Friday, March 3, 2006

Texas, 4 other states sue over Medicare

AUSTIN, Texas — Texas and four other states sued the federal government yesterday, purporting they are being forced to help fund the new Medicare prescription drug program in violation of the Constitution.

In the lawsuit filed in the U.S. Supreme Court, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott argued that states should not have to relinquish taxpayer dollars to pay for a program offered by the federal government.

A spokeswoman for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services did not return a call seeking comment.

The attorneys general of Kentucky, Maine, Missouri and New Jersey joined Mr. Abbott in the lawsuit. Ten other states filed friend-of-the-court briefs supporting the case.

Since Jan. 1, states have been required to send the federal government monthly payments to help cover the cost of the Medicare prescription drug program.

Parents can sue over genetic test

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Parents may sue a doctor if a genetic screening misses a severe or fatal condition that would have caused them to seek an abortion, a divided state Supreme Court ruled yesterday.

The 4-3 decision limited such lawsuits to costs associated with a pregnancy and the birth of a child, saying such parents could not sue for pain-and-suffering damages or repayment of the costs of raising a disabled child.

The decision was a partial victory for a Kentucky couple who sued a Cincinnati obstetrics practice and hospital that provided genetic counseling and told them their fetus did not have a genetic disorder that the mother carried. Their son, born in 1997, has the disorder and can’t speak or crawl.

Stolen prosthetics returned to girl

LOS ANGELES — Two prosthetic legs stolen from a 16-year-old California girl have mysteriously turned up in her mother’s van, the second time in three months that an artificial limb belonging to the teen has been taken and then returned, police said yesterday.

Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Sgt. David Austin said investigators dusted the slightly damaged limbs for fingerprints and had interviewed a “laundry list” of people but were baffled by the thefts.

Melissa Huff, who lost her right leg in 2003 when a car struck her outside Arcadia High School, uses a $16,000 prosthetic limb to play softball and also has a $12,000 artificial leg for everyday use.

UNC graduate faces charges in SUV assault

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — Authorities planned to charge a former University of North Carolina student with attempted murder after he purportedly drove a sport utility vehicle through a popular gathering spot on campus yesterday, clipping and scattering startled bystanders.

No one was seriously hurt.

Mohammed Reza Taheri-azar, 22, who graduated in December after studying psychology and philosophy, was in the custody of campus police.

Mr. Taheri-azar called police to surrender and then awaited officers on a street two miles from the campus, authorities said.

The FBI joined the case because Mr. Taheri-azar, a native of Iran, “allegedly made statements that he acted to avenge the American treatment of Muslims,” said agent Richard Kolko, an FBI spokesman in Washington. “The ongoing investigation will work to confirm this.”

Local investigators declined to discuss a motive.

Exhumation ordered in boot camp death

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — The family of a teenager who died after a violent altercation with juvenile boot camp guards said yesterday that a second medical examiner and an independent pathologist will conduct a new autopsy on the boy.

Martin Lee Anderson’s family is having his body exhumed so they can challenge the original autopsy that concluded the 14-year-old died from hemorrhaging caused by the usually benign sickle cell trait, and not from the 30-minute altercation.

Gov. Jeb Bush appointed Hillsborough State’s Attorney Mark A. Ober to review the evidence in the boy’s death. No one has been arrested or fired.

Judge OKs ending ships as housing

NEW ORLEANS — A federal judge yesterday shot down a lawsuit that sought to keep a cruise ship moored here as temporary housing for hurricane refugees, saying the question was not a matter for the courts.

The ruling on the Scotia Prince ship lets the Federal Emergency Management Agency close the book on its use of cruise ships as a stopgap housing for refugees in Louisiana and Mississippi.

Thousands of police officers, firefighters, postal workers, city workers and displaced residents were put aboard the ships after Hurricane Katrina hit on Aug. 29.

From staff reports and wire dispatches

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