Martha Bebinger, KFF Health News

Martha Bebinger

KFF Health News

Boston, MA, United States

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Past articles by Martha:

Some Roadblocks to Lifesaving Addiction Treatment Are Gone. Now What?

The federal government has lifted restrictions on one of the most effective opioid addiction treatment medications. The change sets up a “truth serum moment”: Will mainstream doctors and nurses now… → Read More

One State Looks to Get Kids in Crisis out of the ER — And Back Home

At many U.S. hospitals, children and teens are stuck in the emergency department for days or weeks because psychiatric beds are full. Massachusetts is trying a simple, promising solution. → Read More

After a record high, overdose deaths may be declining slightly in Massachusetts

Opioid overdose deaths dropped 1.5% through September of this year compared to 2021, according to preliminary numbers from the state Department of Public Health. Officials said they were "encouraged by the decrease, however modest." → Read More


How an on-call addiction specialist at a Massachusetts hospital saved a life

Salem Hospital has addiction specialist on call, and that came in handy when a patient got help after coming in for a different problem. (Story aired on Weekend Edition Sunday on Oct. 5, 2022.) → Read More

Hospitals Have Been Slow to Bring On Addiction Specialists

Hospitals have specialists ready to offer consult and care for concerns from cancer to childbirth but often no one with expertise in addiction medicine. Patients with a history of substance use — w… → Read More


Hospitals have specialists on call for lots of diseases — but not addiction. Why not?

U.S. overdose deaths have exceeded 100,000 a year, yet few hospitals are equipped to treat patients with addiction. A new kind of treatment team connect patients with help before they're discharged. → Read More


Encore: An animal tranquilizer is making street drugs even more dangerous

The veterinary sedative xylazine is being mixed into illegal drugs and could be contributing to a rise in overdoses. (Story first aired on Weekend Edition Saturday on July 30, 2022.) → Read More

They Call It ‘Tranq’ — And It’s Making Street Drugs Even More Dangerous

Xylazine, an animal tranquilizer, has made it into the illegal drug supply of opioids and cocaine. It is changing the way outreach workers treat overdoses and may be responsible for grisly injuries… → Read More


An animal tranquilizer is making street drugs even more dangerous

The sedative xylazine is starting to permeate illegal opioids and cocaine. It does not respond to naloxone, an overdose reversal medication, and may be to blame for grisly injuries and infections. → Read More

Somerville maps fastest path to state's first supervised consumption clinic — starting in a parking lot

The first supervised consumption clinic in Massachusetts may be a portable unit placed in a parking lot in Somerville. That’s one of the recommendations in an operations and location report out today, the latest step in Somerville’s bid to move this controversial project forward. → Read More

Beyond sunburns: How hot weather can hurt you

There's a heat wave in New England, and with the hot weather comes the usual warnings about heat-related health issues. But what exactly can the heat do to you? WBUR's Martha Bebinger met with an ER doctor in a park on a hot summer day to find out. → Read More

Study estimates air pollution killed 2,780 Massachusetts residents in a year

Massachusetts residents have the first glimpse of the toll air pollution is taking on their city or town. Wayland, Amherst and Sherborn have some of the lowest rates, while some towns on Cape Cod and near Pittsfield are among the highest. → Read More


She tried to avoid plastic while grocery shopping for a week. Here's how it went

Worried about the proliferation of plastic trash in the environment and her own body, a journalist tried to shop plastic-free for 7 days. She found plastic in a lot of sneaky and surprising places. → Read More

Overdose deaths reached a record high in Mass. during 2021

A stunning 2,290 people likely died after an overdose in Massachusetts last year, setting a new record. Experts believe COVID-related stressors and fentanyl contributed to the increase. → Read More

In Chelsea, cooling an urban heat island one block at a time

An intensive effort is underway to lower temperatures on one of the hottest blocks in Massachusetts. The Cool Block pilot includes 47 new trees. Dark pavement will become gray or white. Local environmentalists and the city aim to install a white roof on the largest building and turn a vacant lot into a park. → Read More

As cocaine and meth use rise in Mass., state commission outlines action plan

In the first half of 2021, 52% of overdose deaths in the state involved cocaine. A state commission recommended several efforts, including widespread access to harm reduction supplies, more training for first responders and better access to new treatment options. → Read More

It's hard to avoid plastic while grocery shopping — even for a week

As part of WBUR’s new newsletter, “Cooked,” my challenge was to purchase a week’s worth of food and leave the store without any plastic in my bag. That means no jugs of juice, cellophane windows in chip bags, or even stickers on some produce. → Read More


Drug overdose deaths are at a record high. Here's what the White House plans to do

Harm reduction is one of four policies the Biden administration says must be immediately implemented in order to address the record high number of overdose deaths. → Read More

How $526 million in opioid settlements will be distributed in Massachusetts

Massachusetts expects to receive $526 million in the latest resolution of lawsuits stemming from the opioid crisis. 40% of the funds will go to cities and towns that sued Johnson & Johnson and three drug distributors, and other municipalities that join the agreement. The balance will go into a state trust fund used to reduce addiction and deaths. → Read More


Purdue Pharma, Sacklers reach $6 billion deal with state attorneys general

The deal, hashed out over weeks of intense negotiations, raises the amount paid by the Sacklers by more than $1 billion. In exchange, the family members win immunity from civil opioid lawsuits. → Read More