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Health Highlights: Jan. 2, 2019

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

Judge Allows Affordable Care Act to Stand While Ruling It Unconstitutional

The federal judge in Texas who ruled the Affordable Care Act unconstitutional last month said on Dec. 30 that the health care law could still continue to function while an appeal against his decision was underway.

On Dec. 30, Judge Reed O'Connor put a pause on his Dec. 14 ruling against the ACA, also known as Obamacare, saying that "many everyday Americans" would undergo "great uncertainty" as the case makes its way through federal court, NBC News reported.

In a statement, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said the challenge to the ACA would go forward.

"We have no quarrel with the district court's stay, which provides the states with an opportunity to develop plans to address the health care needs of their residents for the day this ruling is ultimately upheld," Paxton said.

Texas and a group of Republican-led states had sued the federal government in February to rescind the health care law based on the unconstitutionality of the individual mandate. That's the ACA provision that penalizes Americans who fail to buy insurance under the plan.

Democrat-led states have defended Obamacare, however.

"We've always said we're going to protect the #healthcare of Americans and make clear that the #ACA is the law of the land," California Attorney General Xavier Becerratweetedafter Reed's order was issued Sunday.


American Doctor Monitored for Ebola Exposure in Nebraska Hospital

An American doctor is being treated at a Nebraska medical center for possible exposure to the Ebola virus while providing medical care in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

That African country is in the middle of an Ebola outbreak that has left more than 300 dead.

So far, the American hasn't shown any symptoms of infection from the deadly virus, according to the medical center. Still, he is being monitored in an area that is separated from any other patients, CBS News reported.

If any symptoms surface, the medical center will immediately activate the Nebraska Biocontainment Unit for his treatment, the center added.

"This person may have been exposed to the virus, but is not ill and is not contagious," said Dr. Ted Cieslak, infectious diseases specialist with Nebraska Medicine and an associate professor of epidemiology in the University of Nebraska Medical Center's College of Public Health.

During the 2014 Ebola outbreak, Nebraska Medical treated three patients with the virus. In 2015, several others were monitored who had possibly been exposed.

The latest outbreak began in August in the North Kivu Province of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

According to the World Health Organization, there 543 confirmed cases and 48 probable cases in the provinces of North Kivu and Ituri. Containment and treatment of the virus has been hampered by violent political unrest in the country, including an attack on a clinic in Beni where possible Ebola cases are being investigated, CBS News reported.

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