Joyce Russell/IPR

A statehouse committee spent the day Tuesday hearing about what’s being called a massive change in how health care in Iowa is delivered to the poor and disabled. 

Private companies are scheduled to take over management of the state-federal health care program known as Medicaid which serves more than 560-thousand Iowans.  

Critics worry about the effect on the state’s most vulnerable populations.  

Wikipedia / Wapcaplet

The University of Iowa’s Heart and Vascular Center will become the first facility in the state to provide a recently-FDA-approved procedure that decreases the risk of stroke in patients with a type of irregular heartbeat. 

University of Iowa

Women's health pioneer Byllye Avery has for more than 40 years been on the front lines of the women's heath movement in the United States.  It was her husband's sudden death at age 33 that was the catalyst for her commitment to improve the health of the African-American community.   She told IPR that it was 1970 and she and her husband, who was close to getting his doctorate, had two small children and a third child on the way.  But she says the health care system at the time did not make it clear to them how deadly high-blood pressure could be and her husband tragically died of a massive h

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

A clinical trial vaccinating people in Guinea exposed to Ebola virus has been found to have a 100 percent efficacy. That means none of the 2,000-plus people researchers immediately vaccinated got the virus.

Part of this vaccine was developed at Ames-based New Link Genetics. Swati Gupta is an executive director of Merck Vaccines which licensed the Ebola vaccine from New Link. Gupta says now, more trials are underway to administer the vaccine to people who need it.

Penguin Random House

Dr. David Casarett was a skeptic when he set out to write Stoned. But in his quest to determine what medical evidence exists for medical marijuana, the palliative care physician found more questions than answers. Host Ben Kieffer talks with him about the book and the research needed to answer those questions.

Casarett and listeners tell stories of how cannabidiol oil has helped children with seizure disorders.  He explains what science knows about the compounds found in cannabis, and the most effective means of extracting and administering those compounds. 

National Institutes of Health

The U.S. House of Representatives passed the 21st Century Cures Act Friday morning, which increases funding to the National Institutes of Health by $8.75 billion over the course of five years.

This announcement is particularly exciting for biomedical researchers in Iowa and across the country. When taking inflation into account, NIH funding has dropped by more than 22 percent since 2003.

Flickr / ceiling

The benefits of exercise are well documented, but it can difficult to make time to hit the gym. But when developing a good workout schedule, is it more important to focus on forming habits on how you exercise, or habits that make you decide to exercise?

According to ISU health psychologist L. Alison Phillips, it's the latter. She says strong patterns that prompt you to initiate exercise are key to frequent workouts. 

Stop Bugging Me!

Jun 15, 2015

Summer’s official start is right around the corner and with it comes an increase of pesky insects. State Health Department officials are warning against lathering on too much insect repellent.  IDPH Medical Director Patricia Quinlisk says a little spray goes a long way. “You want to use the lowest concentration that you need,” she explains. “Concentrations don’t tell you how well they work, they tell you how long they’re going to last.”

(Not So) Gross Anatomy

Jun 2, 2015
IPR's Pat Blank

For medical students enrolled in Gross Anatomy class, a rite of passage is dissecting human bodies. But putting hands on a real body is impractical for students who won’t eventually become doctors, however, technology is providing some new options.

Pan American Health Organization

Earlier this month, a team of researchers released a study that found one major difference between life and death for extremely preterm infants—those born from 22 to 26 weeks of gestation—was how aggressively the doctors attempted to save the babies’ lives.

Flickr / Joshua Smith

Just because an infant is extremely premature, it doesn't mean he or she can't survive. That's according to new New England Journal of Medicine study from University of Iowa researchers, which suggests some babies as young as 22 weeks premature are viable.

Researchers complied data from thousands premature births at 24 academic hospitals nationwide. The mortality rate for babies under 1000 grams birth weight, bit over 2 lbs, was as high as 50 percent in hospitals, and as low as 10 percent in others.

Aaron Hall

About half to two-thirds of adults in the U.S. use dietary supplements on a regular basis, contributing to an industry that generated more than $6 billion in 2013.

On this edition of River to River, Ben Kieffer talks with experts about an investigation, led by New York’s Attorney General, which found that only 21 percent of common supplements actually had DNA from the plants advertised on the labels.

Liz West / Flickr

There was the cabbage soup diet and the grapefruit diet, and more recently the paleo and gluten-free diets. Whatever way you slice it, most “fad diets” are just that: fads. 

On this edition of Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe talks with three dieticians about fad diets over the years and how diet trends shape our thinking about nutrition. Joann Miller, University of Iowa Student Health and Wellness Dietician; Anne Cundiff, Registered Dietician at HyVee; and Sue Clarahan, Registered Dietician in Iowa City with her own nutrition consulting practice join the show.

