Health Highlights: April 19, 2019

By on April 19, 2019

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

Researchers Get $350 Million to Fight U.S. Opioid Epidemic

A $350 million grant for researchers to find ways to cut opioid overdose deaths in four states hardest hit by the U.S. opioid epidemic was announced Thursday by the U.S. National Institutes of Health.

The goal is to reduce overdose deaths by 40% over three years by assessing addiction and overdose prevention methods such as medication-based treatments and criminal justice reforms, the Associated Press reported.

The grants were given to the University of Kentucky, Boston Medical Center, New York City’s Columbia University and Ohio State University.

There were a record 48,000 opioid overdose deaths in the U.S. in 2017, the AP reported.


Bill Would Raise U.S. Minimum Age for Tobacco to 21

A bill to raise the U.S. minimum age to buy tobacco products from 18 to 21 will be introduced by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

He said the bill will cover all tobacco products, including vaping devices, and hold retailers responsible for verifying the age of anyone buying tobacco products, the Associated Press reported.

McConnell said Thursday that he plans to introduce the bill next month.

Smoking is the leading cause of preventable disease in the U.S. and causes more than 480,000 deaths a year, the AP reported.


Wash. State Employees Poised to Be First in U.S. to Get Long-Term Care Benefit

A bill being considered by Washington lawmakers would make the state the first in the U.S. with an employee-funded insurance benefit to help cover the costs of long-term care.

Paying into the program — a lifetime maximum of $36,500 per person — would provide a benefit indexed to inflation, the Associated Press reported.

The bill was passed by both the House and the Senate, but the Senate made several changes before passing it earlier this week, so it now returns to the House for a final vote.

“This is a way to try and give people a benefit that they’ve paid into that will be able to keep them out of poverty and accessing a broad array of services they may need,” said bill sponsor Democratic Rep. Laurie Jinkins of Tacoma, the AP reported.

Advocates say the benefit will help an aging population that’s likely unprepared for the rising costs of assistance as they age.

Seven in 10 state residents 65 and older will require some type of assistance to live independently, according to AARP of Washington, the AP reported.

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