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President Barack Obama describes his plan to reduce the deficit in remarks delivered Monday in the White House Rose Garden.
Enlarge Susan Walsh/AP

President Barack Obama describes his plan to reduce the deficit in remarks delivered Monday in the White House Rose Garden.

President Barack Obama describes his plan to reduce the deficit in remarks delivered Monday in the White House Rose Garden.
Susan Walsh/AP

President Barack Obama describes his plan to reduce the deficit in remarks delivered Monday in the White House Rose Garden.

President Obama's plan to cut the deficit doesn't exactly spare Medicare, Medicaid, and other federal health programs. But he also doesn't propose the sweeping sorts of changes envisioned by House Republicans earlier this year.

The proposal to reduce the deficit by an additional $3 trillion over the next decade includes spending reductions of some $320 billion in Medicare, and $73 in Medicaid and other health programs, the vast majority of it from health care providers, not beneficiaries.

The biggest cuts would come in what Medicare pays for prescription drugs in the future.

But the president made clear that he doesn't intend to make any health cuts unless the Republicans relent on their pledge against new revenues.

"I will veto any bill that changes benefits for those who rely on Medicare but does not raise serious revenues by asking the wealthiest Americans or biggest corporations to pay their fair share," he said in remarks in the White House Rose Garden. "We are not going to have a one-sided deal that hurts the folks who are most vulnerable."

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Ahhhhhhhh!
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Ahhhhhhhh!

Feeling rushed at the doctor's office? No wonder, if you're there with an infant or toddler.

A third of parents say the last well-child visit with the doctor lasted 10 minutes or less. About half said the checkup lasted 11 to 20 minutes. That leaves about 20 percent who say the visit took longer than 20 minutes. The findings appear in the latest issue of Pediatrics.

Every minute counts when you think about how much information a pediatrician is supposed to get — and impart — during these checkups . During the 15 years that ended in 2002, the American Academy of Pediatrics added 53 new things that pediatricians are supposed to work into the conversation during well-child visits.

So how did they do?

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Trevor Reese, 13, gets his diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis booster shot from pediatric nurse practitioner Jenny Lu in Tustin, Calif., in August.
Jae C. Hong/AP

Trevor Reese, 13, gets his diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis booster shot from pediatric nurse practitioner Jenny Lu in Tustin, Calif., in August.

Parents used to think that once their kids were out of elementary school, they were done with vaccines. But the rules are changing.

In California, middle schoolers and high schoolers now have to prove that they're immunized against pertussis, or whooping cough, in order to attend school. It's one of dozens of states that have recently passed laws requiring vaccines for teens and tweens.

The California law was prompted by an outbreak of whooping cough that killed 10 babies last year, and sickened 9,000 people. "It had been 63 years since we'd seen those types of numbers," says Ron Chapman, director of the California Department of Public Health.

Pertussis causes a violent cough that can last for weeks, and can be deadly in babies too young to get vaccinated. Because it spreads easily in schools, and because the protection that children get from pertussis shots in early childhood wears off, health officials vaccinate older children to help halt spread of the disease.

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Painkillers like these being counted at the Oklahoma Hospital Discount Pharmacy in Edmond, Okla., need to be used far less often, some prominent doctors say.
Enlarge Sue Ogrocki/AP

Painkillers like these being counted at the Oklahoma Hospital Discount Pharmacy in Edmond, Okla., need to be used far less often, some prominent doctors say.

Painkillers like these being counted at the Oklahoma Hospital Discount Pharmacy in Edmond, Okla., need to be used far less often, some prominent doctors say.
Sue Ogrocki/AP

Painkillers like these being counted at the Oklahoma Hospital Discount Pharmacy in Edmond, Okla., need to be used far less often, some prominent doctors say.

In a bracing call to action, three doctors from California are telling their peers to think twice before prescribing potent narcotics for patients with chronic pain.

Drugs such as Vicodin, Percocet and Oxycontin have become among the most prescribed in the country. Between 15 and 20 percent of patient visits with physicians the U.S. include a prescription for an opioid, the modern painkilling medicines whose roots can be traced back to the opium poppy.

But their editorial, published this week in the Archives of Internal Medicine, says there's a troubling shortfall in the evidence to support the use of such drugs for long-term treatment of pain. And, there's ample evidence of harm.

"Unfortuantely, the use of prescription opioids currently results in more deaths in the United States due to intoxication than heroin and cocaine combined," says Dr. Mitchell H. Katz, a co-author of editorial, in a podcast. "That's shocking."

