Improve sleep quality and boost heart health: 7 Reasons to eat nutrient-rich cherries – NaturalNews.com

(Natural News)
You know how the saying goes: Big things can come in small packages. This is especially the case for an often-overlooked superfood: cherries. Each cherry you pop into your mouth is packed with essential vitamins and nutrients that can provide a multitude of health benefits.

Cherries on top

Cherries come in different varieties, many of which can be found all over the US in local supermarkets or even on cherry trees themselves. Some of the common cherry types you can find include sweet cherries (Prunus avium) and sour cherries (P. cerasus). Regardless of your cherry preferences, eating either of these types can help you enjoy the benefits found below. (Related: Cherries a superfood? Research confirms this well-known fruit tackles cancer, insomnia, high blood pressure and gout.)

Rich in nutrients

Cherries are chock-full of important vitamins, minerals and fiber that all contribute to overall good health. According to data from the US Department of Agriculture, a cup (154 g) of raw pitted sweet cherries provides:

These nutrients provide their own health benefits. Vitamin C, in particular, plays an integral role in maintaining the proper function of the immune system and promotes skin health. The fiber in cherries is great for keeping the digestive system in tip-top shape by providing fuel for the beneficial gut bacteria and promoting bowel regularity. Further, a study published in the journal Advances in Nutrition states that potassium is a needed nutrient for nerve function, blood pressure regulation and muscle contraction.

The power of the elements: Discover Colloidal Silver Mouthwash with quality, natural ingredients like Sangre de Drago sap, black walnut hulls, menthol crystals and more. Zero artificial sweeteners, colors or alcohol. Learn more at the Health Ranger Store and help support this news site.

Promotes heart health

Eating nutrient-dense foods like cherries is a fantastic (and delicious) way to keep your heart healthy. A study published in the journal Nutrients found that fruits have a protective role against cardiovascular disease. Cherries, in particular, were found to have a beneficial role in improving myocardial infarction, or heart attack.

Rich in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds

This high concentration of various plant compounds is largely responsible for the health benefits of cherries. The high antioxidant content can help fight off oxidative stress, which is linked to a variety of chronic diseases like cancer. In fact, a review published in Nutrients found that eating cherries not only reduced markers of oxidative stress, but also reduced systemic inflammation.

In addition, cherries are packed with polyphenols, which are plant chemicals that fight cellular damage, reduce inflammation and improve overall health. Research has shown that diets rich in polyphenols can protect you from a wide variety of chronic diseases, including heart disease, diabetes, mental decline and certain cancers.

Boosts exercise recovery

The anti-inflammatory and antioxidant compounds in cherries can also help relieve exercise-induced muscle pain, muscle damage and inflammation. Tart cherries, in particular, were found to be more effective at this function than their sweet counterparts. Tart cherry juice can accelerate muscle recovery and prevent strength loss in elite athletes like cyclists and marathon runners.

Improves arthritis and gout symptoms

The anti-inflammatory properties of cherries are also beneficial for people with arthritis and gout, which is a type of arthritis caused by a buildup of uric acid that leads to extreme swelling and pain in the joints. A study published in the Journal of Nutrition found that two servings of sweet cherries after an overnight fasting session lowered levels of inflammatory markers and significantly reduced uric acid levels only five hours after consumption.

Improves sleep quality

Cherries contain a substance called melatonin, which helps regulate the sleep-wake cycle. Having high levels of melatonin in the body can improve overall sleep quality. A study published in the European Journal of Nutrition found that those who drank tart cherry juice concentrate for about seven days experienced significant increases in melatonin levels, sleep quality and sleep duration compared to those who drank a placebo.

Easy to add to your diet

Considering the size and taste of this fruit, cherries are surprisingly easy to integrate into your everyday diet. Not only can you enjoy them as a snack on their own, you can also add them as ingredients in recipes for pies, salads, baked goods and salsa. Also, the abundance of related products like dried cherries, cherry juice and even cherry powder only add to the versatility of this superfood.

With a wide array of health benefits, adding cherries to your diet is a great way to boost your overall health.

Sources include:

This content was originally published here.

CA Gov. Newsom wants to fund health care for illegal immigrant seniors

Last year, California passed a law that will offer government-subsidized health benefits for undocumented immigrants under the age of 26. The expansion took effect New Year’s Day and will cost $98 million in the upcoming fiscal year.

Now Governor Gavin Newsom indicates he wants to expand the plan to include illegal immigrant seniors.

Gov. Gavin Newsom proposed a $222 billion state budget Friday that he said represents a snapshot of his priorities for California, including boosting funding for homelessness programs, paying for health care for undocumented-immigrant seniors and closing a state prison.

He repeatedly portrayed those plans as a rebuke of a federal government that he said is increasingly unwilling to help the state tackle its most pressing problems, as well as of “a California derangement syndrome going on in the popular media — that somehow our best days are behind us, that somehow California’s not hitting on many cylinders.”

“I’m very proud to be a Californian,” Newsom said during a news conference at the state Capitol. “I’m proud of this state, and I’m proud of the budget that we are presenting today, because I am not naive about the areas where we’re falling short.”

I would argue that he is clearly naive. Inasmuch as homelessness is still at crisis levels, we are threatened with serious public health issues, and our state’s infrastructure is pitiful. Giving away free stuff to non-citizens actually makes all of these situations worse.

However, supporters of this proposal are excited about the possibility. Read their explanation of support, and see where you can find the flaw in their logic tree:

Supporters of the expansion say covering seniors is the logical — and less costly — next step toward universal healthcare coverage, a policy goal central to Newsom’s campaign platform. One of the largest groups of uninsured Californians is immigrants in the U.S. illegally, with an estimated 1.5 million adults eligible based on income but excluded because of their immigration status.

The administration estimated last year that expanding Medi-Cal to all income-eligible adults regardless of age or immigration status would cost $2.4 billion a year.

These immigrants are not “Californians,” but citizens of another country who are here illegally. The good news is that the rest of the nation doesn’t have to pay for this travesty because the Affordable Care Act prohibits the use of federal dollars for covering such immigrants.

Wiser analysis concludes that this move will speed the exodus from California by the middle class.

“The state has taken numerous steps over the years to accommodate people who are in the country illegally,” says Ira Mehlman from the Federation for American Immigration Reform.

He says the program will cost taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars.

“In Sacramento they continue to make choices that will further discourage the middle-class from remaining in California and further encourage more people to come and settle illegally,” says Mehlman.

Perhaps when enough taxpayers leave the state, Newsom will realize that he was fixing the wrong problems.

donate

Donations tax deductible
to the full extent allowed by law.

This content was originally published here.

International dentistry program at USC marks a milestone

The Herman Ostrow School of Dentistry of USC is celebrating a milestone.

Nearly 50 years ago, seven Cuban refugees were among the first class of students who graduated from the school’s international dentistry program.

Originally called the USC Special Student Program and later the International Student Program, the Advanced Standing Program for International Dentists (ASPID) was created in 1967 in response to the Cuban refugee crisis of the late ’50s and early ’60s when members of the professional class fled the country after Fidel Castro came into power. The United States government put out a call to schools to take in doctors and dentists to train them to practice here.

USC’s ASPID was the first program of its kind in the nation.

USC international dentistry: Diversity among students

These days, dentists from all over the world attend USC to acquire the skills taught in the United States.

“It’s well known that the U.S. has a very advanced dental education system, and oral health providers are very well trained in all specialty areas,” said Yang Chai, associate dean of research and an ASPID graduate, who came to the U.S. from China. “It is quite useful to be trained through the American system by attending a program like ASPID at USC.”

ASPID is a two-year program that begins with an intensive summer introduction to American dentistry. Afterward, students — who must have already completed National Dental Board Examination Part I to be accepted into the program — join their third-year colleagues in the regular DDS program. Following eight months of fundamental, technical and academic procedures training, their focus turns toward clinical training, where they begin working with patients in USC’s oral health clinics and community service programs.

“We get trained with the DDS students,” said ASPID student Amrita Chakraborty, who is from India. “I think that is a huge advantage for us because we get to learn a lot about the culture.”

Chai said ASPID’s diversity is an added bonus.

We not only learned from the professors at USC, but we also learned from our classmates. That was a really fun part of the program.

Amrita Chakraborty

“It’s a group of individuals who bring their unique backgrounds into the program,” he said. “We not only learned from the professors at USC, but we also learned from our classmates. That was a really fun part of the program.”

Melika Haghighi said her favorite procedure so far is learning about digital dentures, but one ASPID class in particular made a special impact.

“Cultural sensitivity was an amazing course,” she said. “There were lectures that made me cry, and they emphasized the importance of understanding different cultures. USC provides an environment that makes everyone comfortable.”

From Dubai to L.A.: USC international dentistry

Haghighi was born and raised in Iran, but she studied dentistry in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. After graduation, she practiced for a year but felt her environment was too limiting. So she started researching different countries to see how to take her skills to the next level. She moved to the United States and started volunteering at USC’s mobile clinic and the John Wesley Community Health dental clinic on Skid Row, which validated her decision to apply to ASPID.

“My experience working on Skid Row was amazing,” she said. “I witnessed the impact USC has on oral health and the community. I chose USC because, to me, it’s more satisfying to have that influential effect on the community rather than in private practice. I saw that USC would prepare me for that.”

USC international dentistry addresses cultural challenges

The challenges international dentists face in the United States are not only cultural. Since every country practices dentistry differently, dentists who want to earn a DDS need to learn all aspects of standard care.

“They need to learn the material,” said Eddie Sheh, an ASPID graduate and its current director. “They need to know the rules and the language. Everything. Just like if you are a doctor, and you want to practice in the U.S., you need to know how we do things.”

Sheh, who was a dentist in Taiwan, said his schooling was very different than the hands-on training USC provides to it students.

“USC is very strong in practicing how to do it in a simulation lab and then treating many, many patients until you graduate,” he said. “Not many other schools in other parts of the world are like that.”

In many countries, dental school starts right after high school and is a six-year program. In Taiwan, when Sheh was studying, fifth-year students were allowed to go to the hospital and observe faculty perform procedures.

“If you were lucky, you got to step in and do a few procedures. If not, you just watched,” Sheh said. “You might be doing a lot of pediatric dentistry because they’re busy, and they need your help. Or you’d just be watching someone do a crown preparation, and you didn’t get to touch it. In my case, I never actually completed a crown preparation or a denture. I just watched.”

What USC does is simply everything, according to Sheh. Students get clinical training in which they are actually treating multiple patients with differing procedures until they are perfected.

“You get to practice what you are trained in,” he said. “You know exactly what to do.”

Aiming for perfection

Chakraborty noted two chief differences between her schooling in India and with ASPID.

