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Getting a Prescription to Die Remains Tricky Even as Aid-in-Dying Bills Gain Momentum

Linda Heim knew her dad didn’t plan to wait for the cancer to kill him. For decades, he’d lived in Montana, which they’d thought was one of the few places where terminally ill people could get a prescription to end their life.


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

After two years of being sick, Heim’s dad got the diagnosis in 2019: stage 4 kidney cancer. His physician offered treatments that might extend his life by months. Instead, the 81-year-old asked the doctor for help dying. Heim said her parents left the appointment in their hometown of Billings with two takeaways: The legality of medically assisted death was questionable in Montana, and her father’s physician didn’t seem willing to risk his career to put that question to the test.

“My parents knew when they left there that was the end of that conversation,” said Heim, … Read the rest

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In His Continued Sparring With Fauci, Sen. Rand Paul Oversimplified the Science

“Sorry Dr Fauci and other fearmongers, new study shows vaccines and naturally acquired immunity DO effectively neutralize COVID variants. Good news for everyone but bureaucrats and petty tyrants!”

— Sen. Rand Paul in a tweet, March 21, 2021

That Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky often disagrees with infectious-disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci is well known.


This story was produced in partnership with PolitiFact. It can be republished for free.

Recently, the pair clashed at a Senate hearing when Paul, a Republican, argued against mask recommendations for people who have had covid-19 or have been vaccinated against it.

At the hearing, Fauci, President Joe Biden’s chief medical adviser, pushed back against Paul’s characterization of wearing masks as “theater.” Continued caution is advised, Fauci said, as scientists study the new variants now circulating in the U.S. and other countries.

Paul, an eye doctor by training, continued the squabble a few days … Read the rest

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Her Doctor’s Office Moved One Floor Up. Her Bill Was 10 Times Higher.

Kyunghee Lee’s right hand hurts all the time.

She spent decades running a family dry cleaning store outside Cleveland after emigrating from South Korea 40 years ago. She still freelances as a seamstress, although work has slowed amid the covid-19 pandemic.


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

While Lee likes to treat her arthritis with home remedies, each year the pain in the knuckles of her right middle finger and ring finger increases until they hurt too much to touch. So about once a year she goes to see a rheumatologist, who administers a pain-relieving injection of a steroid in the joints of those fingers.

Her cost for each round of injections has been roughly $30 the past few years. And everything is easier, and less painful for a bit, after each steroid treatment.

So, in late summer she masked up and went in … Read the rest

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How One State’s Public Health Defunding Led to Vaccination Chaos

ST. LOUIS — Missourians have driven hours to find vaccines in rural counties — at least those with cars and the time. Tens of thousands of doses are waiting to be distributed, slowly being rolled out in a federal long-term care program. Waitlists are hundreds of thousands of people long. Black residents are getting left behind.


This story also ran on U.S. News & World Report. It can be republished for free.

Missouri’s rocky vaccine rollout places it among the bottom states nationwide, with 23.7% of the population vaccinated with at least one dose as of Thursday, compared with the national average of 26.3%. If Missouri were on par with the national rate, that would be roughly equivalent to more than 162,000 additional people vaccinated, or almost the entire population of the city of Springfield.

Part of the problem, health experts said, is that the state bypassed its 115 local … Read the rest

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To prevent “cognitive entrenchment,” think like a scientist and be wrong often

In a rapidly changing world, it’s important to be able to adapt and change rather than stubbornly adhering to old ideas and opinions. This was one of the lessons of 2020, a year that forced us to question many of our assumptions about what behaviors are safe, how work and school can be conducted, and how we connect with others.

“In a changing world, you have to be willing and able to change your mind. Otherwise, your expertise can fail, your opinions get out of date, and your ideas fall flat,” says organizational psychologist Adam Grant, author of the new book Think Again: The Power of Knowing What You Don’t Know.

In his book, Grant explains why it’s so important for people to be humbler about their knowledge and stay open to learning and changing their minds. The book is filled with fascinating research and guidance on becoming more flexible … Read the rest

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Military Exposed to Toxic Fumes From Burn Pits Set to Get Bipartisan Boost

Lawmakers on Capitol Hill on Friday planned to roll out what could be the most ambitious attempt ever tried to treat American war fighters poisoned in deployments overseas.


