Health Highlights: April 11, 2007

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

Groups Demand End to Two-Year Medicare Wait for Disabled People

The U.S. Congress must eliminate the current two-year wait for Medicare coverage for people whose severe and debilitating disabilities prevent them from working, dozens of patient advocacy groups contend.

The groups' position came in response to a report released Wednesday that found 600,000 disabled people go without health care or go into debt while waiting for Medicare coverage.

"Congress must eliminate the cruel and arbitrary two-year wait for Medicare, which punishes Americans who are hit by severe illness or injuries that make it impossible to keep working," report co-author Robert M. Hayes, president of the Medicare Rights Center, said in a prepared statement. The Medicare Rights Center is a national consumer service organization.

WHAT TO KNOW
    • Groups Demand End to Two-Year Medicare Wait for Disabled People
    • New York City Produces 1% of U.S. Greenhouse Gases
    • Actor, Politician Fred Thompson Reveals Cancer Diagnosis
    • Diabetes-Related Costs in U.S. Hit $22.9 Billion
    • Glass Fragments Prompt Fungal Drug Recall
    • Journal Site Removes Wolf-Cloning Study

People who are deemed unable to work due to incapacitating health problems are not eligible for Medicare until two years after they receive their first Social Security Disability Income benefit. Currently, about 1.5 million Americans with severe and permanent disabilities are in the Medicare waiting period. Each year, about 12 percent of disabled people die before their Medicare coverage begins.

"The report chronicles the devastating health and financial toll that the waiting period takes on the lives of hard-working Americans who are stranded without health coverage after they become disabled," Hayes said.

The report, which includes the experiences of 21 disabled people while waiting for Medicare coverage, was published by The Commonwealth Fund.

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New York City Produces 1% of U.S. Greenhouse Gases

New York City produces almost 1 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions in the United States, according to a just-release report by the mayor's Office of Long-term Planning and Sustainability.

That means that the city pumps out the same amount of emissions as some small countries, such as Ireland and Portugal, the Associated Press reported.

New York, the largest city in the United States and home to 2.7 percent of the nation's population, produced 58.3 million metric tons of the 7.26 billion metric tons of greenhouse gases emitted in the country in 2005, the report said.

Buildings, subways, buses, cars and the decomposition of waste are major sources of greenhouse gas emissions in the city, the AP reported.

But the report also noted that the average New York City resident actually produces less than a third of the greenhouse emissions generated by their fellow average Americans. That's largely because the city's mass transit system enables many residents to get around without cars.

The report was ordered by Mayor Michael Bloomberg to provide a benchmark for his goal of reducing the city's greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent by 2030.

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Actor, Politician Fred Thompson Reveals Cancer Diagnosis

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