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Preview: Seattle Post-Intelligencer: Health Health News From the Associated Press


Insurer Cigna eases rules for opioid addiction medication

Fri, 21 Oct 2016 14:30:42 UT

Medication-assisted opioid addiction treatment involves the use of specialized drugs, combined with therapy, to help addicts recover while minimizing withdrawal symptoms and craving.

Raising a vegan baby: Parents say abuse cases give a bad rap

Fri, 21 Oct 2016 13:07:55 UT

Pinning bad parenting on vegan diets, some say, unfairly stigmatizes those who have done their homework and are safely raising their babies without feeding them animal products like meat and dairy. "For children in general you can have a safe vegan diet, but it has to be in consultation with a pediatrician or health care provider," said Sheela Magge, an endocrinologist at the Children's National Health System and a member of the American Academy of Pediatrics' committee on nutrition . Hawk, 30, of Farmington, became "obsessed" with a vegan diet, prompting her estranged husband to contact Fayette County child welfare workers, according to a criminal complaint. Calls seeking comment from Hawk, her former husband and the public defender's office weren't returned. In Florida in 2005, Joseph and Lamoy Andressohn got probation for neglect in the death of their 6-month-old son, who was fed only wheat grass, coconut water and almond milk. In Georgia, Jade Sanders and Lamont Thomas were sentenced to life in prison for the 2004 death of their 6-week-old son, who starved to death after they fed him a too-limited diet of soy milk and apple juice. Parents raising vegan kids need to be armed with facts, like being able to rattle off which foods and supplements are providing adequate vitamin B-12 and protein and where their kids are getting calcium.

Sanders tells soda tax opponents to stop using his name

Fri, 21 Oct 2016 03:04:08 UT

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Saying that consuming too much sugar is a serious health problem, U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders told the soft drink industry to stop using his name in ads fighting proposed soda taxes in the San Francisco Bay Area. "The ad accurately speaks to the fact that these taxes are regressive - a point that Senator Sanders made not just once or twice, but emphasized multiple times in multiple forums during his presidential campaign - and that they disproportionately affect low- and middle-income Americans," Joe Arellano, a spokesman for the opposition campaigns, said in a statement. Bay Area opponents say a tax would harm small grocers and customers, and that the money raised could be used for anything by city government.

Obama: Health care law worked, but improvements needed

Thu, 20 Oct 2016 21:53:25 UT

MIAMI (AP) — President Barack Obama on Thursday defended his namesake health care program, long a target of Republicans and recently criticized by some Democrats, saying millions of Americans "now know the financial security of health insurance" because of the Affordable Care Act. Less than two weeks before the Nov. 1 start of the enrollment period for Affordable Care Act health plans, Obama flew to a south Florida college to kick off a push by the administration to encourage more people to sign up, with a particular emphasis on young adults. Former President Bill Clinton, while campaigning in support of his wife, Hillary's, presidential bid, called the Affordable Care Act "the craziest thing in the world." In his remarks, Obama chalked up GOP criticism of the law to nothing more than politics and envy that a Democratic president named Barack Obama passed the law. Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell said this week that she expects 13.8 million people will sign up for 2017 coverage, a modest increase over the 12.7 million consumers who picked health insurance plans during open enrollment for this year. Obama presented his own prescription to make the law better, including getting Florida and more than a dozen states that haven't yet done so to accept federal funding to expand Medicaid and bring health insurance to millions more people. [...] millions of people buy individual policies outside of the health care law's marketplaces and many will be hit with the full premium increases.

