevalent among women than men, but new research from Michigan State University finds that might be caused by biology -- not just emotions or social pressure.

kimberlysgift.org

The state House Education Committee this week heard testimony from parents whose children died in school after suffering cardiac arrest.

Among those parents was Randy Gillary. His 15-year-old daughter, Kimberly, collapsed during a high school water polo game in 2000. 

Gillary says although CPR was begun immediately, it was too late. Kimberly was removed from life support two days later.

"We basically lost her on the pool deck," Gillary says.

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If you're between 35 and 64-years-old, you're considered middle aged. You're probably working, have children, and possibly elderly parents that you help care for, as well. This is also the time when many chronic health conditions appear.

Toss in some tough economic times lately, and it adds up to a lot of stress.

That may be why Michigan has seen a bigger spike in middle-aged suicides than almost any other state.

Last-wish ID cards?

May 2, 2013
misenategop.com

A Michigan lawmaker says a person's end-of-life wishes should be accessible during an emergency.

You may have what's called a "living will" that determines what kind of care -- if any -- you want if you have, say, a heart attack. But if you don't have that document with you, emergency responders are going to try to bring you back to life.

Peter Payette/Interlochen Public Radio

A new initiative in Kalamazoo county is in the works to provide a residential space for adults with autism, known as Aacorn Farm.

Aacorn stands for Autism Agricultural Community Option for Residential Need, and the organization is led by a group of parents who have children with autism. A residential community like this isn't the first of its kind, but it is for adults with autism.

The residential space aims to assist some of the nearly 50,000 Michigan residents who have been diagnosed with autism in Michigan, 16,000 of which are children.

City of Warren

Updated at 2:54 pm

The 40 evacuated court employees have left the police station, where they congregated after the powder was discovered.

Court proceedings are canceled for the afternoon.

The HAZMAT team says the court is safe and secure, though it'll take another 4 to 6 weeks of testing to figure out exactly what kind of powder the envelope contained. 

Meanwhile, four of the employees exposed to the mystery powder are being quarantined and examined in the hospital. They're not exhibiting any symptoms or illness, says Warren Police Commissioner Jere Green. 

He says either the city police or the FBI will take the investigation from here.

1:13 p.m.

The city of Warren evacuated the 37th District Court this morning because of a suspicious letter containing white powder.

According to Christina Hall from the Detroit Free Press, Warren Mayor Jim Fouts said no one was hurt or sickened.

About 40 employees were at the neighboring police station awaiting the all-clear from the fire department to return to the court, 8300 Common Road.

Fouts said a letter was mailed from Chrysler to a third party and was delivered to the court by mistake. The clerk re-mailed the letter to the third party. On Friday, the letter came back to the court as undeliverable, Fouts said.

He said the clerk opened the letter this morning and the powder came out. Police, fire and Hazmat were called.

“The intended target was not the district court,” Fouts said, adding that he did not know to whom the letter was addressed or the type of letter it is.

Fouts said the substance did not appear to be a potentially dangerous one and that he anticipates the court will reopen today.

- Chris Zollars, Michigan Radio Newsroom

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Air pollution is a serious problem in Michigan. It's already linked to health risks like asthma and autism, but now there's evidence it may also be behind the rise in heart attacks.

Sara Adar is one of the researchers at the University of Michigan’s School of Public Health releasing this new study. She says, "Every increase in air pollution, it increases the likelihood that your arteries are gonna thicken. We see the same for risks of heart attack and strokes."

Adar says no air is completely clean, but that the Clean Air Act has led to fewer fatalities due to air pollution.

"So when we breathe these particles into our lungs, our bodies respond to those. And it triggers an inflammation response, because you know, it's not enjoying those particles in our lungs."

These new findings suggest even if you eat healthy food and get regular exercise, you still have a slightly greater risk of early heart attack if you live near lots of pollution.

University of Michigan Health System

Around this time of year, we all try to do some spring cleaning.

Well, it turns out that your brain does some of that too.

Jun-Lin Guan, Ph.D, is a researcher at the University of Michigan and is the senior author of a new article that explained the importance of an important protein that helps our brains clean and maintain stem cells that reside deep in the brain. 

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When you are a parent, you’re making choices for your kids day-in and day-out.

Life can throws plenty of curve balls to a family, whether health, financial, or emotional. So how do families weather life’s challenges and make the right choices?

Michigan writer Robert Omilian tackles those key questions in his book, No Fear, No Doubt, No Regret: Investing In Life’s Challenges Like A Warrior.

The book was published by Ferne Press of Northville.

It recently won the 2013 Pinnacle Award for Parenting Books.

His insights were hard-won as he walked alongside his son Alan, who was diagnosed with Muscular Dystrophy. The disease unfortunately, claimed his life in July of 2010.

You can listen to the full interview above.

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Men who live on one side of Rawsonville Rd. have a life expectancy that's six years longer than men on the other side.

In fact, the life expectancy for males in Washtenaw County is the equivalent of Switzerland, while in Wayne County it's the equivalent of Syria. 

Ron French is a contributing writer for Bridge Magazine, and recently published a story about the health disparities between Wayne and Washtenaw counties, and spoke with us about what he found.

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