Health Highlights: Feb. 10, 2014

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

Mid-Sized Companies Get Extra Year to Comply With Affordable Care Act

Medium-sized companies will have another year before they have to provide employees with health insurance or face tax penalties, the Obama administration announced Monday.

The mandate will not be enforced until Jan. 1, 2016, so some companies that have more than 50 employees will now have an extra year to meet that requirement, The New York Times reported. Businesses that have less than 50 employees don't have to provide insurance to all full-time employees and their families.

In granting more time for compliance, the federal government set up new deadlines for three sizes of companies.

For companies with 100 or more employees, 70 percent of workers must have the option of coverage by 2015 and 95 percent should have that option after that, the Times reported. Businesses with 50 to 100 employees will have until 2016 to provide health insurance or face tax penalties. Small businesses with 50 employees or less will not be required to provide coverage at any point, the newspaper said.

This latest delay in implementation follows several attempts by the Obama administration in recent months to soften the blow of trying to conform with the tenets of the Affordable Care Act.


No More Artificial Preservatives in Two Kraft Singles Varieties

Artifical preservatives will be eliminated from two varieties of Kraft Singles cheese slices, Kraft says.

Sorbic acid in the full-fat American and White American varieties will be replaced by natamycin, which Kraft says is a "natural mold inhibitor," the Associated Press reported.

It's the latest in a series of moves by companies to cater to the growing number of Americans concerned about food ingredients.

Last week, Subway said that it's ending the use of a chemical called azodicarbonamide in its bread. The announcement was made after a food blogger noted that the chemical is used in yoga mats and launched a petition to have Subway remove it from bread, the AP reported.


Millions of Pounds of Meat Recalled by California Company

A California company is recalling nearly 9 million pounds of meat that federal officials say came from "diseased and unsound animals" and is classified as a high health risk.

Rancho Feeding Corp. processed the meat without proper inspections and it is considered unfit for human consumption, according to information on the website of the Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service, NBC News reported.

The recalled meat was produced from Jan. 1, 2013 through Jan. 7 2014 and shipped to distribution and retail centers in California, Florida and Texas. It includes beef products such as carcasses, bones, feet, blood, heads, lips, cheeks, tongues, "Mountain Oysters" and "Sweet Breads," the agency said.

Officials did not specify the possible health risks posed by the recalled meat and said there were no reported cases of illness. An initial recall notice for nearly 42,000 pounds of meat produced by the Rancho Feeding Corp. was issued Jan. 13 of this year, NBC News reported.


Children's Health Insurance Problem Fixed: CMS

A registration problem that left some Medicaid-eligible children without health insurance has been remedied, according to federal officials.

Medicaid-eligible children cannot get coverage under subsidized family plans bought through the federal online insurance markets. Some youngsters had no coverage until their Medicaid eligibility was assessed, while others who did not quality for Medicaid still couldn't get coverage under their parents' plans, the Associated Press reported.

On Friday, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services said people can now use the website to report if a child was denied coverage and to get the child added to a subsidized plan.

In addition, the CMS said that consumers can now easily correct errors in their records, such as a wrong Social Security number or birthday, the AP reported.

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