HealthConnections

Tuesdays during Morning Edition and All Things Considered

The brainchild of University of Tennessee associate professor Dr. Carole Myers, HealthConnections will bring the often-abstract world of health care, coverage and policy to a human level. What is access? How do marketplaces work? What's the future of health insurance? Dr. Myers and WUOT's Brandon Hollingsworth will sort through these issues and more, all to give you a toolbox for understanding what you hear on the news, or to separate fact from fiction in the health care debate.

"Maternal mortality" is a clinical-sounding term that may mask what it describes: Women who die from pregnancy complications, during or shortly after birth, or from health conditions exacerbated by pregnancy.

It's expressed as a rate, a number per-100,000 births. The United States has the highest maternal mortality rate in the developed world, and it's rising. From 2000 to 2015, U.S. rates rose from 17.1 per 100,000 births, to 25.1 - a 47 percent increase. The reasons are complex, from lack of access to medical care, to demographics, to cultural barriers.

Federal funding for the Children's Health Insurance Program ended on September 30. Community Health Centers face the same problem. Little progress has been made on a bipartisan approach for stabilizing the health insurance marketplaces, and now Congress debates a tax plan that has significant implications for health coverage.

Talking about gun violence in the U.S. is difficult. Personal feelings run high, and the environment for conversation degrades quickly.

President Trump and Tennessee Sen. Lamar Alexander are two key players in the immediate future of health coverage in this country. Decisions about the individual marketplaces, open enrollment, cost-sharing payments to insurers are being made. But Trump and Alexander are pointing in different directions, emphasizing strong disagreement about the best way forward.

Polk County is the very southeast corner of Tennessee. Its population is just shy of 17,000. It’s known for its whitewater rafting and was once the epicenter of Tennessee’s copper industry. And, at this moment, it has no hospital. The Copper Basin Medical Center closed this month, not only leaving Polk Countians without immediate medical care, but becoming the tenth rural hospital in the state to close since 2010. Today, we look at the challenges rural hospitals face.

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