Health and Medicine

Health news

Austin Jenkins / Northwest News Network

Home canning is regaining popularity as part of the local food movement. If done right, families can enjoy home grown fruits, vegetables and even meat all through the winter. But if done wrong it can be devastating, if not deadly.

A lawyer for the state of Washington recently learned that lesson the hard way.

Cover Oregon

Nearly $500 million.

That’s how much the federal government has awarded Washington, Oregon and Idaho to create health benefit exchanges. These are the new web portals to purchase insurance under the Affordable Care Act. It’s a costly undertaking that involves six-figure salaries, hefty IT contracts and high-end advertising campaigns.

If a green, talking gecko can sell car insurance, then maybe Portland-based folk singer Laura Gibson can sell health insurance.

Virginia Alvino / Northwest News Network

This year in the Oregon legislature, there was a big push to dramatically boost funding for mental health programs. The effort was spurred on by mass shootings in Connecticut and Oregon. But mental health advocates say in the end, the legislature fell far short of the game-changer they hoped for.

After last December's mass shootings in Newtown and the Clackamas Town Center, Democrats and Republicans found bipartisan agreement on the need for more mental health funding. Oregon lawmakers considered a measure that would have dramatically expanded the state's mental health services.

Thomas Lersch / Wikimedia

The National Institutes of Health Wednesday announced it will retire the great majority of chimpanzees used in federally-supported medical research.

The institute director says the use of our closest animal relative for invasive studies can no longer be justified in most cases. That means more than 300 chimps are headed into retirement. But neither of the two chimpanzee sanctuaries here in the Northwest say they're prepared to take new chimps.

Gelmini / Wikimedia

Oregon and Idaho need more dentists. That's according to a new study out Tuesday from the Pew Charitable Trusts. It puts Oregon and Idaho among the top 10 states with the worst shortages.

Unless you live in a rural area, you probably haven't felt the dearth of dentists found in the Pew study. As Portland dentist Jill Price puts it, the problem isn't so much a shortage as poor distribution. She says, “We need to find ways to move people into the outlying areas.”

Mjpresson / Wikimedia Commons

Oregon medical marijuana patients could soon have an easier time getting hold of the drug. The Oregon House Monday narrowly passed a measure that would authorize a system of storefront dispensaries.

More than 53,000 people hold medical marijuana cards in Oregon. Under current state law, they either have to grow their own or find a buddy to grow it for them. This measure would allow growers to sell their goods through authorized dispensaries.

CDC

Oregon lawmakers want to make parents think twice before deciding not to have their kids immunized. The Oregon Senate Thursday approved a measure that would add steps to the way parents can opt out of the requirement.

The Oregon Health Authority says more than six percent of children enter kindergarten without the required number of vaccinations. It has been the highest highest rate in the nation, and it's been climbing.

Oregon Legislature

After last December’s mass shootings in Oregon and Connecticut, Democrats and Republicans in the Oregon legislature called for increased funding for mental health care. Now, there’s a proposal under discussion that would expand such programs in a big way, but it remains caught up in a debate over how to fund it. And for one lawmaker, mental health care is a very personal issue.

Alexandra Kocik / Northwest News Network

Teenagers will have a harder time getting an artificial tan under a bill that won final approval in the Oregon Senate Thursday. It requires teens under 18 to get a permission slip from a doctor if they want to use a tanning bed at a salon.

Supporters said there's an overwhelming link between skin cancer and artificial tans, especially among people who get them when they’re young. Opponents called it a “nanny state” measure and said teens would simply find other ways to tan.

Alexandra Kocik / Northwest News Network

  OLYMPIA, Wash. – Health care advocates are pushing Washington state lawmakers to keep up momentum toward expanding access to Medicaid. About 100 people rallied on the Capitol steps in Olympia Thursday. They argue one group that will especially benefit is people with mental illness.

Inside the Capitol, that’s one of many issues related to the mentally ill. Several measures focus on broadening access to community mental health services as opposed to big institutions. The idea is to get help for mentally ill people before they get into trouble.

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