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May 15th, 2013
01:11 PM ET

Dr. Monica Morrow explains BRCA1 gene mutations and breast cancer treatment options

Dr. Monica Morrow is the chief of Breast Services at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, and she is on 'Starting Point' talking with CNN's Zoraida Sambolin about different treatment options woman with breast cancer have.

She also weighs in on the BRCA1 genetic tests, and options women have if they test have a BRCA1 genetic mutation.

Dr. Morrow says that while we are talking a lot about the BRCA gene, 'most women do not have BRCA,' this gene mutation is found in a small percentage of women. She stresses that knowledge is power, and that women, who have been diagnosed with cancer or the BRCA gene should gather as much information from their doctors as possible. She stresses that all women faced with these decisions need answers to the following three questions: 'what are your options? What does each option involve, and what are the outcomes?'

Filed under: Cancer • Health • Health care • Women's issues
May 14th, 2013
11:05 AM ET

Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen explains Angelina Jolie's cancer gene mutation that increased her risk for breast cancer

CNN's Elizabeth Cohen weighs in on Angelina Jolie's revelation about her double mastectomy. She explains the health risks behind having an abnormal mutation to the BRCA1 gene, which can increase a women's risk for breast and ovarian cancer.

In her op-ed piece Angelina Jolie writes, "I carry a 'faulty' gene, BRCA1, which sharply increases my risk of developing breast cancer and ovarian cancer. My doctors estimated that I had an 87 percent risk of breast cancer and a 50 percent risk of ovarian cancer, although the risk is different in the case of each woman."

Given this diagnosis Jolie, "decided to be proactive and to minimize the risk as much I could. I made a decision to have a preventive double mastectomy."

Filed under: Cancer • Health • Health care • Women's issues
February 21st, 2013
12:10 PM ET

Is your wallet weeping from high health care costs? TIME’s Steven Brill explains in their new cover piece 'Bitter Pill'

Despite President Barack Obama's sweeping health care legislation, medical costs continue to rise every year in the U.S. This week's TIME cover story "Bitter Pill: Why medical bills are killing us" takes an exhaustive look at exactly why the bills are piling so high for so many Americans.

According to the report, published in partnership with CNN, the U.S. will spend roughly $2.8 trillion on health care this year. That is 27% more per capita than most other developed nations, which amounts to an extra $750 billion. TIME magazine contributor Steven Brill joins “Starting Point” to discuss his story and break down the exorbitant health care costs.

In his research, Brill found that two economies exist in this country: one comprised of regular Americans, and the other is the health care economy. The health care economy 'is prospering, it's thriving, adding jobs all the time, everybody's making money,” Brill says.

“GE is making money on CAT scans, and your favorite local hospital you think is non-profit hospital is making tens and hundreds of thousands of dollars a year,” he says.

Early on in his article, Brill discusses the “chargemaster,” which is a “7,000, 10,000 item schedule of fees so everything that happens to you at the hospital whether it's outpatient or inpatient or even in a lab has a charge.” He explains, “If someone hands you a tissue that might be $1 or $2. If you get...a blood test that is totally routine, which costs the hospital basically nothing, that could be $150 at one hospital, it could be $250 at another hospital. Nobody can explain why.”

Brill says that besides the hospital and doctors, an insurance company will also get a discount off the chargemaster. “But your insurance company will probably get a 40% discount, maybe a 50% discount, but a 50% discount off of a $25 bill for Niacin is still a lot of money for the hospital,” he says.

Brill adds that “the hospital CEOs are making $2, $3, $5 million a year. The hospitals are making exorbitant profits and the fundraiser you go to probably accounts for one half of 1% of their revenue. The real revenue is from the Niacin pills but it’s also from the cancer drugs where they might charge the patient $10,000 or $11,000. It might cost them $4,000 and it might cost the drug company $100 or $200.”

Filed under: Health care
November 8th, 2012
10:47 AM ET

Obama reelection means health care law stays – Sanjay Gupta explains what to expect

Obamacare is here to stay. Now that President Obama has won re-election, his health care reform law will remain in effect. Some of its provisions have yet to take effect in 2014, while others have looming deadlines ahead. CNN Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta explains on "Starting Point" what we can expect from the health care law.

By 2014, some aspects of the law will kick in for adults and children. Patients cannot be charged higher premiums for being sick, patients cannot be denied coverage due to pre-existing conditions and patients will not have annual dollar limits on health benefits.

“One of the things that this is predicated on is having what are known as these health exchanges within states,” Dr Gupta says. “Sort of a marketplace where people can buy insurance who haven’t had great access to it so far.”

Many states have decided not to implement this, while others are still considering it. “And if a state decides not to do it, then the federal government may go into those states and create the exchange themselves,” Dr. Gupta explains. “But this is again this competitive marketplace, which is part of the way to drive down costs, have these insurance companies compete for business.”

