Health Highlights: May 22, 2014
Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:
New Louisiana Law Cold Reduce Abortion Access
A bill that could force three of the state's five abortion clinics to close was passed Wednesday by the Louisiana State Legislature.
The legislation, which requires doctors who perform abortions to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals, was passed by the House of Representatives by a vote of 88 to 5. The bill was passed by the State Senate last week and Gov. Bobby Jindal said he will sign it, The New York Times reported.
Similar laws have been passed in Alabama, Mississippi and Texas, which means that women across a large area of the South could have greatly reduced access to abortion.
"With similar restrictions passed in neighboring states over the objection of leading medical experts, we are deeply concerned that women in a vast stretch of this country are in real danger of losing the ability to access legal abortion safely," Cecile Richards, president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said in a statement, The Times reported.
Senate Committee Approves Health Secretary Nominee
President Barack Obama's nominee to be the next U.S. health secretary was approved Wednesday by the Senate Finance Committee in a 21-3 vote.
Sylvia Mathews Burwell's nomination now goes to the full Senate, where it will likely be voted on next month, the Associated Press reported.
There were expectations that her confirmation hearings would turn into an election-year fight over the Affordable Care Act, but she won support from senators of both parties.
Burwell, 48, has served as Obama's budget chief. As health secretary, she would face major challenges in continuing the implementation of the new health law, the AP reported.
Obama Vows Punishment if VA Misconduct Allegations Prove True
In his latest public comments about allegations of misconduct at VA hospitals, President Barack Obama expressed his anger and said that VA officials and staff will be punished if investigations confirm misconduct.
"I will not stand for it," Obama told reporters Wednesday after a White House meeting with VA Secretary Eric Shinseki. "Not as commander in chief, but also not as an American. None of us should."
The president added that if "these allegations prove true," he would consider them "dishonorable," The New York Times reported.
Obama promised quick action if it's confirmed that VA employees manipulated data to conceal long wait times for patient appointments at VA hospitals.
"Once we know the facts, I assure you, if there was misconduct, people will be punished," the president vowed.
For the first time, Obama gave deadlines for investigations into the allegations. A preliminary report is expected from Shinseki next week, while a more complete assessment by White House Deputy Chief of Staff Rob Nabors is due by next month, The Times reported.
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