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A man arrested at Congonhas Airport in Sao Paulo, Brazil, had quite a bit of undeclared carry-on baggage: 72 bags containing almost a kilogram of cocaine inside his body.
Enlarge Brazilian Federal Police/HO/AFP/Getty Images

A man arrested at Congonhas Airport in Sao Paulo, Brazil, had quite a bit of undeclared carry-on baggage: 72 bags containing almost a kilogram of cocaine inside his body.

A man arrested at Congonhas Airport in Sao Paulo, Brazil, had quite a bit of undeclared carry-on baggage: 72 bags containing almost a kilogram of cocaine inside his body.
Brazilian Federal Police/HO/AFP/Getty Images

A man arrested at Congonhas Airport in Sao Paulo, Brazil, had quite a bit of undeclared carry-on baggage: 72 bags containing almost a kilogram of cocaine inside his body.

Here's a picture worth almost a thousand grams.

The CT scan above shows the insides of a 20-year-old man apprehended Monday at an airport in São Paulo, Brazil, as he was getting ready to board a flight to Brussels.

All those reddish capsules lined up in his intestines are filled with cocaine.

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Birth control pills on a calendar.
Enlarge iStockphoto.com

Birth control pills on a calendar.
iStockphoto.com

Here's a boo-boo that you just don't expect to happen at a company making prescription medicines — especially a firm called Qualitest Pharmaceuticals.

The Alabama-based maker of generic drugs apparently didn't do enough quality testing. It's recalling a slew of birth control pills because a mistake in the factory put pills in the wrong places inside plastic packages.

That mix-up means women could be getting the wrong pills during the month, leaving them "without adequate contraception, and at risk for unintended pregnancy," according to the company's notice about the recall.

The affected pills are:

  • Cyclafem 7/7/7
  • Cyclafem 1/35
  • Emoquette
  • Gildess FE 1.5/30
  • Gildess FE 1/20
  • Orsythia
  • Previfem
  • Tri-Previfem

To check the specific lots being recalled, see this list.

"The source of the error is currently under investigation and the company is committed to rectifying the issue in a timely manner," said the drugmaker, a unit of Endo Pharmaceuticals.

First Lady Michelle Obama, accompanied by Darden chef Julie Elkinton, talks to Charisse McElroy, right, and her daughter Jacqueline McElroy, 9, during an event at Olive Garden in Hyattsville, Md. on Thursday.
Enlarge Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP

First Lady Michelle Obama, accompanied by Darden chef Julie Elkinton, talks to Charisse McElroy, right, and her daughter Jacqueline McElroy, 9, during an event at Olive Garden in Hyattsville, Md. on Thursday.

First Lady Michelle Obama, accompanied by Darden chef Julie Elkinton, talks to Charisse McElroy, right, and her daughter Jacqueline McElroy, 9, during an event at Olive Garden in Hyattsville, Md. on Thursday.
Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP

First Lady Michelle Obama, accompanied by Darden chef Julie Elkinton, talks to Charisse McElroy, right, and her daughter Jacqueline McElroy, 9, during an event at Olive Garden in Hyattsville, Md. on Thursday.

Menus at Olive Garden and Red Lobster are about to get a health makeover. Darden Restaurants, which owns the brands, is the latest corporation to collaborate with First Lady Michelle Obama's Let's Move! campaign aimed ending childhood obesity.

The company has pledged to reduce its calorie and sodium footprints with a goal of 10 percent reduction over the next five years and 20 percent in the next decade. And its four restaurants, including LongHorn Steakhouse and Bahama Breeze, will reformulate and resize portions.

At an event Thursday at Olive Garden in Hyattsville, Maryland, company leaders served up a 400-calorie Venetian apricot chicken dish to a group that included the First Lady and collaborators in the Partnership For a Healthier America.

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Fears over arsenic in apple juice are overblown, experts say.
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Fears over arsenic in apple juice are overblown, experts say.

Fears over arsenic in apple juice are overblown, experts say.
iStockphoto.com

Fears over arsenic in apple juice are overblown, experts say.

A lot of parents might be worried about what's in their kids' sippy cups if they caught a recent report by TV talk show host Dr. Mehmet Oz about high levels of arsenic in popular brands of apple juice.

But the Food and Drug Administration and medical experts are attacking Oz's report, saying it's inaccurate and needlessly panics parents.

In fact, Dr. Richard Besser, former acting head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, tackled Oz head-on this morning on Good Morning America. Besser, a med school classmate of Oz's, called the report "extremely irresponsible" and compared it to yelling fire in a crowded theater. (Hear their testy exchange here.)

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