House Speaker Paul Ryan R-Wisconsin speaks at a press conference on repealing Obama Care and its replacement at the US Capitol on January 10, 2017 in Washington,DC.

House Republicans, led by Speaker Paul Ryan, released a long-awaited plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act on Monday. The new legislation, entitled the American Health Care Act, would keep intact the Obamacare provisions for pre-existing conditions, but would eliminate the mandate that all Americans have health insurance and would roll back Medicaid expansion. We discuss the proposed ACA replacement, which still faces some major challenges from both sides of the political aisle.

Read the American Health Care Act

A scientist works in the lab at University of California San Francisco October 5, 2009 in San Francisco, California. UCSF scientist Elizabeth Blackburn shared the 2009 Nobel Prize in medicine with Carol Greider and Jack Szostak for their discovery of how chromosomes are protected by telomeres and the enzyme telomerase.

Exercise, sleep and stress reduction are common prescriptions for staving off some of the diseases that can come with old age, but few of us understand exactly how these habits protect and change our bodies. Part of the answer may be that these healthy habits protect our telomeres — the tiny caps at the end of our chromosomes that keep conditions like diabetes and cancer at bay. That’s according to Nobel Laureate Elizabeth Blackburn and psychologist Elissa Epel, authors of “The Telomere Effect: A Revolutionary Approach to Living Younger, Healthier, Longer.” In this hour, they join us to discuss their theory on how to slow aging on a cellular level, and they’ll also share some specific practices they claim can help protect your telomeres and potentially extend your lifespan.

More about ‘The Telomere Effect’ and Information About Testing (mentioned on air)

A Cambodian health official takes a blood sample from a villager during a screening for HIV in Kandal province on February 22, 2016.

By 1996, pioneering HIV/AIDS researcher Arthur Ammann writes, all of the scientific advances, tools and knowledge necessary to eradicate AIDS were in place. Soon after, physicians in the United States began to treat HIV-infected patients with potent retroviral drugs and AIDS-related deaths dropped dramatically. But more than 20 years later, the number of HIV infections and deaths continues to increase in poor countries. Dr. Ammann chronicles the moral, institutional and medical failures that led to the now three decades-old global HIV/AIDS epidemic in his new book, “Lethal Decisions: The Unnecessary Deaths of Women and Children from HIV/AIDS.” We speak to Dr. Ammann about the book and his prescription for ending the global AIDS crisis.

a selection of bagels

Gluten-free labels are increasingly common in grocery stores, but a new study published in the medical journal ‘Epidemiology,’ found higher concentrations of arsenic and mercury in people eating gluten-free diets. A separate study from the Mayo Clinic found that while the number of people with celiac disease was stable from 2009 to 2014, the number of people who followed a gluten-free diet increased significantly in the same timeframe. We’ll discuss the latest research on celiac disease and the potential benefits and risks of going gluten free.

More Information:
Going Gluten-Free Might Increase Risk of Arsenic, Mercury Exposure, Study Finds (Chicago Tribune)

exas abortion provider Amy Hagstrom-Miller looks on as Nancy Northup, President of The Center for Reproductive Rights speaks to the media outside of the U.S. Supreme Court on June 27, 2016 in Washington, DC

After President-elect Donald Trump’s victory, NPR reported that some reproductive health centers and OB-GYN offices experienced an increase in inquiries about long term birth control. That increase reflects concern that the Affordable Care Act may be repealed or altered, making some birth control more expensive or harder to come by. Add in the Republican threat of defunding Planned Parenthood and Trump’s pledge to appoint pro-life Supreme Court justices and many people are wondering about the future of reproductive rights under a Trump administration.

a handle with chipped paint

Almost 3,000 communities across the nation have higher lead poisoning rates than Flint, Michigan, according to a recent Reuters investigation. Among these lead hotspots is Oakland’s Fruitvale neighborhood, where more than seven percent of children have unhealthy blood lead levels caused by exposure to contaminated paint and soil. Flint, Michigan gained worldwide attention in 2015 when city officials told residents to stop using tap water because of lead contamination. In this hour we discuss the Reuters investigation, the dangers posed by lead, who’s most at risk, and how to prevent harmful exposure.

