Health & Wellness

Friday, May 19, 2017

Protesters fear the worst at 'die-in' against American Health Care Act

Posted By on Fri, May 19, 2017 at 2:59 PM


As a thick miasma of Trump-Russia news clouded the national consciousness, a small group of demonstrators staged a "die-in" May 19 to draw focus to the American Health Care Act (AHCA).

Around noon Friday, a dozen or so activists — many of whom belong to the Metairie and New Orleans chapters of national progressive group Indivisible — stood in front of Tulane Medical Center, some carrying signs shaped like tombstones. One woman was dressed as the Grim Reaper, with a cardboard scythe that said "Trumpcare." The funereal theme was meant to highlight potential loss of insurance coverage (and, by extension, life) related to the AHCA, which recently passed the House of Representatives.

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Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Living with anxiety: Seven young people share their stories

Posted By on Wed, May 17, 2017 at 12:00 PM


We're living in anxious times. Between a turbulent news cycle, the fast-changing job market and technology that regularly upends whole industries, it's easy to feel overwhelmed by worry.

But for some people, those feelings aren't new — and their feelings add up to more than just apprehension about the future or situational nervousness, like the butterflies you feel when you have to give a speech. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness, affecting as many as 18 percent of Americans over the course of a year. People with these illnesses can experience a variety of unpleasant symptoms, including excessive worry or tension, cognitive problems such as trouble concentrating, sleep disturbances and physical issues such as heart palpitations and muscle fatigue.

For Mental Health Awareness Month, Gambit spoke to seven young New Orleanians who self-identify as living with an anxiety disorder. In their own words, they described similar feelings: My throat closed. I couldn't move. I thought I was dying. They also talked about their decisions to seek (or not seek) treatment, and how it worked out for them.

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Planned Parenthood hosts storytelling and community health event May 20

Posted By on Wed, May 17, 2017 at 9:00 AM

A protester holds a sign at a February rally supporting Planned Parenthood. - PHOTO BY KAT STROMQUIST
  • A protester holds a sign at a February rally supporting Planned Parenthood.

"Standing Strong," a storytelling series hosted by Planned Parenthood, discusses barriers to women's health care in the South. The May 20 event caps off National Women's Health Week.

At the event at Ashe Cultural Arts Center, speakers will discuss the positive impact Planned Parenthood has had on their lives and propose ways Southern women can work to enhance their health care community. Featured speakers include poet and activist Sonya Renee Taylor — you can watch her perform one of her firebrand poems about reproductive rights here — and Erika Jupiter, who was a Planned Parenthood patient when she was younger and grew up to be a senior field organizer for the organization. Local health groups also will table and offer information about community resources.

The event begins at 6 p.m. Saturday. It's free to attend, but advance registration is required.

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Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Bill to allow anonymous health risk surveys in high schools fails in Louisiana Senate

Posted By on Tue, May 16, 2017 at 6:00 PM


Louisiana has the seventh highest rate of teen pregnancies in the U.S. among kids aged 15-19. Half of all new STD diagnoses in the U.S. are among young people — Louisiana leads the U.S. in rates of gonorrhea and syphilis, and it has the second-highest rate of chlamydia, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

A bill from state Sen. Yvonne Colomb, D-Baton Rouge, would allow the state's departments of health and education to administer an anonymous survey to school districts to gauge risk behaviors among high school students. The CDC survey already is administered in 42 other states. In Louisiana, the survey omits questions about sexual activity but does ask about drug and alcohol use, among other behaviors. Colomb's Senate Bill 85 would allow those questions on the survey.

Proponents argued that with access to the full scope of risk behavior data among young people, the state could apply for more funding for programming to accurately reflect student behavior and help lower the state's high rates of STDs and unplanned pregnancies. A similar bill won House approval last year, and Colomb's bill cleared the Senate's Health and Welfare Committee last week.

But after pushback from conservative opponents, the bill failed by a vote of 14-22 during Senate debate May 16. The bill is scheduled for reconsideration in the Senate May 17.

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Sen. John Neely Kennedy calls for work requirement for many Medicaid recipients

Posted By on Tue, May 16, 2017 at 5:00 PM

  • Sen. John Neely Kennedy.

