Health Highlights: Nov. 10, 2014

Health Highlights: Nov. 10, 2014

Health Highlights: Nov. 10, 2014

Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:

VA Department Head Announces Major Changes

Allowing veterans to receive care outside of Veterans Affairs facilities is one of the most important parts of what VA Secretary Robert McDonald called the "largest restructuring in the department's history."

The newly-created Choice Act provides $5 billion for additional doctors and nurses at VA facilities, and another $10 billion to give veterans easy access to health care either at VA or non-VA facilities, NBC News reported.

Legislation authorizing the VA to make the changes was approved by Congress in August. The VA provides services for nearly 5.5 million people.

In his announcement Monday, McDonald also noted that reforms at the VA led to one million more completed patient appointments between June and September than during the same time last year, NBC News reported.


Mali May be Ebola-Free

Quick action may have prevented an Ebola outbreak in the West African nation of Mali.

Health officials mounted a rapid response after a 2-year-old girl died of Ebola in Mali after her grandmother brought her from Guinea, the cradle of the Ebola epidemic, The New York Times reported.

The Malian Health Ministry, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization tracked and quarantined 108 people in two cities and a few roadside towns in Mali who may have had contact with the girl.

The 21-day quarantine period since the girl's death on Oct. 24 is nearly over and none of the 108 people have symptoms of Ebola. Forty-one are to be released from quarantine Tuesday and the remainder by Friday, The Times reported.

If no Ebola cases occur, Mali will join Senegal and Nigeria in showing that rapid responses can stop Ebola.

"I'm actually feeling very good right now," Dr. Rana Hajjeh, who led the CDC advisory team in Mali, told The Times. "We feel reassured that most of the danger is over."


Americans Can Start Browsing Revamped Health Insurance Website Early

Americans can start shopping Monday for health insurance on, even before open enrollment begins on Saturday, a government official said Sunday.

The new version of the website will provide more information and be easier to use than the one that caused so much frustration for consumers last fall, according to Andrew Slavitt, of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, The New York Times reported.

On the revamped website, users will be able to sort plans by the cost of their premiums and by the size of the deductible.

Slavitt also said that consumers will also be able to view all plans that have special programs to manage health problems such as heart disease, diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and depression, The Times reported.


Ebola Quarantine Fight Nurse to Visit Another Part of Maine

The Maine nurse who defied state officials' demands that she remain in quarantine after treating Ebola patients plans to travel to another part of the state after her 21-day monitoring period ends on Monday.

Kaci Hickox and her boyfriend Ted Wilbur said they'll leave Fort Kent and go to southern Maine, but did not say exactly where they would go or when they would travel, CNN reported.

The couple was in Fort Kent because Wilbur was attending the University of Maine there, but he has left the school.

"We are going to southern Maine and will decide what's next from there," Hickox told CNN.

State officials tried to force Hickox into quarantine after she returned from treating Ebola patients in Sierra Leone, despite the fact that she tested negative for the disease and had no symptoms.

A judge ruled that Hickox did not have to be quarantined, but had to submit to close monitoring until the 21-day incubation period for Ebola was over, CNN reported.
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