“No. 1, you are trained to become a perfectionist,” she said. “USC teaches you to not do work that is just passable. They teach you to strive to do really good work. Another would be professionalism — how to approach patients, how to explain treatments and basically how to treat a patient.”

Treatment planning is the major emphasis of the program, Chai said, and students spend a lot of time learning how to provide a comprehensive treatment plan for patients along with doing procedures.

ASPID accepts 34 students each year out of the more than 1,000 who apply. The ASPID Class of 2020 is 67 percent female; 63 percent of the class are international students requiring a student visa, 29 percent are U.S. citizens and 8 percent are permanent U.S. residents. One hundred percent of the class has earned a foreign bachelor of dental surgery, doctor of dental surgery or doctor of dental medicine degree.

Stay or go home?

Another obstacle international dentists face when they come here is the feeling of starting from square one. After completing years of schooling and practicing dentistry in their countries, often the only jobs they can secure in the United States at first is as dental assistants.

“You graduate from your own country, and you are called a doctor,” Haghighi said. “Then you come here and you have to repeat everything.”

As an ASPID alumnus, Sheh understands what the students go through.

“I understand what they have to endure. That’s the good thing — they know I graduated from the program, and I can tell them what to expect when they complete it.”

The majority of ASPID alumni stay stateside, Sheh said: “That is why they come here. Unless they have other reasons to go back, like for their parents, I would say 99 percent stay here. That was what the program was designed for.”

Whether students stay here or return to their countries, the training they receive with ASPID is unrivaled.

“USC has such a long history and very strong reputation in the community as one of the leading institutions for educating future dentists,” Chai said. “And, naturally, everyone who wants to learn how to practice the best dentistry possible will come to USC.”

This content was originally published here.

Family of Chinese man with new coronavirus flew to Manila – HK health minister | ABS-CBN News

MANILA (UPDATE) —A Chinese man who tested positive for a deadly new coronavirus strain traveled to Manila with his family on Wednesday, Hong Kong authorities said.

In a press conference, Hong Kong Health Minister Sophia Chan confirmed that the patient and four other family members arrived in the country via Cebu Pacific 5J111, which landed in Manila at 1:20 p.m. Wednesday. 

Charo Logarta Lagamon, director of Cebu Pacific’s corporate communications department, told ABS-CBN News that no one on the flight was quarantined.

Hong Kong quarantined the 39-year-old man after the city’s first preliminary positive result in a test for the new flu-like coronavirus found in an outbreak in central mainland China, authorities said.

The tourist from Wuhan came to Hong Kong on Tuesday via high-speed rail from nearby Shenzhen and was detected having fever at the border. He was in stable condition in an isolation ward at Princess Margaret Hospital, Health Minister Sophia Chan said.

The outbreak has spread to more Chinese cities including the capital Beijing, Shanghai and Macau, and cases have been reported outside the country’s borders, in the United States, South Korea, Thailand and Japan.

Nine people in China have died.

“I urge citizens not to go to Hubei province, Wuhan city if not necessary,” Chan said in a news conference.

She said the isolated patient came to Hong Kong with four family members, who spent the night at a hotel in the busy Tsim Sha Tsui tourist district, before hopping on a flight to Manila earlier on Wednesday.

His family did not have any symptoms. The government was contacting train passengers who sat near him and they would be put under observation in isolation wards. A hotline was also set up for people worried they might have contracted the virus.

Chan could not immediately confirm local media reports of a second person with similar test results.

The Hospital Authority on Tuesday enhanced laboratory surveillance for pneumonia cases to include patients with travel history to all of mainland China, rather than just Wuhan.

Hong Kong had deployed temperature screening equipment at the airport and the high-speed rail station. Air passengers are required to fill in health declaration forms. Some 500 isolation wards at public hospitals were available, with more ordinary wards to be converted if necessary.

Coronaviruses are a family of viruses named because of crown-like spikes on their surfaces. The viruses cause respiratory illnesses ranging from the common cold to the deadly Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS).

Manila’s airport quarantine office said Wednesday night that based on thermal scanners, “no passenger was detected with high fever on that flight.” There was also no advisory or alert from Hong Kong health ministry. 
 
Nine people have died in mainland China while 400 have been affected of the SARS-like virus. Chinese cities Beijing, Shanghai, and Macau have confirmed cases of the virus. Patients who contracted the disease have also been confirmed in the United States, Thailand, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan. 

Several airports across the Asia-Pacific have tightened security measures for travelers, especially from China after authorities said the virus — which has infected some 440 people in Asia’s largest economy — could mutate and be transmitted through the respiratory tract. — With a report from Felix Tam, Reuters

This content was originally published here.

VACCINE BOMBSHELL as U.N. health experts admit toxic vaccine ingredients are harming children worldwide – see video, transcript – NaturalNews.com

(Natural News)
A Dec. 2, 2019 World Health Organization “Global Vaccine Safety Summit” video has been found and leaked to the world, revealing shocking admissions of the health hazards posed by vaccines and their toxic ingredients.

A first-wave compilation of some of the more damning quotes was created by Del Bigtree’s “Highwire” organization, which posted the video to YouTube. Knowing that video would quickly be banned, we posted it to Brighteon.com, where “Highwire” is expected to launch a channel very soon.

You can watch the full video at this link on Brighteon. For a related article that covers this, see this link at TheHighWire.com.

A full transcript of this video compilation is offered below. Watch the video here, via Brighteon:

Some of the highlights:

An admission that vaccine adjuvants increase cell death and damage to vaccine recipients:

Dr. Stephen Evans, Professor of PharmacoepidemiologyIt seems to me that adjuvants multiply the immunogenicity of the antigens that they are added to, and that is their intention.  It seems to me they multiply the reactogenicity in many instances, and therefore it seems to me that it is not unexpected if they multiply the incidence of adverse reactions that are associated with the antigen…

Warnings about long-term effects from vaccine adjuvants:

Dr. Martin Howell FriedeYou are correct. As we add adjuvants, especially some of the more recent adjuvants, such as the ASO1, saponin-derived adjuvants , we do see increased local reactogenicity… The major health concern which we are seeing are accusations of long term, long term effects.

Sponsored: NEW Biostructured Silver First Aid Gel created by the Health Ranger combines three types of silver (ionic silver, colloidal silver, biostructured silver) with seven potent botanicals (rosemary, oregano, cinnamon and more) to create a breakthrough first aid silver gel. Over 50 ppm silver, verified via ICP-MS lab analysis. Made from 100% Texas rain water and 70% solar power. Zero chemical preservatives, fragrances or emulsifiers. See full details here.

An admission that the W.H.O. is panicking over the fact that many doctors and nurses are finally starting to question the safety and vaccines and are becoming aware of the coordinated cover-up of vaccine injuries:

Prof. Heidi Larson, PhD, Director of the Vaccine Confidence ProjectWe have a very wobbly health professional front line that is starting to question vaccines and the safety of vaccines. When the front line professionals are starting to question or they don’t feel like they have enough confidence about the safety to stand up to it to the person asking them the questions.  I mean most medical school curriculums, even nursing curriculums, I mean in medical school you’re lucky if you have a half-day on vaccines. Never mind keeping up to date with all this.

Also from Prof. Heidi Larson, PhDYou can’t repurpose the same old science to make it sound better if you don’t have the science that’s relevant to the new problem. So we need much more investment in safety science.

An admission that vaccine clinical trials are insufficient and that vaccines are approved without adequate safety data. Also admits that vaccines damage children far more than they damage elderly adults:

Dr. Marion Gruber – Director, Office of Vaccines Research and Review Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research. FDAAnd again as you mentioned pre-licensure clinical trials may not be powered enough. It’s also the subject population that you administer the adjuvant to because we’ve seen data presented to us where an adjuvant, a particular adjuvant added to a vaccine antigen did really nothing when administered to a certain population and usually the elderly, you know, compared to administering the same formulation to younger age strata.

A warning about the lack of vaccine safety monitoring systems around the world:

Dr. Soumya Swaminathan, M.D., Chief Scientist, W.H.O., PediatricianI think we cannot overemphasize the fact that we really don’t havevery good safety monitoring systems in many countries, and this adds to the miscommunication and the misapprehensions because we’re not able to give clear-cut answers when people ask questions about the deaths that have occurred due to a particular vaccine…

Here’s an admission that viral fragments don’t work as promised by immunization theory and that it’s the adjuvants which are responsible for the inflammatory response to vaccines. In other words, vaccine science as described by the vaccine establishment, is quackery:

Dr. Martin Howell Friede, Coordinator, Initiative for Vaccine Research, W.H.O.Without adjuvants, we are not going to have the next generation of vaccines.  And many of the vaccines that we do have, ranging from tetanus through to HPV require adjuvants in order for them to work. We do not add adjuvants to vaccines because we want to do so.

An admission that vaccine safety tracking systems don’t even exist and that efforts to build such systems are only just beginning:

Dr. Robert Chen, M.D. – Scientific Director, Brighton Collaboration[W]e’re really only in the beginning of the era of large data sets where hopefully you could start to kind of harmonize the databases for multiple studies. And there’s actually an initiative underway… Helen there may want to comment on it to try to get more national vaccine safety database linked together so we could start to answer these types of questions that you just raised.

Full transcript of what’s on this video – there’s a lot more yet to come

CAUGHT ON CAMERA: W.H.O Scientists Question Safety Of Vaccines

Prof. Heidi Larson, PhD, Anthropologist, Director of the Vaccine Confidence Project
There’s a lot of safety science that’s needed, and without the good science, we can’t have good communication. Although I’m talking about all these other contextual issues, and communication issues it absolutely needs the science as the backbone.  You can’t repurpose the same old science to make it sound better if you don’t have the science that’s relevant to the new problem. So we need much more investment in safety science.

Dr. Soumya Swaminathan, M.D., Chief Scientist, W.H.O., Pediatrician
I think we cannot overemphasize the fact that we really don’t have very good safety monitoring systems in many countries, and this adds to the miscommunication and the misapprehensions because we’re not able to give clear-cut answers when people ask questions about the deaths that have occurred due to a particular vaccine, and this always gets blown up in the media.  One should be able to give a very factual account of what exactly has happened and what the cause of the deaths are, but in most cases there is some obfuscation at that level and therefore, there’s less and less trust then in the system.

Dr. Martin Howell Friede, Coordinator, Initiative for Vaccine Research, W.H.O.
Every time that there is an association, be it temporal or not temporal, the first accusation is it is the adjuvant. And yet, without adjuvants, we are not going to have the next generation of vaccines.  And many of the vaccines that we do have, ranging from tetanus through to HPV require adjuvants in order for them to work.  So the challenge that we have in front of us is:  How do we build confidence in this? And the confidence first of all comes from the regulatory agencies (I look to Marion). When we add an adjuvant it’s because it is essential.  We do not add adjuvants to vaccines because we want to do so.  But when we add them, it adds to the complexity. I give courses every year on “How do you develop vaccines?”, “How do you make vaccines?” And the first lesson is, while you’re making your vaccine, if you can avoid using an adjuvant, please do so.  Lesson two is, if you’re going to use an adjuvant, use one that has a history of safety. And lesson three is, if you’re not going to do that, think very carefully.

