Health Highlights: Feb. 25, 2016

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

New Rules TIghten Access to Coverage Outside Enrollment Periods

New rules will make it more difficult for Americans to buy health insurance through outside designated enrollment seasons.

The changes announced Wednesday by federal health officials are in response to complaints from insurers that some consumers wait until they are sick to get coverage, the Washington Post reported.

People who apply for coverage under five main reasons for a “special enrollment period” will now be required to provide documents proving they deserve to be exempted from regular enrollment periods.

Those five reasons include having moved, having a baby, adopting a child, gotten married or lost other health insurance. Until now, people in these and a few other circumstances could sign up outside designated enrollment seasons simply by checking a box, the Post reported.

The changes apply to people in the 38 states that rely on the federal insurance exchange.


Senate Confirms Califf to Lead FDA

Robert Califf has been confirmed by the Senate to lead the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

President Barack Obama’s nominee was confirmed in a 89-4 vote Wednesday. Califf spent more than 30 years at Duke University and had been the No. 2 official at the FDA, the Associated Press reported.

Califf’s tasks include completing new tobacco regulations and food safety and labeling reforms.

He also pledged to re-evaluate how the FDA regulates prescription painkillers as the nation struggles with a painkiller abuse epidemic, the AP reported.


Judge Okays Fines for NYC Restaurants That Don’t Post Salt Warnings

Chain restaurants in New York City that don’t post high-salt warnings required by the city can be fined, a judge ruled Wednesday.

NYC’s first-of-a-kind rule requires chain restaurants to include a salt-shaker icon on menu items that have more than the recommended daily limit of 2,300 milligrams of sodium, which is about a teaspoon, the Associated Press reported.

The National Restaurant Association went to court to block the rule, but State Supreme Court Justice Eileen Rakower said the city can enforce it.

Beginning March 1, restaurants can be fined up to $600 for failing to obey the rule, the AP reported.

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