September 26th, 2012
04:21 PM ET

"The Waiting Room" Director, Peter Nicks on his documentary on American healthcare system

As the future of health care reform possibly hangs in the balance of the upcoming election, a new documentary takes an insiders look at what life is like at a public hospital in Oakland, California where most of the patients don't have insurance. Unlike what has been seen on TV shows like ER, this films looks at the inner workings of the hospital through documenting life in the waiting room. The hospital is highland hospital in Oakland. The movie is called, "The Waiting Room" and its director, Emmy Award winning filmmaker Peter Nicks joins “Starting Point” this morning.

Nicks says the safety net is the last resort for communities all over the country and usually the “only place they know where to go.” “There are a patch work of community clinics you can go to but for the most part Highland has the infrastructure to deal with a variety of problems,” like language barriers.

Nicks says in the greater health care debate his film questions the role of the safety net moving forward in safety net hospitals around the country. The filmmaker adds that the voices of the people on the ground level in public hospitals have been left out as the debate on Healthcare heats up.

Ultimately the film questions if the de facto care that uninsured people are receiving right now is acceptable. "The Waiting Room" opens in New York City today and will release nationwide in the coming weeks.

Filed under: Health care
July 11th, 2012
12:13 PM ET

Rep. Hensarling: Health care legislation is 'the seminal issue of our time'

Republicans are taking the Affordable Care Act to the floor later today, trying to repeal the law that the Supreme Court upheld just a couple of weeks ago. It’s the 33rd attempt to repeal the law, and some people argue that it’s time to focus more on the economy than on repealing the health care legislation.

However, Rep. Jeb Hensarling says health care is all about jobs and the economy on Starting Point this morning. To support his claim, Hesarling cites some of his constituents in Texas who can’t hire more employees, or have to lay them off, because of Obamacare.

In response to a recent poll among people who do not support the health care law, which says that 33% want to repeal the whole law, 30% want to repeal some of it, and 34% want to wait and see, Rep. Hensarling says that while he does not “worship at the altar of public opinion polls,” he contends that the longer the health care law is out there, the higher the numbers repeal it climb.

To further illustrate his point that Republicans are not backing down, Rep. Hensarling notes that other great laws in American history had to be voted on numerous times, such as welfare reform and civil rights.

“I believe it’s the will of the American people,” Hensarling says.

Filed under: Health care
July 11th, 2012
11:31 AM ET

Sen. DeMint: Affordable Care Act will 'diminish quality and access to health care'

The Republican controlled House is preparing to vote this afternoon to repeal President Obama's health care overhaul.

The effort is mostly symbolic and virtually meaningless, because like the 33 other attempts to repeal the law, the bill will not pass in the Democratically controlled Senate.

Senator Jim DeMint is the co-founder of the Senate Tea Party Caucus and one of 12 senators who sent a letter to the National Governors Association asking them to oppose the implementation of the Affordable Care Act.

On Starting Point this morning, Sen. DeMint discusses the vote and explains why he opposes the health care legislation.

Filed under: Health care • Politics
July 11th, 2012
11:08 AM ET

Rep. Van Hollen: House health care repeal vote 'an empty political gesture'

The House of Representatives will be voting to repeal President Obama's Affordable Care Act Wednesday. Republicans critical of the law are angling to repeal the Act, which was passed in 2010 and was recently ruled constitutional by the Supreme Court .

Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) tells Soledad O'Brien on Starting Point today, "this is the 33rd time this session of Congress that we've voted to repeal this piece of legislation and it is an empty political gesture."

He adds, "There's no doubt that this helps to energize the Tea Party base in the Republican party but I think it actually alienates Independent voters when they see Congress wasting tax-payer resources doing this yet again..."

According to a Kaiser Family Foundation poll, 47% of Americans approve of the Supreme Court's ruling to uphold the law, while 43% disapprove and 10% say they don't know.

Rep. Van Hollen says, "I think the polls show that there's growing support for the health care law as more and more people realize what's in it and more and more people benefit from it."

Watch Soledad O'Brien's interview with Rep. Van Hollen above.

Filed under: Health care • Politics
July 9th, 2012
09:18 AM ET

VIDEO: Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-OH) on health care law: Congress should vote every day to repeal

The conversation grew contentious on "Starting Point" this morning, when panelists Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) and writer Richard Socarides sparred over Congress's efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

"What the American people want to hear Congress say is that Obamacare was a mistake," Rep. Blackburn says.

"This is political theater in an election year," Socarides says.

"Not at all. It gives us the opportunity to start fresh with a clean slate," Blackburn adds.

"But you don't think this is going to be repealed, right? we know this...The Senate is controlled by the President's party. This is the President's signature legislation. You're making a point," Socarides adds.

"I'm doing this to repeal it and to get rid of it...I wish we'd go do it every single day," Blackburn says.

See the exchange in the video above.

Filed under: Health care
July 6th, 2012
11:19 AM ET

New Orleans Mayor Landrieu: Why health care is smart

Mayor of New Orleans Mitch Landrieu defends why he thinks the health care mandate makes sense for the country.

Filed under: Health care
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