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In California alone, nearly 4 million working people lack health insurance. Many of them are young, educated professionals who freelance or work part time. These are the invisible uninsured, our neighbors and friends. Often, lacking health care is their uncomfortable secret.

Over the next few weeks, we’ll hear some of the stories of this group. Today, KALW’s Zoe Corneli reports on educated young adults who make the choice to live without health insurance.

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The state Inspector General’s Office will issue a report on the quality of prison medical care in California by the end of the year. It’ll include a summary of inspections at 11 state prisons. The report will help a federal judge determine when to return control of prison medical care to the state. KPCC’s Julie Small has looked over some of the preliminary scores.

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On Tuesday, I posted the first half of my “Top 10 list” of noteworthy health journalism. Here’s the second half. It bears repeating: this definitely isn’t a best-of list, and admittedly, it’s print-centric. There’s lots of excellent work out there that I didn’t have a chance to read or view or listen to. But the five stories below are worth reading, and learning from.

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Studies have shown that breastfeeding significantly reduces health risks for babies and their mothers. So how many Californians are breastfeeding their babies? Not enough. See our interactive charts and sort the data by ethnicity, income and gender.

Visit Health Dialogues to view the graph:

http://www.kqed.org/assets/graph/breastfeeding/index.jsp

Picture of Barbara Feder Ostrov

The CDC today launched a Web-based environmental public health tracking network that could be a fantastic resource for journalists looking for stories in their state or county.

I say "could be" because right now, the system is frustratingly slow to use, even with a decent Internet connection.

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President Barack Obama is searching for a new surgeon general. He might consider screening the resumes of doctors a little lower in the federal ranks.

Picture of William Heisel

Six of the world's biggest drug companies are about to be winnowed down to three. If all the mergers go through, we will have Pfizer-Wyeth, Merck-Schering-Plough and Roche-Genentech controlling more than $100 billion in drug sales every year - amounting to one seventh of all revenues for drug companies worldwide. (I wrote a story about this a couple weeks ago for the Los Angeles Times.)

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The therapeutic use of cannabis (marijuana) is a hot topic in some parts of the United States. The National Institutes of Health do not recommend its use for treatment of any illness, though some physicians prescribe it for pain, glaucoma, nausea and anorexia associated with chemotherapy, and, less commonly, for epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, migraine, and asthma. Laws on medical usage vary by state, with 13 states, as of July 2009, permitting medical usage under certain conditions. The majority of Web sites on medical marijuana have a bias one way or another.

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