Health Highlights: Feb. 8, 2016

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

New York Governor Takes Action Against Gay Conversion Therapy

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is taking action against gay conversion therapy in New York state.

Major mental health organizations have rejected the approach, in which therapists try to change young people’s sexual orientation, the Associated Press reported.

Cuomo said he would use his executive power to bar insurance coverage for the therapy for minors and forbid mental health facilities under the jurisdiction of the state Office of Mental Health from offering it to minors.

A bill banning conversion therapy has twice passed the Democrat-controlled state Assembly, but has not been passed in the Republican-led Senate, the AP reported.

“Conversion therapy is a hateful and fundamentally flawed practice” that punishes people “for simply being who they are,” Cuomo said in a statement released over the weekend.

The governor’s announcement was welcomed by Chad Griffin, president of the gay rights group Human Rights Campaign. “No young person should be coerced or subjected to this dangerous so-called therapy,” he said in a statement, the AP reported.

Gay conversion therapy is banned in California, Oregon, Illinois, New Jersey, Washington, D.C., and Cincinnati, but efforts to outlaw it have failed in a number of places, including Colorado, Nevada and Iowa.

The therapy wrongly treats being gay as a mental illness and can cause young people to feel ashamed, anxious and depressed, according to the American Psychological Association and other mental health groups, the AP reported.

Last year, the White House called for an end to the practice.


Chipotle Workers Attending Nationwide Food Safety Meeting

Workers at Chipotle Mexican Grill restaurants across the United States are attending a meeting Monday about the chain’s recent food safety problems.

The company said about 50,000 workers will go to more than 400 conference rooms, movie theaters and other locations to hear remarks from Chipotle executives, the Associated Press reported.

That means instead of the usual 11 a.m. opening time, Chipotle restaurants will open at 3 p.m. in their local time zones.

In recent months, Chipotle has been hit hard by food safety problems, including an E. coli outbreak and norovirus cases, the AP reported.


One-Third of U.S. Lawyers Have Drinking Problem: Study

Drinking problems, depression and anxiety are common among American lawyers, a new study finds.

An anonymous survey of more than 12,800 licensed, working lawyers in 19 states revealed that one-third are problem drinkers, 28 percent have depression, and 19 percent have symptoms of anxiety, The New York Times reported.

The study by the American Bar Association and the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation appears in the February issue of the Journal of Addiction Medicine.

A 2012 American College of Surgeons study found that 15 percent of surgeons abused alcohol, and a 2014 National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism study found that 6.8 percent of Americans older than 18 had a drinking problem, The Times reported.


Nearly 13 Million People Sign Up for Obamacare in 2016

About 12.7 million Americans are signed up for Obamacare in 2016, the White House says.

That number includes people who signed up for individual private coverage or renewed their insurance for this year, Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell said Thursday.

“It’s not the unequivocal success that Obamacare advocates had hoped for, but also not the disaster that critics thought could make it a talking point on the campaign trail,” Larry Levitt, Kaiser Family Foundation, told the Associated Press.

The 12.7 million figure is midway between the Obama administration’s projection of 11 million to 14 million initial enrollments through and state-run programs.

There were questions about how many people would sign up when open enrollment began in Nov. 1 because premiums have been rising and many of those without insurance are believed to be skeptical about the program, the AP reported.

Enrollment tends to decline over the year as some people can’t afford the premiums and others move to employer coverage, but Burwell said her goal is to have 10 million people still signed up and paying premiums at the end of 2016.

Along with the 12.7 million who enrolled in Obamacare this year, another 400,000 people signed up in a new health plan for low-income earners. Minnesota and New York are the first states to offer the plan, the AP reported.

Nearly 11.7 million people signed up for Obamacare in 2015, when nine percent of Americans were uninsured, compared with more than 14 percent in 2013. The White House said between the end of 2013 and the middle of 2015, more than 16 million people gained coverage, the AP reported.

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