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Health Care Reform Battle Tops Health News for 2011
Date:12/29/2011

By E.J. Mundell
HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, Dec. 29 (HealthDay News) -- While no one story dominated health news in 2011, the ongoing debate over the legality of the new health care reform law was perhaps the most polarizing, with the case now set to go to the U.S. Supreme Court early in 2012.

Supporters of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which President Obama signed into law in 2010, claim the legislation will extend coverage to 30 million Americans. But opponents labeled it an unconstitutional intrusion of government upon personal rights, especially the "individual mandate" clause that requires Americans to purchase health insurance or face fines.

Some of the law's provisions, such as allowing children to remain on their parents' plans until age 26, or prohibiting insurers from denying coverage to those with preexisting conditions, were already helping Americans in 2011. Still, a Harris Interactive/HealthDay poll conducted in March found just 22 percent of respondents supported the individual mandate clause. The U.S. Supreme Court will begin hearing arguments on the law in late March.

Feel like chatting about the issue on your cellphone? That brought up another top health concern for 2011: Do the electromagnetic fields emitted by the phones cause cancer, or don't they. In February, an analysis of 10 years of British data found no uptick in brain cancer rates even as more people were using cellphones; and in July, Swiss researchers reported in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute that they could find no link between cellphones and brain tumors in kids.

However, in late May, a panel of experts at the World Health Organization announced that they were classifying cellphones as "possibly carcinogenic to humans," putting the devices in the same category as the pesticide DDT and gas engine exhaust. In the meantime, experts are supporting using cellphones --
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