Health Highlights: Oct. 22, 2010

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

Voters Divided on Repeal Of Health Reform Law: Survey

Americans appear as divided about politicians' vows to repeal or rework the health care reform law as they do about the law itself, suggests a new survey.

The Associated Press-GfK poll found that 36 percent of likely voters in the Nov. 2 congressional elections want the law revised to expand its impact on the health care system, while 37 percent want the law repealed.

Ten percent wanted changes that would narrow the scope of the law, while only 15 percent said the law should be left as it is.

The survey also found that 52 percent oppose the law and 41 percent support it. The level of strong opposition vs. strong support for the law is about 2-to-1, the AP reported.

Support for the law changed by age and gender, the poll found. People under 30 were most likely to say that they wanted the legislation expanded to do even more. And only 26 percent of women were in favor of repealing the law. Even among Republicans, 52 percent of women supported repeal versus 68 percent of Republican men.

Among likely voters, 46 percent said they trust the Democrats as stewards of the health care system, while 47 percent said they trust the Republicans.

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Florida Company Charged In $200 Million Medicare Scam

The largest community-based mental health center in the United States was charged Wednesday with bilking Medicare of $200 million.

Miami-based American Therapeutic Corp. is alleged to have paid owners of assisted living facilities and halfway houses to compel patients to take part in programs at the company's seven mental health centers in south and central Florida, say federal prosecutors, the Associated Press reported.

Officials also said clinical files were altered so the company could charge more for services and that some patients benefited from the scam by providing their Medicare numbers, but others weren't coherent enough to demand kickbacks.

The investigation was launched last year after an employee of American Therapeutic Corp. contacted authorities, the AP reported.

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Don't Combine HIV Antiviral Drugs: FDA

Combining two widely used HIV antiviral drugs can trigger potentially deadly irregular heartbeats, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration warned Thursday.

The agency said fainting, lightheadedness and even death can occur if patients combine Roche's Invirase and Abbott Laboratories' Norvir, the Associated Press reported.

The companies have been ordered to add information about this risk to the drugs' warning labels and to provide information pamphlets to patients, the FDA said.

Invirase is often combined with Norvir to improve its effectiveness, the AP reported. The drugs are used to control HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.

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Health Officials Close Texas Food-Processing Plant

A vegetable and fruit processing plant in San Antonio, Texas has been closed by officials investigating 10 listeriosis cases, including five deaths.

The Department of State Health Services also ordered the recall of cut fresh fruit and vegetables in sealed packages that were distributed by the SanGar Produce & Processing Co. plant to schools, hospitals and restaurants, the Associated Press reported.

Six of the 10 listeriosis cases have been linked to chopped celery at the SanGar plant, according to state health officials. Listeriosis bacteria can cause muscle aches, fever, vomiting and diarrhea.

A statement released by SanGar president Kenneth Sanquist Jr. said that "independent testing showed the produce was absolutely safe," the AP reported.

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4 Deaths Prompt Graco Strollers Recall

Entrapment and strangulation hazards have triggered the recall of about two million Graco strollers, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission said Wednesday.

The agency has received four reports of stroller-related infant deaths between 2003 and 2005, along with five reports of entrapment in the strollers, resulting in cuts and bruises, MSNBC reported.

The recall includes Graco Quattro Tour strollers and travel systems made before November 2006 and MetroLite stroller and travel systems made before July 2007. For a complete list of recalled strollers and travel systems, go to the Graco Web site at www.gracobaby.com.

Consumers with the recalled strollers can contact Graco at 877-828-4046 or to go the company's Web site to obtain a free repair kit, MSNBC reported.

Posted: October 2010


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