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

The bipartisan bill, modeled on both Agent Orange legislation and the 9/11 health act, aims to help unknown thousands of veterans who got sick after being exposed to toxic substances from massive open fire pits where the military burned its garbage, as well as other sources.

The Department of Veterans Affairs estimates some 3.5 million service members were exposed to the toxic trash plumes in Iraq, Afghanistan and other battlegrounds, and maintains a burn pits registry through which nearly 236,000 veterans have reported exposures. President Joe Biden believes that toxic smoke is responsible for the brain cancer that killed his son Beau in 2015.

Yet the VA and … Read the rest

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Stop Blaming Tuskegee, Critics Say. It’s Not an ‘Excuse’ for Current Medical Racism.

For months, journalists, politicians and health officials — including New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Dr. Anthony Fauci — have invoked the infamous Tuskegee syphilis study to explain why Black Americans are more hesitant than white Americans to get the coronavirus vaccine.


This story is from a partnership that includes NPR, KQED and KHN. It can be republished for free.

“It’s ‘Oh, Tuskegee, Tuskegee, Tuskegee,’ and it’s mentioned every single time,” said Karen Lincoln, a professor of social work at the University of Southern California and founder of Advocates for African American Elders. “We make these assumptions that it’s Tuskegee. We don’t ask people.”

When she asks Black seniors in Los Angeles about the vaccine, Tuskegee rarely comes up. People in the community talk about contemporary racism and barriers to health care, she said, while it seems to be mainly academics and officials who are preoccupied with the history of … Read the rest

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AppliedVR raises $29M to help make virtual reality the standard of care for treating chronic pain

AppliedVR Raises $29 Million for Immersive Headsets (LA Business Journal):

Century City-based AppliedVR, Inc. announced March 23 that it has raised $29 million in Series A funding that will be used to continue development of an immersive headset to help patients with chronic pain.

… The company is building a headset called EaseVRx that will display immersive environments like campfires, mountains and other animated nature scenes to help patients dealing with chronic pain, including fibromyalgia and chronic intractable lower back pain…

AppliedVR Chief Executive and co-founder Matthew Stoudt said that the pandemic has generated more need for pain treatments that can be administered away from medical settings.

The Announcement:

AppliedVR Secures $29 Million in Series A Funding to Make Virtual Reality the Standard of Care for Chronic Pain (press release):

AppliedVR provides virtual reality-based treatments aimed at comprehensively treating chronic pain. Combining well-established cognitive behavioral therapies with mindfulness exercises, the company’s

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Birx Joins Air-Cleaning Industry Amid Land Grab for Billions in Federal Covid Relief

The former top White House coronavirus adviser under President Donald Trump, Dr. Deborah Birx, has joined an air-cleaning company that built its business, in part, on technology that is now banned in California due to health hazards.

The company is one of many in a footrace to capture some of the $193 billion in federal funding to schools.

Birx is now chief medical and science adviser of ActivePure Technology, a company that counts 50 million customers since its 1924 start as the Electrolux vacuum company and does nearly $500 million annually in sales. Its marketing includes photos of outer space, a nod to a 1990s breakthrough with technology to remove a gas from NASA spaceships. The company’s own studies show that, in its effort to create the “healthiest indoor environments in North America,” it leveraged something less impressive: the disinfecting power of ozone — a molecule considered hazardous and linked … Read the rest

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‘An Arm and a Leg’: In Vaccinating Philadelphia, A Mix of the Good, the Bad and the Ugly

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In Philadelphia, the good, the bad and the ugly have all been on vivid display in the covid vaccine rollout.

The Bad comes with a giant serving of gall: For a while, the city put its mass-vaccination program in the hands of Andrei Doroshin, a 22-year-old with no experience in health care but what, from all reports, seemed a healthy interest in making money. It did not go well. In this episode, we get a deep dive from public-radio reporter Nina Feldman, who uncovered the debacle.

The Ugly is systemic racism: When selecting who would run the mass-vaccination program, the city seems to have largely ignored the Black Doctors COVID-19 Consortium, an effective group of licensed, experienced, Black health care professionals led by Dr. Ala Stanford.

“I think we have to look, not just in Philadelphia, but at the deep rooted … Read the rest

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