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  • iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- About 5 percent more chronically ill people in the U.S. gained health insurance coverage after the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was implemented, increasing from approximately 80 percent to about 85 percent of chronically ill people in a new study published Monday in the Annals of Internal Medicine.Chronically ill people, including people with heart disease, cancer, diabetes, asthma, kidney disease or depression, are at risk for both physical and financial consequences of not having health insurance.With approximately half of American adults having at least one chronic illness, researchers wanted to examine if the main provisions of the ACA, including Medicaid expansion, insurance mandates and the creation of health care marketplaces, impacted this population's access to health insurance and health care."We wanted to focus on the chronic disease population," Dr. Elisabeth Poorman, primary care doctor at Cambridge Hospital Alliance, told ABC News Monday."By looking at this population, you can say there are millions of people who now have access for meds for diabetes, for cancer," Poorman said. "Losing coverage is not hypothetical. It means death, it means disability, it means suffering."The researchers from the University of California San Francisco and Cambridge Health Alliance examined data compiled by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and state health departments to see how more than 600,000 people between the ages of 18 to 64 with at least one chronic medical condition fared in the two years before and the year after the main provisions of the ACA were implemented in 2014. Those 600,000 people were a nationally representative sample, according to researchers.They found that insurance coverage for people with at least one chronic condition increased by approximately 5 percent in the year after the ACA was implemented, though it varied from state to state.Almost 82 percent of the chronically ill people in the study did have insurance before the implementation of the ACA in states that expanded Medicaid, rising to 88.5 percent in the year after the ACA was implemented, according to the study findings. In states that did not expand Medicaid, that number rose from 77 percent of chronically ill people before those main provisions of the ACA were implemented to 81.2 percent after they took effect.Under the ACA, Medicaid was expanded to include people with annual incomes below 138 percent of the federal poverty level. The law originally mandated that states had to expand Medicaid eligibility, but the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2012 that the federal government could not force states to expand eligibility. Almost half of the states in the U.S. are not participating in the ACA’s Medicaid expansion.In addition, after the ACA was implemented, researchers found chronically ill patients reported slightly better access to health care, with 2.7 percent more people getting a routine checkup; and 2.4 percent more of these patients reported they did not have to forgo a doctor's visit due to cost compared to the two years before the ACA was implemented.However, they did not find that these patients were more likely to have a personal physician after the ACA's passage. The authors acknowledged the study has limitations since the subjects self-reported via a telephone survey and they only have data from 2014 to understand the effects of the ACA's implementation."We wanted to evaluate the ACA and its successes and shortcomings," Poorman said. "The main question we looked to evaluate was, 'How close are we to being able to cover the sickest Americans?' And we are actually pretty far off. But there is an obvious increase in coverage in states that have initiated Medicaid expansion.""Many people assume that a certain income level will qualify you for Medicaid and in fact this was not true prior to the ACA expansion," Poorman explained. "Medicaid eligibility was very restricted in many states, limite
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  • iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- After reviewing more than 20 seasons of major league baseball, researchers have uncovered the greatest advantage in the game- jet lag.
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  • Darick Mead(HASTINGS, Neb.) -- Darick Mead didn't want to propose to his girlfriend of a year and a half while she was pregnant with their first child."I didn't want to do it just because of my son. I wanted to do it because it felt good in my heart," he told ABC News.Still, the proud father couldn't wait to pop the question to Susan Medina, and in fact, did so in the hospital with the help of his newborn son, Ryder.Mead, 26, and Medina, 20, met on the social network MeetMe.com. They later connected on Facebook and after one date, "we've been inseparable," Mead said.The Hastings, Nebraska, father said he didn't tell anyone -- including his family -- about his proposal, which he planned to do on the same day as his son's birth.But he did commission the couple's friend, Katie, to help with the planning, including securing a onesie that she decorated with the words, "Mommy, will you marry my daddy?"The day didn't quite go as planned, however."She was in labor for over 17 hours and she pushed for two-and-a-half hours," Mead said. "Three epidurals later and ... Ryder was born via emergency C-section."It had been a trying day for the couple, so Mead decided to delay his plan by one day to "give her a break."For the big moment, Mead had to convince his bride-to-be that the nurses wanted to check on their son outside of their hospital room. That's when he placed the miniature onesie on Ryder and carried him back into the room under the ruse that the nurses wanted Medina to practice changing Ryder's diaper.Friends and family pulled out their cell phones to "capture the baby's first diaper change," and that's when Medina unwrapped Ryder, dressed in the proposal onesie, and Mead dropped down to one knee."I don't even remember what exactly I was feeling. I just know that I started crying out of nowhere," Medina told ABC News. "I did not expect that to happen.""I was even waiting for him to say, 'Oh just kidding,'" she added. "I’m pretty sure I asked him, 'Are you sure?'"Mead was very sure, and now he says he's looking forward to beginning their new life together as a family.The two haven't begun wedding planning just yet, they say. For now, they're enjoying all of their milestones."I've got everything that I could ever ask for right now," the future groom said.
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  • Lauren LaPorta(TEANECK, N.J.) -- For Lauren LaPorta it was tough to lose weight.The 28-year-old high school guidance counselor spends most of her days in a wheelchair after a diving accident in 2000 left her with a severe spinal cord injury and an initial diagnosis as quadriplegic.On that day 17 years ago, LaPorta had just come home from a middle school swim meet when she was playing with her friends in her backyard swimming pool."I've dove into a pool a thousand times, but this one particular dive, I slipped ... and went directly straight down," she recalled. "My hands hit the bottom and gave way. Everything just went numb."She was only 11 at the time, but the reality of how serious her injury was started to sink in when when doctors told her that she had shattered her C5 vertebrae in the middle of her spinal cord.And, she said that she started "grasping the meaning behind it" when doctors told her she'd have to learn how to dress herself again, sit up again and how to stand up again.After a year and intense physical therapy, LaPorta was able to begin moving her limbs again.Still, one of the challenges of constantly being in a wheelchair was that she drastically gained weight. At her heaviest, LaPorta was 240 pounds. She blames mostly fast food restaurants."When you're in a wheelchair and it’s hard for you to get in and out of your car so many times a day, you're more likely to go to drive-throughs," she said.But thanks to her trainer, Erica Little of Holy Name Medical Center in Teaneck, New Jersey, LaPorta lost more than 40 pounds since August. It's a true feat for a woman who can only walk a couple of steps at a time using a cane, a walker, or by holding someone's hand.Working out was initially extremely difficult, LaPorta said."Our first attempt on getting on a treadmill, walking, I fell off," she recalled. "I tried it again [recently], and was able to step right up and we walked for five minutes."LaPorta also changed her diet, adding more fruits and vegetables to her daily intake.Now, with her weight on the decline, LaPorta said she feels even more confident to continue fighting her paralysis."I still have my down days. I still have days where I question, 'Why me? I don't feel like doing this today,' or I wake up and don't feel good bodywise," LaPorta admitted. "But you just keep going."I have the inner strength to overcome such an injury and keep fighting every single day, and find new ways to motivate myself."
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  • ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- Sitting at the Resolute Desk in the Oval Office for the first time, President Donald Trump signed an executive order "minimizing the economic burden" of Obamacare, and signed commissions for Secretary of Defense James Mattis and Secretary for Homeland Security John Kelly.Standing at Trump's side were Vice President Mike Pence, senior adviser Jared Kushner, and Chief of Staff Reince Priebus.
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