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'Jaw-dropping': Medicare deaths, hospitalizations AND costs reduced

Medicare reductions in deathsThe U.S. health care system has scored a medical hat trick, reducing deaths, hospitalizations and costs, a new study shows.

Mortality rates among Medicare patients fell 16% from 1999 to 2013. That’s equal to more than 300,000 fewer deaths a year in 2013 than in 1999, said cardiologist Harlan Krumholz, lead author of a new study in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) and a professor at the Yale School of Medicine.

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CT scans cause measurable damage to cells, say researchers

CT ScansResearchers have found links between computed tomography (CT) scanning and cell damage in the body, linking repeated scans to the potential for cancer.

While the researchers note the scans haven't been determined to cause cancer, the doses of radiation emitted by CT machines have a detectable effect on patients, according to a new study.

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Alaska to become 30th state to expand Medicaid under Affordable Care Act

Bill WalkerAlaskan Gov. Bill Walker on Thursday announced his intentions to expand Medicaid in the state under the Affordable Care Act.

The Independent governor sent a letter to the Republican-controlled legislature informing them of his plan to offer expanded benefits beginning Sept. 1. The state legislature has twice quashed Walker's attempts to pass a bill granting the benefits.

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California governor signs strict school vaccine legislation

Vaccine law, CaliforniaCalifornia Governor Jerry Brown signed a mandatory school vaccination bill into law Tuesday, abolishing the “personal belief” exemption that many parents use as a loophole to avoid vaccinating their children.

Now, under California law, which is among the strictest in the country, children would not be able to enroll in public school unless they have been vaccinated against diseases like measles and whooping cough. The law includes an exemption for children who have a medical reason to remain unvaccinated (like an immune system disorder) and can prove it with a doctor’s note. Parents who decline to vaccinate their children for personal or religious reasons will have to home-school them or send them to a public independent study program off school grounds.

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Medical marijuana arrives next week in Minnesota – but smoking it is banned

Medical marijuanaThere will be no baggies of pot awaiting patients next week, when Minnesota joins 21 other states in offering medical marijuana. No glass pipes, no plants to tend at home. Instead, the nation’s latest medical marijuana programme is a world of pill bottles and vials of marijuana-infused oil.

For the qualifying patients seeking relief from pain, medical marijuana advocates and some lawmakers, Wednesday isn’t the finish line, but the first step. The state’s restrictive approach, unseen in the industry, is likely to mean high costs, long drives and reluctant doctors.

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Supreme Court approves Obamacare subsidies on HealthCare.gov

John RobertsThe U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday upheld the nationwide availability of tax subsidies that are crucial to the implementation of President Barack Obama's signature healthcare law, handing a major victory to the president.

The court ruled on a 6-3 vote that the 2010 Affordable Care Act, widely known as Obamacare, did not restrict the subsidies to states that establish their own online healthcare exchanges. It marked the second time in three years that the high court ruled against a major challenge to the law brought by conservatives seeking to gut it.

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Harmful toxin used in baby clothes should be banned, advocates say

antimoney toxicAn advocacy and research organisation, the Environmental Working Group (EWG), is hoping to educate the public about the toxin antimony, push manufacturers to stop using it and ensure that the federal government adheres to its oversight responsibilities.

Antimony is a naturally forming element and metalloid that is found predominantly as sulfide mineral stibnite and has been used by humans for thousands of years. The ancient Egyptians used it in cosmetics.

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