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‘I Just Feel Like Myself’: A Nonbinary Child in Their Own Words

It’s 7:30 a.m. on a school day. Two parents are racing to get their three young children dressed, fed, packed for the day, into coats and out the door when 6-year-old Hallel runs downstairs, crying.


This story is part of a partnership that includes WBUR, NPR and KHN. It can be republished for free.

Ari, Hallel’s father, is the first to ask “What’s wrong?”

The answer launched a journey these parents never envisioned, described by words they’d not heard and questions they never thought they’d ask. (We’re using only first names for the family members in this story due to Hallel’s age.)

The journey started with a “let’s pretend” game. Hallel’s little sister Ya’ara wanted to play “parents.” Ya’ara decides that she’ll be the mommy, and Hallel will be the daddy. Hallel protests. Ya’ara insists: Hallel is a boy, and therefore must play the daddy.

“But that doesn’t feel right,” … Read the rest

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From Covid Coverage to ‘Public Option’ Plans, Journalists Delve Into Details

KHN senior correspondent Julie Appleby discussed changes in insurance coverage for covid-19 care on Newsy on Thursday.

  • Click here to watch Appleby on Newsy
  • Read Appleby’s “Time to Say Goodbye to Some Insurers’ Waivers for Covid Treatment Fees”

KHN senior correspondent Mary Agnes Carey discussed Connecticut’s legislative efforts to pass a “public option” insurance plan on WNPR’s “Where We Live” on Wednesday.

  • Click here to hear Carey on WNPR

KHN correspondent Aneri Pattani joined Spotlight PA’s Ed Mahon to discuss their investigation into the lack of oversight at Pennsylvania addiction treatment facilities on WURD’s “Wake Up With WURD” on May 3.

  • Click here to hear Pattani on WURD
  • Read “Addiction Treatment Providers in Pa. Face Little State Scrutiny Despite Harm to Clients” by Pattani and Mahon

KHN senior Colorado correspondent Markian Hawryluk discussed the pause on Colorado’s potential public option plan on KUNC on May 3.

  • Click here to hear
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Covid Testing Has Turned Into a Financial Windfall for Hospitals and Other Providers

Pamela Valfer needed multiple covid tests after repeatedly visiting the hospital last fall to see her mother, who was being treated for cancer. Beds there were filling with covid patients. Valfer heard the tests would be free.


This story also ran on Fortune. It can be republished for free.

So, she was surprised when the testing company billed her insurer $250 for each swab. She feared she might receive a bill herself. And that amount is toward the low end of what some hospitals and doctors have collected.

Hospitals are charging up to $650 for a simple, molecular covid test that costs $50 or less to run, according to Medicare claims analyzed for KHN by Hospital Pricing Specialists (HPS). Charges by large health systems range from $20 to $1,419 per test, a new national survey by KFF shows. And some free-standing emergency rooms are charging more than $1,000 per test.… Read the rest

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KHN’s ‘What the Health?’: Sharing Vaccines With the World

Can’t see the audio player? Click here to listen on SoundCloud.

The Biden administration — keeping a campaign promise — announced it would back a temporary waiver of patent protections for the covid-19 vaccines, arousing the ire of the drug industry.

The administration is also picking a fight with tobacco companies, as the Food and Drug Administration prepares to ban menthol flavorings in cigarettes and small cigars. Tobacco makers have long promoted menthol products to the African American community, and the action is controversial.

This week’s panelists are Julie Rovner of KHN, Alice Miranda Ollstein of Politico, Tami Luhby of CNN and Kimberly Leonard of Business Insider.

Among the takeaways from this week’s podcast:

  • It is unclear whether the Biden administration’s decision to support a patent waiver for covid vaccines foreshadows Democrats’ willingness to take on the powerful pharmaceutical industry. There is a school of thought that the patent issue
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Covid Shot in the Arm Not Enough to Keep Pharmacies in Business

Tobin’s pharmacy and department store had already stocked its shelves with Easter and Mother’s Day items last spring, and the staff had just placed the Christmas orders. The shop in Oconomowoc, Wisconsin, had been operating on a razor’s edge as retail sales moved online and mail-order pharmacies siphoned off its patients. It was losing money on 1 out of 4 pill bottles filled, so the front of the store, where it sold clothing, cosmetics and jewelry, had been compensating for pharmacy losses for years.


This story also ran on Fortune. It can be republished for free.

“And then covid hit,” said Dave Schultz, who co-owned the store with his brother. “And that was the final straw.”