Calling Medicaid a "Sharknado-sized health insurance program for 20 percent of
Americans," Sen. John Neely Kennedy wrote in an opinion column today he would be filing legislation called the “Medicaid Reform and Personal Responsibility Act of 2017," which would require "able-bodied adult enrollees" without dependents to work, go to school or perform community service for 20 hours a week in order to receive Medicaid health benefits:
My bill is a common sense approach to reducing America's reliance on entitlement programs. Its Medicaid work requirement is similar to the current work requirement for food stamps: Adults between the ages of 18 and 55, who have no dependents and are not disabled, must spend 20 hours a week working in a job, going to school or doing community service in order to continue to receive free health care through Medicaid. I believe there is a close correlation between getting up in the morning and getting ahead in the world. Our goal should be to get people off Medicaid because they can afford their own health insurance. I don’t want to take Medicaid away from people in need. I do want fewer people to need Medicaid. 
Later in the column, Kennedy mentioned the problems of unemployed oil patch workers and Louisiana flood victims, but stopped short of exempting them from the work requirement:

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Wednesday, May 10, 2017

At New Orleans appearance, a polished Sheryl Sandberg says "it gets better"

Posted By on Wed, May 10, 2017 at 12:00 PM


In a 45-minute conversation at Academy of the Sacred Heart with crackly conservative intellectual Mary Matalin, Sheryl Sandberg spoke about bereavement and recovery as told in her new book, Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience and Finding Joy.

Sandberg is like a new sort of person: Facebook COO; alumna of Harvard (twice), the World Bank, the Treasury Department and Google; poised, without the hesitation and self-questioning that so often characterizes women's speech; at ease in front of a crowd of hundreds; spin-class slim at age 47; delicate pink pumps; voice like a piece of black velvet.

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Report: Southeast Louisiana life expectancies rising, but still fall short of national average

Posted By on Wed, May 10, 2017 at 10:00 AM


A nationwide JAMA Internal Medicine study published May 8, which compared death statistics across the U.S. by county, reveals good news for residents of the greater New Orleans area — little by little, life expectancies are on the rise.

One of the most dramatic changes occurred in Orleans Parish, where life expectancy for men rose by almost eight years between 1994 and 2014, the most recent year researchers studied. In 1994, life expectancy for men in the parish was just 65 years. In 2014, that figure had risen to 72 years. (For the sake of readability, these figures are rounded to whole numbers; the specific stats are available on this interactive map.)

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Monday, May 8, 2017

Women's organizations united in opposition to American Health Care Act

Posted By on Mon, May 8, 2017 at 5:42 PM

A protester wears a costume at a February rally in support of Planned Parenthood. - KAT STROMQUIST
  • A protester wears a costume at a February rally in support of Planned Parenthood.

In Louisiana and beyond, women's organizations are raising the alarm about the American Health Care Act (AHCA), which Petrice Sams-Abiodun of Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast calls "the worst bill for women's health in a generation."

House Republicans voted May 4 in favor of the bill intended to "repeal and replace" the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare. (No Democrats voted for the bill.) Though its passage doesn't necessarily mean anything — the Senate has suggested it will write its own bill, spearheaded by an all-male committee — the substance of the AHCA in its current form has been roundly condemned by observers and providers focused on women's rights and access to health care.

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Abramson bill requiring private, charter schools to have suicide prevention programs passes House unanimously

Posted By on Mon, May 8, 2017 at 5:07 PM


The Louisiana House of Representatives unanimously approved a bill Monday that requires nonpublic and charter schools enact suicide prevention programs. The law already requires it in public schools.

House Bill 452 by Rep. Neil Abramson, D-New Orleans, mandates all charter and approved nonpublic school teachers, school counselors and principals to have in-service training in suicide prevention as determined by the board, other school administrators.

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Sen. Bill Cassidy to appear on Jimmy Kimmel Live! tonight

Posted By on Mon, May 8, 2017 at 1:33 PM

At a Metairie town hall in February, U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy faced a crowd of constituents angry about GOP health care proposals.
  • At a Metairie town hall in February, U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy faced a crowd of constituents angry about GOP health care proposals.

Bill Cassidy, Louisiana's senior senator and a physician, will appear on tonight's Jimmy Kimmel Live! to discuss health care in America. The show airs at 10:35 p.m. on WGNO-TV.

After Kimmel's emotional monologue last week about the recent birth of his child Billy — who was born with heart disease — Cassidy on Friday coined the term "Kimmel Test" to describe what his standard would be to vote for a new health plan:
The Louisiana Republican cited Kimmel's passionate monologue on health care when responding to a question from CNN's John Berman on whether he could "support a bill that allows insurance companies to cap their payouts to customers."

"I ask does it pass the Jimmy Kimmel test," said Cassidy, who is also a physician. "Would the child born with a congenital heart disease be able to get everything she or he would need in that first year of life ... even if they go over a certain amount?"
While the House of Representatives last week voted for the American Health Care Act to replace the Affordable Care Act, the plan is considered DOA in the Senate in its current form. Cassidy has created his own Patient Freedom Act.

Other guests tonight on the Kimmel show: Zach Galifianaikis, Tracee Ellis Ross and Logic.

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