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Georgia Health

Ga. Insurer Files Statewide Plans For Obamacare Exchange

May 19, 2017
A pedestrian walks past the corporate headquarters of health insurer Anthem, formerly known as Wellpoint, on Wednesday, Dec. 3, 2014 in Indianapolis. The Blue Cross Blue Shield insurer sells insurance in several states under the Anthem brand, which was th
Darron Cummings / Associated Press

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Georgia has taken the first step to continue participation in the Obamacare insurance exchange, by filing proposed plans with the state insurance commissioner.

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The company, which is owned by the health insurance firm Anthem, says it has filed plans for all regions of the state, including the 96 counties where it is the only provider in the marketplace.

Division of Family and Children Services case managers, like Michelle Doris and Zenique Johnson, will receive training from Georgia State University to identify and treat secondary traumatic stress.
Elly Yu / WABE

Working with children who have been abused and neglected can be stressful.

The Georgia Division of Family and Children Services said it’s one reason employees leave. DFCS has asked Georgia State University to help case workers cope.

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Evan Nodvin
Elly Yu / WABE

House Republicans in Washington are planning to vote Thursday on a bill to replace the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. Pre-existing conditions have ruled the headlines this week, but the bill still includes big changes to Medicaid.

Potential cuts to the Medicaid program have worried people with disabilities and advocates in Georgia, including 38-year-old Evan Nodvin.

Elly Yu / WABE

Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal signed a $25 billion state budget this week, which includes slight raises for teachers and other state workers. But child welfare workers will get a salary boost of 19 percent, meant to cut high turnover rates within the agency.  

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Danielle McFarlane

If you're a recent transplant to Atlanta with medical records from another state, you may have had to deal with filling out lengthy medical history forms at the doctor's office.

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One Atlanta health care technology startup, Patientory, wants to make it easier for patients to access and share their electronic medical records using technology known as blockchain, which is behind the digital currency Bitcoin.

Rep. Tom Price, R-Ga.,  July 23, 2013.
Charles Dharapak / Associated Press

The federal government is giving states $500 million to combat the nation's opioid abuse epidemic. 

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U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price made the announcement Wednesday at the National Rx Drug Abuse and Heroin Summit in downtown Atlanta, where thousands gathered. The funds will come from the 21st Century Cures Act, he said, which passed Congress last year and was signed by President Barack Obama. 

Katja Ridderbusch

It's a normal day for Harry Wood, a hairdresser at Van Michael Salon in Buckhead, as he casually discusses his client's styling routine.

Nothing was normal for Susan Webster 13 years ago, when she sat in the same salon chair and told Wood, her longtime hairdresser and friend, the sad news. She had just been diagnosed with Stage 2 breast cancer and was about to lose her hair. The two immediately went together to pick out a wig.

A few weeks later, as she stood in front of her bathroom mirror one morning, Webster held a clump of hair in her hands.

David Goldman / Associated Press

Tuesday on "Closer Look with Rose Scott and Jim Burress":

Brenna Beech / WABE

The final day of the Georgia General Assembly brought last-minute approval of some health care bills Thursday -- along with disappointment over pieces of legislation that didn’t pass.

The failures included the high-profile effort to halt “surprise’’ medical bills, and a proposal to require Georgia schools and day care centers to test their drinking fountains and sinks for lead contamination in the water.

Pixabay Images

Georgia’s suburbs continue to dominate the rankings of the state’s healthiest counties.

Forsyth County, northeast of Atlanta, is the healthiest in Georgia for the fifth straight year, according to the 2017 County Health Rankings. The list was released Wednesday by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute.

Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal speaks during a press conference to announce he has vetoed legislation allowing clergy to refuse performing gay marriage and protecting people who refuse to attend the ceremonies Monday, March 28, 2016, in Atlanta.
David Goldman / Associated Press

As the U.S. House of Representatives plans to vote Thursday on the healthcare bill to replace the Affordable Care Act, leaders in Georgia have expressed mixed views about the plan. 

So far, many of Georgia's Republican members in the U.S. House appear to support the bill. But Wednesday, a spokesperson for Congressman Jody Hice, a member of the conservative Freedom Caucus, said Hice was opposed to the measure.  

Georgia's Health System Score Just Went Up

Mar 22, 2017
Gerald Herbert / Associated Press

Georgia’s ranking on a health system scorecard has improved from 46th in the nation to 41st.

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The Commonwealth Fund’s 2017 scorecard ranked the 50 states and the District of Columbia on the most recent data available in five areas: health care access, quality, avoidable hospital use and costs, health outcomes, and health care equity.

AP File

Georgia lawmakers have reached a compromise on a bill that would require doctors to log into a pill-tracking database before prescribing painkillers and other high-risk drugs. The goal is to curtail the overprescribing of opioids.

But critics say loopholes written into the proposal would create a false sense of accomplishment while leaving patients exposed to harm. Physician groups counter that the exceptions are necessary to reduce the burden on already strained doctors.

WABE File

The House Insurance Committee on Monday passed revamped legislation to reduce “surprise billing,’’ in which patients using hospitals in their insurance network may still get unexpected bills from doctors who are not in the network.

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Don Heupel / AP

A state Senate health committee Thursday approved a bill to offer optional testing of Georgia newborns for Krabbe disease, a rare genetic disorder.

