health care

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New Yorkers who sign up for insurance under the Affordable Care Act exchanges for individuals will see their premiums rise by an average of 14 percent, now that the Cuomo administration has approved rate increases for insurers in the exchanges.

Part of the increase is due to worries and uncertainties over the future of the ACA, also known as Obamacare.

governorandrewcuomo / Flickr

The Senate is moving ahead on the repeal and possibly the replacement of the Affordable Care Act, and policy makers in New York are bracing for the worst.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, speaking Tuesday on the Senate floor, painted a grim picture of the current state of the ACA, also known as Obamacare, saying it’s caused pain “for literally millions of families.”

“Premiums have skyrocketed,” McConnell said. “Insurance options have declined.”

He said in some states, there is only one carrier available — and in some cases, there are none.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) kicked off a series of town halls across the state at Syracuse University Friday. The generally friendly audience gave Gillibrand a warm reception but asked questions on the biggest issues facing Washington.

Gillibrand was welcomed with a standing ovation but the attention quickly turned to health care and President Donald Trump. Gillibrand called the Republican health care bill "terrible" and said millions of people could lose coverage.

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 New York, many could be affected. Experts estimate cuts in the original Senate bill would leave New York on the hook for between $4 billion and $8 billion.

Use this Q&A to explore how the bill would affect you:

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Regardless of politics, New York state will most likely continue with its New York State of Health official health insurance marketplace, according to Steve Wood, director of insurance programs at ACR Health in Syracuse. He said New York is committed to the program that grew out of the Affordable Care Act.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

ACR Health in Syracuse has opened a new clinic to provide health care for injection drug users. The agency hopes the facility can reach people who may feel alienated by the health care system.

Thirty-two-year old Jeremy Fiorino of Syracuse was the first patient at the clinic, which opened up this week. A heroin addict since 2012, he’s been clean now for 54 days.

"I had an abscess from when I was actively using, and I got some antibiotics, and they checked up on it,” said Fiorino.

St. Joseph's Hospital Health Center / Facebook

St. Joseph’s Hospital Health Center is continuing to partner with smaller regional hospitals throughout upstate New York. The latest venture is a collaboration with Rome Memorial Hospital.

 

Rome Memorial will still operate as an independent, separately licensed hospital, with local control, but a new agreement allows patients in Rome to have access to technology and services from the much bigger hospital in Syracuse.

Bret Jaspers / WSKG News

As the baby boomer generation ages, more and more Americans are planning for the end of life. In the Southern Tier, a new home for the terminally ill has been in the works for months, and it's modeling itself after Francis House in Syracuse.

Construction is well underway at Mercy House, in the old St. Casimir's Church in Endicott. Mercy House will be a home for terminally ill people who have six months or less to live. 

Doctors Harold Smulyan and Donald Blair (of Upstate University Hospital) look at the history of infective endocarditis -- an inflammation of the inner lining of the heart and its tissues, usually caused by a bacterial infection -- in a paper published in the American Journal of the Medical Sciences.

The disease was first reported in the early 1800s, and "before the development of antibiotics, this disease was uniformly fatal," says Dr. Smulyan, a cardiologist. Dr. Blair is a specialist in infectious disease.

Surgery is a valuable weight loss option for people with obesity, says Dr. Howard Simon, the chief of bariatric surgery at Upstate University Hospital. He describes obesity as a complicated disease for which a gastric bypass or gastric sleeve operation may offer treatment.

Such surgeries are usually done in a minimally invasive way, and are part of a comprehensive approach to weight loss that involves counselors, nutritionists and others to help the patient achieve and maintain a healthy weight and lifestyle.

An aging population and the Affordable Care Act help ensure the demand for physician assistants, physical therapists and other health care providers will continue, says Hugh Bonner, the former dean of Upstate Medical University’s College of Health Professions.

“Between 2000 and 2030, we will double the population of those 65 and older. We’ll go from essentially 35 million to 70 million people. That population also has a large number of individuals with chronic conditions, such as cardiovascular disease, obesity, diabetes,” Bonner says.

James Abbott, Thomas Campbell and James Rosenberg, three former chief executives of Syracuse's public hospital, describe the challenges they faced from the 1950s to the 1990s on this week’s show. 

They helped shape health care as it underwent a revolution in the 20th century, including new technologies and quicker, less invasive surgeries. Despite all the changes, Abbott, Campbell and Rosenberg believe the fundamental task of hospitals hasn’t changed -- keeping the patients comfortable and treating them with humanity.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Central New York boosters of universal health care are celebrating this week, after the state Assembly passed the New York Health Act.

The legislation would provide universal, comprehensive health care to all New Yorkers.

“What it means is -- basically -- when you’re born, you have health insurance,” says retired physician Joal Potash. He volunteers at free medical clinics in Syracuse.

Medical problems that afflict inmates are not much different than the ailments that are common in the central New York community, according to Dr. Anne Calkins.

Dr. Calkins leads the medical team providing care for adults incarcerated at the Justice Center jail in downtown Syracuse and the Jamesville Correctional Facility, and for youths at the Hillbrook Juvenile Detention Center in Syracuse.

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Dealing with a major medical crisis in your life is stressful enough. But suppose something goes wrong, and the outcome isn't what you had expected? When does a patient move from being merely disgruntled and dissatisfied to seriously considering a lawsuit?

This week on “Take Care,” Chris Stern Hyman discusses medical malpractice and its principles. Hyman is a healthcare attorney, former litigator and founder of Medical Mediation Group in New York City.

Pregnant women, sex workers and men having sex with men are recommended to be tested for exposure to syphilis since health officials have noticed an increase in cases of the sexually-transmitted disease.

