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This story is Part 14 of a 15-part series that examines health care needs in Gary, Ind.

When Shantray Hooks, of Gary, lost her job as a restaurant cook in August, she didn’t know how she would pay for doctor visits.

“I had no health insurance and I couldn’t afford to pay a doctor,” said Hooks, 29, who was diagnosed with diabetes several years ago.

A doctor referred her to the Community Health Net of Gary, a federally qualified community health center that provides comprehensive primary care health services and charges on a sliding fee scale for services.

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In California’s largest cities, one senses that the number of homeless people continues to grow, whatever the interventions to prevent it. But some of the more commonly cited reasons for that growth don't explain the whole story.

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At 364 pounds, Dawn Walton found her breaking point, literally, when she sat down for a meet and greet at her son's kindergarten class. "I felt the chair start to break beneath me," Walton, 35, said. "I knew it would kill him if I broke that chair." She made a bargain with God that day: If the seat didn't break, she'd change her lifestyle for good.

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When 11-year-old Shania Lape sees an overweight classmate struggle to keep up, she's filled with sympathy. "They can't run as fast, they can't play the games at school because they're not healthy," said Shania, a fifth-grader at Kenly Elementary in Tampa. Worse yet, not being able to play with their classmates could lead to a lifetime on the sidelines for some kids.

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Why are doctors asking patients to sign a contract before prescribing painkillers? Answers and more in our Daily Briefing.

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Fishing for a health fraud lawsuit under the False Claims Act can be complicated if you just have a suspicion that something funny is going on. Here are some tips for finding these cases in your state.

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Administrators of a hot line that helps West Virginians find treatment for prescription drug abuse are worried the program will be forced to close. The Mountain State has the nation's highest rate of fatal drug overdoses, and most of those deaths involve prescription drugs. But officials with the West Virginia Prescription Drug Abuse Quitline say state leaders have not shown concern for their funding problems. The hot line launched in September 2008 with the help of $1 million from a lawsuit against Purdue Pharma, maker of the painkiller OxyContin. That money will run out next year, said Laura Lander, the program's clinical supervisor.

 

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Some lawmakers say they're disappointed that Senate President Earl Ray Tomblin slashed funding to fight substance abuse and to improve end-of-life health care.

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The other day, Reporting on Health asked its friends to share stories about their best health journalism adventures and misadventures. We made it a contest on our own ReportingonHealth Facebook page and offered prizes of a $50 itunes card (1st prize) and In Pantagonia, Bruce Chatwin's adventure saga (2nd Prize).

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Why are TB cases declining so dramatically in California? Answers and more in our Daily Briefing.

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