health

Health Insurance
11:49 am
Wed January 26, 2011

Same-sex health insurance issue expected to be discussed today

Update 11:43 a.m.:

The state Civil Service Commission has approved agreements to allow state employees to put their live-in partners on their insurance plans, Rick Pluta reports.

The commission's action ratifies agreements that were worked out between Governor Jennifer Granholm's administration with two state employee unions and state workers who are not part of a union. The commission acted over the objections of Governor Rick Snyder's administration.

8:20 a.m.:

It’s expected that The Michigan Civil Service Commission will take up a measure today that would extend health insurance benefits to same-sex partners of state employees, The Detroit News reports. As the News explains:

An attempt to push through the change in the waning days of the Granholm administration failed when the commission tabled the issue in December. Now, the new administration of Gov. Rick Snyder is expected to tell the commission today the state can't afford the change — expected to cost close to $6 million a year…

The four-member commission is split on the issue, as are unions for state employees who are bracing for anticipated fights on wage and benefit issues viewed as higher priorities. Employee benefits for same-sex partners were negotiated in 2004, shortly before Michigan voters passed a ballot initiative that defined marriage as a union between a man and a woman.

Health
3:47 pm
Wed January 12, 2011

Study: asthma rates on the rise

Asthma inhaler
flickr - Jennifer Durfey

Officials from the Centers for Disease Control released a report today identifying another increase in asthma rates across the country.

They looked at data from 2009 and pegged the rate at 8.2%. That's up from 7.8% in 2008.

The report says the rate has grown, on average, by 1.2% since 2001.

A Los Angeles Times report says improvements in identifying the disease could account for some of the increase:

Better diagnostic efforts could be part of the reason for the increase. They were believed to be a main reason for an increase in asthma seen from 1980 through 1995, said Dr. Lara Akinbami, a medical officer at the CDC's National Center for Health Statistics.

The asthma rate in the Midwest is higher than the national average at 8.8% (that's more than 6 million asthma sufferers in the region). 

The northeast has the highest rate at 9.9%.

Blacks, Puerto Ricans, and those living below the poverty level have higher than average rates as well (all higher than 11%).

A report from the European Respiratory Journal says asthma is caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors.

The CDC say sufferers of asthma are more at risk when these triggers are present:

  • tobacco smoke
  • dust mites
  • outdoor air pollution
  • cockroach allergen
  • pets
  • mold
  • and other things like colds, viruses, chemicals, and strenuous exercise
Science/Medicine
10:29 am
Tue December 28, 2010

MSU researchers travel to Nigeria to help with polio situation

Health Workers in Nigeria battle polio
Evan M. Wheeler Flickr

A team of Michigan State University researchers is spending the next month in northern  Nigeria looking at what the media can do to stem a surging polio outbreak.


 The region has the highest number of confirmed polio cases in the world and the outbreak has been spreading through west Africa.

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Health
7:18 pm
Mon December 20, 2010

Kalamazoo County saves millions in health care costs

Wellness programs encourage people to lead health lifestyles. Kalamazoo County says their program is paying off.
Ed Yourdon - Flickr

A wellness program is paying huge dividends for Kalamazoo County. This year, the county spent $7.7 million on health care for its employees. That’s a little more than $2 million less than it spent 6 years ago.

Anne Conn is Kalamazoo County’s assistant director of Human Resources. She says they enticed employees to participate in the wellness program by offering freebies and even an extra day off.

"People are in the wellness program now because they want to be, not because we’re giving them a t-shirt to do it."

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Health
4:10 pm
Wed December 15, 2010

Bronson Healthcare to buy major stake in Battle Creek Health System

Kalamazoo-based Bronson Healthcare Group plans to buy a majority stake in Battle Creek Health System
Courtesy BCHS

Patients at Battle Creek Health System are expected to have more services and physicians available to them after a deal with a larger hospital is completed.

Bronson Health Group of Kalamazoo is buying a 51% stake in the smaller BCHS.

Denise Brooks-Williams is president and CEO of the Battle Creek facility. She says the two hospital systems have common goals.

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Health
3:43 pm
Tue December 14, 2010

More teens using marijuana, fewer using alcohol

The University of Michigan's Institute for Social Research has been conducting this study for 36 years.
United Nations Photo

The University of Michigan's Institute for Social Research has been monitoring drug use among teens for 36 years. This year's "Monitoring the Future" study had responses from more than 46,000 8th, 10th, and 12th graders.

They found that marijuana use is on the rise. 43.8% of 12th graders said they've used marijuana in their lifetime. That's up from 42% in 2009, and 42.6%  in 2008. From the study:

Marijuana use, which had been rising among teens for the past two years, continues to rise again this year—a sharp contrast to the considerable decline of the preceding decade

Alcohol use, on the other had has been decreasing. 54.1% of 12th graders said they'd been drunk in their lifetime. That's down from 56.5% in 2009, and 54.7% in 2008. From the study:

Alcohol use—and, specifically, occasions of heavy drinking—continues its long-term decline among teens into 2010, reaching historically low levels.

