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Obama administration 12 articles

Overtime pay update blocked by federal judge prior to taking effect

Despite efforts by the Obama administration, the new overtime rule that would have expanded eligibility to nearly four million Americans has been blocked a federal judge. The law, which would have required employers to pay time-and-a-half to their employees who worked more than 40 hours in a week and earned less than $47,476 annually, was set to take effect on Dec. 1. According to NPR, U.S. District Judge Amos Mazzant III was responsible for issuing the preliminary injunction in the case after siding with plaintiffs who believed the new rule would’ve caused government costs in their respective states to increase ... Read More

Updated HIPPAA guidelines aimed at protecting consumers’ privacy

Tighter restrictions are being placed on medical service providers who use patient information for marketing. The new guidelines were unveiled this week by the Obama administration and aim to strengthen privacy protections that previously did not exist for consumers. The updates will be applied to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, known as HIPPAA, which was established in 1996. Under the new plan, doctors who are being paid by drug companies or medical device manufacturers to promote a product to their patients must first get the patient’s approval before making the pitch. Previously, doctors could talk to patients about ... Read More

New bill restores and expands whistleblower protections to federal workers

President Obama signed a whistleblower bill into law Tuesday that makes sweeping changes to current laws by closing loopholes and offering greater protection to federal employees who blow the whistle on fraud, waste, and abuse in government operations. Passage of the far-reaching Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act marks the final stage of a 13-year effort by whistleblower advocates who fought court rulings that weakened whistleblower protections and made reporting fraudulent activity extremely risky. Supporters of the bill said that from October 1994 to May 2012 the court consistently undermined whistleblower protections and ruled in favor of whistleblowers only three times in ... Read More

Birth control soon to be free to all insured women

Health insurance plans will soon be required to cover birth control at no cost to women, thanks to new requirements ordered by the Obama administration. The new rules are part of a broad spectrum of women’s preventative coverage and include breast pumps for nursing mothers, an annual “well woman” physical, counseling on how to avoid sexually transmitted diseases, and other services with no co-pay. Insurance companies can recoup any losses by increasing their premiums. The new benefits won’t go into effect for at least another year. While the new Health and Human Services guidelines will make contraception affordable for all ... Read More

Prescription drug abuse deaths skyrocketing

Prescription drug abuse has escalated in recent years, and one place where it is most evident is in Ohio. According to the Department of Health, fatal overdoses in that state more than quadrupled in the last decade, and by 2007 had surpassed car crashes as the leading cause of accidental death. Of further concern is another report that showed nearly 10 percent of all babies born in Scioto County, Ohio, tested positive for drugs. Deaths caused by prescription drug abuse exceed those killed by crack cocaine in the 1980s and heroin in the 1970s, combined. This week, the Obama administration ... Read More

Supreme Court considers whether generic Reglan makers can be sued

The U.S. Supreme Court this week asked the Obama administration to comment on whether it believes generic drug companies can be sued over allegations that they inadequately labeled their products. The question arose after an appeals court reinstated a lawsuit by a woman who claimed she developed a severe neurological movement disorder after taking generic versions of the heartburn drug Reglan (metoclopramide). The lawsuit had been previously dismissed by a trial judge. Though the drugs have warning labels, the woman claims she was not adequately warned of the potential for serious side effects of the drug she was prescribed, in ... Read More

Some of nation’s coal ash ponds have significant deficiencies

Indiana and Kentucky have the most coal ash ponds in the country and many of those ponds have numerous deficiencies and were built without trained engineers, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The EPA conducted the survey on the nation’s coal ash ponds following last December’s massive spill in which a coal ash impoundment pond at a Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) coal-firing plant in east Tennessee broke, sending 1.1 gallons of toxic sludge onto 300 acres of a neighboring community. The coal ash destroyed homes, damaged property and contaminated nearby waterways, and is being blamed for making many locals ... Read More

Obama administration focuses on clean coal practices

President Obama’s new energy policies are pitting mining companies and environmentalists against each other as the federal government explores new ways of storing carbon emissions. Mining companies and the lawmakers who support them say that establishing these new measures could cost billions while environmentalists say the price is not important in comparison to the ecological damage of continuing common practices. According to Kentucky.com, “The Department of Energy will soon announce whether it will use $1 billion in stimulus funds to resurrect FutureGen, a proposal to create in Illinois the world’s first coal-fired power plant designed to capture and bury carbon ... Read More

Hamburg, Sharfstein to head troubled FDA

The Obama administration has named two doctors to head up the much-criticized U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), individuals who are known for speaking out about public safety. Sources say Margaret Hamburg, a physician and former New York City health commissioner, was selected to run the agency with Joshua Sharfstein, of the Baltimore health commission, as her chief deputy, according to The Washington Post. Sharfstein made headlines in 2007 when he convinced the FDA to restrict the use of over-the-counter children’s cough and cold medicines based on evidence they can cause serious health complications and even death in children. If ... Read More

Lawmakers debate safety of importing drugs

Congress continues to debate the notion of allowing people to buy inexpensive drug from other countries, as the Obama administration is encouraging, but the stickler seems to be ensuring the safety of those imported drugs, according to Portfolio. Even on the campaign trail, Obama’s camp said it would support the plan but that there would have to be measures in place to ensure the FDA was properly inspecting the plants where drugs are being manufactured. After all, it was just one year ago that hundreds of people became ill and more than 80 died after receiving injections of the blood ... Read More