Dr. Stephen Evans, Professor of Pharmacoepidemiology
It seems to me that adjuvants multiply the immunogenicity of the antigens that they are added to, and that is their intention.  It seems to me they multiply the reactogenicity in many instances, and therefore it seems to me that it is not unexpected if they multiply the incidence of adverse reactions that are associated with the antigen, but may not have been detected through lack of statistical power in the original studies.

Dr. Martin Howell Friede
You are correct. As we add adjuvants, especially some of the more recent adjuvants, such as the ASO1, saponin-derived adjuvants , we do see increased local reactogenicity. The primary concern, though, usually is systemic adverse events rather than local adverse events. And we tend to get in the Phase II and the Phase III studies quite good data on the local reactogenicity. Those of us in this room that are beyond the age of 50 who have had the pleasure of having the recent shingles vaccine, will know that this does have quite significant local reactogenicity. If you got the vaccine, you know that you got the vaccine. But this is not the major health concern. The major health concern which we are seeing are accusations of long term, long term effects. So to come back to this, I’m going to once again point to the regulators. It comes down to ensuring that we conduct Phase II and the Phase III studies with adequate size and with the appropriate measurement.

Dr. David Kaslow, M.D. – V.P., Essential Medicines, Drug Development program PATH Center for Vaccine Innovation and Access (CVIA)
So in our clinical trials, we are actually using relatively small sample sizes, and when we do that we’re at risk of tyranny of small numbers, which is, you just need a single case of Wegener’s Granulomatosis, and your vaccine has to, solve Walt’s, How do you prove a null Hypothesis? …And it takes years and years to try to figure that out. It’s a real conundrum, right? Getting the right size, dealing with the tyranny of small numbers, making sure that you can really do it. And so I think one of the things that we really need to invest in are kind of better biomarkers, better mechanistic understanding of how these things work so we can better understand adverse events as they come up.

Dr. Marion Gruber – Director, Office of Vaccines Research and Review Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research. FDA
One of the additional issues that complicates safety evaluation is that if you look at, and you struggle with the length of follow-up that should be adequate in a, let’s say a pre-licensure or even post-marketing study if that’s even possible. And again as you mentioned pre-licensure clinical trials may not be powered enough. It’s also the subject population that you administer the adjuvant to because we’ve seen data presented to us where an adjuvant, a particular adjuvant added to a vaccine antigen did really nothing when administered to a certain population and usually the elderly, you know, compared to administering the same formulation to younger age strata.  So these are things which need to be considered as well and further complicate safety and effectiveness evaluation of adjuvants combined with vaccine antigens.

Dr. Bassey Okposen – Program Manager, National Emergency Routine Immunization Coordination Centre (NERICC). Abuja, Nigeria
I cast back my mind to our situation in Nigeria where at six weeks, ten weeks, fourteen weeks, a child is being given different antigens from different companies, and these vaccines have different adjuvants and different preservatives and so on. Something crosses my mind… is there possibility of these adjuvants, preservatives, cross-reacting amongst themselves? Have there ever been a study on the possibility of cross-reactions on from the past that you can share the experience with us?

Dr. Robert Chen, M.D. – Scientific Director, Brighton Collaboration
Now the only way to tease that out is if you have a large population database like the vaccine safety datalink as well as some of the other national databases that are coming to being worthy. Actual vaccine exposure is trapped down to that level of specificity of who is the manufacturer? What is the lot number? Etc..etc. And there’s an initiative to try to make the vaccine label information bar-coded so that it includes that level of information. So that in the future when we do these type of studies, we are able to tease that out. And in order to be – each time you subdivide them, the sample size gets becoming more and more challenging and that’s what I said earlier today about that we’re really only in the beginning of the era of large data sets where hopefully you could start to kind of harmonize the databases for multiple studies. And there’s actually an initiative underway… Helen there may want to comment on it to try to get more national vaccine safety database linked together so we could start to answer these types of questions that you just raised.

Prof. Heidi Larson, PhD
The other thing that’s a trend and an issue is not just confidence in providers but confidence of health care providers. We have a very wobbly health professional front line that is starting to question vaccines and the safety of vaccines. When the front line professionals are starting to question or they don’t feel like they have enough confidence about the safety to stand up to it to the person asking them the questions.  I mean most medical school curriculums, even nursing curriculums, I mean in medical school you’re lucky if you have a half-day on vaccines. Never mind keeping up to date with all this.

Watch the full video at Brighteon.com:

This content was originally published here.

The American Journal of Public Health (AJPH) from the American Public Health Association (APHA) publications

In July 2013, a group of 12 experts in decision science, medicine, pharmacology, psychology, public health policy, and toxicology rated the relative harm of 12 nicotine-containing products by using 14 criteria addressing harms to self and others.1 The group concluded that combustible cigarettes were the most harmful and that electronic nicotine delivery systems (electronic cigarettes or e-cigarettes) were substantially less harmful than combustible cigarettes. These results have been characterized and repeated in the popular media as e-cigarettes are “95% less risky” or “95% less harmful” than combustible cigarettes. However, as the authors noted in a sweeping statement regarding the shortcomings of their own work, “A limitation of this study is the lack of hard evidence for the harms of most products on most of the criteria.”1(p224)

Despite this lack of hard evidence, Public Health England and the Royal College of Physicians endorsed and publicized the “95% less harmful” assertion.2,3 Senior Public Health England staff emphasized the “evidence” underlying the 95% figure, despite the evidence being lacking. Much has been written about the dubious validity of the “95% less harmful” estimate in 2014 to 2016, especially about the paucity of research on the health effects of e-cigarettes available in 2013. After six years of e-cigarette–focused research, which has yielded a growing body of hard evidence regarding harm (see Appendix A, available as a supplement to the online version of this article at http://www.ajph.org, for a nonexhaustive list), the time has come to re-examine that estimate.

TODAY’S ELECTRONIC CIGARETTES ARE DIFFERENT

There is ample evidence that the range of e-cigarette products available today is very different from that in July 2013. The differences are such that, even if the 2013 estimate was valid then, it can no longer apply today. For example, in addition to using different materials and more numerous heating coils, many e-cigarettes today can attain power output that exceeds that of most over-the-counter 2013 models by 10 to 20 times (i.e., up to and sometimes exceeding 200 watts). Greater power increases the potential harms of e-cigarette use because more aerosol is produced that exposes users to increased levels of nicotine and other toxicants. It also increases bystander exposure to any harmful aerosol constituents because users exhale more aerosol. In addition, greater power increases the potential for malfunction (e.g., the device exploding), which could harm users and bystanders.

Also, e-cigarette liquids have changed considerably from 2013, with widespread availability of thousands of flavors that use chemicals “generally recognized as safe” to eat but with unknown pulmonary toxicity. Perhaps the most striking change has been the pervasive marketing of liquids with protonated nicotine.4 Protonated nicotine (“nicotine salt”) is made by adding an acid to free-base nicotine, thus introducing another potential toxicant that was rare in 2013. Relative to free-base nicotine, aerosolized protonated liquid is less aversive to inhale, allowing users to increase the nicotine concentration of the liquid and likely increase their own nicotine dependence. Protonated nicotine e-cigarette liquids are available today in concentrations greater than 60 milligrams per milliliter, and these liquids have become very popular, sparking a “nicotine arms race.”4

ELECTRONIC CIGARETTES CAUSE HARM TO CELLS

There is ample evidence, unavailable in 2013, that e-cigarette aerosols contain toxicants and that these aerosols are harmful to living cells in vitro and in vivo. For example, thermal degradation of e-cigarette liquid constituents can produce volatile aldehydes, which, at concentrations generated by e-cigarettes, display a variety of cardiorespiratory toxic effects. E-cigarettes can produce carcinogenic furans in addition to other toxicants such as chloropropanols. Even at room temperature, e-cigarette liquids can be unstable, producing irritating acetal compounds carried over into the aerosol. Numerous studies demonstrate that cell function is compromised following exposure to e-cigarette aerosol. Similarly, animals that are exposed to e-cigarette aerosols show clear indication of adverse consequences, including in models related to cardiovascular disease.

ELECTRONIC CIGARETTES HARM USERS

Recent evidence reveals that e-cigarette users show evidence of harm. For example, in a sample of healthy young occasional cigarette smokers who used an e-cigarette with or without nicotine, airway epithelial injury was observed in both conditions, with the authors concluding, “Thus, [e-cigarette] aerosol constituents could injure the respiratory system or worsen preexisting lung disease through a variety of mechanisms.”5(pL716) Consistent with this report, wheezing, a symptom of potential respiratory disease, has been associated with e-cigarette use. E-cigarette use increases heart rate, blood pressure, and platelet activation, and decreases flow-mediated dilation and heart rate variability, effects that are prognostic of long-term cardiovascular risk. Indeed, a preliminary report indicates that e-cigarette users may be at increased risk for myocardial infarction and coronary artery disease.6

ELECTRONIC CIGARETTES INCREASE SMOKING RISK

Since 2013, numerous surveys have demonstrated that e-cigarette use is increasing among individuals who previously were naïve to nicotine and that these individuals are at increased risk for initiation of combustible cigarette smoking. As the US National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine concluded, “There is substantial evidence that [e-cigarette] use increases risk of ever using combustible tobacco cigarettes among youth and young adults.”7(p532) To the extent that initial e-cigarette use is a causal factor in subsequent combustible tobacco smoking for an individual who would have otherwise never initiated smoking, e-cigarette use could be considered to be as harmful as tobacco smoking for that individual.

ELECTRONIC CIGARETTE AEROSOL IS NOT HARMLESS

Differences in toxicant content between e-cigarette aerosol and cigarette smoke, by themselves, cannot convey lesser lethality because toxicity depends upon both the extent and mode of use. For example, propylene glycol (PG) is one of the primary constituents of e-cigarette aerosol and is generally recognized as safe when eaten but, when injected intravenously over a period of days, is toxic. E-cigarette aerosols containing propylene glycol and vegetable glycerin, another common constituent, cause inflammation in human lungs, suggesting differing safety profiles for inhaled versus ingested propylene glycol and vegetable glycerin. Furthermore, as the toxicants in e-cigarette aerosol sometimes differ from cigarette smoke, so might any resulting e-cigarette–caused disease states. There is little doubt that exclusive e-cigarette users are unlikely to die from lung cancer that is caused by carcinogenic tobacco-specific nitrosamines or polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, toxicants largely absent from e-cigarette aerosols. What diseases they may die of—and if their deaths are hastened by their e-cigarette use—will be part of the much-needed evidence base upon which valid risk estimates can be built.

