National briefs: Study looks at Medicaid

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WASHINGTON -- Come January, millions of low-income adults will gain health insurance coverage through Medicaid in one of the farthest-reaching provisions of the Obama health care law.

Results from a landmark study, released Wednesday in The New England Journal of Medicine, compared thousands of low-income people in Oregon who received access to Medicaid with an identical population that did not.

The Oregon Health Study found that those who gained Medicaid coverage spent more on health care, making more visits to doctors and trips to the hospital. But the study suggests that Medicaid coverage did not make those adults much healthier, at least within the two-year time frame of the research, judging by their blood pressure, blood sugar and other measures. It did, however, substantially reduce the incidence of depression, and it made them vastly more financially secure.

Morning-after pill appeal

WASHINGTON -- The Obama administration said Wednesday that girls younger than 15 should not have access to the most common morning-after contraceptive pill as the Justice Department filed a notice to appeal a judge's order that would make the drug available without a prescription for females of all ages.

The appeal reaffirms an election-year decision by the administration to block the drug's maker from selling it without consideration of age and puts the White House back into the politically charged issue of access to emergency contraception.

In appealing the judge's decision, the Justice Department is following the urging of dozens of conservative, anti-abortion groups who do not want contraceptives made available to young girls. It is sure to draw the ire of some abortion rights advocates who say the drug is safe and should be made available to any female who wants it.

Immigration marches

LOS ANGELES -- Demonstrators demanded an overhaul of immigration laws Wednesday in an annual, nationwide ritual that carried a special sense of urgency as Congress considers sweeping legislation that would bring many of the estimated 11 million people living in the U.S. illegally out of the shadows.

Thousands joined May Day rallies from Concord, N.H., to Los Angeles, where scores of marchers gathered downtown. In Salem, Ore., Gov. John Kitzhaber was cheered by about 2,000 people on the Capitol steps as he signed a bill to allow people living in Oregon without proof of legal status to obtain drivers licenses.

Woman reveals new face

BOSTON -- A Vermont woman revealed her new face Wednesday, six years after her ex-husband disfigured her by dousing her with industrial-strength lye, and said she went through "what some may call hell" but has found a way to be happy.

Carmen Blandin Tarleton of Thetford had face transplant surgery at Boston's Brigham and Women's Hospital in February. In 2007, the 44-year-old mother of two was attacked by her now ex-husband Herbert Rodgers, who believed she was seeing another man. Police say he went to the house looking for that man, then went into a fury directed toward Ms. Tarleton, striking her with a bat and pouring lye from a squeeze bottle onto her face.

In 2009, Rodgers pleaded guilty to maiming Tarleton in exchange for a prison sentence of at least 30 years.

Obama fills regulatory posts

WASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama acted Wednesday to fill two top regulatory posts, tapping a veteran Democratic congressman to lead the Federal Housing Finance Agency at a pivotal time for the housing market and naming a top campaign fundraiser and former lobbyist to head the Federal Communications Commission.

Rep. Melvin Watt, 67, D-N.C., who has spent 20 years in the House, would oversee the government-controlled mortgage lenders Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac just as the industry is beginning a comeback.

Tom Wheeler, 67, former head of the Cellular Telecommunications and Internet Association, and the National Cable Television Association, would become the nation's top telecommunications regulator. He has been a venture capitalist since 2005 and he raised more than a half-million dollars for Mr. Obama's re-election, according to data provided by the campaign.

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