Some states slow to establish health insurance exchange program under health reform law; measles outbreak after the Super Bowl in Indiana linked to parents who refused to vaccinate; plus, Hawaii earns the distinction of the happiest state, according to a new survey out today. Find out what other states topped the list and what health factors drove the results. Those top stories and more in today’s public health headlines.
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette – Study targets pollution by small power plants
Some small industrial power plants, which provide heat and electricity to refineries, chemical plants, steel mills and other major manufacturing facilities, play a big, unhealthy role in polluting the air in Pennsylvania and across the U.S., according to a new study by Earthjustice. The study released Thursday said that while just 1,753 of the nation’s 14,000 industrial boilers will be required to install controls to meet new federal standards, those facilities produce unhealthy amounts of mercury, lead, chromium and airborne particle pollution that affect communities across the nation.
New York Times – Many States Take a Wait-and-See Approach on New Insurance Exchanges
States are lagging in the creation of health insurance exchanges, the supermarkets where millions of consumers are supposed to buy subsidized private coverage under President Obama’s health care overhaul. Many states are waiting for a Supreme Court decision or even the November election results, to see whether central elements of the new law might be overturned or repealed. But that will be too late to start work. By Jan. 1, 2013, the Obama administration will decide whether each state is ready to run its own exchange or whether the federal government should do the job instead.
Washington Post – BP trial in Gulf of Mexico oil spill set to begin
With settlement talks grinding on, the trial of BP over its culpability for the massive 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico looks set to begin Monday in a New Orleans courtroom — and two nearby overflow rooms — packed with lawyers, public relations specialists, reporters and other observers. District Court Judge Carl Barbier, a former plaintiffs’ lawyer in maritime accident cases, has allotted a total of 6 hours 40 minutes for 11 opening statements from private plaintiffs, the Justice Department, Gulf Coast states and corporate defendants. More than 300 depositions and 72 million pages of documents have been produced, according to one lawyer involved in the case. Legal fees alone will eventually run well into the billions of dollars.
APHA’s Get Ready Blog – Top five flu myths
Welcome back! Our topic for this Flu Friday is a fun one — we’re going myth-busting. There are tons of rumors and myths about the flu, and here at the Get Ready campaign, we’ve probably heard them all. The key to being prepared in any situation is accurate information, so to help you get ready to fight the flu, we want to set the facts straight.
Milford Daily News – State Senate passes emergency response bill
Driven by the death of one local high school athlete and a near fatal incident involving another, the state Senate has approved a bill that would require all public and private schools to have a medical emergency response plan for injuries on the field. “This bill will promote safer school sports and raise awareness of the importance of proper planning and preparation to prevent the tragic loss of young lives,” state Sen. Richard Moore, D-Uxbridge, said after the bill passed unanimously last week.
USA Today – Survey: Hawaiians have highest well-being
Hawaii already lays claim to natural beauty. Now it comes out on top in a new ranking of which state’s residents have the best sense of overall well-being, based on physical health, happiness, job satisfaction and other factors that affect quality of life.
ABC News – Flu Season Just Beginning, but Could Ramp Up Quickly
At the time of year when lots of Americans are usually coughing, sneezing, aching and feverish with the flu, doctor’s offices and hospitals across the U.S. have been surprisingly quiet so far. February is usually the month when U.S. flu cases peak, and more people become sick than in any other month. But the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says this year’s flu season has only just begun.
Washington Post – Measles outbreak after Super Bowl ignites vaccine debate
The controversy over vaccinating children — or really, not vaccinating children — has spread (literally) into to the mainstream. It seems there’s been a minor outbreak of measles linked to the Super Bowl. Indiana health officials have confirmed 14 cases since the game, according to PBS. The officials suspect that the cases are linked to two individuals who had measles and had visited Super Bowl village before the game.