The House Agriculture Committee passes a version of the farm bill that cuts $12 billion from the food stamps and other nutrition programs; scientists can detect inherited Alzheimer’s disease 20 years in advance; firefighters’ petition leads to a bill personally supported by Obama; and House passes health reform repeal that has little chance of passing in the Senate. These stories and more topping public health headlines today, Thursday, July 12, 2012.
New York Times – House Agriculture Committee Agrees on Farm Bill
The House agriculture committee early on Thursday voted to pass its version of a new farm bill that cuts $12 billion more from the food stamps program than a Senate bill passed last month and adds several new crop insurance and price support programs to protect farmers during natural disasters or when prices fall.
Kaiser Health News – Could Grass-Roots Pressure Trigger Change Of Heart In Texas?
Health reform advocates and Democrats in Texas are reacting to Gov. Rick Perry’s to turn down both the Medicaid expansion and health insurance exchange mandated in the federal health law. Perry’s opponents would likely have a tough fight in January to get the state to do its own exchange, since both houses of the Legislature are Republican controlled. But Dunkelberg argues that turning down the exchange will create political problems for Perry.
New York Daily News – Brain scans to detect Alzheimer’s decades ahead
Experts hope to develop brain scans to detect early symptoms of dementia that may surface 25 years before patients and their families notice any outward development. Scientists believe that sufferers’ brains and spines undergo miniscule changes when they are in their 30s and 40s. An US study involved 128 people whose parents had an inherited form of Alzheimer’s, meaning they were highly likely to get the disease themselves. Scientists carried out brain scans and tests on the fluid in their spine, the New England Journal of Medicine reports.
NPR – Firefighters Prevail In Fight for Health Insurance
It all started around a kitchen table in Custer, South Dakota. John Lauer, a 27-year-old seasonal firefighter for an elite U.S. Forest Service wildland fire team, sat down with some colleagues to write a petition. They posted it online and then went out to fight fires. Within a couple of months 125,000 people had signed it. The response grabbed the attention of Rep. Diana Degette, a Democrat from Denver. She drafted a bill that would give seasonal federal firefighters the same health insurance benefits full-timers at federal land management agencies receive. Just hours after the bill was introduced Tuesday, President Obama took action himself. He ordered federal agencies to start offering seasonal firefighters the same health benefits year-round federal employees get. The president’s move is “surreal,” Lauer says.
New York Times – Repeal of Health Care Law Approved, Again, by House
Waging old battles with new zeal, the House passed a bill on Wednesday to repeal President Obama’s health care overhaul law less than two weeks after the Supreme Court upheld it as constitutional. The bill was approved by a vote of 244 to 185, with five Democrats supporting repeal. It has no chance of approval in the Senate and would face a veto from Mr. Obama if it ever got to him. But the House debate exposed the depth of passion over efforts to remake the health care system.
USA Today – Report: Too little mental health care for seniors
Getting older does not just mean a risk for physical ailments like heart disease and creaky knees: A new report finds as many as 1 in 5 American seniors have a mental health or substance abuse problem. The burden of mental illness and substance abuse disorders in older adults in the Unied States borders on a crisis,” wrote Dr. Dan Blazer of Duke University, who chaired the Institute of Medicine panel that investigated the issue. “Yet this crisis is largely hidden from the public and many of those who develop policy and programs to care for older people.”