The Obama administration on Friday proposed a plan to move most doctors, hospitals and their patients to national standards for handling electronic clinical data by the end of 2017. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), as part of an effort to propel the $2.9 trillion U.S. healthcare system away from a costly fee-for-service system, released a report draft aimed at establishing an inter operable health information technology system that can be accessed by patients and their healthcare providers. Policy experts say that national health IT standards would lead to transparency in medical data, prices and provider performance, while helping support hospitals and medical practices in pursuing care-delivery models that emphasize care quality and savings over quantity. Earlier this week, Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell announced the goal of moving 50 percent of fee-for-service Medicare payments to quality-care focused providers by the end of 2018.
By Barbara Liston ORLANDO, Fla. (Reuters) - A Florida prosecutor announced on Friday he will not pursue charges against former neighborhood watchman George Zimmerman stemming from a domestic incident earlier this month after the alleged victim recanted. Zimmerman, who was acquitted in 2013 in a fatal shooting of an unarmed black teenager, has had several brushes with the law since his trial. His latest arrest on Jan. 9 was in connection with a domestic disturbance in central Florida. Police in central Florida arrested him in November 2013 after he allegedly pointed a gun at his girlfriend during an argument.
By Toni Clarke and Sharon Begley WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States has proposed analyzing genetic information from more than 1 million American volunteers as part of a new initiative to understand human disease and develop medicines targeted to an individual's genetic make-up. At the heart of the initiative, to be announced on Friday by President Barack Obama, is the creation of a pool of people - healthy and ill, men and women, old and young - who would be studied to learn how genetic variants affect health and disease. The near-term goal is to create more and better treatments for cancer, Dr. Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), told reporters on a conference call on Thursday.
Rap mogul Marion "Suge" Knight was being interviewed by authorities early on Friday morning, officials said, hours after he was named as a suspect in a hit-and-run that killed one person near Los Angeles. The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department said in a statement that Knight arrived at the office's West Hollywood station accompanied by his attorney and was taking questions from homicide detectives. Around 3 p.m. (2300 GMT) on Thursday, a man fitting Knight's description drove up to a Compton burger shop and began arguing with two people outside, said Lieutenant John Corina, with Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department. Corina added that Knight, the 49-year-old co-founder of Death Row Records, was involved in an earlier altercation with the same two people.
(Reuters) - An elderly man and woman found dead outside their homes in separate coastal Massachusetts communities were likely victims of a massive blizzard that hit New England earlier this week, police said on Thursday. Olive Dupuis, 84, was found dead Thursday morning next to her car, near her home in the coastal city of Salem, north of Boston, police lieutenant Matt Desmond said, adding weather was likely a factor with sub-freezing temperatures and snow. The Massachusetts cases, which are still under investigation, bring the death toll from a wind-whipped blizzard that slammed the northeastern United States earlier this week to at least four. The blizzard disrupted life for millions of residents across Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island and New York, dumping up to 3 feet (90 cm) of snow in places, though it largely bypassed New York City.
Cuban President Raul Castro gave an endorsement to peace between the United States and his communist country, with the two nations in talks to restore ties after decades of animosity. Asked by a journalist at a summit of Latin American and Caribbean states what he would most like to see after the US economic embargo of Cuba is lifted, Castro barked: "Peace, peace between us, peace between the United States and us. Castro first said he would have to consider the question because the end of the economic embargo may be a long way away. US and Cuban diplomats met last week in Havana in landmark talks aimed at renewing ties that broke off in 1961.
By Dan Levine SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - A passenger who said she had been raped by an Uber driver in India's capital sued the online car service in U.S. federal court on Thursday, claiming the company failed to maintain basic safety procedures. In the lawsuit, the woman, who resides in Delhi and was not named, called Uber the "modern day equivalent of electronic hitchhiking." "Buyer beware - we all know how those horror movies end," the suit stated. In a statement, Uber did not directly address the lawsuit but said it is cooperating fully with the authorities to ensure the perpetrator is brought to justice. India is Uber's largest market outside the United States by the number of cities covered, and the country's radio taxi market is estimated to be worth $6 billion to $9 billion.
The U.S. Senate passed a bill on Thursday to approve the long-pending Keystone XL oil pipeline, despite the White House saying earlier in the day that President Barack Obama would veto the measure. The Republican-led Senate passed the bill that would approve TransCanada Corp's project to carry 800,000 barrels per day of heavy Canadian crude to Nebraska on the way to Gulf Coast refineries and ports. The House has passed its own pipeline bill and will work with the Senate to send the bill to the Obama's desk. After the potential veto, Obama is expected to make his own decision on the pipeline after the State Department finishes a review in coming weeks.
By Joe McDonald MILFORD, Pa. (Reuters) - The Pennsylvania survivalist who eluded a 48-day manhunt after a sniper attack that killed one state trooper and wounded another pleaded not guilty on Thursday to murder charges. Eric Frein, 31, appeared at his arraignment through a video conference from Pike County Correctional Facility, where he is being held without bail. He was asked by Judge Greg Chelak in the Pike County Courthouse whether he wanted to plead not guilty to fatally shooting Corporal Bryon Dickson and wounding Trooper Alex Douglass on Sept. 12, 2014 during a late night shift change at the Blooming Grove state police barracks.
By Doina Chiacu and Susan Cornwell WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Secret Service cannot hire new agents for the next presidential election or make improvements at the agency until Congress settles a dispute over funding, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said on Thursday. Johnson said in a speech in Washington that uncertainty over the budget for the Department of Homeland Security, which secures U.S. borders, airports and coastal waters and protects the president, had put security initiatives on hold. These included recommendations made in December by a review panel on the Secret Service, which has been plagued with a series of security lapses including a White House intruder and a drone that landed on the mansion's lawn early Monday. Secret Service protection extends to major presidential and vice presidential candidates and their spouses within four months of a presidential election.