• 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(LONDON) -- A pollution spike in London has caused Mayor Sadiq Khan to issue a "very high" air pollution warning.
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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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  • iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Federal and state health officials are investigating an outbreak of the dangerous Seoul virus, which has sickened at least eight people after they came into contact with infected pet rats.The U.S. Centers for Disease Control deployed two epidemiologists over the weekend and is working with the Illinois and Wisconsin Departments of Health to respond to the virus, the agency said. The Illinois Department of Health is looking for people who either purchased or were exposed to any infected rats, a spokeswoman said Monday, noting that it is also looking to find out where the infected rats where purchased from.The Seoul virus is part of the Hantavirus family and can cause fever, severe headache, back and abdominal pain, chills, blurred vision, redness of the eyes, or rash. In rare cases it can cause kidney disease, according to the CDC.Officials first discovered the outbreak when a home-breeder of pet rats was hospitalized last December with fever, headache and other Seoul virus symptoms in Wisconsin. Blood tests revealed the patient was suffering from the rare virus and during the investigation a close family member, who also worked with pet rats, was found to have the virus as well, according to the CDC.The patients ultimately recovered from the virus.Investigators then looked the rat breeders that supplied the rats to the first patient. They found six of those rat breeders also tested positive for the virus. The CDC epidemiologists are now searching to see if any other customers who bought pet rats might be ill and to ensure any infected rats are not sold."These efforts will help determine how the two individuals in Wisconsin were initially exposed to Seoul virus and allow public health officials to take actions to prevent future spread of the virus," the CDC said in a statement.The virus is carried by wild Norway rats throughout the globe and several outbreaks of the virus have been reported in wild rats in the U.S. This is the first time the outbreak has started in pet rats, according to the CDC. The virus was named Seoul virus after it was first reported in the South Korean capital.The virus cannot be transmitted from person-to-person, but it can be transmitted from an infected rat to a person via bodily fluids or a bite.
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  • Kids for Peace(NEW YORK) — The founders of the "Great Kindness Challenge," a grassroots campaign aimed at spreading goodwill and happiness in schools across the country, appeared on Good Morning America Monday to share the work they are doing to make the world a better place.Jill McManigal, 52, from Carlsbad, California, said that she originally started the Great Kindness Challenge in her backyard with her children, who were only seven and four years old at the time, and their neighborhood friends. Together, the group formed what became "Kids for Peace," an international non-profit that spearheaded the Great Kindness Challenge, a challenge taken by schools and youth groups to perform as many acts of kindness from a list 50 acts as possible over the course of the week."My inspiration is creating a world where everyone is loved and cared for and happy," McManigal told ABC News. "The mission of the Great Kindness Challenge is to create school environments where all students thrive.""We want all children and all students to recognize the goodness in others, and this gives them the platform to do that," McManigal said of the challenge.In 2012, she brought the challenge to three local schools in her community, including the elementary school her children attended. The following year, 263 schools participated in the challenge. This year, more than 12,000 schools, and over 10 million students across the country, are participating in the challenge.To participate in the Great Kindness Challenge, students receive a checklist of 50 simple, kind, acts that they can accomplish. Students are encouraged to try and complete all 50 random acts of kindness over the course of one week. Some of the items on the list are as simple as smiling at 25 people, while others might encourage students to step out of their comfort zones by sitting with someone new at lunch.Richard Tubbs, the principal of Hope Elementary School in Carlsbad, Calif., which was one of the first schools to implement the Great Kindness Challenge, said in a statement that he believes "it’s very important that everyone is always thinking about ways to be kind.""We just want everyone to be able to share that same kindness wherever they go in their community, around the world," Tubbs added.McManigal said the reaction to the challenge at schools has been overwhelmingly positive."I see that everyone is just a bit more or a lot more happier," McManigal said. "There is such a power in doing for others, and also from receiving."McManigal added that teachers have also been very supportive of the Great Kindness Challenge in their schools because it "because they see their students reaching out to each other and being very conscious of their actions and words, so it makes for a happier and healthier learning environment."The materials that educators need to implement the Great Kindness Challenge in their schools is all free, according to McManigal, who added that they have over 25,000 volunteers with their organization working to implement the challenge in local schools.McManigal added that the joy that the program brings to schools and communities is "palpable.""As the children are given permission to go out there and really exert their kindness," McManigal said. "It creates this joy that is palpable on campuses."
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  • iStock/ThinkstockBy DR. JENNIFER ASHTON, ABC News Senior Medical ContributorNot too long ago, the governor of Florida announced that his state was clear of locally-transmitted cases of the Zika virus for the first time since July. But this is no time to drop our guard when it comes to this potentially deadly virus, especially if you are pregnant or are planning to start a family. A new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows the Zika virus is capable of replicating itself in the placenta, which could explain why it appears to lead to more health complications for a developing fetus, including the birth defect microcephaly.Here’s my take: Remember that sacrificing a trip can potentially prevent a devastating birth defect or pregnancy loss. Control the things that are in your control, and elective travel is one of those things.Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.
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