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Preview: Seattle Post-Intelligencer: Health

seattlepi.com: Health News From the Associated Press





 



GOP's 'Obamacare' repeal path worries health care industry

Sat, 10 Dec 2016 07:37:47 UT

[...] replacement legislation that covers a comparable number of people would still require billions in government financing and extensive regulations, a stumbling block for the most conservative Republicans. "Public opinion seems to be shifting," said John Rother, president of the National Coalition on Health Care, an umbrella organization that includes doctors, businesses, unions, and religious groups. — The two main hospital lobbies — the American Hospital Association and the Federation of American Hospitals — released studies indicating more than $200 billion in potential losses for their members if the health law is repealed without restoring the funding cuts that were used to finance coverage expansion. "Losses of this magnitude cannot be sustained and will ... decimate hospitals' and health systems' ability to provide services, weaken local economies ... and result in massive job losses," the groups said in a letter to Trump. — Perhaps the most sobering assessment comes from a little-known group, the American Academy of Actuaries, representing professionals who assess the financial stability of pension and health insurance programs. The group said delaying the effective date of a repeal while a replacement is worked out could create such uncertainty that it triggers a crisis for the individual health insurance market.



4 more Zika cases, likely homegrown, found in Texas

Sat, 10 Dec 2016 00:16:21 UT

Dr. John Hellerstedt, the state health commissioner, said colder weather and mosquito-control efforts have decreased mosquito activity in the area, but he warned that South Texas' mild winters mean mosquito populations can quickly rebound during short periods of warmer weather. The locally transmitted Florida cases were detected over the summer. [...] all U.S. cases had been connected to people traveling to countries with outbreaks, mostly in Latin America and the Caribbean.



Officials: South Beach halts Zika's spread, but risks remain

Fri, 9 Dec 2016 21:35:57 UT

Starting in late July, state health officials had identified four zones in the Miami area where the virus was spreading through local mosquitoes — the first such transmissions in the continental U.S. — and launched aggressive efforts to control the insects. About 250 people have contracted Zika in Florida, and over 980 more Zika infections in the state have been linked to travel, according to state health officials. Zika causes mild flu-like symptoms for most people, but it can cause severe brain-related birth defects when pregnant women become infected. The CDC lifted a warning for pregnant women to stay out of the South Beach zone altogether, but the agency still urges them to consider postponing nonessential travel to Miami-Dade County.



Examiner: Philadelphia had 35 drug overdoses in 5 days

Fri, 9 Dec 2016 21:23:02 UT

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — The Philadelphia medical examiner's office says as many as 35 fatal drug overdoses over a recent five-day period might be part of a bigger problem: the national opioid crisis. Philadelphia police and the medical examiner's office are working to determine the cause of the overdoses and possible reasons for the spike in deaths. While investigators have determined that those who died got their drugs from different sources — meaning it was unlikely that a "bad batch" had a single origin — they must also consider factors including where the opioids may have originated, if there are links among dealers being arrested and whether certain street heroin may be purer than others or is being laced with powerful painkillers like fentanyl. [...] the Department of Public Health has issued guidelines to doctors on opioid prescription, as doctor-issued painkillers can lead to addiction and abuse.



GOP's 'Obamacare' repeal path worries health care industry

Fri, 9 Dec 2016 17:02:09 UT

[...] replacement legislation that covers a comparable number of people would still require billions in government financing and extensive regulations, a stumbling block for the most conservative Republicans. "Public opinion seems to be shifting," said John Rother, president of the National Coalition on Health Care, an umbrella organization that includes doctors, businesses, unions, and religious groups. — The two main hospital lobbies — the American Hospital Association and the Federation of American Hospitals — released studies indicating more than $200 billion in potential losses for their members if the health law is repealed without restoring funding cuts that were used to finance coverage expansion. "Losses of this magnitude cannot be sustained and will ... decimate hospitals' and health systems' ability to provide services, weaken local economies ... and result in massive job losses," the groups said in a letter to Trump. — Perhaps the most sobering assessment comes from a little-known group, the American Academy of Actuaries, representing professionals who assess the financial stability of pension and health insurance programs. The group said delaying the effective date of a repeal while a replacement is worked out could create such uncertainty that it triggers a crisis for the individual health insurance market.



Paris pollution: Medics on alert, outdoor sports not advised

Fri, 9 Dec 2016 15:25:35 UT

PARIS (AP) — With more asthmatic children needing hospital treatment in Paris amid exceptional air pollution, France's government put medics on alert Friday and warned residents to limit outdoor activity over the weekend. The hospital authority remained cautious in a statement about singling out a cause, but noted the health threats from the kind of particulate matter pollution currently blanketing Paris.



Ohio lawmakers pass Republican 20-week abortion ban proposal

Fri, 9 Dec 2016 01:02:23 UT

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Abortions would be banned after 20 weeks under a bill Republican lawmakers passed Thursday, adding to legislation already on its way to Republican Gov. John Kasich that would prohibit abortions once a fetal heartbeat is detected. Arizona and Idaho's bans are blocked from enforcement by the federal courts, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a research group that supports abortion rights. State Senate President Keith Faber, a Republican from Celina, said the twice-defeated Heartbeat Bill came back up because of Republican Donald Trump's presidential victory and the expectation he will fill Supreme Court vacancies with justices who are more likely to uphold stricter abortion bans. Under the U.S. Supreme Court's 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling establishing a nationwide right to abortion, states were permitted to restrict abortion after viability, the point when the fetus has a reasonable chance of surviving under normal conditions outside the uterus.



The Latest: House OKs bill to ban abortion after 20 weeks

Fri, 9 Dec 2016 00:38:19 UT

The House voted 64-29 Thursday night to approve the bill, which will be added to legislation already on its way to Republican Gov. John Kasich (KAY'-sihk) that would prohibit abortions once a fetal heartbeat is detected. Kasich opposes abortion rights but hasn't said whether he plans to sign either measure. Republican Gov. John Kasich is an abortion-rights opponent who has previously voiced concerns about the heartbeat bill's constitutionality.



A grim tally soars: More than 50,000 overdose deaths in US

Fri, 9 Dec 2016 00:02:10 UT

The disastrous tally has been pushed to new heights by soaring abuse of heroin and prescription painkillers, a class of drugs known as opioids. Heroin deaths rose 23 percent in one year, to 12,989, slightly higher than the number of gun homicides, according to government data released Thursday. Drug overdoses were a significant factor, but an unexpected increase in the death rate from heart disease, the nation's No. 1 killer, was another major reason.



US life expectancy falls, as many kinds of death increase

Thu, 8 Dec 2016 23:41:12 UT

In most of the years since World War II, life expectancy in the U.S. has inched up, thanks to medical advances, public health campaigns and better nutrition and education. Other one-year declines occurred in 1993, when the nation was in the throes of the AIDS epidemic, and 1980, the result of an especially nasty flu season. "With four years, you're starting to see some indication of something a little more ominous," said S. Jay Olshansky, a University of Illinois-Chicago public health researcher. Death rates also increased for chronic lower lung disease, accidental injuries, stroke, Alzheimer's disease, diabetes, kidney disease and suicide. Some, like Olshansky, suspect obesity, an underlying factor in some of the largest causes of death, particularly heart disease. Drug overdose deaths soared 11 percent to more than 52,000 last year, the most ever, driven by increases in deaths from heroin, prescription painkillers and other so-called opioids.