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Elizabeth Cooney is a health reporter for the Worcester Telegram & Gazette.
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Thursday, September 13, 2007

Today's Globe: insurance hikes, free care cuts, victims of violence, Fernald, US deaths, 9/11 illnesses, war amputee rehab, exercising in traffic

Massachusetts health insurers are predicting their rates will increase by about 10 percent next year for most residents covered through employer health plans, marking the eighth consecutive year of double-digit premium hikes.

Proposed reimbursement rules for hospitals that treat uninsured patients would cut millions of dollars from annual payments to Massachusetts hospitals that provide care for the majority of low-income and uninsured residents, according to new state projections.

Lawmakers are considering a bill that would establish standardized steps that healthcare workers could follow to help victims of violent crimes get social services, such as a referral to a shelter for victims of domestic abuse.

Governor Deval Patrick's administration announced yesterday that it is appealing a federal judge's decision that halted the state's plan to close the Fernald Development Center in Waltham, saying the ruling interferes with the state's ability to decide how to best care for its mentally retarded residents.

The number of deaths in the United States rose in 2005 after a sharp decline the year earlier, a disappointing reversal that suggests the 2004 numbers were a fluke.

Doctors treating sickened ground zero workers offered Congress a detailed diagnosis yesterday of the ailments still affecting thousands after the Sept. 11 attacks, but warned that there's no way to determine how many more may become afflicted with life-threatening illnesses.

War veterans who have lost a limb will relearn tasks such as shooting a weapon, driving a car, or rappelling down a cliff at a rehabilitation center opening at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.

People with heart disease should steer clear of heavy traffic when exercising or simply take their workout indoors to avoid breathing polluted air.

Posted by Elizabeth Cooney at 06:55 AM
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