THURSDAY, JUNE 1, 2023
The Expanding Obesity Revolution: New OptionsAs many Americans start the summer stressed about their physiques and health, there are important developments. Drug-makers report successful mid-stage trials for oral compounds that could soon join the injectable prescription medication to treat obesity that’s already on the market. Dr. Jamy Ard, president-elect of The Obesity Society, says he believes oral obesity medications offer new options for those not comfortable with an injectable drug and for those who suffer adverse side effects from current offerings. He also believes more choices will lower prices for consumers. “I think we’re at a watershed moment, this is really sort of an inflection point if you will, in thinking about the potential change in the landscape and how we conceptualize treatment of obesity. For the longest [time], a lot of the basic thinking about how we treat obesity was rooted in it was just a calorie imbalance…people were eating too much and exercising too little. As you know, that clearly has not worked,” says Dr. Ard. He shares more insights on “Conversations on Health Care” with hosts Mark Masselli and Margaret Flinter.
THURSDAY, MAY 25, 2023
Will Patients Listen If Health Care Providers Talk Climate Change?Dr. Vivian Lee, an author and senior lecturer at Harvard Medical School, is impressed by a study that found a large majority of patients responded in a favorable way when a pediatrician shared climate change details during well-child visits. She joins hosts Mark Masselli and Margaret Flinter to explain why we need health care providers and health systems to step up to do more about the undeniable risks from climate change. Listen in as they discuss her perspective and her book, “ The Long Fix: Solving America's Health Care Crisis with Strategies that Work for Everyone.”
THURSDAY, MAY 18, 2023
Reaction to New CDC Ventilation Targets in Light of COVIDThe Centers for Disease Control and Prevention just updated its ventilation guidance on helping prevent indoor transmission of the virus that causes COVID. It includes a recommendation to get at least five air changes per hour of clean air in occupied spaces.Dr. Joseph G. Allen and other experts have been advocating for this guidance even before the pandemic. He’s the associate professor and director of the Healthy Buildings Program at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Dr. Allen tells “Conversations on Health Care,” that “Making indoor air healthier came into the mainstream during the COVID-19 pandemic. New ventilation targets from the CDC are a key advancement of that work and are a historic public health achievement that can help normalize health-based indoor air quality standards. This new guidance can help mitigate indoor transmission of viruses like SARS-CoV-2 and influenza, and also help against other airborne hazards such as wildfire smoke and allergens.”Hosts Mark Masselli and Margaret Flinter talked to Dr. Allen last year and we’re sharing the episode again to highlight these important issues.
THURSDAY, MAY 11, 2023
COVID Emergency Ends but Mental Health Issues RemainToday, as the United States officially ends the COVID public health emergency, we know too many Americans continue to deal with the aftereffects of the pandemic, including mental health and substance abuse challenges.Miriam Delphin-Rittmon, Ph.D., serves as Assistant Secretary for Mental Health and Substance Use for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. She joins hosts Mark Masselli and Margaret Flinter to explain plans for dealing with the fact there are more Americans dying of drug overdoses now than at any time in modern history. Research also shows over 5 million Americans are struggling with an opioid addiction.
THURSDAY, MAY 4, 2023
COVID Investigator Praises Community Health Workers: “Huge Innovation”Philip Zelikow, co-author of the new book "Lessons from the COVID War,” has an important finding as the U.S. still grapples with the tough questions from the pandemic:“We point out in the report that community health workers can play this extraordinary role…where we had them [during the pandemic], they were really effective and that’s like a huge innovation that should punch out to us as a lesson from this war and can have a dramatic effect in America,” says Zelikow.He also explains to Mark Masselli and Margaret Flinter that “to this day, most patients who get COVID are not being properly treated with available medications.” Zelikow concludes a lack of preparedness is one of the main reasons the country performed so badly during the past three years.
THURSDAY, APRIL 27, 2023
Health Care Budget Fight: Hear Each Side’s ArgumentRepublicans in the U.S. House passed a deal that lifts the debt ceiling along with spending cuts aimed at the nation’s health care safety net. Romina Boccia, Director of Budget and Entitlement Policy at the Cato Institute, supports the move. She says, “I do think there’s quite a bit of improper spending, waste for certain and things the federal government shouldn’t be involved with anymore, where members of Congress could cut.”Jennifer Wagner, Director of Medicaid Eligibility and Enrollment with the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, is a critic of the GOP actions. “These cuts would devastate these programs especially when you protect certain programs that have been taken off the table…that means cuts to other programs like Medicaid like SNAP would be absurdly large,” she explains. Mark Masselli and Margaret Flinter give you the chance to hear both sides on this vitally important budget fight that will continue as President Biden and the Senate make the next moves.