More Information:

drugs are prepaired

The U.S. surgeon general released a landmark report this month calling for “a cultural shift in how we think about addiction.” The report also states that addiction is a chronic illness, not a moral failing, and comes at a time when one in seven Americans will experience substance abuse at some point in their lives. We’ll discuss the report, why the stigma surrounding addiction is so pervasive and share ideas for improving access to effective treatment.

More Information:

Facing Addiction in America: The Surgeon General’s Report on Alcohol, Drugs, and Health

A person walks into the UniVista Insurance company office where people are signing up for health care plans under the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, on December 15, 2015.

Throughout the 2016 presidential campaign, Donald Trump vowed to eliminate Obamacare. But on Friday the President-elect indicated that he may like to keep the most popular elements of the Affordable Care Act intact. In this hour of Forum, we discuss the future of health care law under a Trump administration and take a look at how Covered California and Medi-Cal might be affected.


Cases of syphilis, gonorrhea and chlamydia reached a 20-year high in California in 2015, according to a report released Tuesday by the state health department. The report, which came on the heels of newly released CDC data tracking rising STD rates nationally, found the highest rates of infection among young people aged 15-24, African-Americans and men who have sex with men. Health officials attribute the rise in STDs to declining condom use and lack of access to clinics and testing. We discuss what can be done to reduce the STD rate in California and nationwide.

a container of birth control pills

Women using birth control – especially teenagers – are at significantly higher risk of depression, according to a new study from Denmark that tracked more than a million women. The report in the Journal of the American Medical Association shows that women who used the birth control pill were 23 percent more likely to be prescribed antidepressants if they took a pill that combined estrogen and progestin; that rate grew to 34 percent if women took progestin-only pills. The use of antidepressants was even higher for women who used hormonal patches, vaginal rings or IUDs. Critics of the study point out that it only proves a correlation between birth control and depression, not a causal link. In this hour, we’ll discuss the study and invite our listeners to share their experiences with birth control.

More Information:

A link to the Association of Hormonal Contraception With Depression study (jamanetwork.com)

‘It’s Not in Your Head’: Striking New Study Links Birth Control to Depression (Washington Post)


A worker at the Alternative Herbal Health Services cannabis dispensary packages marijuana buds..

As Californians decide how they are going to vote on Proposition 64, which would legalize the recreational use of marijuana, many voters are considering the drug’s health effects. In this hour, we’ll talk to doctors and researchers about whether marijuana is addictive, the impact of long term use and if there are any health benefits to using the drug.

More Information:

KQED’s Full Election Coverage

A hand reaches for a row of prescription bottles.

As part of KQED’s Election 2016 coverage, we’ll discuss California’s Proposition 61. The measure is designed to lower prescription drug prices by prohibiting state programs, such as Medi-Cal, from paying more for a drug than the lowest price paid by the Federal Department of Veteran’s Affairs – which presently gets large discounts.   Proponents say the measure would save the state hundreds of millions of dollars a year and may even lower drug costs for private insurers. Opponents argue that the measure could reduce consumer access to certain drugs. Meanwhile, the state Legislative Analyst’s Office says it’s hard to predict how much money, if any, could be saved by the measure. We’ll hear from KQED’s health reporter and check in with both sides of the Prop. 61 debate.

More Information:



According to findings by a UCSF researcher, the sugar industry paid scientists to downplay sugar’s role as a risk factor for heart disease in the 1960s and blame fat and cholesterol instead. In a paper published in JAMA Internal Medicine on Monday, the UCSF authors claim the sugar industry paid Harvard researchers $50,000 in 2016 dollars to “refute” sugar’s possible role in heart disease, which they claim shaped future policy decisions. We discuss the findings and the latest research on sugar’s health effects.


Since 1979, the federal government has recommended flossing daily to help prevent gum disease and cavities. But according to a new report by the Associated Press,  there’s little scientific evidence to support that advice. We’ll drill down into the data, and we want to hear from you: Will the news affect your oral hygiene routine?

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