Health Highlights: Nov. 21, 2014

By on November 21, 2014

Health Highlights: Nov. 21, 2014

Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:

House Republicans Sue Obama Administration Over Health Care Law

A long-threatened lawsuit against the Obama administration over its health care law was filed Friday by House Republicans.

The lawsuit against the secretaries of the Health and Human Services and Treasury Departments claims that unilateral actions taken to implement the law are abuses of the president’s executive authority, The New York Times reports.

Specifically, the suit claims that the Obama administration unlawfully postponed a requirement that larger companies (50 or more employees) offer health coverage to their full-time workers or pay penalties.

The White House announced in mid-2013 that the requirement was delayed until 2015, and earlier this year announced that it was delayed until 2016 for companies with 50 to 99 employees, The Times reported.

The lawsuit also alleges that the Obama administration unlawfully gave about $175 billion to insurance companies to cover premium subsidies for poor people. The administration will pay that amount to insurers over the next 10 years, but the funds have not been appropriated by Congress, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

That makes it an unlawful transfer of funds, according to the lawsuit.

In the summer, House Republicans passed a resolution authorizing a legal challenge against the president over the use of his executive authority to alter parts of the health care law, The Times reported.

The lawsuit is strange because it targets the Obama administration for delaying enforcement of a law that Republicans strongly oppose, according to Democrats.

No Republicans voted for the health care law when it was passed in 2010, and House Republicans have voted dozens of times to repeal all or parts of it, The Times reported.

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Ebola Infection Rate Has Fallen in Liberia: CDC

A U.S. health official says the spread of Ebola has slowed in Liberia, one of the three West African nations hardest hit by the outbreak of the deadly disease.

The “good progress” in fighting Ebola in Liberia is due to the increased international response and more effective action by local communities, according to Dr. Thomas Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, The New York Times reported.

“There’s been a substantial change in the trend,” he said during a conference call with reporters. “There is no longer exponential increase, and in fact, there’s been a decrease” in the rate of Ebola infections in Liberia.

The other West African nations hardest hit by Ebola are Guinea and Sierra Leone. Health officials are less certain about the rate of infections in Guinea, The Times reported.

In Sierra Leone, “both their epidemic and their response are several weeks behind Liberia,” Frieden said.

He added he hoped that a boost in international aid to Sierra Leone will help reduce that country’s rate of Ebola infections, The Times reported.

Frieden said this week that a previous CDC worst-case projection of 1.4 million cases of Ebola by late January is no longer applicable due to progress in fighting the disease.

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Millions of Baby Strollers Recalled Due to Finger Amputation Risk

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Nearly five million Graco- and Century-brand baby strollers are being recalled in the United States, Canada and Mexico due to a problem that can result in severe cuts or finger amputation, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission says.

The folding hinge on the sides of the recalled strollers can pinch a child’s finger. Eleven reports of finger injuries, including six fingertip amputations, four partial-fingertip amputations, and finger laceration have been received by the manufacturer, Graco Children’s Products.

The model names of the recalled strollers are: Aspen, Breeze, Capri, Cirrus, Glider, Kite, LiteRider, Sierra, Solara, Sterling and TravelMate Model Strollers and Travel Systems, and their manufacture dates range from Aug. 1, 2000 to Sept. 25, 2014, the CPSC said.

Graco will begin offering free repair kits for the strollers in early December. For more information, contact the company at 1-800-345-4109 between 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. ET Monday through Friday, or go to Graco’s website.

Until the repair kits are available, consumers should be extremely careful when unfolding the stroller and make sure that the hinges are firmly locked in place before placing a child in the stroller, the CPSC said.

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