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Health Highlights: Jan. 31, 2013

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

No Financial Help for Millions Unable to Afford Employer's Health Plan

A strict definition of affordable health insurance adopted Wednesday by the U.S. government means that there will be no financial assistance for millions of Americans with moderate incomes who aren't able to afford family coverage offered by employers.

The Internal Revenue Service said it will look at the cost of coverage only for an individual, not a family, when deciding if an employer's health plan is affordable, The New York Times reported.

Under the policy decision, employer-sponsored insurance for an individual is not affordable if a worker's share of the premium is more than 9.5 percent of the worker's household income.

"This is bad news for kids," Jocelyn Guyer, an executive director of the Center for Children and Families at Georgetown University, told The Times. "We can see kids falling through the cracks. [Workers] will lack access to affordable employer-based family coverage and still be locked out of tax credits to help them buy coverage for their kids in the marketplaces, or exchanges, being established in every state."

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Hartz Mountain Jerky Dog Treats Recalled

About 20,000 chicken jerky pet treats in the United States are being recalled by the Hartz Mountain Corp., after company tests discovered trace amounts of antibiotic residue in the products.

The recalled includes Hartz Chicken Chews and Hartz Oinkies Pig Skin Twists Wrapped with Chicken for dogs. Antibiotic residue was found in about one-third of the treats tested, but the company recalled all the treats as a precaution, NBC News reported.

This follows other companies' recalls of pet treats due to the presence of antibiotic residue. Nestle recalled its Waggin' Train and Canyon Creek Ranch brand dog treats, Del Monte withdrew its Milo's Kitchen Chicken Jerky and Chicken Grillers home-style dog treats, Publix pulled its private brand Chicken Tenders Dog Chew Treats from store shelves, and IMS Pet Industries Inc. recalled its Cadet Brand Chicken Jerky Treats.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration said the antibiotic residue in the treats poses no threat to human or pet health.

The agency also said the issue is not related to an ongoing investigation into reports of 500 deaths and more than 2,700 illnesses in dogs and cats that ate chicken jerky pet treats made in China, NBC News reported.

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EPA Seeks To Ban 12 D-Con Mouse and Rat Poison Products

In a move designed to prevent thousands of children from being accidentally exposed to rodent poison each year, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said Wednesday that it is moving to ban the sale of 12 d-Con brand mouse and rat poison products produced by Reckitt Benckiser Inc.

The products do not comply with current EPA safety standards, the agency said.

Each year, about 10,000 U.S. children are accidentally exposed to mouse and rat baits, and the EPA has been working with companies to ensure that products are both effective and safe to use around children.

Reckitt Benckiser is the only company that has refused to adopt federal safety standards for all of its consumer mouse and rat poison products, the EPA said.

"Moving forward to ban these products will prevent completely avoidable risks to children," James Jones, acting assistant administrator for EPA's Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention, said in an agency news release.

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