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6.3 million eligible for Medicaid since Obamacare launch: U.S. agency

Medicaid expansionMore than 6.3 million Americans were deemed eligible for government healthcare plans for the poor since the October 1 launch of President Barack Obama's healthcare law through December, federal officials reported on Wednesday.

The swelling rolls for Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) reflect both an expansion of Medicaid under Obama's Affordable Care Act (ACA) and what healthcare policy analysts call an "out-of-the-woodwork effect," in which people who heard about Obamacare sought to obtain health insurance and discovered that they had qualified for Medicaid even before the law expanded eligibility.

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Buildup of sooty haze poses public health threat in California

LA health threatAfter the driest year on record in 2013, California is facing its driest January ever, and the dryness mixed with pollution is unhealthy, officials say.

A stuck high-pressure zone off the West Coast of the United States is creating dry conditions across California and the Southwest, and the stagnancy is trapping fine particles close to the ground, leaving a buildup of sooty haze that poses a public health threat, the Los Angeles Times reported Sunday.

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Marijuana derivative is ill boy’s last hope, mom says

marijuanaRenee Petro believes an illegal drug, marijuana, could save her son Branden’s life where sophisticated modern medical therapies have failed. Expert physicians say she might be right.

For three years, the Petro family of Fishhawk have lived through a nightmare that took away their smart, happy 8-year-old almost overnight, and left instead a child afflicted with constant seizures, severe learning disabilities and suicidal depression — a child who could die at any moment, his mother believes.

“I just want my son back,” Petro said in an interview at her home last week.

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Surgeon general links smoking to even greater array of illnesses

smoking health issuesA new report by the U.S. surgeon general greatly broadens the list of disease evils linked to cigarettes and concludes that urgent, aggressive action is needed to further reduce smoking rates and save lives. The report, released Friday, recommends prevention efforts that especially target groups most vulnerable to smoking, including low-income Americans and ethnic minorities and youth.

If smoking rates persist unchanged, 5.6 million American children alive today will die prematurely because of smoking, the report finds. It pegs the economic costs of smoking at $289 billion a year or more in medical care and productivity losses.

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New York governor announces plan for medical marijuana at hospitals

CuomoNew York State is poised to allow 20 hospitals to distribute medical marijuana, Gov. Andrew Cuomo formally announced Wednesday.

"Research suggests that medical marijuana can help manage pain and treatment of cancer and other serious illnesses," Cuomo said in the annual State of State speech in Albany.

"We will establish a program allowing up to 20 hospitals to prescribe medical marijuana, and we will monitor the program to evaluate the effectiveness and the feasibility of a medical marijuana system," Cuomo added, without elaborating.

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1964 surgeon general's report may have saved 8 million in U.S.

tobacco banEight million U.S. lives were saved by anti-smoking measures enacted since a pivotal surgeon general's report 50 years ago this month, researchers estimate.

First author Theodore R. Holford, professor of biostatistics and member of Yale School of Public Health's Cancer Center, and six other researchers who are part of the National Cancer Institute's Cancer Intervention and Surveillance Modeling Network found about 17.6 million Americans died since 1964 due to smoking-related causes. However, 8 million lives were saved by increasingly stringent tobacco-control measures that commenced with the Jan. 11, 1964, release of a surgeon general's report on the affects of smoking.

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Sealant Inspired By Beach Worm Could Become Surgical Superglue

human heartCardiac surgeon and his colleagues have developed a biodegradable adhesive that can patch a hole in a pig's heart or artery. The experimental glue is nontoxic and is strong enough to hold up under the high pressures in the human heart, the team Wednesday in the journal Science Translational Medicine.

So far, they've tested the glue only in animals. So the sealant is far from reaching the operating room or battlefield. But del Nido hopes the adhesive will eventually replace traditional sutures and staples for some operations, especially heart surgery.

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