HealthConnections

Tuesdays during Morning Edition and All Things Considered

The brainchild of University of Tennessee associate professor Dr. Carole Myers, HealthConnections will bring the often-abstract world of health care, coverage and policy to a human level. What is access? How do marketplaces work? What's the future of health insurance? Dr. Myers and WUOT's Brandon Hollingsworth will sort through these issues and more, all to give you a toolbox for understanding what you hear on the news, or to separate fact from fiction in the health care debate.

Some people are natural introverts. Some are described as loners or homebodies. But for many others in America, particularly senior citizens, solitude is neither welcome nor within their control. This social isolation can degrade quality of life, has apparent connections to depression and addiction, and cane even shorten lifespans.

In this installment of HealthConnections, Dr. Carole Myers and Brandon Hollingsworth discuss social isolation, its causes, and how it can be prevented.

This is not the first time we've discussed opioid addiction in Tennessee. It won't be the last. The subject gets lots of attention from reporters, elected officials, medical professionals, law enforcement and the public. In this edition of HealthConnections, we zoom out a bit to explore the contours of opioid abuse from a basic level. University of Tennessee College of Nursing professor Dr. Carole Myers interviews Karen Pershing, executive director of the Metro Drug Coalition.

In 2015 and 2016, for the first time in half a century, Americans' life expectancy regressed. This bucked a long-term trend marked by lengthening lifespans, and puts the U.S. somewhat at odds with other developed nations. Not only did U.S. life expectancy shorten (to 78.6 years), it lagged behind the average for similar countries (nearly 82 years).

2017 ended without resolution for several major questions about health and healthcare in the United States: Would CHIP funding be re-authorized? What will be the fate of community health centers? Why are some worried about major cuts to Medicare and Medicaid?

To pinpoint where the discussion stands, we turn again to Dr. Carole Myers, of the University of Tennessee College of Nursing. She will frame those questions, and explore the uncertainty over health legislation and medical programs as 2018 begins.

State lawmakers will gather once more this month, as a new session of the Tennessee General Assembly begins. The mountain of bills up for consideration will include legislation that will affect health and medicine. One will take mental illness into account in criminal sentencing. Other address suicide prevention. And will Medicaid expansion see the light of day in 2018?

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