The covid-19 pandemic sank many businesses in 2020, particularly those relying on in-person sales to stay afloat. For pharmacies — especially independent pharmacies — the pandemic lockdowns exacerbated long-standing economic pressures. Many small owner-operated … Read the rest

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A Primary Care Physician for Every American, Science Panel Urges

The federal government must aggressively bolster primary care and connect more Americans with a dedicated source of care, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine warn in a major report that sounds the alarm about an endangered foundation of the U.S. health system.

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The urgently worded report, which comes as internists, family doctors and pediatricians nationwide struggle with the economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic, calls for a broad recognition that primary care is a “common good” akin to public education.

The authors recommend that all Americans select a primary care provider or be assigned one, a landmark step that could reorient how care is delivered in the nation’s fragmented medical system.

And the report calls on major government health plans such as Medicare and Medicaid to shift money to primary care and away from the medical specialties that have … Read the rest

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As Schools Spend Millions on Air Purifiers, Experts Warn of Overblown Claims and Harm to Children

Last summer, Global Plasma Solutions wanted to test whether the company’s air-purifying devices could kill covid-19 virus particles but could find only a lab using a chamber the size of a shoebox for its trials. In the company-funded study, the virus was blasted with 27,000 ions per cubic centimeter.


This story also ran on CNN. It can be republished for free.

In September, the company’s founder incidentally mentioned that the devices being offered for sale actually deliver a lot less ion power — 13 times less — into a full-sized room.

The company nonetheless used the shoebox results — over 99{380aeddbf14a84cd11c11cd488112056163e30cadda676ce0194921ef8f43b08} viral reduction — in marketing its device heavily to schools as something that could combat covid in classrooms far, far larger than a shoebox.

School officials desperate to calm worried parents bought these devices and others with a flood of federal funds, installing them in more than 2,000 schools … Read the rest

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Two Unmatched-Doctor Advocacy Groups Are Tied to Anti-Immigrant Organizations

In their last year of medical school, fourth-year students get matched to a hospital where they will serve their residency.


This story also ran on The Daily Beast. It can be republished for free.

The annual rite of passage is called the National Resident Matching Program. To the students, it’s simply the Match.

Except not every medical student is successful. While tens of thousands do land a residency slot every year, thousands others don’t.

Those “unmatched” students are usually left scrambling to figure out their next steps, since newly graduated doctors who don’t complete a residency program cannot receive their license to practice medicine.

At first glance, two new advocacy groups, Doctors Without Jobs and Unmatched and Unemployed Doctors of America, seem to be championing their cause, helping them find residency slots and lobbying Congress to create more medical residency positions. The groups also recently organized a protest in Washington, … Read the rest

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Journalists Track Biden’s First 100 Days

Chief Washington correspondent Julie Rovner discussed Biden’s first 100 days on WAMU/NPR’s “1A” on Wednesday. She also joined Wisconsin Public Radio’s “Central Time” to talk about why hospitals aren’t cooperating with price transparency requirements.

  • Click here to hear Rovner on WAMU/NPR
  • Read Rovner’s “The Great Undoing: Which of Trump’s Policies Will Biden Reverse?”
  • Click here to hear Rovner on Wisconsin Public Radio

KHN senior correspondent Julie Appleby discussed changes in insurance coverage for covid-19 care on NBC News NOW on Tuesday.

  • Click here to watch Appleby on NBC News NOW
  • Read Appleby’s “Time to Say Goodbye to Some Insurers’ Waivers for Covid Treatment Fees”

California Healthline senior correspondent Anna Maria Barry-Jester discussed how public health leaders in Santa Cruz have faced a year of threats on KGO 810’s “The Chip Franklin Show” on Monday.

  • Click here to hear Barry-Jester on KGO 810
  • Read Barry-Jester’s “‘We’re Coming for You’: For Public
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Mental Health Services Wane as Insurers Appear to Skirt Parity Rules During Pandemic

Therapists and other behavioral health care providers cut hours, reduced staffs and turned away patients during the pandemic as more Americans experienced depression symptoms and drug overdoses, according to a new report from the Government Accountability Office.

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The report on patient access to behavioral health care during the covid-19 crisis also casts doubt on whether insurers are abiding by federal law requiring parity in insurance coverage, which forbids health plans from passing along more of the bill for mental health care to patients than they would for medical or surgical care.

The GAO’s findings are “the tip of the iceberg” in how Americans with mental, emotional and substance use disorders are treated differently than those with physical conditions, said JoAnn Volk, a research professor at Georgetown University’s Center on Health Insurance Reforms who studies mental health coverage.

The GAO report, shared … Read the rest

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