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As Congress goes into recession, the debate over healthcare hits home. But what's really happening on the reform front? Will it meet the needs of the American public? In a 5-hour special series over five days, we'll hear from doctors, hospital administrators, insurance companies, economists and average people about what's driving up healthcare costs, what it will take to make real changes, and what trade-offs people are willing to make to see meaningful reform through.

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Thousands of rural, mostly poor, Lower Yakima Valley residents in Washington state rely on small private wells that aren't routinely tested or inspected, posing serious health risks.
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A look at drug company funding for patient advocacy groups.

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Fellows Sharon Salyer and Alejandro Dominguez's exhaustively-reported series on the mental health challenges facing Hispanics in the Pacific Northwest has won journalism prizes from the Association of Health Care Journalists, National Institute of Health Care Management, Mental Health America and the Society of Professional Journalists of the

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During our first California Broadcast Journalism Fellowship we listened to Julie Rovner, National Public Radio’s correspondent on the Health Policy and Science Desk, talk on a panel about health care reform. But at NPR, "health care reform" is a banned phrase on the air. Reform, Rovner said, is not a neutral term so she opts instead for "health care overhaul." Whatever you call it, it's a huge and timely issue.

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A federal court of appeals recently upheld a lower court's 2006 decision that found the tobacco industry guilty of racketeering and fraud. The House of Representatives has already voted to give the F.D.A. powers to regulate tobacco products, and the Senate is considering a similar vote. It's time for universities such as the University of California to wake up and cut their research ties with Big Tobacco, which has long used university research results to defraud the public.

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Journalist. Santa Monica City Councilman. Music Producer. Entrepreneur. Bobby Shriver has worn a lot of hats, some of them simultaneously. Now, while working as a councilman, he runs (RED), a company he created with Bono to fund the purchase and distribution of medications to fight HIV and AIDS in Africa. I reached him at his office in Santa Monica.

Here is a recap of our conversation. It has been edited for space and clarity.

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How did Santa Clara County in California spend its Homeland Security and bioterrorism preparedness grants after 9/11?On public health? Or "toys for boys?"

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Doctors see a lot of naked people.

It starts in medical school when they see a lot of dead naked people, and one would think that after cutting into a cadaver and examining body parts in great detail a naked body would lose a little of its allure.

Not so for Dr. Kamal F. Aboulhosn of Yakima, Wash.

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Initiative 1000, the so-called "Death with Dignity Act," took effect in Washington state on March 5, after being approved by voters in November. And it has put hospitals in a strange position. Hospitals are considered the place where doctors and staff do everything in their power to keep a person alive. Now hospitals are being asked to allow their patients to kill themselves.

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