• iStock/Thinkstock(LOS ANGELES) --  Hundreds of California nurses and other community activists are rallying Wednesday in favor of a bill that could make the state the first to successfully launch a single-payer healthcare system.The groups see this as a chance for large state of California to show how a single-payer system can work and the necessity of providing universal health care coverage, according to Bonnie Castillo, the RN Response Network director at National Nurses United."We believe it's a right and not a privilege," Castillo told ABC News. "We know at the federal level there is debate and quandary about what to do and we know that this provides an opportunity in California to set a standard and a model for the nation."Supporters of the plan say the timing is right for this kind of legislation in the state, which has enormous influence with a population of nearly 40 million people and the 6th largest economy in the world. Health care coverage has been under added scrutiny as Republican leadership in Washington, D.C., has pledged to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA), leaving many questions about public options for health insurance.This proposed legislation would go further than the ACA by creating universal healthcare for California residents, meaning everyone in the state would be eligible for coverage. The bill, the "Californians for a Healthy California Act," was introduced by State Senator Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens) and State Senator Toni G. Atkins (D-San Diego) last week."Healthy California gives everyone insurance, because everyone has a right to health care," Lara said in a statement at the time last week. "Trump and the Republicans don’t get to pick the health care winners and losers, and we’ll never get to 100% health care in California unless we lead."If this legislation is turned into law, California could become the first state to start a single-payer health system in the U.S. Vermont passed legislation to start a single payer system in 2009, but the governor eventually scuttled the idea over financing concerns, according to a report in the New England Journal of Medicine.Castillo said the group is optimistic about the law's chance since many people have voiced concerns about a possible decrease in health coverage if the ACA is repealed."It's different political time, we're just coming off this presidential election where healthcare was majorly debated and a primary issue," Castillo said. She also cited recent studies including a Pew report released in January that found 60 percent of Americans say the government should be responsible for ensuring health care coverage for all Americans.This bill does not give details on how state officials would implement a single-payer system, which would require the state to take on the huge task of negotiating bulk prices for healthcare services and medications on behalf of the state's nearly 40 million people. Despite a lack of details, she said the group plans on being at the drafting table to ensure the system can function."It's a real opportunity to address this problem and in a way that provides real relief," Castillo said.But the functional single-payer system would also have to overcome unique hurdles in a state where millions of dollars in federal funds are spent on health programs like Medicaid and veterans affairs.Without details on how the plan will work with federal programs, it is difficult to say how functional it would be, according to Laurence Baker, a professor of health research and policy and a senior fellow at the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research."This would have to interact with other national programs," Baker explained. "The system would have to be functional within the national health system ... it would be another layer of difficulty."Other countries, like Canada, may have single payer systems that differ slightly depending on province, he said, but the U.S. is more complicated. Nothing like this
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  • Guinnevere Shuster/Humane Society of Utah(NEW YORK) --  When a three-year-old dog named Rhino Lightning was surrendered by his family to the Utah Humane Society, he came with something very unusual: A colorful little notebook with pages of information about the pup, written by an eight-year-old girl."We've had people bring in animals with a toy or maybe a letter," said Deann Shepherd, Director of Marketing and Communications for the Humane Society of Utah. "But this is the first time a dog came in with a notebook from a child with instructions."Sixteen pages of a 2 x 4 inch notebook's worth of notes came with the dog."Please don't change his name," she said in the notes. "He likes sleeping under blankets. Take him on at least 2 or 3 runs a day. Tell Rhino I love and miss him every night."The little girl called Rhino Lightning a "striped dream."  Shepherd told ABC News that Rhino had been adopted from the same place in December by a family with four children. Rhino, at 65 pounds, is "unaware of his size" and was not the right match for the family.Rhino has since been adopted again and his new family, Shepherd said, is "following all the rules."  Melanie Hill of Clearfield, Utah, saw Rhino's story on the local news and said to her fiance "that's my dog."After visiting Rhino Lightning at the humane society and making sure he got along with the dog they already had, Bentleigh, Rhino became Hill's on Monday. A dog sibling was one of the requirements set forth by the little girl and, according to Hill, the two are getting along very well.  In an unexpected twist, Rhino had brought Hill peace with something she's been struggling with her whole life. Hill was adopted and said she's had "bitterness" toward her birth mother. Now, she knows how much giving up someone you love hurts."This little girl has totally changed my thought pattern about my birth mother," Hill said. "My heart breaks for this little girl having to give up her best friend."As for Rhino Lightning, Hill said hers is his forever home. "I want this little girl to know her puppy is smothered in love. Neighbors have brought toys and treats, everyone comes to visit him. He is safe, and he is so, so loved."
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  • WLS-TV(CHICAGO) -- A Chicago infant is going home Wednesday for the first time, more than four months after being born as a "micro-premie."Entitan Martins delivered her daughter Eirianna when she was just 23 weeks pregnant. Weighing in at just 13 ounces, Eirianna is the smallest surviving infant to be born at Mount Sinai Hospital in Chicago, according to hospital officials."I'm just grateful that we're both here," Martins told ABC's Chicago station WLS-TV. "It's been a long haul."While pregnant, Martins had pre-eclampsia, a pregnancy complication characterized by high blood pressure and signs of damage in other organs. As a result, she knew that she would deliver early, but 23 weeks was so early that Eirianna was born on the edge of survivability."He comes in one day and says, 'We're having the baby now. I'm calling your husband, we're gonna do it,'" Martin told WLS-TV of the moment a doctor told her she needed to deliver.Born via a cesarean section, the tiny infant was so fragile that her parents couldn't even reach out and touch her as a newborn in case they accidentally injured her, according to WLS."I thought I was prepared for it, but when I saw her I was shell shocked," Martins told WLS-TV.After months in the hospital, Eirianna now can now feed via bottle and looks just like any other healthy newborn."Oh, it's great. I mean, she looks so good. She looks like she never was a little tiny premie," Beckie Deir, a nurse in the neonatal intensive care unit, told WLS.As Martins prepares to take her daughter home Wednesday, she looked back on her daughter's survival after such an early delivery as "a gift.""It feel like a miracle, like a blessing," Martins said. "I am very grateful."
