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Side Effects is a public radio collaborative focusing on the intersection between policy, people and place. Here are some of our latest stories:

Addiction and Drug Use

There's An Illegal Market For An Opioid Addiction Medication. Is That Such A Bad Thing?

Buprenorphine is one of just three federally approved medications to treat opioid addiction. It’s possible to misuse it because it’s an opioid itself — people snort or inject the medication to get high. And patients with prescriptions can sell or give it away, which is known as diversion. But addiction treatment professionals argue the problem of buprenorphine diversion is often misunderstood.

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Mental Health

Credit Araceli Gomez-Aldana/Side Effects Public Media

Doctors, Patients Sing Art Therapy’s Praises. So Why Isn’t There More Support?

Art therapy is finding its place in the mental health profession, but most states don’t recognize it as its own profession. one of the largest challenges is the lack of a state license, which makes it difficult for art therapists to bill insurance.

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Credit Photo by Alban Gonzalez is licensed under CC 2.0.

When Insurers Deny Mental Health Coverage, Families In Crisis Struggle Even More

Data show dozens of children a year enter Illinois state custody when parents run out of options for getting them the mental health care they need. Fundamentally, this issue of who pays for mental health treatment comes down to a law that requires insurance companies to cover mental health care at the same level as other medical conditions.

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Policy and Politics

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Why Firefighters Say the Law That Should Protect Them After a Cancer Diagnosis Isn’t Working

In response to rising cancer rates among firefighters, more than half of all states have enacted what are called presumptive laws. These laws say firefighters who are diagnosed with cancer while on the job or within a certain time after retirement are presumed to have become ill because of their work. But many firefighters and their families have learned presumptive laws don’t guarantee health care coverage after a cancer diagnosis.

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Access To Care


Medical foods are vital for a rare disease. Why doesn’t insurance cover them?

There are 16,000 people in the U.S. with phenylketonuria, or P.K.U. People with P.K.U. can’t process a certain amino acid in protein. To make up for the protein they can’t eat, phenylketonurics drink the special lab-made formula that removes the offending amino acid. But that formula isn't always covered by insurance.

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Credit Eric Schoch

Why Your Sense Of Smell Could Be A Clue To Alzheimer's Disease

Since there’s no cure for Alzheimer’s disease, researchers are focused on ways to identify early signs and create treatments before dementia sets in. Indiana University School of Medicine researchers found that the sense of smell can be associated with atrophy in certain areas of the brain.

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Business of Medicine

Credit Art Writ/Virginia Commonwealth University Capital News Service

Illinois Tightens Flu Shot Requirements For Health Workers. But Who’s Enforcing It?

More than half of all states have laws regarding flu shots for health care workers. But some on the frontlines of public health worry the law won’t live up to its purpose since it lacks enforcement.

Read more stories about the business of medicine