In sum, a 2013 evidence-lacking estimate of the harm of e-cigarettes relative to combustible cigarettes has been cited often. However, since 2013, e-cigarette devices and liquids have changed. Evidence of potential harm has accumulated. Therefore, the evidence-lacking estimate derived in 2013 cannot be valid today and should not be relied upon further. Future estimates of the harm of e-cigarettes should be based on the evidence that is now available and revised accordingly as more evidence accrues.

CALL TO ACTION

The “95% safer” estimate is a “factoid”: unreliable information repeated so often that it becomes accepted as fact. Public health practitioners, scientists, and physicians should expose the fragile status of the factoid emphatically by highlighting its unreliable provenance and its lack of validity today, noting the many changes in e-cigarette devices and liquids, the accumulation of evidence of potential harm, the increased prevalence of use, and the growing evidence that e-cigarette use is associated with subsequent cigarette smoking.

This work was supported by the US National Institutes of Health (U54DA036105, U54DA036151, U54HL12016, R01ES029435) and the Center for Tobacco Products of the US Food and Drug Administration.

Note. This content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health or the Food and Drug Administration. The sponsor had no role in the preparation of this work.

CONFLICTS OF INTERESTS

T. Eissenberg and A. Shihadeh are paid consultants in litigation against the tobacco industry and are named on a patent for a device that measures the puffing behavior of electronic cigarette users. In addition, as of September 2019, T. Eissenberg is a consultant in litigation against the electronic cigarette industry. S. Jordt reports receiving personal fees from Hydra Biosciences LLC and Sanofi SA and nonfinancial support from GlaxoSmithKline Pharmaceuticals outside the submitted work.

1. Nutt DJ, Phillips LD, Balfour D, et al. Estimating the harms of nicotine-containing products using the MCDA approach. Eur Addict Res. 2014;20(5):218225. Crossref, MedlineGoogle Scholar

2. McNeill A, Brose L, Calder R, Hitchman S, Hajek P, McRobbie H. E‐cigarettes: an evidence update: a report commissioned by Public Health England. London, England: Public Health England; 2015. Google Scholar

3. Nicotine Without Smoke: Tobacco Harm Reduction. London, England: Royal College of Physicians; 2016. Google Scholar

4. Jackler RK, Ramamurthi D. Nicotine arms race: JUUL and the high-nicotine product market. Tob Control. 2019; Epub ahead of print. CrossrefGoogle Scholar

5. Chaumont M, van de Borne P, Bernard A, et al. Fourth generation e-cigarette vaping induces transient lung inflammation and gas exchange disturbances: results from two randomized clinical trials. Am J Physiol Lung Cell Mol Physiol. 2019;316(5):L705L719. Crossref, MedlineGoogle Scholar

6. Vindhyal MR, Ndunda P, Munguti C, Vindhyal S, Okut H. Impact on cardiovascular outcomes among e-cigarette users: a review from national health interview surveys. J Am Coll Cardiol. 2019;73(9 suppl 2):11. CrossrefGoogle Scholar

7. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. Public health consequences of e-cigarettes. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press; 2018. Google Scholar

This content was originally published here.

‘It’s okay not to be okay’: Café offers mental health help, supports suicide prevention

CHICAGO — While the coffee is good, “Sip of Hope” serves up much more than a cup of joe on the Northwest Side.

Through a partnership with Dark Matter Coffee, the café donates 100% of its proceeds to mental health education and suicide prevention.

“It doesn’t matter who you are or where you come from… five out of five people have good days and bad days,” owner Johnny Boucher said. “It’s okay not to be okay.”

Nationwide, suicide rates are the highest recorded in 28 years. Boucher opened Sip of Hope in honor of those who will never get the chance to pull up a chair.

“I personally have lost 16 people to suicide and the overarching issue they all faced was silence,” Boucher said.

His antidote is a place to talk through dark moments without judgement, a cafe serving up a cup of joe and compassion.

“The goal is always to meet people where they’re at and not where we expect them to be,” Boucher said. “You can talk to our baristas because they’re trained in mental health first aid.”

And on top of that, the coffee is great.

Ryan Shannon is now a regular. The Navy veteran says to him depression equaled weakness.

“I came home and I wasn’t the same,” Shannon said. “My leg and traumatic brain injury really took a toll.”

The former collegiate athlete found himself not only unable to stand, but also unwilling to find his way back. He says he wrote a suicide note and had a plan, but it was his wife who saved him that day.

He said she saved his life simply by listening and showing him he’s not alone.

Since then, Shannon has gone on to clean up in adaptive sports, winning a gold medal in Warrior Games, silver in track and finish his MBA.

“I still have bad days but… I now understand you can climb back out of it. You’re not in a dark room alone. There’s a lot of people out there that care,” Shannon said.

And at Sip of Hope, there’s a seat for anyone in need of more than a strong cup of coffee to make it through their day.

“In a country where we talk about building more walls, we need to build more tables and seats,” Boucher said.

If you or someone you know needs help, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline offers crisis counseling free of charge every day of the year- at 1-800-273-8255, or text the word “home” to 741741.

This content was originally published here.

Elizabeth Warren: ‘Trans Youth Are More Likely…to Experience Mental Health Problems’

(Josh Edelson/AFP via Getty Images)

(CNSNews.com) – Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D.-Mass.) sent out a tweet on Thursday evening saying that transgender young people are “more likely” to have mental health problems.

“Trans youth are more likely to feel unsafe at school and to experience mental health problems,” Warren said in her tweet.

“They need and deserve to be treated with dignity and respect, not to be attacked by their state legislators,” she said. “As president, I’ll fight to ensure they have every opportunity to thrive.”

On her campaign website, Warren has posted a detailed plan for “Securing LGBTQ+ Rights and Equality” if she is elected president. The plan includes many provision for transgender youth.

“We need a president who will life up the voices of every gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, non-binary, queer, Two-Spirt and intersex person,” Warren says in her plan.

“We need a president who has the courage to stand up to discrimination, and fight back,” she says.

Warren vows that she will immediately use unilaterally presidential action—not congressionally enacted legislation—to advance LGBTQ+ rights.

“We can’t wait for Congress to act on LGBTQ+ rights,” she says. “In my first 100 days as president, I will use every legal tool we have to make sure that LGBTQ+ people can live and thrive free from discrimination.”

Warren also vowed to bring her battle for the rights of transgenders into schools—where it will effect such things as “dress codes” and “brining same-sex partners to school events.”

 “As president, I’ll fight to make sure every LGBTQ+ student has an equal opportunity to thrive,” she says. “I’ll start by amending the Elementary and Secondary Education Act to require school districts to adopt codes of conduct that specifically prohibit bullying and harassment on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. I’ll also direct the Education Department to reinstate guidance – revoked by the Trump Administration– on transgender students’ rights under federal law. And I’ll make clear that federal civil rights laws prohibit anti-LGBTQ+ discrimination like discriminatory dress codes, banning students from writing or discussing LGBTQ+ topics in class, or punishing students for bringing same-sex partners to school events.”

This content was originally published here.

Ontario sets official end date of July 1 for red-and-white health cards | CP24.com

TORONTO — Hundreds of thousands of Ontarians will soon have to say goodbye for good to their old, red-and-white health cards.

The Canadian Press has learned the government has set July 1 as the date the cards will no longer be accepted.

It comes more than 25 years after the province first announced those cards would be phased out.

There are still about 300,000 red-and-white health cards in circulation, representing about two per cent of all Ontario health cards.

Health Minister Christine Elliott says those cards are more susceptible to fraud than the newer cards, which feature a photo and a signature.

She says people who still have the old health cards will get notices this month, and after that they will get monthly reminders to get a new card.

“After July 1, the card will not be accepted for services,” Elliott said in an interview. “Hospitals, if someone attends with an emergency where they need medical attention right away, of course they won’t be denied care, but they will be receiving the hospital bill for those services.”

Anyone who has to pay up front for doctor’s office or hospital services will be reimbursed once they get a new health card, Elliott said.

Photo health cards can be obtained for free at ServiceOntario locations.

The province is also going to ask doctor’s offices, hospitals and pharmacists to remind anyone using a red-and-white health card about the imminent need to switch to a new one.

It was late 1994 when the then-NDP government announced that due to fraud and misuse, the cards — which were introduced just four years prior — would be phased out over three years.

When the photo ID cards were first announced in 1995, the government estimated the red-and-white cards were being used for $65 million in fraudulent claims a year. At the time, Ontario’s health cards had the least amount of printed information of any province, including only a name and no expiry date, according to a 2006 auditor general report.

There were about 300,000 more health cards in circulation than there were people in Ontario, the auditor said.

In the years before the photo ID cards were introduced, health officials warned that some cards had fallen into the hands of Americans and other non-residents, with fraudulent use the most prevalent in Ontario’s border communities.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 9, 2020.

This content was originally published here.

U.S. health system costs four times more to run than Canada’s single-payer system

In the United States, a legion of administrative healthcare workers and health insurance employees who play no direct role in providing patient care costs every American man, woman and child an average of $2,497 per year.

Across the border in Canada, where a single-payer system has been in place since 1962, the cost of administering healthcare is just $551 per person — less than a quarter as much.

That spending mismatch, tallied in a study published this week in the Annals of Internal Medicine, could challenge some assumptions about the relative efficiency of public and private healthcare programs. It could also become a hot political talking point on the American campaign trail as presidential candidates debate the pros and cons of government-funded universal health insurance.

Progressive contenders for the Democratic nomination, including Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, are calling for a “Medicare for All” system. More centrist candidates, including former Vice President Joe Biden and former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg, have questioned the wisdom of turning the government into the nation’s sole health insurer.

It’s been decades since Canada transitioned from a U.S.-style system of private healthcare insurance to a government-run single-payer system. Canadians today do not gnash their teeth about co-payments or deductibles. They do not struggle to make sense of hospital bills. And they do not fear losing their healthcare coverage.

To be sure, wait times for specialist care and some diagnostic imaging are often criticized as too long. But a 2007 study by Canada’s health authority and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found the overall health of Americans and Canadians to be roughly similar.

Some Canadians purchase private supplemental insurance, whose cost is regulated. Outpatient medications are not included in the government plan, but aside from that, coverage of “medically necessary services” is assured from cradle to grave.

The cost of administering this system amounts to 17% of Canada’s national expenditures on health.

In the United States, twice as much — 34% — goes to the salaries, marketing budgets and computers of healthcare administrators in hospitals, nursing homes and private practices. It goes to executive pay packages which, for five major healthcare insurers, reach close to $20 million or more a year. And it goes to the rising profits demanded by shareholders.

