The Pulse – Feb. 27 2015

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    On Wednesday, March 4, the Supreme Court will hear a case that challenges one of Obamacare’s key provisions: subsidies that make coverage affordable for millions of people who get insurance through federally run online marketplaces. The fate of the law could boil down to one, single word in a 900-page document: “state.” We’re joined by Supreme Court watcher Lisa McElroy for a preview of the arguments.

    Since the passage of Obamacare, medical device manufacturers have paid a 2.3-percent sales tax. Some of that money goes toward those insurance subsidies that make coverage affordable for millions of people. But, as Taunya English reports, the new Republican-controlled congress is hoping to repeal that tax and weaken the President’s signature health law in the process.

    Not every dentist gets to stare into the mouths of royalty. But Thomas Evans got to do just that. Evans earned fame, influence and a sizeable fortune by treating the teeth of 19th century nobles, while he simultaneously contributed to the modernization of dentistry. Reporter Todd Bookman tells Evans’ unlikely story.

    If you’ve ever tried to find out how much a medical procedure might cost but no one could tell you, you’re not alone. The Pulse is launching a new project to lift the veil on some of these oh-so-mysterious costs—WHYY PriceCheck. Reporter Elana Gordon explains how you (yes you!) are a crucial link in the chain of transparency, and we talk with KQED’s Lisa Aliferis about how the project faired in California.

    Vitamins are everywhere. The take up an entire aisle of your local grocery store and they were probably added to both the cereal you ate this morning and the milk you poured over it. In fact, Americans spend more than 5 billion dollars on multivitamins alone. But are we making ourselves healthier? Catherine Price wrote Vitamania: Our obsessive quest for nutritional perfection, and she joins us to talk vitamins.

    Medical students spend four long years studying the science and theory of modern medicine, treating patients only under close supervision. But when the all-knowing resident is gone, and there are no books to reference, treating a real-life emergency gets a whole lot scarier. Daphne Owen found that out first-hand on a red-eye flight from LA to Philly last Thanksgiving. She tells Avir Mitra her terrifying tale.

    While walking through the lobby of the Perelman Center for Advanced Medicine in Philadelphia, enroute to an interview, reporter Elana Gordon stumbled across a beautiful moment. Med student Linda Wang had sat down at the hospital’s piano to play an impromptu concert, and Gordon captured it all on tape. 

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