U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Health Highlights: March 22, 2016

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

Former Toronto Mayor Rob Ford Dies of Cancer

Former Toronto mayor and highly controversial figure Rob Ford died of cancer on Tuesday at the age of 46.

He was diagnosed with cancer in September 2014 and had been undergoing treatment since then, The New York Times reported.

Ford's term as mayor included a confession of crack cocaine use and numerous other scandals.

After his cancer diagnosis, Ford withdrew from his mayoral re-election campaign but won a seat on city council.

His death was announced in a brief statement from his office, The Times reported.

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Obamacare Main Cause for Large Drop in Number of Uninsured

The Affordable Care Act, not the recovering economy, is the main reason for the significant increase in the number of Americans with health insurance.

Since the act was introduced in 2010, the rate of uninsured Americans has dropped to a historic low of about 9 percent, and could go even lower. But even though the U.S. economy has grown, employer-based coverage has lagged behind, federal government data shows, the Associated Press reported.

Between 2010 and 2014, the number of uninsured fell by more than 10 million, but only about 3 million more people gained employer coverage, according to the Census Bureau's American Community Survey.

The largest growth in insurance coverage appeared to be in Medicaid, which was expanded under the Affordable Care Act, while the percentage of people with employer coverage stayed about the same, the AP reported.

Between 2010 and 2014, the number of Americans with health insurance increased by 12.6 million, while there was little change in the number of those with employer coverage, according to the National Heath Interview Survey from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The number of uninsured people fell by nearly 9 million from 2013 to 2014, while there was no statistically significant change in the number of Americans with employer coverage, according to the Census Bureau's Current Population Survey.

"It's very clear that the Affordable Care Act has done most of the work in decreasing the number of uninsured," Robert Kaestner, an economist at the University of Illinois at Chicago, told the AP.

"This kind of shift in insurance I don't think can be explained by the economy," Christine Eibner, an economist at the RAND Corporation, told the AP. "The increase (in coverage) is large enough that it can't be driven by just economic recovery."

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U.S. Veterans Using Marijuana to Treat PTSD

A growing number of U.S. veterans are using marijuana to treat their post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), even though the drug is still illegal in most states and there is no proof that it is effective against PTSD.

Research into the use of marijuana to treat PTSD has yielded limited and contradictory findings, but some veterans with PTSD say the drug helps control their anxiety, insomnia and nightmares, the Associated Press reported.

However, other veterans with PTSD say marijuana has not helped them.

And Veterans Affairs found that a growing number of veterans with PTSD have marijuana dependence, which some experts warn could impeded recovery from war trauma, the AP reported.

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