Health Highlights: April 8, 2021

Animal Expert Jack Hanna Retires From Public Life Due to Dementia

Animal and wildlife expert "Jungle" Jack Hanna is retiring from public life due to dementia, his family says.

"Doctors have diagnosed our dad, Jack Hanna, with dementia, now believed to be Alzheimer's disease," Hanna's family wrote in a statement posted to his Twitter account, CNN reported.

"His condition has progressed much faster in the last few months than any of us could have anticipated," according to the statement. "Sadly, Dad is no longer able to participate in public life as he used to, where people all over the world watched, learned and laughed alongside him."

Hanna, 76, initially appeared on TV shows like "The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson," "Late night with David Letterman" and "Today," and then had his own shows, including" Animal Adventures," "Into the Wild" and "Wild Countdown," CNN reported.

In 2020, he retired from the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium after 42 years, serving as director and then director emeritus.

Special ACA Enrollment Window Brings Insurance to 500,000 Americans

More than half a million people have gained health coverage under a special sign-up window for Affordable Care Act insurance plans, the White House said Wednesday.

Officials said even more Americans will get insurance under the sign-up opportunity that will be available until Aug. 15 because millions became eligible as of April 1 for increased subsidies toward their premiums, the Associated Press reported.

As the number of uninsured increased during the COVID-19 pandemic, President Joe Biden reopened the ACA's insurance markets.

That was followed by Biden's coronavirus relief package that increased subsidies for insurance premiums and expanded the number of people who qualified for financial assistance, the AP reported.

Those measures will be in place through the end of 2022.

Consumers who were already enrolled at the beginning of this year are also entitled to the increased financial aid, but will have to go online or call to update their plan, the AP reported. On average, people could save $50 a month, the government said.

The enrollment numbers released Wednesday by the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services show that 528,005 people signed up for government-sponsored private insurance plans between Feb. 15 and March 31.

But those figures only cover the 36 states served by the federal insurance market. National enrollment will be higher when totals are factored in later on from states such as California and New York that run their own insurance websites, the AP reported.

The new report also showed that more than 870,000 people who went to the website or reached out to the call center were found to be eligible for Medicaid, the federal-state health program for low-income people. Among the states showing strong gains in enrollment were Florida, Texas and North Carolina. Florida recorded the biggest gain, with more than 146,000 sign-ups.

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimates that about 33 million Americans are uninsured and roughly 3 million people lost coverage as a result of the pandemic, the AP said.

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