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Health Highlights: Nov. 13, 2018

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

In-Home Services Coming for Seniors With Private Medicare Advantage Plans

In-home services such as help with household chores and caregiver respite will be available to seniors with private Medicare Advantage plans in more than 20 states next year.

A health-related reason is needed to qualify, and costs will vary depending on the plan. With some plans, there will be no added cost. There will be limits on benefits, the Associated Press reported.

The number of states where the new services are available is expected to grow over time.

The new in-home services could help seniors remain in their homes longer, according to the AP.

These services are similar to what people might require in long-term care, noted Howard Gleckman, a senior researcher at the nonpartisan Urban Institute think tank.

"It begins to break down the wall between long-term care and Medicare, which, with very few exceptions, has never paid for long-term care," Gleckman told the AP.

It's expected that nearly 23 million Medicare beneficiaries, more than 1 in 3, will be covered by a Medicare Advantage plan next year.

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Ebola Outbreak Worst in Congo's History

The current Ebola outbreak in Congo is the worst in the country's recorded history, the health ministry says.

There have been 319 confirmed and probable cases, and 198 deaths since the outbreak was declared Aug. 1. The deaths include 163 confirmed Ebola cases, and 35 probable cases, CBS News/Associated Press reported.

"No other epidemic in the world has been as complex as the one we are currently experiencing," Health Minister Dr. Oly Ilunga Kalenga said. "Since their arrival in the region, the response teams have faced threats, physical assaults, repeated destruction of their equipment, and kidnapping."

The outbreak is in an area where armed groups are fighting for control of mineral riches, and health officials also face community resistance, CBS News/AP reported.

Despite the challenges, health officials have vaccinated more than 27,000 people at high risk due to contact with Ebola patients, according to Kalenga.

"This epidemic remains dangerous and unpredictable, and we must not let our guard down. We must continue to pursue a very dynamic response that requires permanent readjustments and real ownership at the community level," he said.

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Posted: November 2018

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