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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.

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.

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.

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.

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.”