Health Highlights: Oct. 31, 2015

Health Highlights: Oct. 31, 2015

Health Highlights: Oct. 31, 2015

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

Medicare to Cover End-of-Life Counseling for Older Americans

Medicare, the federally run insurance program for Americans 65 and older, said Friday that it will begin reimbursing doctors who work with patients to plan end-of-life care.

Numerous physician and health groups recommended the move. Some doctors already provide so-called "advance care planning" to patients without getting paid for their time, and some private insurers cover the practice, the Associated Press reported.

Advance care planning has gained increasing acceptance in the six years since the proposal was denounced by some Republicans as "death panels," the news service said.

The Obama administration's policy change could make the talks more common for Medicare's 55 million beneficiaries. The counseling would be voluntary, and could take place during a senior's annual physical or during regular office visits, the AP said.

"As a physician and a son, I personally know how important these discussions are for patients and families," Dr. Patrick Conway, Medicare's chief medical officer, told the AP. "We believe patients and families deserve the opportunity to discuss these issues with their physician and care team."

Advance care planning wouldn't just be for the seriously ill. It could include an ongoing discussion that might change at different stages of a person's life. For example, someone who's relatively healthy might want aggressive medical efforts if injured in an accident. But, if that same person were later diagnosed with advanced cancer, he or she might make different decisions as their health worsened, the news service said.

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Skippy Peanut Butter Recalled Due to Possible Metal Fragments

The possible presence of small metal pieces has triggered a recall of 153 cases of Skippy Reduced Fat Creamy Peanut Butter, Hormel Foods said Friday.

Small pieces of metal shavings were discovered in a magnet check during routine cleaning, the Austin, Minn.-based company said.

The recall covers 16.3-ounce jars with a "Best if Used By" date of DEC1416LR1 with a package UPC code of 37600-10500. The code date is located on top of the lid. The recalled products were distributed to Publix, Target and Walmart stores in Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia.

To date, there have been no reports of injuries, according to Hormel.

People with the recalled jars of peanut butter should return them to the place of purchase for an exchange. For more information, call Hormel at 1-866-475-4779, Monday-Friday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Central Time.

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