Administering the U.S. network of public and private healthcare programs costs $812 billion each year. And in 2018, 27.9 million Americans remained uninsured, mostly because they could not afford to enroll in the programs available to them.

“The U.S.-Canada disparity in administration is clearly large and growing,” the study authors wrote. “Discussions of health reform in the United States should consider whether $812 billion devoted annually to health administration is money well spent.”

The new figures are based on an analysis of public documents filed by U.S. insurance companies, hospitals, nursing homes, home-care and hospice agencies, and physicians’ offices. Researchers from Hunter College, Harvard Medical School and the University of Ottawa compared those to administrative costs across the Canadian healthcare sector, as detailed by the Canadian Institute for Health Information and a trade association that represents Canada’s private insurers.

Compared to 1999, when the researchers last compared U.S. and Canadian healthcare spending, the costs of administering healthcare insurance have grown in both countries. But the increase has been much steeper in the United States, where a growing number of public insurance programs have increased their reliance on commercial insurers to manage government programs such as Medicare and Medicaid.

As a result, overhead charges by private insurers surged more than any other category of expenditure, the researchers found.

In U.S. states that have retained full control over their Medicaid programs, the growth of administrative costs was negligible, they reported. (The same was true for Canada’s health insurance program.) But in states that shifted most of their Medicaid recipients into private managed care, administrative costs were twice as high.

America’s Health Insurance Plans, a group representing private health insurance companies, said administrative practices shouldn’t be blamed for escalating the cost of care in the United States.

“Study after study continues to demonstrate the value of innovative solutions brought by the free market,” AHIP said in a statement. “In head-to-head comparisons, the free market continues to be more efficient than government-run systems.”

AHIP cited a recent report by the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC), an independent body that advises Congress. The report showed that Medicare Advantage plans — which are privately administered — deliver benefits at 88% of the cost of traditional Medicare.

Even so, the study authors concluded that if the U.S. healthcare system could trim its administrative bloat to bring it in line with Canada’s, Americans could save $628 billion a year while getting the same healthcare.

“The United States is currently wasting at least $600 billion on healthcare paperwork — money that could be saved by going to a simple ‘Medicare for All’ system,” said senior author Dr. Stephanie Woolhandler, a health policy researcher at Hunter College and longtime advocate of single-payer systems.

That sum would be more than enough to extend coverage to the nation’s uninsured, she said.

This content was originally published here.

Antitrust Class Action Filed Against Invisalign Maker Over Alleged Dual-Market Competition Suppression

A Chicago dental practice has filed a proposed class action lawsuit against Align Technology, Inc. in which it alleges the Invisalign maker has leveraged its dominance in both the aligner and hand-held digital dental scanner markets as a means to suppress competition.

According to the 30-page suit out of Delaware federal court, Align Technology’s anti-competitive conduct has allowed it to not only artificially boost and/or maintain its market share and power, but to artificially inflate prices in both markets. The defendant’s alleged conduct, the lawsuit says, essentially amounts to a de facto bundling of its aligners and intraoral scanners that offers no corresponding discount to purchasers.

Align’s Technology’s Invisalign-brand aligners are by far the dominant product in the overall aligner market, the case begins. The defendant reportedly pulls in “well over a billion dollars per year” selling Invisalign, according to the suit.

The plaintiff charges that the defendant knew from the outset that dental practitioners’ use of digital scanners would make them more likely to use its aligners in that “once a dental practice purchases a digital scanner, that practice would be more likely to order more aligners as a way to pay for the scanner.”

“The bottom line,” the complaint reads, “was that more iTero Scanners meant more Invisalign orders.”

Since at least March 15, 2015, the defendant, the case claims, had been able to charge high prices and keep its profit margins in the black for Invisalign due to protection from “a thicket of hundreds of patents” Align Technology has supposedly wielded aggressively to “protect its aligner monopoly.” As the lawsuit tells it, however, once some of Align Technology’s key patents expired in 2017, the company was forced to turn its attention to the outside influence of competitors while keeping one eye on the lofty expectations of its investors. To juggle its predicament, the defendant “responded with the anticompetitive scheme” over which the lawsuit was filed, the plaintiff argues.

Moreover, the defendant’s possession of Invisalign-related patents, along with “other high barriers to entry” in the above-described markets, allegedly served as an effective deterrent for competitors looking to enter the market. 

“Instead of reacting to the advent of competition by improving its product or lowering its prices, Defendant worked to suppress that potential competition by using its dominance in the Aligner market to impair competition in the Scanner market, and then in turn using its dominance in the Scanner market to impair competition in the Aligner market,” the case reads.

With regard to the particulars of the defendant’s alleged competition-quashing scheme, the lawsuit says it came down to Align Technology’s production of both Invisalign and the tool with which dentists determine whether the treatment is right for a patient:

All this amounts to a de facto “closed system” that essentially makes it impractical for dental practitioners to order Invisalign aligners from other manufacturers, the case says. The defendant’s iTero scanner, according to the suit, does not accept scans in an industry-standard format nor from other scanners. The plaintiff stresses that this makes it more time-consuming and expensive for proposed class members to go outside of the framework set in place by Align Technology.

As of September 2018, Align Technology has “an over 80% share in the market for aligners in the United States and an over 80% share in the market for scanners in the United States,” the lawsuit says. With this much muscle, the defendant, the plaintiff alleges, has been able to leverage its position to inflate prices for its iTero dental scanners and Invisalign treatments.

The full complaint can be read below.

This content was originally published here.

This Was The Decade That Changed The Way We Think About Mental Health | HuffPost Life

When I first started writing about mental health in 2013, the landscape was also different. There was a glaring lack of coverage about these issues across the media, or worse, news outlets would prominently cover a celebrity’s or citizen’s “erratic behavior” as something that was “bizarre” or “entertaining.” A lot of suicide reporting was insensitive, glamorizing, salacious ― or all three.

A lot that can be attributed to both tragic and affirming events that have occurred since 2010. Below are just a few defining moments from the past decade, all of which influenced the way we talk about and view mental health today:

The public nature of celebrity deaths by suicide yielded to a more monumental conversation about mental health, according to Gregory Dalack, chair of the Michigan Medicine Department of Psychiatry and treasurer of the American Psychiatric Association. The tragedies “triggered greater awareness about the stigma around mental health and the importance of seeking help,” he told HuffPost.

Some of those tragedies can even be attributed to celebrity deaths, thanks to a phenomenon called suicide contagion, when media coverage and details about a prominent person’s death can lead others to take their own life.

“Despite all of the tragic deaths, the suicide numbers have increased each of the last 10 years,” Dan Reidenberg, executive director of the Suicide Awareness Voices of Education, told HuffPost. “One would like to believe if this was really important to the public and the government, far more would have been done about it ― not just because of the large number of celebrities but the people that were connected to them.”

We can’t talk about the last decade without acknowledging the political chaos we’ve all experienced. The 2016 election, the barrage of negative news and the constant cultural turmoil have all had massive repercussions on how we think and feel.

In fact, a study conducted by researchers at the University of Michigan found that three political events (including the 2016 election and the 2017 inauguration) affected the mood of medical interns just as much as the strenuous first weeks of medical training. “This research reflects an overall trend showing that politics is in fact affecting people in both their personal and professional lives,” Dalack explained.

“At the same time, social media has some significant benefits such as it provides a wealth of resources and access to information that didn’t exist before. Social media can also provide huge numbers of connections to people who in turn can provide support, reassurance, help and care in times of crisis or need,” he added.

The rise of celebrity candor about their personal experiences has arguably been one of the most positive advances in mental health in the last decade. Public figures ― from the British royals to musicians to actors ― were more outspoken than ever about their mental health conditions, therapy, self-care and more.

“There have been tons of celebrities that have come forward, been brave and spoken about their own journey,” Leigh told HuffPost. “That is incredibly inspiring on my behalf because I can see people who have been willing to put themselves out there and ― judged or not judged ― just be open enough to share their struggles.”

There is still progress to be made, and experts hope to see more strides in the coming 10 years. The priority for both Dalack and Reidenberg is getting people the mental health treatment that they need.

“Over the next decade, I’d love to see improved access to mental health care across the nation,” Dalack said. “This will require efforts from insurance companies, physicians, as well as politicians. Those of us working in the field will need to continue to innovate new, cost-effective treatments that leverage technology and reach folks in remote and rural communities. We all need to be held accountable.

“In the most broad sense, I hope that in 10 years people will live understanding that mental health-related issues are no different than any other body or brain-related issues,” Reidenberg said. “If you aren’t feeling well, you have to talk to someone, regardless of the origin of the illness.”

As for me, I hope the landscape is once again different in a decade. I want to one day stop writing about suicide and stigma. Not because I’m not passionate about my job, but because the outcome has improved so much that there isn’t anything to write. That’s a 10-year challenge worth fighting for.

This content was originally published here.

Sedation Dentistry Options For Children – from 123Dentist

Types of Sedation

There are several levels of sedation your dentist may choose to use depending on your child and the procedure to be undertaken.

Nitrous oxide, commonly known as laughing gas, is the lowest level of sedation. It is blended with oxygen and administered through a small breathing mask. It is non-invasive, and once your child stops breathing nitrous oxide then the drug will quickly leave their system, and they will return to normal. Nitrous oxide won’t put your child to sleep, but it will help them to relax.

Mild sedation is usually induced using orally administered drugs. Your child will remain awake and usually be able to respond normally to verbal communication, but their movement and coordination may be affected. Respiratory and cardiovascular reflexes and functions are not affected at all, so there is no need for any additional monitoring equipment or oxygen.

Moderate sedation will make your child drowsy, and although they will usually respond to verbal communication they may not be able to speak coherently. They are likely to remain a little sleepy after the procedure, and most children cannot remember all or any of the procedure. This type of sedation can be reversed easily and breathing and cardiovascular function are generally unaffected.

Deep sedation is induced using intravenous drugs and will mean that your child is fully asleep. They may move a little and make sounds in response to repeated stimulation or any pain, but they will be in a deep sleep. Recovery from this type of sedation takes a little longer, and it is highly unlikely that your child will remember anything that happened. Sometimes respiratory or cardiovascular function can be impaired using these types of drugs, so there will be an extra qualified person present to monitor your child throughout the procedure.

The deepest option is a general anaesthetic, also induced using intravenous drugs. During a general anaesthetic, your child will be completely asleep and unable to respond to any stimulation, including pain. Your child will not remember any of the procedure, and should remain drowsy for some time afterwards. During this type of sedation, your child would be monitored by an anaesthetist who is trained in taking care of people under general anaesthetic. Recovery time is a little longer after a general anaesthetic than the other sedation types, and your child may need assistance with breathing during the procedure.