THURSDAY, APRIL 20, 2023
Turning Off e-Cigarettes: Health Advocates Score a VictoryAnti-tobacco advocates just had another big win: New York, California, and several other states reached a settlement worth nearly $500 million against e-cigarette maker Juul Labs.How can states use these funds for public health good? And how is the truth initiative helping to spread messages about the dangers of vaping?Truth Initiative is America's largest nonprofit public health organization committed to making tobacco use and nicotine addiction a thing of the past. Experts credit it for helping significantly reduce teen cigarette use in the last 20 years.Mark Masselli and Margaret Flinter discuss their approach with CEO and president Robin Koval.
WEDNESDAY, APRIL 12, 2023
Abortion Rights Leader Rejects Calls to “Ignore” Judge’s RulingA federal judge’s decision to revoke the FDA’s approval of the abortion pill mifepristone has led some politicians to ask the Biden Administration not to enforce the ruling. Yet NARAL Pro-Choice America President Mini Timmaraju, who’s in close contact with the White House, tells “Conversations on Health Care” that’s not the right move. “I think calls for the FDA not to comply, while you know emotionally satisfying, are not actually helpful in a litigation strategy. And our goal is for the FDA and the DOJ to prevail in this case. The ruling…is riddled with serious disinformation.” Timmaraju explains how the Supreme Court could hear the case by the end of this week and how this judge’s opinion could have an even bigger impact on the entire health care sector. Her interview with Mark Masselli and Margaret Flinter is online now.
THURSDAY, APRIL 6, 2023
Top Reporters on Big Health Care Stories Right NowAt a time of high misinformation and confusion, Americans need to count on journalists for getting the facts about the state of health care. Reporters are busy covering the top stories including the legal challenges to Affordable Care Act and medical abortion. Join Mark Masselli and Margaret Flinter as they talk with three leading health care journalists: Amy Goldstein with The Washington Post; Joyce Frieden with MedPage Today; and Jessica Bartlett with The Boston Globe.
THURSDAY, MARCH 30, 2023
History-Making Incoming AMA President on His VisionDr. Jesse Ehrenfeld, the first openly gay person to be elected as president of the American Medical Association, joins hosts Mark Masselli and Margaret Flinter to discuss potential cuts to federal health care and the need for more diversity in the doctors’ ranks.He also explains the organization’s “Recovery Plan for America’s Physicians” to address burnout among its nearly 300,000 physician members.
TUESDAY, MARCH 21, 2023
FDA Commissioner Dr. Robert Califf Discusses the Top News StoriesDr. Robert Califf, commissioner of the U.S. Food & Drug Administration, discusses the promising research behind a new class of diabetes and obesity drugs that could improve tens of millions of lives in America impacted by the obesity epidemic.He addresses the FDA's pending new tobacco control rules, as well as improvements to the infant formula pipeline in the wake of recent shortages. Dr. Califf also voices deep concerns that health misinformation is the 'leading cause of death in America now.'
FRIDAY, MARCH 17, 2023
$13K Per American for Health Care: What Are We Getting?Each American now spends an average of nearly $13,000 a year on health care. We have one of the highest health care costs in the world but we don’t lead on the best outcomes. How can we get more value from the $4 trillion in total the U.S. spends on health care?Dr. Margaret Hamburg is co-chair of the Health Affairs Council on Health Care Spending and Value, which has been looking at that question. Their recommendations range from administrative streamlining to spending growth targets.Hosts Mark Masselli and Margaret Flinter have her unpack the report and ask this former U.S. Food & Drug Administration commissioner what bumps are ahead for what they call a “roadmap to value.”
THURSDAY, MARCH 9, 2023
Long COVID: Skeptics Are Wrong, Researchers SayYale University researcher Akiko Iwasaki, Ph.D., says immune profiling shows how Long COVID patients have distinct features not found in control groups. These patients, who also exhibit elevated levels of exhausted T-cells, cause her to express surprise at skeptics.Iwasaki joins Fiona Lowenstein, editor of “The Long COVID Survival Guide,” to discuss patients who say they’re suffering from Long COVID for as much as two years after their acute phase of the disease.Iwasaki also explains why her lab’s effort to move forward with a COVID nasal spray faces financial hurdles.Listen in to this important conversation with hosts Mark Masselli and Margaret Flinter.
