Health Highlights: Aug. 29, 201308/29/13
Here are some of the latest health and medical news
developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:
NFL, Former Players Agree to Settle Concussion Lawsuit
The National Football League has agreed to pay $765 million to
settle a lawsuit brought by more than 4,500 former players with
dementia and other health problems. The recipients will also
include families of ex-players who died from what the families
claimed were the effects of head injuries,
The New York Timesreported Thursday.
U.S. District Court Judge Anita Brody, of the Eastern District
of Pennsylvania, said Thursday that she was told by Layn Phillips,
a court-appointed mediator, that the money would be used for
medical exams, concussion-related compensation and medical research
for retired players and their families, the
Brody still must approve the settlement, which has yet to be
Timessaid the money, which may not be dispersed for months,
will be available to all eligible retired players, not just those
who filed the lawsuit. The players will have an opportunity to opt
out of the deal.
The plaintiffs include Hall of Fame running back Tony Dorsett,
Super Bowl-winning quarterback Jim McMahon and the family of Pro
Bowler Junior Seau, who committed suicide last year.
Individual awards would be capped at $5 million for men with
Alzheimer's disease; $4 million for those diagnosed after their
deaths with chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a progressive
degenerative disease of the brain; and $3 million for players with
Gay Couples Under Medicare Should Have Equal Access to Same
Nursing Home, HHS Says
In what U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen
Sebelius calls her department's first response to the recent
Supreme Court ruling on same-sex marriage, gay and lesbian Medicare
recipients will now have equal coverage for and access to the
nursing home where their spouse already resides.
"Today, Medicare is ensuring that all beneficiaries will have equal access to coverage in a nursing home where their spouse lives, regardless of their sexual orientation," Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Administrator Marilyn Tavenner said in an agency news release.
"Prior to this, a beneficiary in a same-sex marriage enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan did not have equal access to such coverage and, as a result, could have faced time away from his or her spouse or higher costs because of the way that marriage was defined for this purpose," Tavenner explained.
In the past, a senior covered by Medicare Advantage who had a
same-sex spouse often had to face difficult choices when it came
time for nursing home care. According to the HHS news release, some
may have had to accept care at a separate nursing home facility
from where their loved one was receiving care. Or, if they wanted
to reside at the same facility, they might have to drop out of
Medicare and pay the cost out-of-pocket.
"HHS is working swiftly to implement the Supreme Court's decision and maximize federal recognition of same-sex spouses in HHS programs," Sebelius said. "Today's announcement is the first of many steps that we will be taking over the coming months to clarify the effects of the Supreme Court's decision and to ensure that gay and lesbian married couples are treated equally under the law."
Men Just as Likely to Suffer Depression as Women: Study
A new study counters the common wisdom that women are more
likely to experience depression compared to men. The research finds
that when differences in symptoms are factored in, males may suffer
from depression even more often than females.
Reporting in the Aug. 28 issue of
JAMA Psychiatry, a team from the University of Michigan and
Vanderbilt University tested the usefulness of a symptom
"checklist" tailored to both men and women. On top of established
symptoms of depression such as sadness, insomnia and feelings of
guilt or unworthiness, the team added symptoms more typically seen
in men, such as outbursts of anger, substance abuse and
They used the new diagnostic criteria to assess rates of
depression in nearly 5,700 adults who had taken part in a long-term
study of mental health.
The researchers found that 30.6 percent of men and 33.3 percent
of women had experienced depression at some point in their lives,
Los Angeles Timesreported. The researchers then assessed
people using the "male symptoms scale" and found that the number of
depressed men exceeded that of women, at 26.3 percent and 21.9
"These findings could lead to important changes in the way depression is conceptualized and measured," the study authors said.
"When it comes to depression in men, to some extent we have blinders on," Dr. Andrew Leuchter, a psychiatrist who studies depression at UCLA, told the Times. "We have not been asking about and taking into account a range of symptoms that may be gender-specific."
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