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Food
2:37 pm
Tue December 14, 2010

Saccharin removed from EPA's bad list

Use those little pink packets to your heart's delight. Saccharin is off an EPA hazardous list.
William Hartz Flickr

I always thought twice before adding those little pink packets to my iced tea because a little voice in my head was telling me they were bad. No proof, just something I had heard somewhere.

As it turns out, saccharin WAS on EPA's hazardous constituent list. It's been on the list since 1980. The substance was put on the list because the EPA's Carcinogen Assessment Group listed it as a "potential human carcinogen."

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Health
12:13 pm
Tue December 14, 2010

Lice boutique tackles parasites (audio slideshow)

Most animals get some form of lice. We get these little beauties. A lice nit attached to hair.
Gilles San Martin - wikimedia

It's something a lot of parents dread. Lice in your kid's hair.

Pesticides in shampoo form is one way to tackle the problem, but some people go pesticide-free.

Kyle Norris filed a report on Rapunzel's Lice Boutique in Ann Arbor for the Environment Report. I tagged along with her with a camera when she visited a family getting a treatment and we put together this slide show:

State Law
11:49 am
Wed December 1, 2010

ACLU sues cities for medical marijuana bans

Voters approved the use of medical marijuana in 2008.
USFWS

The Michigan chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union announced today that it will sue the cities of Birmingham, Bloomfield Hills, and Livonia. The ACLU is suing on behalf of Linda Lott, a 61 year-old from Birmingham who is suffering from multiple sclerosis.

In the ACLU's press release Lott is quoted as saying:

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Medicine
10:42 am
Mon November 22, 2010

A call for safer CT scans

Patients getting overdosed by radiation are causing hospitals to more closely monitor CT scans.
user NithinRao Creative Commons

No doubt CT scans have improved a doctor's ability to make diagnoses. The ability to see inside the body without cutting it open has meant better treatment.

But CT scans can deliver high doses of radiation, which can lead to cancer later in life, or in severe cases, can cause severe burns and even death.

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Music
12:16 pm
Fri November 19, 2010

"Detroit's Child" - J Dilla's legacy grows

J Dilla at a drum set
Thomas Angermann Creative Commons

Every once in a while you stumble upon a story that passed you by. Here's one I missed from Paul Farber, a former arts intern here at Michigan Radio.

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Heath care showdown
5:12 pm
Thu October 7, 2010

Health care law upheld by federal judge in Detroit

The new health care law will mandate that people buy some form of insurance.
Steve Carmody Michigan Radio

The Detroit Free Press is reporting that U.S. District Judge George Steeh refused to issue a preliminary injunction to stop "preparations for putting federal health reforms into full effect in 2014. He also dismissed the key points of the suit — requiring Americans to buy health insurance and penalizing those who don’t starting in 2014."

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Health Insurance Changes
5:38 pm
Thu September 23, 2010

Health care consumer protections take effect today

President Barack Obama marks changes in health care laws at the Brayshaw residence in Falls Church, Va., Sept. 22, 2010
White House

New census data says 16.7% of Americans are without health insurance:

The number of people without health insurance coverage rose from 46.3 million in 2008 to 50.7 million in 2009

But starting today, that will change for many without coverage, including young adults and kids with pre-existing conditions.

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Medical Marijuana
11:07 am
Thu September 16, 2010

Confusion reigns over medical marijuana law

Marijuana plants.
A7nubis Creative Commons

The state's medical marijuana law is "inartfully drafted" according to Appellate Court Judge Peter O'Connell. O'Connell was quoted in a Detroit News article saying the law is so confusing that users "who proceed without due caution" could "lose both their property and their liberty."

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Marijuana Law
1:47 pm
Wed September 1, 2010

Judge in marijuana case: No smoking until your hearing

Marijuana leaf
Hendrike Creative Commons

An Oakland County Judge prohibited defendants charged with violating drug laws from smoking marijuana while on bond until their hearing in October. The defendants say they use medical marijuana legally under the state's medical marijuana law.  The Detroit News has a story about the ruling.  In it they described the scene outside the courtroom:

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4:22 pm
Mon August 30, 2010

Will returning college students amplify bed bug problem?

A bed bug as it was in the process of ingesting a blood meal from the arm of a “voluntary” human host.
Piotr Naskrecki CDC/Harvard University

(by Steve Carmody)

College students are moving into dorms and off campus apartments this week across Michigan. There is a concern the students may inadvertently add to a spreading bed bug problem. Detroit is among a host of U.S. cities that have seen a spike in bed bug infestations. Many colleges are closely watching incoming students to keep them from bringing in furniture that's infested with bed bugs.

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Health
12:21 pm
Mon August 30, 2010

Air quality could be bad today in SE Michigan

Smog and air pollution around downtown Los Angeles.
Ali Azimi Creative Commons

Ozone way up in the atmosphere... good. Ozone near the ground... bad. 

SEMCOG (Southeast Michigan Council of Governments) says the air outside could be unhealthy today.  The group says "elements have been in place for a few days now – sunny skies, hot temperatures, and southerly winds. Admittedly this is beautiful weather, but the ongoing nature of these conditions is compromising our air quality and enabling ground-level ozone to remain high."

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