National News

U.S. Sending Team To Help With Search For Abducted Nigerian Girls

NPR News - Tue, 2014-05-06 10:16

The team can help with intelligence and hostage negotiations, the State Department said. Nigeria has been criticized for its inability to find the 276 girls abducted from a school last month.

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Big Ambitions And Flawed Technology Tripped Up State Exchanges

NPR News - Tue, 2014-05-06 10:08

Massachusetts is the latest state that was gung-ho on health care overhaul to concede it had failed to make it easy for people to enroll. Oregon and Maryland also scrapped their online exchanges.

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Hospitals save money by doing surgery for free

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2014-05-06 10:00

Across the country, a few hospitals have come up with a counterintuitive way to save themselves money: offer minor surgery for free.

To understand how that’s possible, consider the case of 32-year-old Lammon Green, a caretaker for the developmentally disabled in Macon, Georgia. He’s a really cheerful guy, but he’s been bothered for a long time by a cyst behind his ear.

“It’s been kind of giving me problems for the last few years,” he said. “It gets to about the size of a lemon when it gets infected.”

Most people would get something like that cut off pronto, but Green doesn’t have insurance.

“I actually am looking into the Obamacare now,” he said.

Because he lives in Georgia  – where the governor has declined to expand Medicaid – there’s a good chance Green makes too much money to qualify for Medicaid, and not enough to get subsidized private insurance.

Nonetheless, Green recently found himself in an operating room, drifting off into a chemically induced sleep, while the doctors cut that cyst away with an electronic knife.

Green is one of the first people to come through Macon’s new volunteer surgery clinic. It’s called the SPIN program – Surgery for People In Need. 

The doctors work on Sundays for free, while the facilities and diagnostics are donated by the Medical Center of Central Georgia.

 “This is a way that we can support this program, with patients that we would likely see anyway, that would be in our system because they have a need that hasn’t been taken care of,” said Roz McMillan, one of the hospital’s vice presidents.

In other words, Lammon Green’s lemon-sized cyst was probably going to land him in the emergency room eventually, and since he’s uninsured, the hospital would’ve ended up eating much of the cost.

Cutting the thing off before it gets that bad is a much simpler procedure.

By donating their services instead, the hospital is saving themselves thousands of dollars in the long run, said Laura Ebert, who runs a program called “Surgery on Sunday” in Lexington, Kentucky that started in 2005.

This new free surgery program in Macon is a copy of Ebert’s – literally.

“We have something that, you know, we can provide on disk or zip drive that shows all the paperwork, how to apply for tax exempt status, how to apply for the federal malpractice program,” she said.

Using that template, free surgery clinics have also sprung up in Omaha and Dallas. Ebert predicts that list is going to grow as hospitals realize it’s in their economic interest to help out.

Low income people in many states are getting insurance through an expanded Medicaid, but their deductible for an elective surgery could be as high as $10,000.

“Hernias and gallbladders and things that we do on a regular basis are considered elective surgery, not life-threatening, so therefore they’ll have to pay their deductible,” Ebert said.

That means people are likely to put off their surgery. The problem gets worse, they end up in the E.R., and Medicaid reimbursements are low -- so again the hospital gets stuck eating some cost.

As long as a hospital has a doctor willing to donate her time, it might be cheaper to take out that gallbladder for free.

A Faster Human: Are We Unique In Our Ability To Get Better?

NPR News - Tue, 2014-05-06 09:41

For decades, the speed of racehorses and dogs has stagnated. But humans keep getting faster. On the 60th anniversary of the first time a human ran a mile in under four minutes, we ponder why.

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Portland, Ore., Police Criticized Over 2013 Arrest Of Girl, 9

NPR News - Tue, 2014-05-06 09:02

The girl's mother is now telling the story of how uniformed officers arrested her daughter last year, sparking a debate in the city.

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Boko Haram's Local Fight Suddenly Gets International Scrutiny

NPR News - Tue, 2014-05-06 07:53

The group has been around for more than a decade, and the U.S. says it has links to al-Qaida. Boko Haram has now achieved international notoriety by kidnapping more than 200 schoolgirls.

