National News

What the VA and the Cleveland Clinic have in common

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2014-06-04 13:32

One of the country’s top hospital executives may be on the short-list to become the next secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs.

The Cleveland Clinic’s Dr. Toby Cosgrove could replace Eric Shinseki, after Shinseki resigned over veterans waiting prolonged periods of time for an appointment and staff covering that up.

If there’s one thing the VA needs to do right now, it’s figure out how to make sure patients are getting the right care in the right place at the right time.

On paper Cosgrove’s resume seems ideal.

He’s a veteran, a successful surgeon and is seen as one of the few hospital executives in the country who has improved patient care and controlled healthcare costs.

Greg Anrig with the left-leaning Century Foundation says he thinks Cosgrove could hit the ground running because the VA and the Cleveland Clinic are similar creatures.

“They are team focused. They are focused on data, they are oriented on using technology effectively,” he says.

While this patient scandal has certainly marred the VA’s reputation, the VA has a sturdy track record delivering quality care that’s often similar to -- or better than -- what can be found in the private sector.

But one certain challenge ahead is addressing high patient demand in areas with sizeable veteran populations.

Cosgrove has shown he knows how to treat patients in hospitals when they need it, and elsewhere when they don’t.

The VA could likely benefit from that kind of patient management.

Some in the healthcare world believe if Cosgrove becomes the next secretary – and is successful - his reforms could influence hospitals around the nation.

Latest Sexual Assault In India Underscores U.N. Chief's Call For Action

NPR News - Wed, 2014-06-04 13:21

As Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon demands a global end to violence against women, a 35-year-old is molested and shot in front of her husband and five children in India's northeast.

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Doctors Hesitate To Ask Heart Patients About End-Of-Life Plans

NPR News - Wed, 2014-06-04 13:05

Most people diagnosed with heart failure die within five years, yet doctors often don't ask them about how they want to prepare for death, a study finds. They cited lack of confidence as one reason.

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Despite Video Of Bergdahl's Release, Questions Dog His Capture

NPR News - Wed, 2014-06-04 12:55

Questions surround Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl's initial disappearance. Bergdahl has said he was captured by the Taliban while lagging behind on a patrol, but many wonder whether he planned to desert.

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Ex-Ambassador To Syria: Civil War Could Drag On For Years

NPR News - Wed, 2014-06-04 12:51

Robert Ford resigned as U.S. ambassador to Syria earlier this year. He tells NPR's Robert Siegel that it became impossible for him to defend the Obama administration's policies in the country.

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NFL Says When It Comes To Super Bowl 50, 'L' Is For Losers

NPR News - Wed, 2014-06-04 12:47

The football league says the 2016 championship will depart from tradition by not using the Roman numeral L (50) because it doesn't work well on the logo.

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Privacy Law Frustrates Parents Of Mentally Ill Adult Children

NPR News - Wed, 2014-06-04 12:41

Even if parents are providing health insurance, they often can't find out what's happening when their adult children suffer from severe mental illness.

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Women 'Complain A Lot, Interrupt,' Developer Says At Conference

NPR News - Wed, 2014-06-04 12:18

At a tech conference in Berlin, a developer compared a software plug-in framework to his girlfriend, saying she "complains, interrupts" and "doesn't play well with others."

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In Mississippi, A Heated Senate Primary Spills Into Runoff

NPR News - Wed, 2014-06-04 12:08

In one of the country's most competitive primaries, incumbent Republican Sen. Thad Cochran and Mississippi state Sen. Chris McDaniel appear headed for a runoff.

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Chinese Authorities Ensure Tiananmen Anniversary Passes Quietly

NPR News - Wed, 2014-06-04 12:08

Twenty-five years ago, Chinese soldiers backed by tanks cracked down on protesters, shooting hundreds and possibly thousands of unarmed civilians in Beijing's Tiananmen Square. The Chinese mourned victims in private Wednesday, as Tiananmen Square evinced a heavy security presence.

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After State Lawmaker Comes Out, Campaign Becomes Battle Of Write-ins

NPR News - Wed, 2014-06-04 12:08

Mike Fleck, who was re-elected three times before he came out as gay in 2012, lost the Republican state house primary to a write-in candidate. So he won as a write-in on the Democratic ballot instead.

