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.

Nine years after the Affordable Care Act got Americans thinking more deeply about health care, insurance and related topics, Democratic presidential candidates are talking about even more change. A group of proposals commonly grouped under the heading "Medicare for All" propose major changes for the healthcare industry, a significant chunk of the U.S. economy.

Each year since 2010, the University of Washington Population Health Institute has released the County Health Rankings.  The 2019 report came out not too long ago, and in this edition of HealthConections, we explore the rankings and what they can tell us about East Tennessee's health.

Safety net health providers offer behavioral and physical treatment to low-income patients that typically are uninsured, and have poor health. Right now, doctors and clinics can’t keep up with the demand, a problem that may grow worse in the near future. Governor Bill Lee says he wants to add millions of dollars to help bolster that safety net. What the governor’s plan might mean for providers, patients and Tennessee, on this edition of HealthConnections.

For centuries, doctors, patients and even philosophers have thought of mind and body as two separate realms. And in American medicine today, that's usually how they are treated: separate doctors, often at separate facilities, and at separate times.

But a growing awarness of the connected nature of human health is changing that old model. It's called integrated care, and its advocates say it can help people lead longer, better lives.

Democrats in the Tennessee General Assembly say they haven’t given up on expanding Tennessee’s Medicaid program, called TennCare, to include more low-income people. But Republicans, who hold a supermajority of seats, are angling for a different approach, one that relies on block grants. They say their proposal would expand coverage without expanding TennCare. But there's a lot we don't know about the idea, or how it would work.

In this edition of HealthConnections: what block grants are, how they operate, and what they might mean for health coverage in Tennessee.

We take it for granted that pets are miracle workers for your health. In print, on TV and online, pets get credit for reducing blood pressure, lowering cholesterol, reducing stroke risk and even extending our lives. If you’re a pet lover, you’ve probably shared a few of those articles on your social media accounts. As exciting and as affirming as those stories are, there’s a lot we don’t know about how animals affect their human companions. Today on HealthConnections, what we know and don’t know about the human-animal bond.

When you hear the word "mindfulness," what do you think about? A yoga studio, perhaps. Someone sitting, legs crossed, eyes closed, ommmmming their way to enlightenment. Or maybe something strange and unfamiliar. Specific definitions can vary, but in a general sense mindfulness is the experience of living through a moment free of distraction. Experiencing something without your mind veering off to some other tangent - which happens more often than you might think. And it doesn't necessarily require special techniques.

A 2017 survey showed more than half of Americans take prescription drugs. If you’re one of them, you probably know prescriptions can be very expensive. But that’s not the case in other industrialized nations. What makes the U.S. different, and how can national leaders address the growing cost of prescription drugs?

New Year's Day is the only major holiday dedicated to the passage of time. And just like clockwork, New Year's Day is when many Americans think about making big changes. Losing weight, quitting smoking, getting more organized - new year's resolutions are easy to make, but hard to maintain. Most people that make resolutions fail to keep them. That can feel like a personal failure, but it doesn't have to.

The 116th Tennessee General Assembly convenes next month. Some of the decisions legislators make will affect health and healthcare in the state. What's ahead for the uninsured? How will lawmakers address opioid abuse? And what kind of changes are needed to improve Tennessee's poor health rankings?

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