Bridges to Health

Health--it's what we all have in common:  whether we're trying to maintain our health through good habits or improve our failing health.  "Bridges to Health" is 90.5 WESA's health care reporting initiative examining everything from unintended consequences of the Affordable Care Act to transparency in health care costs; from a lack of access to quality care for minority members of our society to confronting the opioid crisis in our region. It's about our individual health and the well-being of our community.

Health care coverage on 90.5 WESA is made possible in part by a grant from the Jewish Healthcare Foundation.

David Goldman / AP

Imagine falling on the sidewalk.

You think you might have broken a rib, and you want to know what a chest X-ray costs at an emergency department near where you live in Harrisburg.

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The public health community has long called for a needle exchange in south Pittsburgh, as fatal overdose data indicates high opioid use in this area. On Tuesday, a proposed site for distributing sterile syringes to injection drug users passed its final hurdle. 

KATIE BLACKLEY / 90.5 WESA

A new study from University of Pittsburgh researchers finds the price of brand-name medications is growing five times faster than the rate of inflation.

Susan Walsh / AP

The public comments period ended Friday for a proposed federal rule that would allow more employers to use health reimbursement arrangements, which are untaxed funds that employers could set aside for employees to use on health care expenses. Most employers are currently prohibited from using the arrangements, which are also known as HRAs.

Jason Redman / AP

Starting January 1, a new federal rule is requiring hospitals to publish online their official charges for different medical services, like diagnostic tests or surgeries.

Sarah Boden / 90.5 WESA

Mobility is an issue for many senior citizens. The Jewish Healthcare Foundation’s Virtual Senior Academy helps older Allegheny County residents learn and explore without traveling far from home.

Courtesy of Germaine Watkins

A group of local journalists traveled to Haiti this fall to gather stories and images from the small Caribbean island. They brought back bits of life and culture, and what one storyteller called “another side of Haiti.”

Joining the Confluence to talk about the trip are:

Sabrina Bodon / 90.5 WESA


When Jai Sawkar was a freshman at Carnegie Mellon University, he slipped and hit his head.

Megan Harris / 90.5 WESA

 

Gaps in medical resources across rural Pennsylvania can be challenging, even for nursing school recruiters hoping to ultimately fill the local workforce.

Report Shows Nationwide Increase In Uninsured Children

Nov 30, 2018
Keith Srakocic / AP

Pennsylvania's population of uninsured children decreased slightly amid a nationwide increase in uninsured children. 

For the first time in at least 8 years, the number of uninsured children rose in the U.S., according to a study from Georgetown University Center for Children and Families. 

In Pennsylvania, 125,000 people 19 or younger didn't have health insurance in 2017, the report states. That's 1,000 fewer children than in the previous year. 

Andrew Harnik / AP

It’s that time of year again: the enrollment window is open to sign up for health insurance on the Affordable Care Plan individual market.  

Jessica Kourkounis / AP

Premiums for health insurers' individual policies in Pennsylvania for 2019 will reflect an aggregate statewide decrease that state officials say shows a stabilizing market.

The Pennsylvania Department of Insurance said Thursday that final rates for the individual market will drop by an aggregate of 2.3 percent statewide.

Insurers had originally requested an increase of 5 percent. Premium increases in individual markets the past two years averaged over 30 percent in Pennsylvania.

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After several reports of stalking in Lawrenceville this summer, several groups came together to host a workshop explaining how bystanders can help curb harassment and assault.

Sarah Boden / 90.5 WESA

Labor organizers demonstrated outside UPMC headquarters in downtown Pittsburgh on Tuesday to highlight two August rulings by the National Labor Relations Board that found the state’s largest hospital system violated workers’ rights.

Andrew Harnik / AP

Pennsylvanians with insurance on the Affordable Care Act exchange will see little or no premium increase next year, according to data compiled by Associated Press.

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

A program that works to improve health outcomes by providing stable housing is expanding from Allegheny County to other parts of Pennsylvania.