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PODCAST: Sell in May?

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2014-05-06 07:44

We'll start by confronting the notion of "Sell in May, then go away." There is a saying among investors this time of year, that as we get closer to summer vacation, it's time to take money out of the stock market. To find out more, we consult the often bearish Julie Niemann, the analyst at Smith Moore and company in St. Louis.

Google is rolling out same-day delivery for online retail customers in West L.A. and Manhattan — offering products from a variety of retailers including Costco, Target, Walgreens and L'Occitane. Google has already been piloting the service in the San Francisco Bay Area. Amazon has just launched same-day delivery in parts of Los Angeles as well, along with San Francisco, Seattle and Phoenix. And the two giants aren't alone. Wal-Mart, eBay, Nordstrom and other retailers are also in the ring. But, same-day delivery is expensive and complicated.

What are the odds of an entry-level gambler getting some coaching and winning the World Series of Poker in Las Vegas? Not great, as you may imagine. Grantland writer Colson Whitehead got $10,000 from his employer to give it a try.

The Lost Village In New York City

NPR News - Tue, 2014-05-06 07:11

Razed to make way for Central Park, Seneca Village was a vibrant neighborhood in 19th century Manhattan. Now researchers are looking for descendants.

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Bayer Will Buy Merck Consumer Unit For $14.2 Billion

NPR News - Tue, 2014-05-06 07:04

German drug company Bayer makes a deal with U.S.-based Merck & Co. The purchase includes brands such as Claritin, Coppertone and Dr. Scholl's.

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Medicare Pays For Alzheimer's Screening, But Do You Want To Know?

NPR News - Tue, 2014-05-06 06:24

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force says there's not enough evidence to know if routine testing for cognitive impairment in older people helps or hurts. So patients have to decide on their own.

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Kidnappers In Nigeria Wore Uniforms, Escaped Girl Says

NPR News - Tue, 2014-05-06 05:44

She says the gunmen claimed to be soldiers who had come to help girls abducted last month. It wasn't until the men stole food and set fire to a school that the girls were certain they were in trouble.

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Turning a rookie poker chump into a champ

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2014-05-06 04:41

What are the odds of an entry-level gambler getting some coaching and winning the World Series of Poker in Las Vegas?

Not great, as you may imagine.  Grantland writer Colson Whitehead got $10,000 from his employer to give it a try.

He spoke with Marketplace Morning Report host David Brancaccio about the results of his undertaking, which are chronicled in his book, "The Noble Hustle: Poker, Beef Jerky, and Death."

This Could Be The Year Iowa Sends Its First Woman To Congress

NPR News - Tue, 2014-05-06 04:39

Iowa and Mississippi share a dubious distinction: They're the only two states that have never sent a woman to Congress or elected one as governor.

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New Report Finds Climate Change Already Having Broad Impact

NPR News - Tue, 2014-05-06 04:30

A report overseen by the government finds climate change is causing more frequent heat waves, floods and droughts. The change, the study concludes, is also disrupting key parts of the economy.

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5 Things To Watch In Tuesday's Primaries

NPR News - Tue, 2014-05-06 04:04

Primaries in Indiana, North Carolina and Ohio serve as the kickoff for an intense two-month stretch of elections. Did we mention former American Idol star Clay Aiken is on the ballot?

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Book News: Gay Bookstore Said To Be The Nation's Oldest Is Closing

NPR News - Tue, 2014-05-06 03:51

Also: Edwidge Danticat on the real price of sugar; the winners of the O. Henry Prize.

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U-2 Spy Plane Disrupted Hundreds Of Flights, FAA Acknowledges

NPR News - Tue, 2014-05-06 03:49

After the plane's altitude was misinterpreted, efforts to route airliners around it over California created havoc. The U-2 was reportedly flying at 60,000 feet, but computers thought it was far lower.

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Ukraine Reports Dozens Killed In Slovyansk Fighting

NPR News - Tue, 2014-05-06 03:09

Ukraine says its military has killed 30 pro-Russian separatists as government forces try to retake eastern cities near the border with Russia. At least four Ukrainian soldiers have died.

