HEALTH

Kind World #47: While I'm Here

Nov 7, 2017

Forty-four-year-old Bob Charland of Springfield never had much free time.

Auto mechanic by day, bouncer by night, single dad all the time, he was the kind of guy who became a troop leader for his daughter’s Girl Scout troop and who learned sign language so he could teach an automotive class to deaf students.

He was always going. Then, about eight months ago, he noticed something was off.

“My right hand was shaking all the time,” Bob says. “My speech was going off. I was forgetting more and more.”

When people don't get enough sleep, certain brain cells literally slow down.

A study that recorded directly from neurons in the brains of 12 people found that sleep deprivation causes the bursts of electrical activity that brain cells use to communicate to become slower and weaker, a team reports online Monday in Nature Medicine.

The Health Connector website goes live Wednesday for hundreds of thousands of Massachusetts residents expected to shop for health insurance for the coming year.

But after a year packed with pledges to repeal the Affordable Care Act and recent funding cuts, what’s left for many people is a lot of confusion.

So, let’s clear some things up.

People who are thinking about killing themselves appear to have distinctive brain activity that can now be measured by a computer.

In these people, words like "death" and "trouble" produce a distinctive "neural signature" not found in others, scientists report in the journal Nature Human Behaviour. More than 44,000 people commit suicide in the U.S. each year.

Open enrollment for people who buy their own health insurance starts Wednesday and ends Dec. 15. That means there are only 45 days to shop for coverage. The shorter enrollment period this year is just one of the changes to the process for buying insurance under the Affordable Care Act.

Here are five important factors to keep in mind if you plan to sign up for ACA coverage for 2018.

1. The health law has not been repealed.

Despite the efforts of President Trump and the Republican-led Congress, the Affordable Care Act remains the law of the land.

Fogster / Creative Commons

Beacon Hill was jolted late last week by a column in The Boston Globe. It cited a dozen anonymous lobbyists, aides, activists and lawmakers who described sexual harassment in the State House. 

Earlier this month, the toy-giant Mattel announced it had pulled the plug on plans to sell an interactive gadget for children.

The device, called Aristotle, looked similar to a baby monitor with a camera. Critics called it creepy.

Powered by artificial intelligence, Aristotle could get to know your child — at least that was how the device was being pitched.

Updated at 2:50 p.m. ET

President Trump declared a public health emergency to deal with the opioid epidemic Thursday, freeing up some resources for treatment. More than 140 Americans die every day from an opioid overdose, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"We are currently dealing with the worst drug crisis in American history," Trump said, adding, "it's just been so long in the making. Addressing it will require all of our effort."

"We can be the generation that ends the opioid epidemic," he said.

Blanca Ortiz-Torres was sitting in a Puerto Rican oasis. She was at a working bakery in the tiny mountain town of Maricao that had both a generator and a cistern and, as a result, could serve cold drinks, hot coffee, fresh pastries, and pizza.

U.S. Capitol
Dion Hinchcliffe flickr.com/photos/dionhinchcliffe / Creative Commons

While the White House considers the payments a bailout for insurers, the Massachusetts congressional delegation wants to make sure President Donald Trump knows how thousands of Bay State families will be negatively impacted by his decision to end federal subsidies used by insurers to keep consumer costs down.

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