When Is Sedation Required?

There are a few reasons why sedation might be necessary for your child during a dental procedure. First of all, the procedure may be painful, so sedation would be appropriate to avoid unnecessary discomfort. Depending on the type and length of the procedure required, any of the above types of sedation might be appropriate.

If your child is at all anxious about visiting the dentist, it is important to make their experience as smooth as possible to avoid worsening the problem. The level of sedation required will depend on the level of anxiety and the procedure. For mild anxiety, nitrous oxide or mild sedation would help your child relax. If your child is very young, then a higher level might be appropriate to prevent them from moving during the procedure. In more extreme cases of anxiety or phobia, higher sedation levels may be required.

Sedation is sometimes required for children with behavioural disorders or other special needs. It can be difficult, or impossible, to explain to these children why dental care is required. The whole experience can therefore be very frightening for them, so an appropriate level of sedation may be used to help them remain calm and still for the procedure.

Concerns and Contraindications

Sedation has been used in dentistry for a long time, and the drugs and methods used are constantly reviewed. Anyone recommending or administering sedation is specially trained to do so safely, and during deep sedation and general anaesthetic your child is monitored by a trained professional in the room solely for that purpose.

Sometimes sedation can result in side effects such as nausea, vomiting, prolonged drowsiness, and imbalance. These effects usually wear off by themselves. After a deep sedation or general anaesthetic your child should be closely supervised to prevent falling, choking if they vomit, or airway obstruction.

Sedation of children for dental procedures is a common and safe practice. It may be worrying when your dentist first suggests it, but it is important not to increase your child’s anxiety so that they can maintain excellent dental care throughout their lives.

Share this with your friends …000

This content was originally published here.

‘I’m slowly dying here’: ‘Sedated’ Assange tells friend during Christmas Eve call from UK prison as health concerns mount

Julian Assange sounded like a shell of the man he once was during a Christmas Eve phone call, British journalist Vaughan Smith told RT, noting the WikiLeaks founder had trouble speaking and appeared to be drugged.

Assange was allowed to make just a single call from the maximum security Belmarsh prison in southeast London for the Christmas holiday, hoping for a reminder of the world beyond his drab confines of steel and concrete.

“I think he simply wanted a few minutes of escape” and to revive “happy memories,” Smith told RT, adding that Assange had spent the holiday at his home in 2010. The brief conversation was far from cheerful, however, with Assange’s deteriorating condition increasingly apparent throughout the call.

He said to me that: ‘I’m slowly dying here.’

“His speech was slurred. He was speaking slowly,” the journalist continued. “Now, Julian is highly articulate, a very clear person when he speaks. And he sounded awful… it was very upsetting to hear him”

Also on rt.com

© REUTERS/Hannah McKay/File Photo
Assange CANNOT be extradited because of treaty between US-UK argues legal team

Though Assange didn’t say it out loud during the call, Smith said he believes the anti-secrecy activist is being sedated, noting that “It seemed pretty obvious that he was,” and said others who visited Assange were of the same opinion.

Smith isn’t the first to raise this issue, but British authorities have so far refused to divulge whether Assange has been given psychotropic drugs in prison, insisting only that they aren’t “mistreating” him. But given that he is “being kept in solitary confinement for 23 hours a day,” with requests by numerous doctors to examine his physical condition denied, Smith said he has a hard time taking the officials at their word.

“Julian was extremely good company over Christmas in 2010,” the journalist said, but the man he talked to on the phone last week sounded like a different person. “I just don’t understand… why he’s in Belmarsh Prison in the first place. He’s a remand prisoner. He’s not a danger to the public.”

Also on rt.com

FILE PHOTO: Supporters of  Julian Assange protest outside Westminster Magistrates Court in London © Reuters / Henry Nicholls
Julian Assange will ‘disappear for the rest of his life’ inside ‘inhumane’ US prison, UN envoy warns… if he makes it that far

Belmarsh is a Category A prison – the highest level in the UK penal system – intended for “highly dangerous” convicts and those likely to attempt escape, typically befitting murderers and terrorists. While Assange meets none of those criteria and was initially locked up for a minor offense of skipping bail, he was nonetheless thrown in Belmarsh and punished as if he were a violent, hardened criminal. He now awaits proceedings for extradition to the US.

The explanation may be as simple as taking revenge against somebody who dared to speak truth to power, Smith believes, and to make an example for anyone who might follow Assange’s lead in fighting state and corporate secrecy.

“What is clear that what is happening to Julian is much more about vengeance and setting an example to dissuade other people from holding American power to account in this way,” he said.

[Assange] delivered a discussion, a debate about what transparency should look like in the digital age… The debate got quashed it never really happened, instead he’s being victimized… That’s’ why he’s in Belmarsh.

Going forward, Smith said it will be important to continue pressuring the British government to answer a litany of questions about Assange, his treatment in prison and his health, as well as to push for an “independent assessment” of the situation. Confined in one form or another since taking refuge in the Ecuadorian Embassy in 2012 and now denied the ability to defend himself in court, Assange should finally receive a fair hearing.

“This whole thing, really we need to be asking more questions. This needs to be held much more in the open… Julian has had his freedom compromised for nearly a decade now,” Smith said. “It’s completely disgraceful. This is bullying. He deserves better.”

This content was originally published here.

Health care in America is dysfunctional — but its lack of transparency is downright dangerous

Wow, you survived cancer? What’s your secret to health care?

As absurd as that sounds, it’s a question many Americans who get sick are still asking as we ring in the year 2020. Getting health care in this country is still so circuitous it often does feel like a secret — a maze deciphered in private that’s never quite mastered. The reward for solving it? Perhaps your life; perhaps the loss of your life savings. And that’s if you’re lucky.

Even with the Affordable Care Act, almost 30 million are without health insurance in the U.S. And if you’ve perused plans on the ACA marketplace, you’ll know why. They’re pricey, and a new year brings fears that insurance premiums are once again rising. (Who knew the inflation rates on a pap smear were that high?!) Meanwhile, 14 Republican-led states are still refusing to expand Medicaid as stipulated in the ACA, even though the federal government would pay for 90 percent of the cost. Why? Something about “repeal and replace” or “socialism.” It’s hard to keep track.

Even with the Affordable Care Act, almost 30 million are without health insurance in the U.S. And if you’ve perused plans on the ACA marketplace, you’ll know why.

I traveled to three states, each with their own unique health care access challenges, for my new MSNBC special “Red, White, and Who?” Between Texas, New York and Utah there are major differences in how easy it is to see a doctor without going bankrupt. But every single person I spoke with — regardless of job, socioeconomic status or even political affiliation — had one identical anxiety: healthcare in one of the most advanced countries in the world is ridiculously, hopelessly complicated.

Get the think newsletter.

This site is protected by recaptcha Privacy Policy | Terms of Service

“I’m retired, but I feel like a have a job,” Larry Chiuppi told me sitting outside at an RV park in Houston, blocks from one of the top cancer treatment hospitals in the country. Larry has been caring for his wife Nancy Raimondi, who has blood cancer, for over a year. During that time, he himself was diagnosed with prostate cancer. Even with her Medicare and his private health plan under the ACA, navigating the billing systems for the endless hospital visits, specialists and tests — each with their own separate charges — requires a huge amount of time and vigilance. He tells me they once got a $14,000 bill for a stem cell transplant because someone forgot to link Nancy’s Medicare. Larry imagined many people would’ve just tried to pay it. And most Americans don’t have a retiree’s free time and Larry’s persistence to help them through the bureaucracy, an added burden of getting well.

When the political gets personal

We also don’t all have a mother like Sandra Stein. She and her family live in New York, a state where the uninsured population is less than five percent, and 6.5 million are on Medicaid. I met Sandra on a street corner in upper Manhattan, where activists were flyering for the New York Health Act, a bill that would give every New Yorker state-funded care. Sandra believes in single-payer healthcare because she has experienced the mind-numbing labyrinth that is the private insurance system firsthand.

When her son was nearly three, he developed a rare neurological disease that left him unable to walk or speak. At the time, she and her husband had private insurance, which was “relatively good insurance,” according to Sandra. But that didn’t make things easier. When they first went to the hospital in an ambulance, the doctors there didn’t take their insurance even though the hospital did. Her son ultimately stayed in three different hospitals over the course of 15 months.

“When we got home it was my job to figure out the pile of bills and the collections threats,” she told me. It’s been eight years, but Sandra’s voice cracked like the memory happened yesterday. I couldn’t imagine how hard it must’ve been to be afraid for your child’s life while collections agents breathed down your neck. Sandra says the billing department sought her out even while her son was in the ICU, and that there were so many billing errors that she ultimately asked for an audit.

And yet, Sandra, Larry and Nancy are the lucky ones. They have health insurance, and they have the time and resources to be able to make their way through the bureaucratic hall of mirrors and toward a fighting chance at getting well.

It’s this cruel opacity of the private insurance system, on top of the rising monthly costs of just having a plan, that can be the difference between life and death. And it keeps a surprising number of Americans away from the system altogether. Like a rodeo cowboy I met in Texas, whose story you’ll just have to watch (I’m not spoiling it all!). It’s also led Americans like Sandra to believe that a massive simplification of our health care system is far overdue.

For many, that simplification comes in the form of cutting out the profit motive and moving toward government-funded insurance, like Medicare for All, which Big Pharma’s enemy number one Sen. Bernie Sanders and I hashed out over bagels in a New York City deli.

Medicare for All and private insurance for none

Ultimately what became clear through my travels is that healthcare in America is often overpriced and even dysfunctional, but it’s the lack of transparency that can be the most insidious. You pretty much have to be a health care policy expert, or have a loved one who can quit their job to become one, in order to ensure proper help.

It’s also strange that in a country that loves the free market as much as we do, we the consumer have no idea how much anything costs when we walk into a hospital. Why would we? Our health is priceless, so we are simply at the mercy of an ineffective system. That is, unless we fight for something different.

“Red, White, and Who” premieres on MSNBC on Dec. 29 at 9 p.m. E.T.

This content was originally published here.

Mertz Family Dentistry

Prominent Longmont family dentistry relocates and updates facilities

Everyone knows those semi-annual trips to the dentist are crucial to preserving and perfecting your smile…but something to smile about? If you’re one of the many loyal patients with Mertz Family Dentistry, it’s not out of the question that you may actually look forward to your dental visits. That sort of anticipation tends to happen when those whose services you consult provide ongoing attentive care; they become practically family. What’s more, the team at Mertz Family Dentistry are truly invested in making your experience as enjoyable as possible. This goal has just gotten all the easier to accomplish, thanks to a new, brighter, airier, more spacious setting; one which they plan to show off at an upcoming Open House from 4 – 7 p.m. on June 15.

