Health Highlights: March 7, 2017

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

Republicans Introduce Obamacare Replacement

An initial Republican replacement for the Affordable Care Act was formally introduced in the House of Representatives on Monday.

The proposed package scraps the mandate for health insurance and instead offers tax incentives designed to encourage Americans to get health insurance coverage, The New York Times reported.

The bill does propose preserving two of the most popular elements of the health care reform law known as Obamacare. There would still be safeguards for people with pre-existing medical conditions, and young adults would still be able to stay on their parent's health insurance plans until the age of 26.

But the highly unpopular fines on people who choose not to buy health insurance would be eliminated.

Preliminary voting on the proposal will begin in House committees on Wednesday, the Associated Press said. The Senate has yet to offer its version of a replacement plan.

No official estimates on how many Americans might lose their health insurance under the replacement package were available from Republicans on Monday, according to the AP.

The package would change premium subsidies in a way that may not provide as much assistance to people with low incomes, the wire service reported.

As for Medicaid, the expansion of the health insurance program for the poor would continue until 2020, after which states adding Medicaid recipients would no longer receive the additional federal funds President Barack Obama's law would have provided, according to the wire service.

At the same time, the plan changes Medicaid funding from open-ended federal financing to a limit based on enrollment and costs in each state, the AP said.


Planned Parenthood Rejects Trump's Proposal

The president of Planned Parenthood rejected U.S. President Donald Trump's offer to maintain federal funding for the group if it stopped providing abortions.

Planned Parenthood Federation of America President Cecile Richards noted that federal money is already not permitted to be used for abortion, the Associated Press reported.

"We will always stand for women's ability to make decisions about their health and lives, without interference from politicians in Washington, D.C.," Richards said.

Nearly $400 million in Medicaid money goes to Planned Parenthood. Losing that funding would lead to about 400,000 women losing access to care, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, the Associated Press reported.


Special Diet May Not Lower Kid's Lead Levels, After All

There is little evidence that diet can lower children's lead levels, researchers say.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says a diet high in calcium, iron and vitamin C may lower youngsters' lead levels, but a review of studies casts doubt on that claim, The New York Times reported.

Only one study showed that dietary calcium helped lower lead levels more than a placebo, a few studies showed mixed results for iron and calcium supplements, and no study found a benefit for vitamin C from diet or supplements.

The review was published in The Journal of Pediatrics.

Author Katarzyna Kordas, an associate professor of epidemiology at the University at Buffalo, said "it's important not to rely on nutrition to protect children from lead exposure. There are no studies that show it will," The Times reported.


Entry Ban Could Mean Fewer Doctors for Trump Voters

The U.S. entry ban on people from six Muslim-majority nations could mean fewer doctors for people in areas of the country with high support for President Donald Trump, researchers say.

The Harvard Medical School and MIT team analyzed data about doctors in the U.S. and found that those from countries included in the latest immigration-related executive order -- Iran, Somalia, Sudan, Yemen, Syria and Libya -- have tended to end up in states such as Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia, NBC News reported.

Working class residents of those states tend to have higher rates of health problems such as obesity, diabetes and alcoholism, and many of them voted for Trump, according to The Economist.

Up to several hundred doctors from the six countries included in the entry ban will not be able to begin medical residencies in the U.S. this year unless waivers are issued, according to Atul Grover, executive vice president of The Association of American Medical Colleges, NBC News reported.


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Residency programs enable foreign-born doctors to become physicians in the U.S. and have helped reduce doctor shortages in rural and poor areas of the country.


Chrissy Teigen Discloses Postpartum Depression

Former Sports Illustrated swimsuit cover model Chrissy Teigen says she has suffered postpartum depression since she and her husband, singer John Legend, welcomed the birth of their daughter Luna in April 2016.

In an essay for Glamour magazine, Teigen said she has been "unhappy" for much of the last year and was diagnosed with postpartum depression in December, CBS News/Associated Press reported.

She said she is in therapy and taking an antidepressant.

Teigen said she went public about her condition because she wants people to know postpartum depression "can happen to anybody," CBS News/AP reported.


Evanger's Dog Food Recall Expanded

Evanger's is expanding its recall of Hunk of Beef dog food and also recalling its Braised Beef and Against the Grain: Pulled Beef dog foods.

The 12 oz. cans of dog food may be contaminated with pentobarbital, which can cause drowsiness, dizziness, excitement, loss of balance, nausea, nystagmus (eyes moving back and forth in a jerky manner), inability to stand, coma and death.

Consumers who notice these symptoms in their dogs should consult their veterinarian, the company said.

The recall includes products with the following barcodes: Hunk of Beef, 20109; Braised Beef: 20107; Against the Grain: Pulled Beef: 80001. Consumers can return the products to the place of purchase for a full refund.

For more information, contact the company at 1-847-537-0102.

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