Dr. Linda Smith walks into a room at Providence Alaska Medical Center, ready with a stethoscope and a huge grin. She teases her patient, Dawn Dillard, saying that her spiky hair recently resembled a "faux hawk."
Dillard found out she had uterine cancer a year ago. Her oncologist gave her a year to live. The 57-year-old has beaten those odds, but now her kidneys are failing. After the laughs are over, Smith sits down on the edge of Dillard's bed, leans in, and starts talking about a procedure Dillard will have.
Women are dying from overdoses of prescription painkillers at a much higher rate than men, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And while men still suffer more overdoses, women are catching up fast.
From 1999 to 2010, the CDC found a fivefold increase in the number and rate of such cases among middle-aged women. Over the same period, the rate of overdoses from prescription painkillers increased 3.5 times in men.
The Obama administration's decision late Tuesday to postpone the requirement for employers with 50 or more workers to offer health coverage or risk fines has satisfied some key members of the coalition that supported the law.
But the one-year reprieve also raises new questions about the administration's ability to get the huge health law up and running in an orderly fashion. The deadline for the new health exchanges to begin enrolling individuals is Oct. 1.