Formerly located on Terry Street, Mertz Family Dentistry recently made the move to 1325 Dry Creek Drive, Suite 304. The new, modern facility offers twice as much space, allowing the team to optimize their capacity to provide superior care to an expanded number of patients. It offers a few new perks in comfort, too, featuring heated massage chairs with patient-operated remotes and sunlit rooms that lend a spa-like feel not typically associated with the dentist’s chair. “Our previous location was a great facility from which to provide excellent dental care in the past,” Dr. Peter Mertz says. “But looking into the future, we couldn’t be more excited about the new location and its capacity to further service our community well into the next decades. I wanted to create a facility that gave us a platform to provide the best in dental care while utilizing the latest, most up-to-date, technology. It’s a very modern, bright, relaxing setting. It’s inviting.”

Founded in 1985 by Dr. Guy Mertz, Mertz Family Dentistry is family-focused and family-rooted. In 2000, Dr. Peter Mertz joined his uncle in the mission to provide the best, most comprehensive and technologically advanced dental health care possible. Dr. Brett Nelson, who is now approaching his one-year anniversary with the practice since joining the team, says the close-knit staff of 16 is like family. “The long-term staff really distinguishes this amazing practice,” says Dr. Guy Mertz.

High-tech and high-service meet at the new Mertz Family Dentistry location to provide patients with an overall pleasant experience.

“Everyone is very dedicated. We have several employees who have been here 20, 30 years.”

Dr. Peter Mertz, who now owns the practice, has been selected as a top dentist for more than a decade consecutively, recently receiving that designation for the 11th time this year. He has advanced implant, sedation, CEREC single-visit crowns, and the most up-to-date Solea® laser systems training available.

Dr. Guy Mertz began his esteemed career 33 years ago with the opening of his practice, and is dedicated to the Longmont community. He has extensive training in laser dentistry systems. Dr. Guy Mertz was also selected as a top dentist by 5280 Magazine for the past two years.

A second-generation dentist originally from Indiana, Dr. Brett Nelson is a member of the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry, American Association of Endodontists, Academy of General Dentistry, American Academy of Implant Dentistry, and is a certified Invisalign provider. He is further certified in sedation dentistry. Dr. Nelson takes great care to practice what he refers to as ‘golden rule’ dentistry. “I treat all patients exactly as I would treat my closest friends and family members,” he says.

Prioritizing a personalized approach, doctors and staff at Mertz Family Dentistry take time to genuinely listen and understand the needs of each patient. And, the team does all they can to ensure they are equipped to meet those needs. They are highly skilled in pediatric dental care, and sensitive to the importance and personal means of helping children develop a positive relationship with healthy dental hygiene.

Throughout all ages and stages of life, Mertz Family Dentistry is invested in the wellbeing of its patients. “We’ve watched children grow up, go to college, and start their own families,” says Dr. Guy Mertz. “We have a great staff. We all enjoy each other, and we love our patients.” Dr. Peter Mertz attributes the notable, steady increase in patients the practice serves in great part to the warmth and dedication of his team. “We believe our staff is a big reason that our patients want to come back,” he says. “They each bring a high level of caring to their work.”

Bright new spaces have a spa-like feel, emphasizing relaxation and comfort for patients.

Alongside caring and understanding, Mertz Family Dentistry offers exceptional expertise. The wide range of services goes well beyond standard offerings, including sedation dentistry, Invisalign, and Laser Dentistry. Mertz’ cosmetic dentistry includes teeth whitening, porcelain veneers and crowns. Botox and Juvederm treatments are also performed on site. What’s more, all procedures are provided as comfortably as possible.

Mertz Family Dentistry has always been committed to investing in state-of-the-art, best practice technologies that provide the ultimate in dental care for patients. In fact, Dr. Peter Mertz is one of only a very few general dentists in the area to use a surgical microscope during dental procedures. “You can’t treat what you can’t see,” Dr. Peter Mertz says, stressing the significance of this technology. “The surgical microscope ensures the greatest accuracy possible.”

At Mertz Family Dentistry, three-dimensional X-rays provide the most thorough, comprehensive information for complex dental procedures. Such technologies further increase efficiency and ease for patients. “Utilizing our three-dimensional x-ray and scanner, we can have a guide fabricated for implants before the patient is even here, allowing for minimally invasive procedures,” Dr. Nelson says, explaining a few of the many benefits.

Mertz Family Dentistry was the first in Longmont to offer a special technology, which debuted 15 years ago- an advanced system that can create a crown or set of veneers in just a matter of hours. Each step is completed right in the office for same day fittings. Mertz Family Dentistry uses a detailed camera to map and measure the contours of the tooth. The remaining specifications are added into a chair-side computer, and the new piece is milled to tight specifications, increasing capability to closely match the new surface to surrounding teeth.

Skilled, caring professionals, cutting-edge technology, and a wide range of services offered-what more could one hope for in a dental office? How about painless visits? At Mertz Family Dentistry, the use of in-office lasers allows for anesthesia-free fillings, as well as other procedures to be completed without the use of shots. For all patients, and the youngest in particular, this is significantly reassuring.

Why not check out Mertz Family Dentistry for yourself? Stop by the new office at 1325 Dry Creek Drive on Friday, June 15, from 4- 7 p.m. Enjoy hors d’oeuvres, wine, and the opportunity to visit with staff and tour the office. “We would love to extend an invitation to our whole community to join us, see the new space, and celebrate our grand opening with us,” Dr. Peter Mertz invites. “Come on by.”

This content was originally published here.

Christian health cost sharing ministries offer no guarantees

Eight-year-old Blake Collie was at the swimming pool when he got a frightening headache. His parents rushed him to the emergency room only to learn he had a brain aneurysm. Blake spent nearly two months in the hospital.

His family did not have traditional health insurance. “We could not afford it,” said his father, Mark Collie, a freelance photographer in Washington, North Carolina.

Instead, they pay about $530 a month through a Christian health care sharing organization to pay members’ medical bills. But the group capped payments for members at $250,000, almost certainly far less than the final tally of Blake’s mounting medical bills.

“Just trust God,” the nonprofit group, Samaritan Ministries, in Peoria, Illinois, said in a statement about its coverage, and advises its members that “there is no coverage, no guarantee of payment.”

More than 1 million Americans, struggling to cope with the rising cost of health insurance, have joined such groups, attracted by prices that are far lower than the premiums for policies that must meet strict requirements, like guaranteed coverage for preexisting conditions, established by the Affordable Care Act. The groups say they permit people of a common religious or ethical belief to share medical costs, and many were grandfathered in under the federal health care law mainly through a religious exemption.

These Christian nonprofit groups offer far lower rates because they are not classified as insurance and are under no legal obligation to pay medical claims. They generally decline to cover people with preexisting illnesses. They can set limits on how much their members will pay, and they can legally refuse to cover treatments for specialties like mental health.

“Nothing is guaranteed,” said Dr. Carolyn McClanahan, a physician who is also a financial planner in Jacksonville, Florida. “You have to depend on the largess of the program.”

The main requirement for membership is adherence to a Christian lifestyle. And the alternative sharing plans keep flourishing, especially now that the Trump administration has relaxed rules to permit alternatives to the ACA that don’t provide such generous coverage.

But state regulators in New Hampshire, Colorado and Texas are beginning to question some of the ministries’ aggressive marketing tactics, often using call centers, and said in some cases people who joined them were misled or did not understand how little coverage they would receive if they or a family member had a catastrophic illness.

On Monday, Washington state fined one of the larger health-sharing ministries, Trinity Healthshare, $150,000 and banned it from offering its product to state residents because it was operating as an unauthorized insurer.

In December, Nevada insurance regulators warned consumers to beware of these plans. “They may seem enticing because they may be cheap, look and sound like they are in compliance with the Affordable Care Act (‘ACA’), when in reality these plans are not even insurance products,” the department said.

The Texas attorney general brought a lawsuit last summer against Aliera Healthcare, which marketed Trinity’s ministry program, to stop it from offering “unregulated insurance products to the public.” The Houston Chronicle featured one couple who was left with more than $100,000 in unpaid medical bills. Trinity said most members are satisfied with its services.

Aliera, which says it has stopped offering its plans in Texas, said it is working with regulators to resolve their concerns. The company says it has taken steps to make sure its customers are not confused about what they are buying.

Because the groups are not technically considered insurance, they operate with no government oversight. “Regulators haven’t been willing to assert any control or regulatory authority over these plans,” said Katie Keith, who serves as a consumer representative to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners and teaches health law at Georgetown University. “They feel their hands are tied. At the end of the day, it’s not insurance.”

Families who have joined the groups recount winding up with medical bills not covered by the ministries, with no legal way to appeal decisions to reject coverage for care. Some groups ask their members to push hospitals and doctors to write off their bills rather than use members’ money to pay their expenses.

“These plans offer a false sense of security,” said Jenny Chumbley Hogue, who runs an insurance agency in north Dallas. She refuses to offer them to her clients.

Several states have taken action against one ministry they say has deceived people about what they are buying. “The nature of what we’re hearing from consumers around the state is absolutely heart breaking,” said Kate Harris, chief deputy insurance commissioner in Colorado, one of the states that is trying to prevent the ministry from operating there.

But health share ministries have become particularly attractive to people like the Collie family who don’t qualify for a federal subsidy and can’t afford an ACA plan. Even though premiums in the ACA market have stabilized, critics of the law insist people need alternatives. “That’s the real driver behind the growth,” said Dr. Dave Weldon, a former Republican congressman from Florida who is president of the Alliance of Health Care Sharing Ministries, which represents the two largest groups.

When Dan Plato left his job to become self-employed as a consultant, he discovered that an ACA policy for 2018 would cost his family around $1,300 a month. “It was very expensive and beyond our needs,” he said. Membership in Liberty Healthshare, a ministry established by Mennonites in Canton, Ohio, was less than half the price, according to Plato, who blogged about his experience.

But some Liberty members reported trouble getting their medical bills covered. Plato says a small bill for flu shots went unpaid and ended up in collection. At the end of the year, he was left wondering if Liberty would be able to cover the family in the event of a serious medical emergency. “It’s not something we could trust in that situation,” said Plato, who switched to one of the plans offered by United Healthcare also exempt from the ACA rules for 2019.

Robyn Lytle, who works as an event planner in Chicago, joined Liberty for 2018, only to find that her daughter’s medical tests were never paid for. “It’s been a year and half, and I’ve been sent to collection,” said Lytle, who says Liberty had covered some of her family’s other expenses. She switched to an ACA plan for 2019.

Liberty Healthshare declined to comment.

Other people complain that the ministries can be vague about coverage. Greg Snider and his wife joined Medi-Share, the program offered by Christian Care Ministry. Based in West Melbourne, Florida. Medi-Share says it has more than 400,000 members across the country.