Courtesy of John Little

Between the ages of 55 and 62, John Little completed 15 Ironman triathlons. For the last three years, he could only power-walk the leg of the race where he was supposed to run due to the pain in his knees.

“I finally went in and had my knees x-rayed. My surgeon told me, ‘I don’t understand how you’re walking right now.’”

Morgan / Flickr

When Jim McGough was diagnosed with hepatitis C, his wife Sheryl was dumbfounded.

Sanofi Pasteur

Measles is on the rise in the U.S. More than 100 people nationwide have been diagnosed in January alone.

Justin Valas

The President's order to protect five million undocumented immigrants from deportation has been welcomed by some, condemned by others.

Sasha Wolff Wikimedia Commons

36 million Americans suffer from migraine headaches, but understanding why exactly these types of headaches happen has been elusive. 

anothertom / Flickr

180 scientists from  38 Iowa colleges and universities signed this year’s Iowa Climate Statement 2014. Co-author Peter Thorne says this year’s report focuses on climate change’s effect on Iowans’ health.

Both Kayla and Libby Casavant were working in Liberia when the worst known outbreak of Ebola hit West Africa. 

Sasha Wolff / Wikimedia Commons

36 million Americans suffer from migraine headaches, but understanding why exactly these types of headaches happen has been elusive. Until recently, scientists thought migraines were a vascular issue, caused by irregular blood flow to the brain, but Dr. Lynn Rankin of Unity Point Health in Des Moines says we’ve come to a new understanding in the last few years. Migraines are most likely a brain disorder that has to do with pain circuitry. 

Michael Dorausch

The Iowa Supreme Court ruled Davenport’s Palmer College of Chiropractic discriminated against a blind student when the school did not provide accommodations for his disability.

A few years before Aaron Cannon entered Palmer’s graduate program, the school started requiring students to read and interpret X-rays, to meet industry standards.

Cannon told the school he could complete the course work with the assistance of a sighted aid. Palmer said this wouldn’t suffice since the aid would be interpreting X-rays by describing photos to Cannon. 

Wikimedia Commons

Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki has resigned his post in the wake of a series of scandals at Veterans Affairs hospitals across the country. During this News Buzz edition of River to River, Ben Kieffer talks with Des Moines Register Health Care Reporter Tony Leys about how the announcement could affect Iowa's VA hospitals. He also tells us about a possibly mismanaged case at the Iowa City VA

Elizabeth Heineman and her baby were healthy for her entire 9 month pregnancy; it was when she went into labor that something went wrong.

Durrie Bouscaren / Iowa Public Radio

In a small room stuffed with cubicles at Mercy Medical Center in Des Moines, a team of patient advocates answers phones, enters data, and determines who is eligible for financial assistance.

When a patient at Mercy is faced with a hospital bill they can’t pay, they come here. Team leader Karla Vaquerano-Serio says many times, it’s only a matter of helping a patient sign up for a federal program they didn’t realize they qualified for.

Raphael Goetter / derivitive work;

Thirty-five years ago, Iowa City Firefighter Linda Eaton continued to breastfeed her child at work against orders from her supervisor, and a breastfeeding discussion was launched locally and gained national attention. Today, breastfeeding is treated a little differently, but it is also very different than other cultures.  Hear the remarkable story of Linda Eaton, and also about what businesses are required to provide for nursing customers and employees, the challenges of refugee and immigrant women who breastfeed, and what barriers might prevent Americans from breastfeeding.

She was a marathoner and a mountain climber, but when Dr. Terry Wahls was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, she faced a bedridden life.

This hour, we learn how she beat progressive MS.

Clay Masters / IPR

The Iowa House voted to ban the sale of so-called e-cigarettes to minors this week. Electronic cigarettes heat liquid and nicotine into a smokeless vapor. Republicans, who control the House, blocked debate on a Democratic amendment that would have also kept similar e-cigarettes out of kids’ hands, even if they do not contain nicotine. Iowa Public Radio’s Clay Masters talks to the sponsor, Rep. Tyler Olson (D - Cedar Rapids) of the amendment and takes a trip to an e-cigarette shop in northwest Des Moines.


Approximately 11 million Americans suffer from an eating disorder.  These diseases are hard to understand, difficult to treat and often deadly. 

Jeff Wasson

The Winter Olympics begin tomorrow, which got us thinking about the young athletes who will be watching the games... who may one day compete at state, national , or international levels.

Now more than ever, children and their parents are faced with the decision of whether or not to specialize in a sport at an early age – some children being only a few years old. Today on Talk of Iowa, we explore the concept of specializing children in sports.