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The form of Krabbe that strikes newborns is caused by a change, or mutation, in the gene that carries the blueprints for an enzyme called galactosylceramidase, which is crucial to wrapping protective insulation called myelin around nerves. Without it, the brain and nerves deteriorate.

Mobile Apps Aimed At Helping Fill Sex Education Gaps

Mar 15, 2017
Paul Sakuma / AP File

It’s a rite of passage. Crowded onto the bleachers in the Clarke Central High School gym, ninth-grade students sit down for the start of a two-week health class. It’s their only such class in four years of high school.

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That’s where Katy Mayfield found herself as a 14-year-old freshman.

Denis O'Hayer / WABE

More than 120 Georgians died last year in domestic violence incidents, and one-third of those deaths were murder-suicides. Those findings are from a new report by the Georgia Fatality Review Project.

 

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The report looked at more than 100 separate incidents of homicides involving domestic violence and also noted that in nearly 40 percent of those cases, the perpetrators had threatened or attempted suicide.

Northbound traffic on I75-I85 headed Downtown
Alison Guillory / WABE

Georgia Tech researchers have found it's not just car emissions sending people to emergency rooms in Atlanta, but all that dust coming off brakepads and tires.

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Last year, researchers suspended monitors near I-75 in Atlanta to measure air pollution including the acidity in the air.

ELLY YU / WABE

On a recent afternoon, the emergency room at Irwin County Hospital is empty except for one patient. He’s propped up on a bed and strapped to a machine that monitors his heart rate. Nurse Jason Baxley works the shift.  

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“Our ER is not very large. It’s only four exam rooms, a cardiac room and trauma room,” Baxley said.

David Goldman / Associated Press

Older Georgians would get hit with higher costs under the new Republican health care plan, especially those in rural areas, according to some health care analysts.

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Under the Affordable Care Act, insurance companies can charge older Americans only three times as much as they would younger Americans. Under the new plan, companies could charge five times as much.

M. Spencer Green / associated press file

A new study finds fewer overweight Americans have been trying to lose weight in recent years. Researchers wonder if fat acceptance could be among the reasons.

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The trend over nearly two decades could also reflect people giving up after repeated failed dieting attempts. It happened as U.S. obesity rates climbed.

 

ANDREW HARNIK / ASSOCIATED PRESS

More than 9.2 million Americans are covered by the Affordable Care Act this year, about 500,000 less than in 2016.

Georgia is among the states where enrollment declined.

Nearly 494,000 Georgians signed up for Affordable Care Act in 2017.

That's a 16-percent drop from the previous year, according to Georgia Health News.

Most of the enrollees — about 378,000 people — are from Metro Atlanta.

Johnny Kauffman / WABE

A long-standing dispute at the state capitol may be near its end. Lobbyists for dentists and hygienists say they’ve reached a deal that would give hundreds of thousands of Georgians with low incomes better access to teeth cleanings, including many children.

A 2016 Georgia Tech study found 865,000 children on public insurance would have to travel further than the state standard for cleanings: 30 minutes or 30 miles in the city, 45 minutes or 45 miles in rural areas.

Atlanta Regional Commission

As the new Republican federal administration digs into the process of repealing the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, many Georgians are left unsure about the future of their health insurance.

Elly Yu / WABE News

Cindy Jones still can’t help but think about the timing of things. Stewart-Webster Hospital, the place she and her family had gone to for years, closed in March of 2013. A month later, her husband Bill suffered a heart attack.

“He came in from a day of farming and ate supper, and then sat down to watch David Letterman,” Jones said. “And all of a sudden he got quiet, and we knew something was wrong because he wasn’t laughing at David Letterman anymore.”

The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, based in Atlanta, plans to investigate a possible link between environmental factors and cancer in Ware County in southeast Georgia.

Georgia Health News reports the agency is responding to a petition from residents.

The area has a history of industrial contamination.

And there have been three recent cases of a rare form of soft tissue sarcoma in children who live there.

Mycroyance / flickr.com/91155980@N07

Building muscle helps fight the cardiovascular issues that plague many overweight people, according to findings from Georgia Regents University.

The university is using a $2.2 million grant to research obesity-related heart problems.

And chubby rodents are helping with the data.

The study from Georgia Regents University's Vascular Biology Center includes obese and average-weight mice. As part of the research, the doctors deleted a regulator of muscle growth for both sets of mice.

The findings show the fat mice benefited from an increase in muscle mass.

M Dreibelbis / https://www.flickr.com/68704638@N04/

Carbohydrates are found in most foods that many of us love to eat, including bread, potato chips and pasta, just to name a few. Along with the good comes the bad in foods that contain carbohydrates. 

Jennifer Ketterly, the director of sports nutrition at the University of Georgia, explained the different types of carbohydrates Thursday on "A Closer Look" with hosts Denis O' Hayer and Rose Scott. 

Report: Georgia Ranks Low In Availability Of Dentists

May 29, 2015
Gene Blyth / Associated Press

A new report ranks Georgia 45th out of all U.S. states when it comes to the availability of dentists.

According to America’s Health Rankings, last year Georgia only had about 47 dentists per 100,000 people. That’s compared to more than 60 dentists nationally per 100,000 people. Frank Capaldo, the CEO and the executive director of the Georgia Dental Association, doesn’t refute those numbers, but he says there are plenty of dentists to go around.