March 27, 2015

UNMC oncologist applauds Angelina Jolie going public about preventative cancer surgery

Angelina Jolie

Angelina Jolie

Two years ago actress Angelina Jolie had a double mastectomy as a precaution after blood tests showed she had an 87% chance of developing cancer.

Last week, Jolie underwent surgery and had both ovaries and fallopian tubes removed after another test showed high markers, a sign of possible early cancer. Jolie’s mother, grandmother and aunt died from cancer and she carries a gene mutation that increases her chance of developing that illness.

Dr. Kerry Rodabaugh, gynecological oncologist at the University of Nebraska Medical Center, says this is not a rare occurrence and something they deal with frequently.

Dr. Rodabaugh says, “Surgery is not automatic. It is a personal decision on everyone’s part. I think the most important thing is women and men also, to be aware of their family history and have that discussion with their physician. Then we can develop risk reduction strategies that often do include surgeries but don’t necessarily have to.”

Dr. Rodabaugh also applauds Jolie’s decision to go public. She says, “Anytime we can raise awareness to these issues, protect women, give them the information they need to make decisions for themselves and see the courage that women have to take care of themselves and their families.”

Congressman says failure of CoOportunity Health says much about ACA (AUDIO)

Congressman Adrian Smith

Congressman Adrian Smith

A Nebraska Congressman says the collapse of a health cooperative created under the Affordable Care Act says a lot about the federal health insurance law.

CoOportunity Health seemed to have a bright future, insuring 120,000 residents of Iowa and Nebraska.

Yet, it amassed $150 million in liabilities and the Iowa Insurance Commissioner moved to liquidate it.

Congressman Adrian Smith has written the Secretary of Health and Human Services, asking why it collapsed.

“After all, CoOportunity Health was a creature, was a result of Obamacare. Their rates were too low and the numbers just didn’t hold up,” Smith tells Nebraska Radio Network.

Smith says he hasn’t received a reply from the Secretary of Health, yet.

CoOportunity Health was one of 23 nonprofit coops created under the ACA.

Their fate is uncertain.

“I’m very concerned moving forward and I hope that we can pursue policies that prevent the failure of an insurance company like this from happening again,” Smith says.

A similar cooperative insurance company in Tennessee is being watched closely by regulators. Others seem to be operating without the same fiscal problems that led to CoOportunity Health’s demise.

The insurance cooperative based in Iowa insured a little more than 40,000 Nebraskans. Former CoOportunity clients have been given an extended deadline, through April 29th, to find a new insurance company.

The Iowa Insurance Commissioner determined early in the year CoOportunity could not be saved. Under court supervision, liquidation was ordered on February 28th.

Nebraska State Insurance Director Bruce Ramge, acting in cooperation with the Iowa Insurance Commissioner, suspended CoOportunity Health in Nebraska after the Iowa Department of Insurance took it over. He ordered the co-op to not write additional policies in Nebraska.

CoOportunity Health formed as a nonprofit insurance cooperative under rules established by the Affordable Care Act. Not as much federal funding flowed to the cooperative as expected and its assets plummeted from $121.5 million to $17 million, according to court documents filed in Polk County, Iowa.

An Iowa judge appointed the Iowa Insurance Commissioner to assume management of the company. When he found it could not be restored, he requested the court allow its liquidation.

Medical claims being filed by CoOportunity clients are being paid by the state Guaranty Associations in Iowa and Nebraska.

AUDIO:  Brent Martin reports [:50]

Aid worker exposed to Ebola is now out of Biocontainment Unit

The University of Nebraska Medical Center – Nebraska Medicine reports that the American aid worker under observation for Ebola in their Biocontainment Unit since Sunday evening has been released and now is in the quarantined area of the facility. That worker exhibited Ebola symptoms and was placed in the unit as a precaution.

The hospital continues to monitor four other aid workers that were all exposed to the Ebola virus in Sierra Leone. They are all being kept on-campus and under observation.

The person they were exposed to is being treated for Ebola at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, MD.

Email heart attack survival hoax

“How to Survive a Heart Attack When Alone” is in the subject line of an email making the rounds. That email recommends those alone and fear they are having a heart attack should cough repeatedly until help arrives.

University of Nebraska Medical Center – Nebraska Medicine cardiologist Dr. Shikar Saxena says, “It is absolutely ludicrous to say somebody who is alone and having a heart attack can cough and essentially save their life. You only have about 10 seconds, if you truly have arrhythmia, before you are going to pass out from it.”

Dr. Saxena says you are much better off using that valuable time to call 911 for help. He says patients seen in hospitals suffering from arrhythmia or cardiac arrest are told to cough but very rarely helps. He says that is likely where this theory came from.

Nebraska students rally to help make next generation smoke-free

KickButtsYoung anti-smoking activists across Nebraska will stand up to Big Tobacco today in joining their counterparts nationwide for the 20th annual Kick Butts Day.

John Schachter, spokesman for the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, says numerous events are planned in Nebraska, all focused on clearing the air.

“Young people across the country are sending out the message they’re sick and tired of being targeted by the tobacco industry’s manipulative marketing and they’re coming together to reject it,” Schachter says. “We will see more than 1,000 Kick Butts Day events across the country, with everybody working together to make the next generation tobacco-free.”

Some events in Nebraska today will be as simple as organizing groups of students to walk along roadways and pick up cigarette butts and empty cigarette packs.

“You’re going to see rallies at the state capitol to educate legislators about the importance of fully funding tobacco prevention efforts,” Schachter says. “Some groups will do things like a billboard of ribbons and glow-sticks with facts about the tobacco industry’s deceptive tactics. There will be groups of kids who will survey tobacco retailers to see if they’ve thought about going tobacco-free.”

A tobacco industry document reportedly refers to young people as “replacements,” meaning, replacement smokers for the half-million people who die every year from tobacco.

“We are encouraging young people across the country to take selfies with a statement that says, ‘I’m not a replacement, I am…’ and they’re filling in what they really are,” Schachter says. “Are they an activist, are they an advocate, are they an athlete, are they a musician, are they a future astronaut? They can put in whatever they want and they are posting these selfies to our gallery on our website.”

In Nebraska, tobacco use claims 2,500 lives and costs $795-million in health care bills each year. The latest survey finds 11% of Nebraska’s high school students smoke.

Nationwide, Schachter says tobacco companies spend $8.8 billion a year — or one million dollars every hour — to market tobacco products. In Nebraska, tobacco companies spend $59-million annually on marketing efforts.


In Nebraska, a few of the activities today include:

No Limits Nebraska will bus 100 students to Lincoln to lead a rally at the State Capitol to educate senators about the importance of fully-funded tobacco prevention movements. Time: 8 AM. Location: 1445 K Street, Lincoln.

Students from Schuyler Central High School will create a billboard of ribbons and glow sticks with facts about the tobacco industry’s deceptive tactics. Time: 3:45 PM. Location: 401 Adams Street, Schuyler.

Students from Northeast Community College in Norfolk will promote the #NotAReplacement campaign in the student center. Time: 1 PM. Location: 801 E. Benjamin Avenue, Norfolk.

On March 23, students from Columbus Middle School will collaborate with Tobacco Free Platte County to place a tobacco-free message in cups along the main fence of the school, and play jeopardy to learn the dangers of tobacco. Time: 3 PM. Location: 2410 16th Street, Columbus. Contact: Jamie Rodriguez (402) 563-9656 ext. 265.

For a full list of Kick Butts Day activities in Nebraska, visit