THURSDAY, MARCH 2, 2023
Healing to Homeless People: A Doctor’s NYT Best-Selling StoryAcclaimed author Tracy Kidder has tackled another major public health story. This time he looks at Dr. Jim O’Connell’s “urgent mission to bring healing to homeless people” in Boston in the new book “Rough Sleepers.” Dr. O’Connell discusses the challenges running the nonprofit, hurdles to providing housing and the Biden Administration’s plans for reducing homelessness.This conversation with hosts Mark Masselli and Margaret Flinter is available now as we all seek to find ways to understand this growing public health issue.
THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 23, 2023
NYT’s Nicholas Kristof: Smarter Way to Reduce Gun DeathsWe’ve had 82 mass shootings in our country so far this year and the number keeps growing; we’ve never had so many occur in such a short time frame. Gun violence is now the leading cause of death for young children and teenagers in the United States. Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof shares with hosts Mark Masselli and Margaret Flinter smarter ways to reduce gun deaths as advocates look for answers to this public safety and health crisis.
THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 16, 2023
Biden COVID Advisor Urges Greater Paxlovid Use: ‘People Have Died Unnecessarily’Paxlovid is an oral antiviral pill to treat COVID; data show it reduces serious illness, hospitalization and cases of Long COVID. That’s why Michael Osterholm, Ph.D. wants more doctors to prescribe it. He serves as a White House advisor and is director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota. He says, “People have died unnecessarily because they were unable to get Paxlovid when they could have and should have.” This compelling conversation with hosts Mark Masselli and Margaret Flinter is available now.
THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 9, 2023
Sierra Club Executive Director Sees New Energy for Climate Change FightBen Jealous, the former NAACP president, is taking charge as the new executive director of the Sierra Club. It’s America’s largest and most influential grassroots environmental organization with nearly 4 million members and supporters.With a strategy focused on equity and activism, Jealous and the Sierra Club are committed to retiring coal plants, preventing new fossil fuel plants from being built, and working to stop the expansion of fracked gas.Jealous joins hosts Mark Masselli and Margaret Flinter to talk about his vision and discuss his new book, “Never Forget Our People Were Always Free: A Parable of American Healing.”
THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 2, 2023
FDA Advisor Dr. Offit’s Latest Findings on COVID Vaccine & Young ChildrenFDA vaccine advisor Dr. Paul Offit’s recent article in JAMA Pediatrics looks at the millions of 5- to 11-year-old children who received the COVID vaccine. His in-depth research review found that the mRNA vaccine was effective at preventing COVID, symptomatic infection, hospitalization, and multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children. The vaccine was also safe; myocarditis occurred in very rare cases. Dr. Offit joins hosts Mark Masselli and Margaret Flinter to discuss his findings and why he supports the end of the public health emergency.
THURSDAY, JANUARY 26, 2023
Why Are Only 5% Of Doctors African American? Dr. Louis Sullivan Tells UsDr. Louis Sullivan’s leadership and advocacy for equity in the health professions have taken him from the classroom to the seats of power in Washington. He reflects on his own journey and the challenges that still exist in training people of color to become doctors and for other medical roles.Dr. Sullivan believes, “It’s a combination of a lack of adequate preparation, lack of financial resources, and also a lack of role models.” He shares his inspiring story from the then-segregated South and the influences that helped him.Dr. Sullivan served as Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and is the co-author of the new book “We’ll Fight it Out Here: A History of the Ongoing Struggle for Health Equity.”We’re honored to have him join hosts Mark Masselli and Margaret Flinter to discuss these topics, the gaps COVID has exposed, and the current political battles over equity.
TUESDAY, JANUARY 17, 2023
WHO: What China Must Do Now to Help Fight COVIDA top World Health Organization public health official is adding nuance to the agency’s call for more transparency from China, which is coping with a crippling COVID-19 outbreak since it ended its zero-COVID policy last month.Maria Van Kerkhove, Ph.D., WHO Technical Lead for COVID-19 Response, tells “Conversations on Health Care” that “We really need better understanding on the burden and the hospitalizations and we need more information on the sequences…they have detected known sub-variances…but we need those sequences to be shared publicly. We want China to work with us to really determine within those sublineages…is there anything else within those sequences that’s different. And we need a global community to look at that. And work directly with us to do a full risk assessment.“Right now they’re going through a massive wave of Omicron. This virus, as transmissible as it is, is passing through the population. They are sharing information. It’s just not enough. It’s just not as detailed as we’d like.” Van Kerkhove joins hosts Mark Masselli and Margaret Flinter to share her insights.
Episodes - Community Health Center Presents Conversations on Health Care
Conversations on Health Care is a radio show about the opportunities for reform and innovation in the health care system.