U.S. to roll back hospital rules

The Obama administration moved Tuesday to roll back numerous rules that apply to hospitals and other health care providers after concluding that the standards were obsolete or overly burdensome to the industry.

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said the changes, which would apply to more than 6,000 hospitals, would save providers nearly $1.1 billion a year without creating "consequential risks for patients."

Under the proposals, it would be easier for hospitals to use "advanced practice nurse practitioners and physician assistants in lieu of higher-paid physicians." This change alone "could provide immediate savings to hospitals," the administration said.

Other proposals would roll back rules for doctors' offices, kidney dialysis centers, organ transplant programs, outpatient surgery centers and institutions for people with severe mental disabilities.

Afghanistan

U.S. attack targets Haqqani stronghold

Explosions and gunfire erupted in the mountains of eastern Afghanistan on Tuesday as U.S.-led international forces and Afghan soldiers began what seemed likely to become a new, coordinated offensive against insurgents whom American officials blame for a series of recent major terrorist attacks in Kabul.

The joint operation against the Haqqani network follows months of escalating tension between the United States and Pakistan over the increasingly fearsome insurgent group that NATO says has caused the deaths of more than 1,000 Afghan civilians and coalition troops — and whose leadership reportedly enjoys haven over the border in Pakistan's tribal areas.

Ukraine

Leader's visit put off after rival's conviction

The European Union on Tuesday delayed a key visit by Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych after signals that the country's jailed former prime minister, opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko, will not be released soon.

Tymoshenko was sentenced to seven years in prison last week on charges of abuse of office. The United State and the EU have condemned the conviction as politically motivated.

Washington

Senate wants potato kept on school menus

The Senate threw its support behind the potato Tuesday, voting to block an Obama administration proposal to limit the vegetable on school lunch lines.

Agriculture Department rules proposed this year aimed to reduce the amount of french fries in schools, limiting lunchrooms to two servings a week of potatoes and other starchy vegetables.

But on a voice vote, the Senate agreed to block the USDA from putting any limits on serving potatoes or other vegetables in school lunches. The House has passed a similar measure

Elsewhere

Washington: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Tuesday 25 deaths in 12 states are now linked to listeria in cantaloupe, the deadliest known outbreak of U.S. foodborne illness in 25 years. The CDC said that 98 others have been sickened.

London: British writer Julian Barnes won literature's prestigious Booker Prize on Tuesday for The Sense of an Ending, a novel about a 60-something man forced to confront buried truths about his past after the unexpected arrival of a letter.

Times wires

U.S. to roll back hospital rules 10/18/11 [Last modified: Wednesday, October 19, 2011 12:01am]

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