healthcare

Better Living Through Acknowledging Death

Sep 4, 2018
Grant Blankenship / GPB

One by one, their names were recited as family members clutched one another’s hands and silently wept.

Seventeen men and women had died within the past year at Gray Health & Rehabilitation, a 58-bed nursing home in the city of Gray. Today, their lives were being honored and the losses experienced by those who cared for them recognized.

Grant Blankenship / GPB News

A while back, Jimmy Carter needed a doctor.

Not just for himself, but for everyone in his hometown of Plains, Georgia. The town’s single doctor had folded up shop a while back. Luckily for Carter, he served on the board of Mercer University, which has a medical school.

Turns out, all Carter had to do to get another doctor was ask. The upshot is that his asking may lead to big things for rural healthcare around the state. 

A worker is seen behind the registration window of the emergency room at Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta.
(AP Photo/David Goldman)

On this edition of Political Rewind, we take a broad look at healthcare in Georgia. After multiple attempts, Congress has failed to shut down The Affordable Care Act, but President Donald Trump is eliminating a number of key provisions through executive orders. What’s the likely impact on Georgians of ending the individual mandate?


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In the majority of Georgia families, mothers are the sole, primary or co-breadwinners, according to the Center for American Progress. But that doesn't mean they have the wages to adequately support themselves and their loved ones — particularly when it comes to minimum wage workers in Georgia, of whom 6 in 10 are women. And beyond the wage and wealth gap, women lack access to other things that Shilpa Phadke says are critical for their economic security: affordable child care, harassment-free work environments and quality health care. 


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The Georgia 2018 legislative session recently legalized the use of cannabis oil for treatment of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. PTSD affects about 31 million people in the United States. The disorder is often associated with veterans, but another group of heroes — first responders — also struggle with the disorder. According to one survey, one in 15 paramedics and EMTs has attempted suicide. 


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The South has a lot of nicknames. "The Bible Belt." "Dixieland." And when it comes to health, we're known as the Stroke Belt.

 

Studies say stroke risk in this 11-state region, which includes Georgia, is 34 percent higher for the general population than elsewhere in the United States.

 

Jessica Gurell / GPB

Dr. James Black wants opiate drug seekers to know not to look in his emergency room.

“You know, we're not going to be easy prey, so to speak, for people with repeated usage,” Black said. Black is the director of emergency medicine at the Phobe Putney Medical Center in Albany.

In the context of national trends, Southwest Georgia doesn’t have it as bad as other places. Opiate use is in decline here, but Black said he has seen his fair share of overdoses.

First, President Trump recently unveiled new trade restrictions with Cuba. We look at how this will impact Georgia’s poultry industry. Joining us is James Sumner, President of the USA Poultry & Egg Export Council and Marisa Anne Pagnattaro, Associate Dean for UGA’s Terry College of Business.

AID Atlanta, the state’s largest HIV/AIDS service organization, has filed a lawsuit against the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

 

 

The group claims the federal agency’s decision to defund it threatens the delivery of services to the communities most at risk of getting the deadly virus: young, black, gay and bisexual men.

We sit down with Nicole Roebuck, the executive director of AID Atlanta, to talk about the lawsuit, infection rates in Atlanta, and lingering stigmas associated with the virus.

As promised, President Trump got to work on Day One, spending some time in the Oval Office in between the inaugural parade and a trio of formal balls.

Trump signed an executive order Friday night directing government agencies to "ease the burdens" of Obamacare while the new administration and Congress work toward repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act.

White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus presented Trump with the order, which he described as: "An executive order minimizing the economic burden of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act pending repeal."

If you think that you wouldn't be touched by a Republican overhaul of Obamacare because you get health insurance through your job at a big company, think again.

Several of the law's provisions apply to plans offered by large employers, too (with some exceptions for plans that were in place before the law passed in March 2010).

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

A partial repeal of Obamacare could leave 18 million people who have insurance today with no coverage one year later, according to an analysis by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.

The report estimates that 32 million people would lose their insurance over 10 years.