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  • ABC News(NEW YORK) — YouTube star and comedian Hannah Hart, best known for her boozy cooking mishaps on her popular series, “My Drunk Kitchen,” said she turned to meditation while she was working to get her mentally ill mother proper care.Meditation "helps with my reactivity,” Hart told ABC News' Dan Harris during an interview for his podcast/livestream show, “10% Happier.” “On the outside, I’m always seemingly pretty calm unless I’m super happy, but on the inside, I can get really anxious really fast and meditation has kind of helped me control that.”Her older sister, Naomi, introduced her to the guided meditation app Headspace, and it has “brought meditation into my daily life,” Hart said. “I’m not forcing myself to calm down. I just have more calm in me.”Hart’s bubbly, shiny personality online has earned her millions of fans, many of whom were surprised to learn about her life-long private struggle of dealing with mental health issues in her family, as detailed in her memoir, Buffering: Unshared Tales of a Life Fully Loaded.In her memoir, Hart, 30, goes into great detail about her profound family issues growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area. Hart said her parents split up when she was a baby and she and her sister, Naomi, were mainly raised by their mother, Annette, who suffers from psychosis, in a home that Hart described as being in total squalor. She and her sister also spent time with their father, a devout Jehovah’s Witness — something Hart also described as having issues with.“I think my ability to feel compassion for another person has been a great blessing in my life and it’s something my mother has taught me. My ability to have great optimism is something my mother has taught me. But at the same time she hasn’t been the most reliable parent, through no fault of her own,” Hart said. “Everyone’s trauma is different, but it really took me a long time to realize, and I’m still kind of in denial, I guess, that it was more abnormal than normal.”Hart’s book is told from her perspective of watching her mother’s condition worsen over time, eventually leading Hart to care for her. Last year, her mother was placed in an involuntary psychiatric hold, which eventually led Hart to become her conservator.“The book really deals with kind of my mother’s decent, eventually culminating in homelessness, eventually culminating in me trying to provide care for her and my journey from a child to an adult trying to provide care for this person that I love, love deeply, and coming against a system that literally told me, ‘There’s nothing you can do,’” Hart said.Hart had become an established YouTube sensation when she won her case to be allowed to become her mother's conservator, meaning she can make decisions about her mother’s psychiatric wellbeing on her behalf — something she said is almost never granted. She has become an outspoken advocate for mental health reform.“I can say, with total sincerity, that the only reason I pursued entertainment was to spread this message,” Hart said. “I’m really lucky that I’m funny, because it gave me a platform to do this.”Hart’s most-well known series, “My Drunk Kitchen,” was started by accident, Hart said. In 2011, she was living in New York City and wanted to cheer up a friend back in California, so she sent her a YouTube video of herself getting drunk while cooking. That video ended up going viral — today it has over 4.1 million views — and seeing an opportunity, she began to do more.Since then, Hart has built an entire “Harto” YouTube brand that includes videos of candid confessions about coming out as gay, quirky dating and relationship advice, hilarious DIY mishaps and hanging out and drinking with frie
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  • iStock/ThinkstockBy DR. JENNIFER ASHTON, ABC News Senior Medical Contributor
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  • iStock/Thinkstock(ATLANTA) -- Forget that the calendar says it's still winter, allergy season is already hitting much of the country despite spring officially being nearly a month away.As a relatively mild and wet winter has given way to unseasonably high temperatures across much of the U.S., multiple areas are reporting high pollen counts weeks earlier than normal.Here's a look at what you need to know about the kick-off to spring allergy season.Which areas are reporting high pollen levels?Not surprisingly, the South has started to see high levels of pollen as trees start to come back to life after winter weather. This week, Atlanta reported pollen counts of 1,289, according to the Atlanta Allergy and Asthma Center. Last year, nothing close to that was recorded until mid-March, according to the center.Additionally, parts of Texas, North Carolina, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Louisiana and Georgia have all had high levels of tree pollen, according to a daily Accuweather map.Does winter weather affect spring allergy season?Dr. Yasmin Bhasin, an allergist at the Allergy and Asthma Care in Middletown, N.Y., said the mild, wet weather that has hit much of the country will likely mean a worse season for allergy sufferers overall."Allergy season is directly in relation to how much it has rained and snowed," Bhasin said. It depends on the weather for the trees "to grow and flourish and pollinate" in the spring. The healthier the trees, the more pollen in the air.Mid-March is usually the prime time for allergens to be released, Bhasin said, but it can change depending on the weather and last year's cold winter meant allergy season was delayed.Which allergens are released in the spring?The top allergen of spring is tree pollen. The type of tree pollen released largely depends on the region, Bhasin said. However, primarily oak, maple, birch and elm trees will be causing allergy sufferers a lot of misery this spring, she noted.
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