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Preview: Seattle Post-Intelligencer: Science Health & Science News From the Associated Press


Smartphone app lets user 'walk a mile in a refugee's shoes'

Tue, 25 Apr 2017 08:28:41 UT

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) — The United Nations helped launch a smartphone app Tuesday that allows users to "walk a mile in a refugee's shoes" by simulating the daily struggles of a fictional Rohingya Muslim who was forced to flee her home. Richard Towles, the UNHCR representative in Malaysia, said he hopes the free app will help people empathize with refugees. About a third of them are ethnic Rohingya Muslims, identified by the U.N. as one of the world's most persecuted minorities, who are denied citizenship by Myanmar and chased off their land in repeated outbreaks of communal violence.

Closings expected in Florida doctor's Medicare fraud trial

Tue, 25 Apr 2017 07:43:32 UT

(AP) — Closing arguments are expected in the Medicare fraud trial of a prominent Florida eye doctor who authorities say bribed a U.S. senator. Prosecutors will try to convince federal jurors in West Palm Beach on Tuesday that Dr. Salomon Melgen stole up to $105 million from the federal insurance program between 2008 and 2013, giving patients treatments and tests that couldn't help them.

Study: Trump's hardball tactic on health care may backfire

Tue, 25 Apr 2017 07:43:01 UT

The Kaiser Family Foundation found that taxpayers would end up paying 23 percent more than the potential savings from eliminating the health law's "cost-sharing" subsidies, which help low-income people with insurance deductibles and copayments. [...] the money is under a legal cloud after a federal judge's ruling in a lawsuit by House Republicans against the Obama administration. The judge agreed with GOP lawmakers that the health law lacked a specific congressional appropriation for the subsidies, making it unconstitutional for the government to spend the money. On top of that, Trump and GOP lawmakers still say they want to repeal Obama's health law, which provides coverage for some 20 million people through subsidized private coverage and expanded Medicaid. Insurers, doctors, hospitals, consumer groups and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce have urged lawmakers to preserve the cost-sharing subsidies, warning that insurance markets could unravel without the money, jeopardizing coverage for millions. [...] the Kaiser study modeled what might happen if companies stayed in the market even without government reimbursement for their cost-sharing expenses.

Trailblazing Colorado abortion law marks 50th anniversary

Tue, 25 Apr 2017 07:19:44 UT

In 1967, a Democratic freshman state lawmaker introduced a bill that allowed abortions if the woman's physical or mental health was threatened, if the unborn child might have birth defects or in cases of rape or incest. Instead of ending his newfound political career, Lamm went on to serve three terms as the state's governor. [...] abortion was not one of the Colorado Republican Party's most pressing issues and there was no organized opposition in the state to abortion rights because the idea was so new, Lamm said. Key to Lamm's effort was ally Ruth Steel, an activist who had lobbied lawmakers in 1965 to allow public health officials to discuss and to provide birth control with residents. While on lobbying trips to the Capitol, Steel dressed formally, wearing a hat and gloves, but had no qualms talking to lawmakers frankly about issues related to sex, Lamm said. In the era of divisive and turbulent social and political change, he said his mail was about evenly divided between supporters and opponents.

Overcoming Opioids: Special schools help teens stay clean

Tue, 25 Apr 2017 05:38:48 UT

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — When Logan Snyder got hooked on pills after a prescription to treat pain from a kidney stone, she joined the millions already swept up in the nation's grim wave of addiction to opioid painkillers. Only half of U.S. treatment centers accept teenagers and even fewer offer teen-focused groups or programs. [...] 17 and clean, she credits her continued success to Hope Academy in Indianapolis, a tuition-free recovery school where she's enrolled as a junior. The opioid epidemic, which researchers say is the worst addiction crisis in U.S. history, has mostly ensnared adults, especially those in their 20s, 30s and 40s. [...] getting hooked early is trouble — the vast majority of adults in treatment report they started using as teenagers. Researchers say young recovering addicts do better at places like Hope, special schools that use peer communities to support sobriety. There are only about three dozen such schools in the U.S., but interest is growing among educators and health officials because of the opioid epidemic. Teens like Snyder and Thompson can change in these settings, even after years of drug abuse, in part because social acceptance is a fundamental need for people their age. The sway of positive peer pressure — what students at Hope call "the community" — is quiet, almost intangible. Failing a urine test prompts a meeting with recovery coach Brad Trolson, who employs a technique called motivational interviewing, using open-ended questions and reflective listening to encourage students to think for themselves. Nationally, teen drug use is in long-term decline, according to an annual federal youth assessment of risky behaviors. A golden retriever named Banks pads about, then sits beside 18-year-old Ian Lewis, who hugs him with a tattooed arm. There are no magic words, Snyder says, for those desperate to rescue a young addict.

Clarification: China-Auto Show-GM story

Tue, 25 Apr 2017 04:51:04 UT

SHANGHAI (AP) — In a story April 22, The Associated Press reported that General Motors Co. expects annual sales of electric vehicles to reach 150,000 by 2020 and possibly surpass 500,000 by 2025. Those figures include GM's Buick, Cadillac and Chevrolet brands but not the Baojun brand made by its SAIC-GM-Wuling Automobile joint venture, for which it says a forecast will be announced later.