Oregon Public Broadcasting

Oregon's Transgender Population Reacts To Trump's Military Ban

Oregon’s transgender population is reacting Wednesday to news that President Donald Trump will ban them from serving in the U.S. military.

Basic Rights Oregon calls the move disgraceful. 

"Thousands of patriotic transgender Americans already serve in our military and are putting their lives on the line to keep us safe and defend our American values,” Executive Director Nancy Haque said.

“There is no place for discrimination in our military," she said.  "Discharging talented service members simply because of their gender identity is wrong.”

There are an estimated 15,500 transgender people actively serving in the military, according to the Williams Institute.


But like any group, there’s more than one point of view.

Jamie Shupe is non-binary — that is neither male nor female.

Shupe served as a U.S. Army tank mechanic for 18 years, in locations all over the world including Kuwait, Bosnia and Germany. 

Shupe says including transgender people in the military was doomed to fail because it’s unfair — for example, if a male Navy Seal transitions to female, they would become the first female Navy Seal in history.

Shupe says it also puts the military on the hook for tens of thousands of dollars in transition costs per person and would take a lot of time out of deployments.

“They’re never going to respect somebody who’s off getting a genital surgery while they’re sitting in a bunker in Afghanistan. It breaks down cohesion, it’s not fair,” Shupe said.

Trump wrote on Twitter that the military must be focused on overwhelming victory and cannot be burdened with disruptions. “After consultation with my generals and military experts, please be advised that the United States Government will not accept or allow transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military.”

“After consultation with my generals and military experts, please be advised that the United States Government will not accept or allow transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military.”

The Oregon Department of Veterans’ Affairs issued a statement saying it honors the contributions of all those who have served and continue to serve in the military, regardless of gender identity.

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Report: OHSU Scientist 1st In US To Modify Human Genes With CRISPR

A researcher at Oregon Health and Science University has reportedly become the first in the United States to genetically modify a human embryo, according to a report from the MIT Technology Review. 

The report, published Wedesday, says OHSU researcher Shoukhrat Mitalipov successfully used the gene editing technology CRISPR to alter human DNA in single-cell embryos.

OPB was not immediately able to independently confirm the breakthrough. But Mitalipov's research, if it passes peer review, would be a significant step for American scientists.


"To date, three previous reports of editing human embryos were all published by scientists in China," freelance journalist Steve Connor wrote, outlining the stakes of the research. "Mitalipov is believed to have broken new ground both in the number of embryos experimented upon and by demonstrating that it is possible to safely and efficiently correct defective genes that cause inherited diseases."

Successfully altering genes in embryos could theoretically allow scientists to cures diseases, including cancer.

But critics of the CRISPR technology say it could open the door to the world of designer babies — where parents can select for specific traits in their child.

According to the Technology Review, past efforts by U.S. scientists to use CRISPR have been inconsistent and resulted in "editing errors" that gave weight to arguments the technique "would be an unsafe way to create a person."

For now, federal regulations have banned allowing a genetically-modified human embryo to develop into a baby.

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How Much Do Health Procedures Cost In Oregon? Depends Where You Live

The Oregon Health Authority just released its second review of hospital pricing and there are some big differences.

During 2015, the cost of a typical child delivery at St. Alphonsus Medical Center in Baker City was $4,000. But that same delivery at St. Charles Medical Center in Bend was more than $11,000.

So in theory, a patient could have had their baby in Baker City and then driven home in a new $7,000 car.

Stephen Ranzoni with the Oregon Health Authority doesn’t think the study gives consumers more bargaining power. But, he said, it provides useful information.


“So that everyone across the board, hospitals, policy makers, insurance companies, can have tangible objective data … to talk about this type of thing," Ranzoni said, "about prices and reimbursement and what is right and what is fair.”

For common outpatient procedures, heart electrophysiology studies had the highest average cost: $37,000. For inpatient procedures, the highest average cost was for a heart valve replacement surgery: $85,000.

The procedure that saw the highest price increase in 2015 was a coronary bypass surgery. It rose by $8,700. Inpatient care accounts for as much as 30 percent of health care spending in Oregon, according to the latest figures.

Hospitals negotiate their prices with insurance providers, but prices can also depend on a number of factors like location.

Hospitals located where there’s a higher cost of living tend to pay higher salaries, leases and utility costs.

But that doesn't mean hospitals in larger cities always charge more, according to the report. Sometimes they can charge less for a procedure because they can make up the cost difference in volume.

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Oregon Tribal Members Get Help Finding Health Care

The state’s health authority has delivered on a request from Oregon’s nine federally recognized tribes. Many tribal members say they need help finding health care.

Under federal law, many American Indians and Alaska Natives receive Medicaid without having to choose a network provider.

In practical terms says Erin Fair-Taylor with CareOregon, it means Oregon has about 17,000 people who sometimes have difficulty finding health services.

Fair-Taylor says CareOregon will help better connect them with their tribes' clinics and other health systems.

"If they know they need to access a particular kind of specialty care or their primary care provider has made a referral and they’re not sure where to go next, they can call us and we can help navigate through the system," she said.

Last year, the tribes asked the Oregon Health Authority to develop a culturally appropriate program with CareOregon.  If CareOregon finds gaps in care, it’ll contact the state for a remedy.

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CDC: Rural Counties Have Highest Opioid Prescription Levels In Oregon

Counties with the highest opioid prescription levels in the U.S. tend to have small cities and a higher percentage of white residents. They also have a high unemployment rate, more doctors and more people living with arthritis and disabilities.

A report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that in Oregon, that translated to eastern counties like Union and Wallowa, and southwestern counties like Lane, Douglas and Jackson.

Head of the CDC, Dr. Anne Schuchat, said many doctors still prescribe too many pills, for too long at a high dosage.

“The amount of opioids prescribed in 2015 was enough for every American to be medicated around the clock for three weeks," she said.

The CDC wants doctors to prescribe painkillers like ibuprofen instead of opioids and recommend physical therapy and exercise.

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