Julie Rovner

With Halloween rapidly approaching, you've probably heard about the shortage of pumpkins along the East Coast caused by the flooding rains of Hurricane Irene.

But while you may have troubling finding just the right shape or the right price for your jack o'lantern this year, there's good news for those looking ahead to the pies and cakes of Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Today marks 35 years since Congress first passed what's come to be known as the Hyde Amendment, which bans most federal abortion funding.

While the actual language of the rider to the annual funding bill for the Department of Health and Human Services has changed considerably over the years, since 2003 it has allowed federal Medicaid funds to pay for abortions in cases of rape, incest, or if the life of the woman is endangered by the pregnancy.

Most baby boomers say they're planning on an active and healthy retirement, according to a new poll conducted by NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard School of Public Health. And, in a switch from earlier years, more than two-thirds recognize the threat of long-term care expenses to their financial futures.

But some experts worry that when it comes to their health, boomers are still woefully unprepared — or worse, in denial.

There was good news and bad news in this year's annual survey of employer health benefits by the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Health Research and Educational Trust.

Well, there's at least one good thing about the country's inability to control health costs. If you can write a compelling essay about a problem, you could win a thousand bucks.

Not to be outdone by health care inflation itself, this year's contest sponsored by the nonprofit group Costs of Care is awarding four prizes, up from two last year.

President Obama's plan to cut the deficit doesn't exactly spare Medicare, Medicaid, and other federal health programs. But he also doesn't propose the sweeping sorts of changes envisioned by House Republicans earlier this year.

At first glance, today's report from the U.S. Census Bureau on the number of Americans without health insurance in 2010 looks, well, a little dull. About 16.3 percent of people in the country were without health insurance, which "was not statistically different from the rate in 2009," the report points out.

But dig a little deeper and there's plenty of action.

It used to be that opposition to publicly funded birth control was linked to abortion.

Either the birth control in question allegedly caused abortion, or the organization providing the birth control (read: Planned Parenthood) also performed abortions. But that's changing.

These days, more and more voices are opposing the provision of birth control for its own sake.

When it comes to last year's Affordable Care Act, there's not much people agree on. Except, says Kaiser Family Foundation President and CEO Drew Altman, this one thing: "It really does help the uninsured; 32 million uninsured people will get coverage."

OK, so your mom was right.

It turns out that moving in with that special someone without getting married first puts you at very high risk for an unplanned pregnancy.

That's one of the key findings of a new report from the Guttmacher Institute.

The report found that overall, "the United States did not make progress toward its goal of reducing unintended pregnancy between 2001 and 2006." In fact, the rate was 49 percent in 2006, virtually unchanged from 48 percent in 2001.

For all those who say there's nothing in the Affordable Care Act that could reduce health care spending, this one's for you.

Medicare officials have unveiled the latest initiative to spring from last year's overhaul, and it's one some health economists have been lusting after for years: Bundling payments so that hospitals, doctors, and even post-hospital caregivers all have the same financial incentive to both work together and provide cost-effective care.

Chances are, if you're admitted to the hospital, the doctor in charge of your care won't be your own. He or she will be a hospitalist, a relatively new type of specialist whose sole job is to oversee the care of hospitalized patients.

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