Health

Recent scientific reviews have found substantial evidence that marijuana can be useful in easing at least some types of chronic pain. Yet even for the majority of Americans who live in states that have legalized medical marijuana, choosing opioids can be much cheaper.

Sara Teachout, with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Vermont, told legislators this week that the state can offset the loss of $12 million in federal revenues by changing the premium structure for certain health insurance plans.
Peter Hirschfeld / VPR

Vermont insurance companies say they’ve found a way to offset the effects of an executive order issued last year that would otherwise cost the state $12 million annually in lost revenue.

a paper chain cutout of a family held up by two hands with a sunset in the background.
BrianAJackson / iStock

The 2017 "How are Vermont’s Young Children and Families?" report paints a mixed picture in terms of economic well-being, access to services and a range of health indicators.

The report also underscores the impact of parental substance abuse in reported instances of child abuse and neglect and in the number of children in state custody.

Vermont has a very high rate of special education students categorized as having an "emotional disturbance."
GlenJ / iStock

Vermont has the highest rate in the country of students identified as having an "emotional disturbance." We're talking about what is actually covered by that term, and what's being done inside and out of the state's special education system to help the kids who need it most.

Bone-chilling cold across the state will be back this weekend.
Nicholas Erwin / Flickr

The state is getting a very slight reprieve from the bitter cold snap we've been fighting, but we'll sink back into the intense deep freeze this weekend. We're talking about this dangerous spell of cold weather and how Vermonters are coping.

Senate President Pro Tem Tim Ashe says finding ways to reduce the cost of prescription drugs is a top priority for him in the new session
Angela Evancie / VPR FILE

Lawmakers return to Montpelier on Wednesday to tackle a number of key issues during the 2018 session. One bill that will receive close scrutiny could significantly reduce the cost of prescription drugs for all Vermonters.

Lauretta Sheridan with her doctor in August 2017. Sheridan reached out two years ago to share her experience recovering opioid addiction. Over the course of the last two years, we've kept in touch as she recovers.
Lynne McCrea / VPR

So often when discussing addiction, people wonder why addicts can't just stop using. Recover.

And so to better understand what it really takes to kick addiction, we followed one woman's multi-year journey.

Senate Health and Welfare chairwoman Sen. Claire Ayer is backing a plan to allow Vermont to purchase some prescription drugs from Canada at much lower costs
Angela Evancie / VPR File

Legislative leaders say they plan to take a close look at a proposal to require that all Vermonters have health insurance.

The national state average of overdose deaths is 19.8 per 100,000, which puts Vermont nearly the same as the national rate, at 22.2.  All five other New England states have rates above the national average.
NCHS data, VPR illustration

A new report by the Centers for Disease Control says Vermont had the lowest rate of drug overdose deaths in New England.

A day after President Trump said the Affordable Care Act "has been repealed," officials reported that 8.8 million Americans have signed up for coverage on the federal insurance exchange for 2018 — nearly reaching the 2017 number in half the sign-up time.

That total is far from complete. Enrollment is still open in parts of seven states, including Florida and Texas, that use the federal HealthCare.gov exchange but were affected by hurricanes earlier this year.

Jewelene Griffin, with Central Vermont Home Health & Hospice, has been giving community presentations to spread awareness about the availability of hospice services.
Peter Hirschfeld / VPR

Hospice care is gaining in popularity nationally, but Vermonters have been slow to embrace the trend. So one local hospice agency is trying to change the way people here think about death and dying.

Mary-Ellen Lovinsky of East Hardwick.
Emily Corwin / VPR

Farm runoff isn't just polluting Vermont lakes and streams — nitrate from manure and fertilizer is also contaminating private drinking wells.

And although the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food & Markets has regulatory authority, its response is inconsistent, and often undocumented.

Two people holding hands in comfort.
PeopleImages / iStock

The holidays can be stressful as we juggle work, family, money concerns and travel. But it can be an especially difficult time for those experiencing loss.

A new federal grant received by a family support agency in South Burlington will be used to help families affected by substance use disorders stay together. Lund will use the $3 million grant to develop and implement the Vermont Family Recovery Project.

Chief Health Care Advocate Mike Fisher, center, says a new "calculator," developed by his office, will spotlight  the financial hardships faced by Vermont families trying to buy health insurance.
Peter Hirschfeld / VPR/file

As chief health care advocate for the state of Vermont, Mike Fisher spends a lot of time thinking about rising medical costs. And he’s trying a new way to put the issue of affordability at the forefront of the health care debate.

Whether its limiting the number of pills in a prescription or accessing treatment and therapy, insurance providers play a central role in the opioid crisis.
Fuse / Thinkstock

The stories of America's opioid crisis are sadly familiar: stories of addiction, overdose, and suffering. But what role do insurance companies play in this struggle? 

Jessa Barnard
Erin Mansfield / For VPR

A key medical group says doctors do not have enough representation in health care oversight, and will take its case to the Vermont Legislature.

According to court documents, Betty Miller made ricin out of castor beans she harvested from the grounds of Wake Robin in Shelburne.
saraTM / iStock

The FBI has arrested a resident of the Wake Robin retirement community in Shelburne after she admitted to making ricin and then putting it in the food and beverages of other residents in an attempt to test its effectiveness, according to court documents.

A severe shortage of inpatient care for people with mental illness is amounting to a public health crisis, as the number of individuals struggling with a range of psychiatric problems continues to rise.

Drug prices are too high, and we had better do something about it. That is the nutshell conclusion of a 201-page report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine.

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