Health Highlights: May 15, 2009

Colleen and Anthony Hauser have until May 19 to get an updated chest X-ray for their son, who was diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma and stopped chemotherapy in February after a single treatment. Daniel will stay in the custody of his parents, the AP reported, but they were ordered to select an oncologist for their son, Brown County District Judge John Rodenberg ruled Friday.

Rodenberg said that Daniel had been "medically neglected" and is in need of child protection services, the AP reported. The family had argued that it preferred treating the disease with medicines used by the Nemenhah Band, a Missouri-based religious group that believes in natural healing methods used by some American Indians. Doctors have said Daniel's suffers from Hodgkin's lymphoma, but had up to a 90 percent chance of being cured with chemotherapy and radiation, according to the wire service. Without treatment, doctors said Daniel's chances of survival were just 5 percent.

Philip Elbert, Daniel's court-appointed attorney, said he hadn't spoken yet with the family but called the decision unfortunate, the AP reported. "I feel it's a blow to families," he said. "It marginalizes the decisions that parents face every day in regard to their children's medical care. It really affirms the role that big government is better at making our decisions for us."


Congress Weighs Broad Changes in Health Care Legislation

Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives are considering broad health-care changes that include aid to families earning up to $88,000 to help pay for insurance, a requirement that all must carry coverage, and for employers to offer coverage to full-time workers or pay a percentage of their payroll to the government, the Associated Press reported.

While a document from the House's Energy and Commerce Committee that was obtained by the AP does not include any cost estimates, outside experts have said the plans could run from $1.2 trillion to as high as $1.7 trillion over 10 years as Congress tries to meet the Obama administration's goal of a health-care overhaul by the end of July, the news service reported.

President Barack Obama has proposed a downpayment of $634 billion over 10 years to pay for expanding coverage and has said he'll hold hospitals, doctors, drug makers and other health-care providers to their recent offer of $2 trillion in savings over that 10-year period, the AP said.

In addition, the House plan would set up an insurance purchasing pool, or an "exchange," open only to companies with fewer than 10 workers, to make coverage more affordable for individuals and small businesses. The plan also seeks creation of a new government insurance plan to compete with private companies, likely run by the Health and Human Services department, and financed by premium payments, not taxpayer dollars, the AP said.


U.S. Prescription Drug Use Falls for 1st Time in Decade: Report

For the first time in a decade, prescription drug use in the United States fell last year, even as total spending on drugs increased as prices for brand-name products rose sharply, the Associated Press reported.

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