Here are some of the latest health and medical news
developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:
Another Delay in Full Implementation of Obamacare
Another delay in the full implementation of the new health care
law will be announced by the Obama administration, according to a
The Hillsaid Tuesday that the White House will allow
insurers to continue offering health plans that don't meet the
minimum coverage requirements in the Affordable Care Act, the
New York Daily Newsreported.
It's the second time in recent months that the Obama
administration has taken this type of action. Without the delay,
there would have been another round of policy cancellations.
It's not known how long the latest delay will last, but sources
The Hillthat it might extend until the end of Obama's second
term, according to the
The first delay was announced last November and came after
insurers cancelled a large number of health policies that did not
meet the requirements of the Affordable Care Act, widely referred
to as Obamacare.
In promoting the new health care law, Obama had promised that
nobody would lose health insurance plans that they wanted to keep,
Since it was passed in 2010, the Affordable Care Act has been
plagued be a number of problems, including website malfunctions
that stalled enrollment.
Program to Fight Antibiotic-Resistant Germs Proposed in White
A new program to combat the growing threat of dangerous
antibiotic-resistant superbugs in hospitals was proposed in the
federal budget released Tuesday by the Obama administration.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention wants $30 million
to establish laboratories in five regions of the country to improve
hospitals' abilities to rapidly diagnose and fight
antibiotic-resistant bacteria, according to CDC director Dr. Tom
Antibiotic-resistant infections kill more than 23,000 Americans
a year, according to the CDC.
If the program receives $30 million a year for five years, it
could greatly reduce that toll. For example, the program could
halve the number of cases of infection with a particularly
dangerous intestinal bug called
Clostridium difficile, thereby preventing at least 20,000
deaths, 168,000 hospitalizations and $1 billion in health care
In a separate announcement Tuesday, the CDC said that every
hospital needs to develop a program to track and improve antibiotic
prescribing. The agency noted that overuse and misuse of these
drugs helps bacteria develop resistance. For example, doctors in
some hospitals prescribe antibiotics three times more often than
those in other hospitals.
Author of Book on Dying Dies at Age 83
An American medical ethicist who wrote an award-winning book
about death died Monday.
Dr. Sherwin Nuland, 83, died of prostate cancer at his home in
Hamden, Conn., according to his daughter Amelia Nuland. She said
her father told her he wasn't ready to die because he loved
"He told me, `I'm not scared of dying, but I've built such a beautiful life, and I'm not ready to leave it,'" she told the Associated Press.
In 1994, Dr. Nuland wrote a book called "How We Die: Reflections
on Life's Final Chapter," which contributed to national discussion
about end-of-life decisions and doctor-assisted suicide. The book
won a National Book Award for nonfiction and was a best-seller in
Nuland opposed efforts to prolong life when it was clear that
further treatment was pointless, and was also against
doctor-assisted suicide, the
U.S. Travelers to Phillipines Need Measles Vaccinations: CDC
Many of the 54 measles cases reported in the United States so
far this year originated in the Philippines, federal health
Eighteen cases involved unvaccinated Americans and four cases
involved visitors from other countries. A dozen of those 22 cases
originated in the Philippines and 10 in other countries, according
to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,
The remaining 32 cases of measles were in people who were
infected by U.S. travelers to, or visitors from, other countries,
or in people who didn't know how they became infected.
Of the 54 reported cases of measles in the U.S. so far this
year, 21 were in California, Dr. Jane Seward, the CDC's deputy
director for the division of viral diseases, told
The CDC said that people traveling to the Philippines need to be
vaccinated against the measles. There were 1,163 cases of measles
reported there in early January.
On average, the U.S. has about 60 cases of measles a year, but
there were 189 cases last year,
Rare Mutation Protects Against Type 2 Diabetes: Study
Scientitsts who identified a rare mutation that protects people
from developing type 2 diabetes say the finding may lead to the
development of new drugs that can prevent the disease.
The mutation -- which shields even overweight people from
diabetes -- was pinpointed by the researchers after they conducted
genetic tests on 150,000 people,
The New York Timesreported.
The mutation wipes out a gene used by cells in the pancreas,
where insulin is produced. People with the mutation appear to make
a bit more insulin and have somewhat lower blood sugar levels than
The findings from the study, which began four years ago, were
published in the journal
"The study is a tour de force, and the authors are the top people in the field," Dr. Samuel Klein, director of the center for human nutrition at Washington University School of Medicine, told The Times. He was not involved in the study.
Drug makers Pfizer and Amgen were associated with the study and
have launched efforts to develop drugs that mimic the mutation.
However, it can take 10 to 20 years for a discovery about genetics
and disease to lead to the introduction of a new drug, noted
Timothy Rolph, a Pfizer vice president.
The mutation is so rare that it could only be identified by
analyzing data from a huge number of people, according to
This is the first time in diabetes research that investigators
have found a gene-destroying mutation that is beneficial, Louis
Philipson, director of the Kovler Diabetes Center at the University
of Chicago, told
The research team -- led by Dr. David Altshuler, deputy director
of the Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT -- is now trying to
determine if the mutation has any harmful effects. So far, there
appear to be none.
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