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New Pollution Rules Leave Utilities Frustrated, As Details Remain Up In Air

NPR News - Wed, 2014-06-04 12:08

The Obama administration has proposed rules for limiting greenhouse gases, but many of the details must still be set by states, leaving utilities unsure about specifics they'll be expected to achieve.

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In Keynote Speech, Obama Marks A Quarter-Century Of Polish Democracy

NPR News - Wed, 2014-06-04 12:08

President Obama is delivering the keynote address of his current trip to Europe in Poland. Earlier in the day, Obama is meeting with the president-elect of Ukraine, Petro Poroshenko.

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Prisoner Swap Ignites Political Firestorm On The Hill

NPR News - Wed, 2014-06-04 12:08

Everything the Obama administration touches seems to set off a political firestorm. The latest involves Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl and the prisoner exchange that led to his release by the Taliban.

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VA Health Care's Chronic Ailments: Long Waits And Red Tape

NPR News - Wed, 2014-06-04 11:34

Problems at the VA are not new; the system has struggled for years to deliver health care in a timely manner. Most of those enduring long waits are older vets from Vietnam, Korea and World War II.

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1 Baby, 3 Parents: Scientists Say Due Date Is In Two Years

NPR News - Wed, 2014-06-04 11:27

A medical procedure uses material from three people to target problems in mitochondria, the energy-producing organelles that have their own DNA.

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The student-debt burden: online vs traditional schools

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2014-06-04 11:05

There were dueling Congressional hearings on student loans today.

The Senate Banking and Budget committees talked about what a trillion dollars in student-loan debt might mean for the economy.

Our colleague, Sally Herships reported on legislation proposed by Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Massachusetts; it would allow students to refinance their federal student loans. 

We thought we’d compare the debt load for students who graduated from exclusively online program, to the debt load for students whose programs were not entirely online.  Financial-aid expert Mark Kantrowitz ran the numbers for us, based on data from  the 2011-2012 National Postsecondary Student Aid Study (NPSAS).

&nbsp Average debt at graduation, by program type | Create Infographics
  Percentage of students graduating with debt, by program type | Create Infographics  

Last Of The Navajo 'Code Talkers' Dies At 93

NPR News - Wed, 2014-06-04 10:54

Chester Nez, one of 29 Navajo men who used their native language to secure U.S. military communications during World War II, died of kidney failure on Wednesday.

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This summer's most boring read

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2014-06-04 10:41

There's a new book out today, but it's not exactly the hottest of summer reads.

It's commonly called "The Beige Book", but its formal name is "Summary of Commentary on Current Economic Conditions." Sound exciting?

The Beige Book is a Federal Reserve report that compiles information from local banks and businesses in different districts of the country.

But New York Times Washington Correspondent Binyamin Applebaum says its contents are so dull, they spawned the very idea of the book in the first place back in 1970:

“The head of The Fed was bored of listening to the regional reserve presidents show up at meetings and read long, prepared speeches about how things were going in California and Kansas City and Chicago, and he basically said, ‘Enough! I don’t want to listen to this stuff anymore. I want you all to submit it before the meeting and we’ll make a nice fancy book and distribute it. And anyone who is interested can read it.”

The book’s original cover was actually red, and it was only distributed within The Fed. Until Paul Volker took over the reigns as Fed Chair and came up with an idea:

“Volker had a problem,” Applebaum says. “He was engaged in this big war on inflation and he was trying to drive inflation down. It was making people unhappy, unemployment was high, the economy was not doing that well, Congress was breathing down his neck and they wanted more information about what he was doing. They wanted him to explain what’s going on inside the Fed, and he didn’t want to do that. So he came up with an idea. He said, ‘Hey, we’ll give you this book we’ve been publishing for 13 years at that point. You can have it. Maybe you’ll like to read it. No one around here reads it, but it’s all yours.”

How can you make a book you don’t want people to read even more boring?

“The Fed actually gave it a beige cover to make the point that it was pretty boring,” Applebaum says. “It’s no accident.”

Applebaum says it worked so well that Congress considered changing the cover colors of some of its other reports from green and blue to beige as well.

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