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Google, Amazon compete on same-day delivery

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2014-05-06 02:47

Google is rolling out same-day delivery for online retail customers in West L.A. and Manhattan — offering products from a variety of retailers including Costco, Target, Walgreens and L'Occitane. Google has already been piloting the service in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Amazon has just launched same-day delivery in parts of Los Angeles as well, along with San Francisco, Seattle and Phoenix. And the two giants aren't alone. Wal-Mart, eBay, Nordstrom and other retailers are also in the ring.

But, same-day delivery is expensive and complicated. Most people shop online after work, meaning the vendor has a very short window to deliver that must-have bottle of champagne or designer scarf — possibly through rush-hour traffic.

What companies need to make it work, says management consultant Andrew Schmahl at Strategy& (formerly Booz & Company, a division of PricewaterhouseCoopers), is a densely-populated area full of well-heeled shoppers.

"People willing to pay more than free for a delivery," he says.

Which most consumers are not.

In a survey conducted by Schmahl, only 10 percent of consumers were willing to pay $10 or more for same-day delivery. And many don't even want same-day delivery at the end of the day — when they are having dinner, putting kids to bed, or possibly won't hear the delivery, leaving their package to sit on the front porch all night.

Amazon and Google are first testing the same-day delivery market in upscale neighborhoods in places like Manhattan, West Los Angeles, San Francisco and Seattle. Schmahl thinks Google might be plunging in to gather more data on online shoppers. For Amazon, he says, it's an attack on brick-and-mortar stores where you can get what you want, same-day.

"Instant gratification takes too long for most people," says Patty Edwards, managing director of investments at US Bank Wealth Management. "We don't want to have to wait, we want to have it right now. And yet we're too lazy to get it ourselves."

Edwards predicts that in time, same-day delivery will catch on in many urban and suburban areas around the country.

Where to get the best deal in the same-day melee 

by Tobin Low

With Google expanding its same-day delivery service in a growing market, it’s hard to tell who’s offering the best deal.

If you’re not in a big city, you’re mostly out of luck, as major companies like eBay, Amazon, and Google are mostly piloting their same-day services in larger metropolitan areas. That’s because the model largely depends on there being a high volume of vendors in a customer’s vicinity that sell the desired merchandise.

Still, it’s an appealing promise: order by a certain time, and have your items delivered to your doorstep that same day.

With each of the services charging about the same rate -- Google Express charges $4.99 an order, Amazon Prime members pay $3.99 an order, and eBay asks for $5 an order -- it's still too early to tell who will pull ahead in the same day ordering scheme.

For now, maybe try linking your Twitter account to Amazon, and tweet/purchase away.

I feel a climate change comin' on

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2014-05-06 02:28

The new National Climate Assessment released on Tuesday says the climate is changing, but when it comes to changing climate change, Barry Rabe, a professor of public policy at the University of Michigan, says President Obama has a tough audience.

There's the coal industry, and, some states -- like Texas.

"Attorney General Greg Abbot, perhaps the most likely person to be the next governor of Texas, routinely says, 'I wake up in the morning, I sue the federal government and then I go home,'" says Rabe, the director of the the Center for Local, State and Urban Policy at the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy in Ann Arbor, Mich.

Rabe notes it's unlikely the administration will push for new legislation during President Obama's second term.

"It's not uncommon," he says, "for presidents, particularly when they move into their second term, to face growing difficulty working with Congress on major domestic legislation."

Apathy from the public is also a problem, says Jason Bordoff, director of Columbia's University's Center on Global Energy Policy -- and a past special assistant to the President and senior director for energy and climate change on the staff of the National Security Council.

"Admittedly climate change does not rate very high when you ask people about what their major concerns are," he says.

But, Bordoff says, public interest in climate change may be picking up. And he says while rules for new power plants already exist, the EPA is drafting regulations for existing plants, due in out in June.

The new rules should set a standard for many kinds of energy – not just coal.

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