Learn how the recently approved mercury rule will create jobs; calling Alzheimer’s Disease one of the “most feared health conditions,” the White House on Wednesday issued a draft plan to make treatment a top priority; women’s health takes center stage in Washington. Those top stories and more in public health headlines today, Thursday, February 23, 2012.

New York Times – The Job-Creating Mercury Rule
After 20 years of delay and litigation by polluters, the Obama administration approved in December one of the most important rules in the history of the Clean Air Act. It will require power plants to reduce emissions of mercury and other toxic pollutants by more than 90 percent in the next five years and is expected to prevent as many as 11,000 premature deaths annually from asthma, other respiratory diseases and heart attacks.

San Diego Union-Tribune – Transportation laws can affect health
The goal of transportation law in the U.S. has been simple and clear – spend huge amounts of money to move cars as fast as possible. This policy built the interstate highways and a vast system of urban roads, allowing people to drive everywhere. We do drive a lot, but most of us have no other options. As the federal transportation law comes up for reauthorization, it is time for that focus to shift to stay in step with 21st-century needs.

National Journal – Women to Congress: Contraception Conversation Isn’t Over
When Georgetown Law student Sandra Fluke was denied the opportunity to testify before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee last week, outraged Democrats and activists cried that a woman’s voice has been silenced on an issue that pertains to women’s health. But the conversation is far from over. Silence was not a symptom of a Wednesday evening panel discussion turned activist planning meeting, where Fluke and over two dozen women began to devise plans to make their voice heard in the contraception conversation.

TIME – Mammograms Benefit Women in their 40s, Study Shows
Amidst the continuing debate over the age at which women should begin screening routinely for breast cancer, researchers report fresh evidence that women in their 40s whose cancers were picked up by mammograms need less treatment and live longer than cancer patients who were not screened.

Chicago Tribune – Obama’s Alzheimer’s plan focuses on treatment, care
The Obama administration’s plan to fight Alzheimer’s disease aims to harness the nation’s expertise to find real treatments by 2025 and improve the care and treatment of the 5.1 million Americans already afflicted with the brain-wasting disease. The draft plan, issued by the Department of Health and Human Services on Wednesday, makes treatment a top priority, but it also focuses on the burden the disease places on families and caregivers.