Before Luke Whitbeck began taking a $300,000-a-year drug, the 2-year-old's health was inexplicably failing.

A pale boy with enormous eyes, Luke frequently ran high fevers, tired easily and was skinny all over, except his belly stuck out like a bowling ball.

"What does your medicine do for you?" Luke's mother, Meg, asked after his weekly drug treatment recently.

President-elect Donald Trump said he's finishing a plan to replace the Affordable Care Act with a proposal that would provide "insurance for everybody," according to a report by The Washington Post.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Capitol Hill is abuzz with activity these days. Inauguration is just a week away. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi is not in a celebratory mood. In fact, she's still a little bit in denial.

At about 1:30 a.m. on Thursday, Republicans moved one step closer to repealing a law they have railed against since the moment it was passed nearly seven years ago.

By a final vote of 51-48, the Senate approved a budget resolution that sets the stage for broad swaths of the Affordable Care Act to be repealed through a process known as budget reconciliation. The resolution now goes to the House, where leaders are hoping to approve it by the end of the week.

President Obama and Vice President-elect Mike Pence were both on Capitol Hill Wednesday, making competing cases for and against Obama's signature health care law. Republicans have promised to make repeal of the Affordable Care Act their first order of business, once they control both Congress and the White House.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Leading Republicans in Congress have vowed that even if they repeal most of the Affordable Care Act early in 2017, a replacement won't hurt those now receiving benefits.

Republicans in Congress are so eager to repeal the Affordable Care Act that some have vowed to get a bill to President-elect Donald Trump's desk on the day he takes the oath of office.

"We will move right after the first of the year on an Obamacare repeal resolution," Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., told reporters at a news conference Monday.

Since Republicans have plans to repeal the federal health law, should consumers still sign up for next year's coverage? And if the health law marketplaces disappear, might Medicare eligibility be expanded? Here are answers to some recent questions from readers.

It sounds like Republicans plan to repeal the health law in January once Donald Trump is sworn in. Since open enrollment goes until the end of January, should I just wait and see what happens before signing up?

Republicans in Congress say they'll vote to repeal much of the Affordable Care Act early next year — even though they don't yet have a plan to replace it.

But they also insist that they don't want to harm any of the millions of people who got their health insurance under the law.

Gage Skidmore / flickr

In 45 days, Donald Trump will become the 45th president of the United States. One of the top priorities of that administration is to repeal and replace Obamacare. The man who will be at the forefront of that is Georgia Congressman Tom Price. President-elect Trump has nominated him as the next secretary of Health and Human Services.

Americans continue to be divided along partisan lines over Obamacare, with an overwhelming percentage of Democrats favoring it and an equal share of Republicans having unfavorable views, according to a newly released Kaiser Family Foundation poll.

But when it comes to an actual gutting of Obamacare, there's doesn't appear to be a lot of support.

Jessica Stefonik is grinning. She's got a bounce in her step. Her cheeks are a little puffy and her speech is a bit thick.

"It feels weird right now, but I'll get used to it," she says.

What she's trying to get used to is the feeling of having teeth.

On the day we met, Stefonik, a mom of three from Mosinee, Wis., got a set of dentures to replace all of her upper teeth, which she lost over many years to disease and decay.

Stefonik is just 31 years old.

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Georgia ranks 49th in the United States in the number of dentists per capita, according to research by Georgia State University and Georgia Tech. Not getting regular dental care can lead to major health problems, but many people just can’t afford it.

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Georgia's decision not to expand Medicaid has cost the state billions of dollars in federal funding and thousands of jobs, and may prompt several hospitals to shut down. It’s also forced large hospitals like Grady Memorial in Atlanta to absorb the costs of helping poor, uninsured and mentally ill patients.

The battle continues to rage between drug companies that are trying to make as much money as possible and insurers trying to drive down drug prices. And consumers are squarely in the middle.

That's because, increasingly, prescription insurers are threatening to kick drugs off their lists of approved medications if the manufacturers won't give them big discounts.

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