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Health Highlights: Nov. 29, 2016

Trump Picks Obamacare Critic to be Health Secretary House to Vote on Wide-Ranging Health Care Bill Three People Die, Five Hospitalized After Community Thanksgiving Dinner Child Teething and Ear Pain Relief Products Recalled

Trump Picks Obamacare Critic to be Health Secretary

A leading critic of Obamacare has been selected by President-elect Donald Trump to lead the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Georgia Rep. Tom Price, 62, is an orthopedic surgeon and six-term congressman who chaired the House Budget Committee for the past two years, the Associated Press reported.

Price pledged to work to "to ensure we have a health care system that works for patients, families, and doctors, that leads the world in the cure and prevention of illness, and that is based on sensible rules to protect the well-being of the country while embracing its innovative spirit."

If confirmed by the Senate, Price would take a lead role in repealing and replacing Obama's controversial health care law -- the Affordable Care Act. Trump said he would move quickly to scrap the current health care law, but has offered few details about what would replace it, the AP reported.

Trump has said he supports measures that permit young adults to stay on their parents' health insurance and that prevent insurers from denying coverage to those with pre-existing conditions.

Price has said the Republican plan would be similar to a 2015 bill that was vetoed by President Barack Obama and sought to eliminate some of the current health care law's main features. Those features include Medicaid expansion, subsidies to help middle-class people buy private coverage, tax penalties for people who refuse to get insurance and taxes to fund coverage expansion, the AP reported.

According to Price, Republicans want to tackle "real cost drivers" of rising health care costs such as burdensome regulations, taxes and lawsuits against medical professionals.

In related news, Trump selected Seema Verna to become administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the AP reported.


House to Vote on Wide-Ranging Health Care Bill

A $6.3 billion bill to boost funding for research into cancer and other diseases, improve the mental health care system, and make regulatory changes for drugs and medical devices will be put to a vote in the U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday.

Critics say the regulatory changes in the bill would save money and time for companies but could put patients at greater risk, while supporters say the bill simply confirms fast-track methods already used by the Food and Drug Administration, The New York Times reported.

"This is all in the category of dumbing down the criteria for drug approval," according to Dr. Jerry Avorn, a professor of medicine at Harvard University. "It's a lower bar and shorter race."

The bill also authorizes billions of dollars in new funding for research in areas such as cancer, immunotherapy, and the brain, as well as $1 billion over two years to combat opioid abuse,The Times reported.

The bill would strengthen enforcement of a law that requires insurers to cover mental illnesses in the same way as physical diseases such as cancer or multiple sclerosis.

If passed by the House, the bill would then go to the Senate, where it may face more opposition, The Times reported.


Three People Die, Five Hospitalized After Community Thanksgiving Dinner

Health officials are investigating after three people died and five were hospitalized following a community Thanksgiving dinner in northern California.

The elderly patients were among 835 people who attended a dinner Thursday at an American Legion Hall in Antioch, Marilyn Underwood, director of environmental health for Contra Costa County Health Services, told the Los Angeles Times.

The meal was hosted by Golden Hills Community Church and was open to anyone who wished to attend. All eight patients lived in the same residential elder care facility, officials said.

They were admitted on Friday to the Sutter Delta Medical Center in Antioch with symptoms such as nausea, diarrhea and vomiting, the Times reported.

Three patients died, four were treated and release, and one remained hospitalized on Monday, a medical center spokesman said.

The incident is not believed to be an outbreak of foodborne illness because the eight patients were associated with each other, according to officials.

"They could have gotten sick from the food they prepared at their living facility," Underwood told the Times. "At this point, we have no reason to conclude it was the food at the event."


Child Teething and Ear Pain Relief Products Recalled

Certain homeopathic child teething and ear pain relief products are being recalled by Raritan Pharmaceuticals because their actual levels of belladona extract may be different than what is listed on the label.

At larger doses, Belladona can pose a health threat.

The recalled products are: CVS Homeopathic Infants' Teething Tablet, 135 tablets, UPC 050428424162, Lots: 41116 and 43436; Kids Relief Homeopathic Ear Relief Oral Liquid 0.85 fl. oz., UPC 778159090639, Lot 35254; and CVS Homeopathic Kids' Ear Relief Liquid 0.85 fl. oz., UPC 050428441633, Lot 33149.

The recalled products were distributed across the U.S. and consumers with the products should stop using them. For more information, call Raritan Pharmaceuticals at 1-866-467-2748 (Monday-Friday from 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. EST).

The company said consumers should contact their healthcare provider if they have had any problems that may be related to these products.

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