Desperate Pakistan family awaits US visa for 6-year-old girl

Thu, 20 Oct 2016 21:12:00 UT

A U.S. hospital has offered to perform a surgery for free that could significantly improve Maria's quality of her life, but the American Embassy in Islamabad has so far twice refused to give the family visas to travel to the United States, said the girl's father, Shahid Ullah speaking to The Associated Press by phone from Rawalpindi in Pakistan. Frustrated and frightened, Ullah has now turned to an American lawyer, Facebook and the media for help, starting a campaign he says could be his daughter's last resort. Through the internet, he tracked down doctors with expertise in Maria's condition and families with children who suffer from the same disease from countries as far as Chile, Britain and America steered him to the Nemours/Alfred I DuPont Hospital for Children in Wilmington, Delaware. "The hope is to do the surgery for the child . . . without any cost to the family," said Chris Manning, who is with the Nemours Children's Health System public relations department, adding that the hospital has done multiple surgeries such as the one required for Maria. In an email to The Associated Press Harms said that housing for the family in the U.S. has been arranged and "the airline tickets have been donated."

Watchdog: EPA delayed for 7 months in Flint water crisis

Thu, 20 Oct 2016 21:10:24 UT

A panel appointed by Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder concluded that the state is "fundamentally accountable" for the lead crisis because of decisions made by state environmental regulators and state-appointed emergency managers who controlled the city. Weaver, a Democrat who took office after the Flint crisis emerged, said agencies such as the EPA and the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality are in place to help ensure the well-being and safety of men, women and children, yet they failed when it comes to the man-made water disaster in Flint. The report calls that interpretation incorrect and says that under federal law, when state actions are deemed insufficient, "the EPA can and should proceed with an (emergency) order" aimed at "protecting the public in a timely manner." Without EPA intervention, "the conditions in Flint persisted, and the state continued to delay taking action to require corrosion control or provide alternative drinking water supplies," the report said. The director of the EPA's Midwest regional office stepped down Feb. 1 amid withering criticism that the agency failed to act sooner to address lead contamination in the predominantly African-American city.

Lawmakers demand answers on leukemia drug price hikes

Thu, 20 Oct 2016 18:39:28 UT

WASHINGTON (AP) — Two top lawmakers on Thursday demanded information from a drug company that has raised prices on a leukemia drug, calling increases of tens of thousands of dollars a sign the company puts profits before patients. According to data from Truven Health Analytics, the list price for a year's supply of Iclusig tablets has increased from $114,960 in 2012 to $198,732 in October 2016. The FDA approved Iclusig in 2012 as a treatment for two rare types of leukemia, but the company suspended sales the next October because of heightened concerns that patients could suffer from life-threatening blood clots.

AP FACT CHECK: Health insurance costs up, but not doubling

Thu, 20 Oct 2016 04:05:35 UT

The average increase for a popular option called the "lowest-cost silver plan" was 11 percent. [...] some states have reported higher numbers. Many consumers receive subsidies that will offset the rising premiums, but an estimated 9 million people buy individual policies outside the health law's markets and pay full freight.

Zika test urged for pregnant women throughout Florida county

Thu, 20 Oct 2016 00:07:31 UT

Testing is recommended for pregnant women who lived in — or visited — Miami-Dade since August 1, whether or not they have symptoms. The new testing advice also extends to pregnant women who weren't in Miami-Dade themselves, but had unprotected sex with someone who had been in the county recently. Pregnant women should postpone travel to the county if possible and stay out of the two remaining "red zones" — Miami Beach and an area just north of the Little Haiti neighborhood. [...] this summer, the only cases of Zika in the continental U.S. were connected to travel to areas with Zika epidemics, mostly the Caribbean and Latin America.

Preteens need only 2 HPV shots — not 3, CDC says

Wed, 19 Oct 2016 23:26:17 UT

Health officials hope that will boost the number of girls and boys who get vaccinated. The vaccine protects against human papillomavirus — or HPV — which can cause cervical cancer, certain other cancers and genital warts. Health officials want kids to get HPV vaccinations at age 11 or 12, well before most first have sex and before they could be infected. Vaccination rates have risen very slowly, and health officials have lamented the underuse of a potent cancer prevention tool. [...] recently, there were three HPV vaccines on the market.