"We started to see these rates spike the last couple of years, quite significantly," said Indu Gupta, MD, health commissioner for Onondaga County.

Oliver Symens / Flickr

Keeping track of health information for children and the elderly has always been a complicated task. Care for these groups has slowly moved to the Internet to make their personal information easier to manage and access by their loved ones. But does that convenience endanger the privacy of their information at all?

This week on “Take Care,” hosts Lorraine Rapp and Linda Lowen talk to Jonathan Schwartz about the benefits of using a new website to manage loved ones’ health information. Schwartz is the co-founder and chief executive officer of CareZone, an online service that enables families to organize care of their relatives.

nystateofhealth.ny.gov

 

The deadline to file your tax return is just under two months away. As many Americans file, they’re finding there are more questions about health insurance on the annual tax forms than ever before based on changes in place because of the Affordable Care Act.
 

In New York, and several other states, people who find they owe a penalty on their 2014 tax return will now have a special enrollment period to sign up for health coverage.

comedy_nose / Flickr

  The final number of New Yorkers who signed up for health insurance through the state exchange this year tops a half a million.

New York State of Health Marketplace is claiming more than 564 thousand new enrollees for 2015. Add that to last year’s numbers and more than 2.1 million people have used the state exchange for health insurance in the first 2 years of the Affordable Care Act.

Donna Frescatore is the Executive Director of the state marketplace. She’s says a close to 90 percent renewal rate for people with private health plans points to stability.

Office of Emergency and Public Health Preparedness / Flickr

After the recent measles outbreak, citizens, medical professionals, advocacy groups and government entities were all talking about "public health." But public health is an ongoing issue -- one that requires more attention. That's according to Dr. Leana Wen, Baltimore City's health commissioner. This week on "Take Care," hosts Lorraine Rapp and Linda Lowen speak with Dr. Wen about the importance of public health.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

The deadline is approaching to sign up for health insurance for the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, and one Syracuse agency that signs people up for plans wants to make sure the word about that deadline is out.

February 15 is the last day that individuals can buy health insurance during this year’s open enrollment period. People who don’t meet that deadline will face a tax penalty.

Steve Wood, of ACR Health in Syracuse, expects there will be people who won’t meet the deadline.

MTSOFAN / Flickr

Alzheimer’s disease advocates in central New York are joining the national calling for more money to be spent on treatment research and a cure for the disease.

The federal government currently spends half a billion dollars a year on finding a cure for Alzheimer’s and it has left some potential cures without the money to fund trials that lead to FDA approval.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Rep. John Katko (R-Camillus) was one of three House of Representative Republicans who voted this week against a bill that would repeal the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare. Katko has said all along that he wouldn't vote for a full-scale repeal, unless there is an alternative to the sweeping health care law.

The congressman says Republican leadership was aware of how he would vote. In a statement following the vote, Katko said he was disappointed that the bill didn't provide a real solution to the rising costs of health care.

ClintJCL / Flickr

Doctors are less likely to order unneeded repeat tests when they have patient information at their fingertips. A study in the American Journal of Managed Care shows use of an electronic health information exchange reduces repeat medical imaging.

X-rays, CT scans, ultrasounds and other medical imaging test are useful in patient diagnosis, but doctors say they can be overused.

Senate Democrats / Flickr

Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) says there is a shortcoming in health insurance for disabled veterans that’s depriving their children of coverage.

Family members of disabled military service members are allowed to receive health coverage under a Veterans Administration program called CHAMPVA. But Schumer says that program needs to be amended to be in line with the rest of the health care world under the Affordable Care Act.

This week: medical providers who volunteer knowledge, skills

Jan 23, 2015

Nurse Laurie Rupracht is recruiting medical professionals to accompany her on a trip to Ghana (her fifth) through the Americans Serving Abroad Project. As in previous years, her group will staff a mobile medical clinic in villages at least 100 miles from a hospital.

"People are afraid to go anywhere in Africa, thinking Ebola is everywhere. Ghana has not had one case of Ebola," she says.

Health exchange official pleased with state sign-ups

Jan 8, 2015
Possible Health / Flickr

Traffic on the New York State of Health website is holding steady following the first deadline for open enrollment.

Donna Frescatore, executive director of the New York State of Health Benefit Exchange, is pleased with the numbers of New Yorkers signing up for health insurance on the marketplace.

New York State Health Department officials saw an increase in the numbers of enrollees in time to get covered at the start of the New Year. Frescatore says she expects more high traffic days as the next deadlines roll around.

jasleen_kaur / Flickr

The New York State Palliative Care Collaborative was formed recently to promote more access to this specialized type of medical care that provides relief to patients with serious diseases.

Palliative care emphasizes improving quality of life while a person copes with chronic and serious health conditions.

Michael Burgess, New York government relations director of the American Cancer Society, says the collaborative wants to assure comfort care is a right to all seriously ill patients.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO

A downstate Democrat is trying to reinvigorate a plan to create a publicly funded, single-payer health care system in New York state. Assemblyman Richard Gottfried is getting the ball rolling with a series of legislative hearings, including the first in Syracuse.

Gottfried, a Manhattan Democrat, says getting rid of insurance companies and putting the state in charge of health care would save consumers $20 billion a year by eliminating insurance company overhead and the administrative costs doctors and hospitals incur while dealing with insurance companies.  

Sudipto Sarkar / Flickr

On the anniversary of the Great American Smokeout, a leading anti-cancer group says Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration should be spending more to cut back on smoking.

The American Cancer Society’s Michael Burgess says while the Centers for Disease Control recommends New York state spend $200 million annually on tobacco cessation programs, the current state budget has just under $40 million allotted for it. Burgess says in the past, it’s been demonstrated that spending the money on things like a smokers quit line works.

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