Court Upholds Wolf Order Organizing Home Health Care Workers

Aug 22, 2018
Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

Pennsylvania's highest court ruled Tuesday that Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf did not exceed his authority when he set up a process to give some union rights to home-based workers who care for elderly and disabled people.

The state Supreme Court, divided 5-2 along party lines, ruled that Wolf's 2015 executive order formalized a voluntary system to obtain information and discuss issues and did not impinge on the Legislature's prerogative.

Mark / Flickr

A new analysis estimates that Pennsylvania’s medical marijuana market will rake in $60 million in revenue this year, a number that's expected to quadruple to about $240 million by 2020.

Daveynin / Flickr

A new health insurance rule from the Trump administration is being criticized by the Pennsylvania Insurance Department. The agency said the policy, issued Wednesday, would jeopardize those who buy health insurance on the individual market. 

Matt Rourke / AP

More than 100 scrubs-clad nurses filled the Capitol rotunda Tuesday in an effort to convince lawmakers they’re overworked, and the state needs to do something about it.

They brought with them more than 10,000 signatures from around the state supporting legislation that would create minimum nurse-to-patient ratios.

Kathleen Davis / 90.5 WESA

After an emotional day in the City County Building, Pittsburgh City Council voted 7-2 to approve UPMC’s expansion of its Mercy campus in Uptown. The decision came after nearly two hours of public comment from community members opposing the plan.

Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

Gov. Tom Wolf's administration says Pennsylvania's health insurance market is improving, with health insurers offering individual market policies for 2019 with an average statewide rate increase of less than 1 percent.

The Pennsylvania Department of Insurance also said Monday that customers in 31 of 67 counties will see more insurers offering policies.

The projected increase is lower than the aggregate statewide increase of 5 percent that insurers originally requested at May's deadline.

UPMC

A march is scheduled on Tuesday ahead of a public hearing at Pittsburgh’s city council about a proposed UPMC vision and rehabilitation hospital in Uptown.

Patrick Semansky / AP

In January, 39-year-old Damian Chadwick died at a Bethel Park barbershop a little before 2 p.m. According to the Allegheny County Medical Examiner, the overdose death was due to a combination of cocaine, alcohol and the synthetic opioid fentanyl.

As the opioid epidemic rages on, more and more places from libraries to Goodwill stores are keeping the anti-overdose drug naloxone on hand. 

Since September, all YMCAs of Greater Pittsburgh have had somoene on duty who’s trained to administer naloxone, which reverses the effects of an overdose by restarting a person’s breathing.

J. Scott Applewhite / AP

The U.S. Supreme Court upheld Ohio's voter registration law in a 5-4 ruling Monday that loosens restrictions on how and when the state can purge its voter rolls. Proponents of the law argue it keeps their record books cleaner, while voting rights activists argue it punishes registered voters for not exercising that right, and disproportionally removes minority and Democratic names.

Kathleen J. Davis / 90.5 WESA

Baptist Homes is a sprawling senior care campus, located on a lush, quiet hillside in Mt. Lebanon. About 50 people live in the personal care part of the facility, where they can get help with everyday tasks. 

Sarah Boden / 90.5 WESA

An ambulance pulled up to the entrance of UPMC Preysbetarian's emergency room in early June, a pair of EMTs unloaded a portable isolation pod, basically a human-sized, medical-grade Ziploc bag.

Blair Roughley / Netflix/AP

A University of Pittsburgh psychiatrist is one of the primary collaborators on a new, public health toolkit that presents important information related to the Netflix program “13 Reasons Why,” a teen drama that depicts events surrounding a high school girl’s suicide.

The second season came out earlier this month. 

Walter Astrada / AP

Black babies in Allegheny County are nearly three times more likely than white babies to die before their first birthdays.

Matt Nemeth / 90.5 WESA

A recent report from Allegheny County’s medical examiner on the number of overdose fatalities in 2017 contains both good and bad news.

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