Health Care

Being new in town, I needed to find a primary care doctor for my daughter, who is almost 11 years old. I used my health insurance’s web site to find a list of providers. Every one I called said they weren’t taking new patients. I called pediatric specialists, family doctors. I called offices close to home, an hour away, and everywhere in between…to no avail.

Finally I found a walk-in clinic about an hour away that could at least update her immunizations and sign some paperwork for the new school she’ll attend at the end of August.

You might think a health care reporter wouldn’t have much interest in covering the Olympics. Think again! (Personally, I can’t wait for the opening ceremonies tonight.)


Thomas Hicks, during 1904 Olympic marathon

This afternoon, I joined RIPR’s All Things Considered host Dave Fallon to talk about what’s happening with hospital prices and something called “payment reform.” You can listen to a recording of that discussion here.

For those of you who want to dig in to the issue, here are links to a few reports, studies, and articles I found helpful. Please feel free to let me know about others.

The ongoing public dispute between Landmark Hospital in Woonsocket and private insurer Blue Cross Blue Shield of Rhode Island continues to heat up. Today, the hospital and its allies released the results of a survey it commissioned to gauge public opinion on its battle to win higher reimbursement rates from Blue Cross. Not surprisingly, it saw, in the results, a citizenry ready to blame Blue Cross if the hospital goes under. Blue Cross shot back in a statement to me via email today that it has “negotiated in good faith” with Landmark and that, as far as the survey is concerned:

The Congressional Budget Office and the Joint Committee on Taxation have just released new estimates of what President Obama’s Affordable Care Act will cost, and the numbers are less than previously thought. From the CBO Director’s Blog:

We’re seeing a few more cases of pertussis (whooping cough) in Rhode Island than usual right now (the total is eight as of Friday, July 20). But in the state of Washington, it’s reached official epidemic status. The Centers for Disease Control reports today in its weekly Morbidity and Mortality Report that, although the pertussis incidence rate is higher in Washington, there’s a national trend emerging in terms of what age groups are getting sick:

The RI Department of Environmental Management says in a statement today that a weekly sampling of mosquitoes collected from a swamp in Westerly tested positive for West Nile virus. That doesn’t necessarily mean you have to hermetically seal yourself, your kids, and your pets inside until the first frost. But the presence of West Nile and other diseases transmitted by so-called “vectors” like mosquitoes and ticks in our area should mean you take a few precautions before venturing into the great outdoors.

Under the health care reform act, many preventive services like diabetes screenings, bone mass measurement, and so-called “Wellness” visits are now available for free (no co-payment) to Medicare recipients. (Medicare is health coverage for people over age 65.

Diapers? Check. Bottles? Check. Pets? Check.

Jul 11, 2012

Rhode Island pet lovers and potential/current parents, perk up your ears!

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recently (end of June, 2012) issued revised guidelines for treating obesity. They recommend that doctors (1) screen all patients for obesity (defined as a body mass index of 30 or higher) and (2) refer obese patients for comprehensive behavioral “interventions” to help them lose the weight.That means some insurers could be asked to cover multiple group or individual behavioral counseling or weight management sessions for overweight patients. But could it mean your insurance rates go up?

Hello Rhode Island! Allow me to introduce myself: I’m Kristin Gourlay, the new health care reporter at Rhode Island Public Radio. I’m really excited to be here, to listen and learn, and to find and tell the stories that matter most to you.

The Day Has Come

Apr 27, 2012

I got to work this morning and did all the things I usually do- checked my email, figured out the stories of the day, posted some material online. I even had an assignment.

But the weird thing about today is I won’t be coming back.  All those emails carefully saved in folders? All those scripts I’ve written? I guess I don’t need them anymore. Today is my last day at the radio station.

PROVIDENCE,RI – Marijuana is turning into a popular topic up on Smith Hill. Committees in the General Assembly reviewed four separate pieces of legislation concerning the drug in the past two weeks. We're joined by Rhode Island Public Radio's health care reporter Megan Hall to explain what these bills are and what they would do.

Dave: Thanks for coming in Megan

MEGAN: No problem Dave

PROVIDENCE,RI – Marijuana is turning into a popular topic up on Smith Hill. Committees in the General Assembly reviewed four separate pieces of legislation concerning the drug in the past two weeks. We're joined by Rhode Island Public Radio's health care reporter Megan Hall to explain what these bills are and what they would do.

Dave: Thanks for coming in Megan

MEGAN: No problem Dave

Providence, RI – Listen in to the complete conference call where Governor Lincoln Chafee and Governor Chris Gregoire of Washington discus their petition to reclassify marijuana as a schedule II drug.

Do you have insight or expertise on this topic? Please email us, we'd like to hear from you. news@wrni.org.

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