Congressional leaders close to a deal on payroll tax vote. What does it mean for America’s health? Childhood obesity rates drop in the Big Apple. Plus, say “Aha” and get your diabetes test. Those headlines and more topping public health news today, Friday, December 16, 2011.

Huffington Post – House Payroll Tax Vote Compromises Health
Who turns down a $50 billion savings for the country? Who turns down the opportunity for better health for all Americans? The House did, on Tuesday, as the majority of representatives voted to gut the Prevention and Public Health Fund as a means to pay for increased doctors’ Medicare reimbursement, called the “doc fix.”

Washington Post – Childhood obesity drops dramatically in New York City

NPR – Say ‘Aah’ And Get Your Diabetes Test
Each year, one-quarter of adults don’t see a primary care doctor, so odds are they’re not being checked for high blood pressure, diabetes and other major health risks. That’s 55 million people who are missing out.

Washington Post – House to vote to avert shutdown while payroll tax cuts talk continue
Congress appears on track to avert a government shutdown this weekend, even as President Barack Obama’s push to extend a payroll tax cut and jobless benefits for another year is encountering snags.

LATimes – Obama instating labor rules for home-care aides
President Obama circumvented Congress and moved Thursday to require that home-care aides be paid minimum wage and overtime, giving the fast-growing workforce long-sought assistance.

PR Newswire via Sacramento Bee – State Budget Woes Mean Massive Public Health Job Losses
State health agency employees are at the forefront of public health, safeguarding the public in times of natural or manmade disaster, promoting policy and practices that lead to a healthier population, and delivering the vital programs and services that are the core of an effective public health system.

TIME – Clean Air At Last: The EPA Cracks Down on Coal Pollution
During his career as a running back for the Pittsburgh Steelers, Jerome Bettis made a habit of running over opponents—that’s why they called him “the Bus.” Now the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is hoping that Bettis can handle conservative lawmakers the way he used to brush aside opposing linebackers.

Science Blog – At Senate Aging Committee’s 50th anniversary, experts ponder future legislative concerns
Fifty years after its inception, the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging will have a more important role than ever as America’s senior population continues to grow, according to the newest issue of the Public Policy and Aging Report (PPAR).