Snider said he had just dropped traditional coverage when his wife was diagnosed with a heart condition, but he says he was assured by Medi-Share that her care could still be covered. She underwent surgery last year to address an abnormal heart rhythm. “After the procedure, the bills start rolling in,” Snider said, including $177,000 for the surgery alone.

Snider says Medi-Share urged him to plead with the hospital after determining he would owe more than $100,000. He said he had assumed the $800 a month he paid into a pool would help cover the expenses. After he tweeted his frustrations, the ministry told him that he would owe only $1,500 for the surgery because the hospital had forgiven the rest, he said. He now owes thousands of dollars in related medical bills and is unsure of their status.

If Medi-Share decides not to pay, Snider knows he has little recourse: “It is completely and solely up to them.” He has since gotten a job where he is covered under his employer.

Medi-Share says that more than 80% of the $774 million it collected last year went to members’ medical bills. “We take great care to ensure prospective members understand what is considered a preexisting condition and what is eligible for sharing,” it said.

It does its part to reduce medical spending, it says, through negotiating with doctors and hospitals and claims it saved members more than $500 million last year. “We consider this process to be one way in which we contribute to the overall objective of reducing medical costs,” the ministry said in a statement.

Medi-Share says it has an extensive network of more than 700,000 providers. But even if a member goes to an in-network provider, the ministry may still decide not to pay the bill. “Fundamentally, we have found that there is often a lack of understanding of what is covered,” said Brendan Miller, an executive with MultiPlan, which arranges networks for Medi-Share as well as insurers.

That uncertainty has led some hospitals and doctors in the MultiPlan network to refuse to treat ministry patients rather than absorb unpaid costs.

Colorado is one of several states, including Washington, Texas and New Hampshire, that are trying to stop Trinity Healthshare, and its administrator, Aliera Healthcare, from operating in their states because they say the ministry is misleading its residents.

In a statement, Aliera said “it’s deeply disappointing to see state regulators working to deny their residents access to more affordable alternatives offered by health care sharing ministries.”

Trinity says its website makes clear that the ministry does not offer health insurance.

Regulators also worry about these plans siphoning off healthy individuals from the ACA marketplaces, leading to higher premiums for Obamacare policies.

“The ministries have been very concerned about bad actors invading this space,” said Weldon, the alliance president, who says his members are very clear that they are not insurance companies. “They all operate call centers, and they all bend over backward to inform people inquiring that it is not insurance,” he said.

In the case of Samaritan, which says it covers 271,000 people, the ministry pointed to its Save to Share program, where members can contribute extra to cover more of their bills.

With Blake’s bills likely to far exceed the cap — Collie has not yet tallied them yet — he created a GoFundMe account to help pay for his son’s care.

Collie says the ministry remains a viable alternative, noting it paid for numerous medical bills before his son’s hospitalization. “Every single person has prayed for me and my family,” he said. But he was enormously relieved when he found out recently his son qualified for Medicaid, the state-federal insurance program, and will cover the boy’s full medical care.

In some states, officials are starting to consider requiring the groups to register, to obtain more information for consumers.

Peter V. Lee, a former Obama administration official who now runs the California ACA marketplace, said ministries should be subject to some oversight, including disclosure of how much of the money collected is spent on care.

“There should not be a religious exemption for transparency — where the money goes and if it will be there if consumers need it,” he said.

California is also requiring brokers, who are paid hefty commissions by some of the ministries to enroll members, to make sure their clients understand they are not buying insurance.

Some ministries, like Samaritan, say they do not use brokers or agents. “We also have never, nor will we ever, use insurance agents or brokers to sell Samaritan because we don’t want people to confuse us with insurance,” it said.

This content was originally published here.

UNHCR - Turkey scholarship lets star Syrian student pursue dentistry dream

Since she arrived in Turkey six years ago, Syrian refugee Sidra has mastered a new language, worked in a factory to support her family and graduated top of her year in high school.

Her breakthrough came when she won a university scholarship. She is now in her second year of a dentistry degree, and fulfilling a life-long dream

“I am very passionate about education,” said the 21-year-old, who fled war-ravaged Aleppo with her family in 2013. “My dream was to go to university, and I studied very hard to achieve this dream.”

Her achievement reflects a single-minded determination to continue her education, even when it seemed she might not get the chance. She missed her final year of high school in Aleppo when fighting forced the closure of local schools, and when she first arrived in Turkey, she lacked the paperwork needed to enroll.

“The day I went back to school was beautiful.”

Unable to study, she took a full-time job packaging goods in a medical supplies factory while teaching herself Turkish in her time off from books and YouTube videos. A year later, when she secured the refugee documentation needed to resume her education, she vowed to make the most of it.

“The day I went back to school was beautiful,” she said. “The worst thing about war is that it destroys children’s futures,” she continued. “If children don’t continue their education, they won’t be able to give back to society.”

After graduating from high school top of her class with an overall mark of 98 per cent, Sidra then went one better to score 99 per cent in her university entrance exams. The results helped her to secure a vital scholarship from the Presidency for Turks Abroad and Related Communities (YTB).

While tuition fees at Turkish state universities have been waived for Syrian students, the scholarship provides Sidra with monthly support, enabling her to concentrate on her studies. Without this support she says she would not have been able to study her preferred subject of dentistry due to the extra cost of buying equipment such as cosmetic teeth to practice her skills.

Sidra practices her dentistry skills at home while her younger sister Isra looks on. © UNHCR/Diego Ibarra Sánchez
Sidra attends a practical lesson at Istanbul University, where she is studying dentistry. © UNHCR/Diego Ibarra Sánchez
Sidra stands outside her home in Canda Sok on the outskirts of Istanbul. © UNHCR/Diego Ibarra Sánchez
Sidra spends time with a friend on the historical Galata Bridge in Istanbul. © UNHCR/Diego Ibarra Sánchez
Once a week, Sidra teaches classical Arabic to Malak, an 8-year-old Turkish girl, at her home in Istanbul. © UNHCR/Diego Ibarra Sánchez

“Without the scholarship, I would have had to choose a different major, different to dentistry, and to work to cover my university expenses,” she explained.

Sidra is one of around 33,000 Syrian refugee students currently attending university in Turkey. The country is host to 3.68 million registered Syrian refugees, making it the largest refugee hosting country in the world.

Since the beginning of the Syria crisis, YTB has provided 5,341 scholarships to Syrian university students, while a further 2,284 have received scholarships from humanitarian partners. This includes more than 820 scholarships provided by UNHCR – the UN Refugee Agency – under its DAFI programme.

Access to education is crucial to the self-reliance of refugees. It is also central to the development of the communities that have welcomed them, and the prosperity of their own countries once conditions are in place to allow them to return home.

Enrolment rates in education among refugees currently lag far behind the global average, and the gap increases with age. At secondary school level, only 24 per cent of refugee children are currently enrolled compared with 84 per cent of children globally, with the figure dropping to just 3 per cent in higher education compared with a worldwide average of 37 per cent.

In Turkey, this average has been raised to close to 6 per cent thanks to the priority attached to education, including higher education for refugees.

Efforts to boost access and funding for refugees in quality education will be one of the topics of discussion at the Global Refugee Forum, a high-level event to be held in Geneva from 17-18 December.

Turkey is a co-convenor of the event, which will bring together governments, international organizations, local authorities, civil society, the private sector, host community members and refugees themselves. The event will look at ways of easing the burden of hosting refugees on local communities, boosting refugee self-help and reliance, and increasing opportunities for resettlement.

“Successful people can support the country they’re living in.”

Sidra is convinced that education holds the key to her own future success, and is determined to live up to the nickname she has earned among her fellow students.

“People call me ‘çalışkan kız’ which means: ‘the girl who studies a lot’,” she explained. “With education we can fight war, unemployment and illiteracy. With education we can reach all our goals in life.”

“Successful people can support the country they’re living in,” she continued. “Turkey has given me a lot of facilities, and it honors me that one day I can give back to its people and be an active member [of society], to work and practice dentistry with their support. I take pride in this.”

This content was originally published here.

Michael Moore: US Pays More for Health Care, Doesn’t Call It a Tax

We continue our interview with Academy Award-winning filmmaker Michael Moore about election 2020 and some of the major issues for voters. Long before Medicare for All became a rallying cry in the Democratic Party, Moore’s 2007 film “Sicko” diagnosed the shortcomings of the for-profit American healthcare system and called for a system of universal healthcare. “The real question never gets asked. They always want to pin them on how much is it going to cost in taxes,” Moore says of debate moderators who ask whether Democratic presidential candidates will raise taxes to pay for Medicare for All.

TRANSCRIPT

AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman, as we spend the hour with the acclaimed filmmaker Michael Moore, who joined us in our New York studio just before Christmas. I interviewed him with Democracy Now!‘s Nermeen Shaikh. We asked him about one of the major issues of concern in this country, in 2020 and overall, and that’s healthcare, a topic Michael Moore tackled in his 2007 documentary Sicko.

PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: We got an issue in America: Too many good docs are getting out of business; too many OB-GYNs aren’t able to practice their — their love with women all across this country.

NARRATOR: When Michael Moore decided to make a movie on the healthcare industry, top-level executives were on the defensive. What were they hiding?

SECURITY: That’s not on, right?

MICHAEL MOORE: No.

SECURITY: OK.

LEE EINER: The intent is to maximize profits.

MICHAEL MOORE: You denied more people healthcare, you got a bonus?

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: When you don’t spend money on somebody, it’s a savings to the company.

PRESIDENT RICHARD NIXON: I want America to have the finest healthcare in the world.

MICHAEL MOORE: Four healthcare lobbyists for every member of Congress. Here’s what it costs to buy these men and this woman, this guy, and this guy. And the United States slipped to 37 in healthcare around the world — just slightly ahead of Slovenia.

LINDA PEENO: I denied a man a necessary operation and thus caused his death. This secured my reputation, and it ensured my continued advancement in the healthcare field.

NARRATOR: In the world’s richest country…

MARY MORNIN: I work three jobs.

PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: You work three jobs?

MARY MORNIN: Yes.

PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: Uniquely American, isn’t it? I mean, that is fantastic.

NARRATOR: Laughter isn’t the best medicine.

LAURA BURNHAM: I get a bill from my insurance company telling me that the ambulance ride wasn’t pre-approved. I don’t know when I was supposed to pre-approve it. After I gained consciousness in the car? Before I got in the ambulance?

NARRATOR: It’s the only medicine.

MICHAEL MOORE: There was actually one place on American soil that had free universal healthcare.

Which way to Guantánamo Bay?

GOV’T OFFICIAL: Detainees representing a threat to our national security are given access to top-notch medical facilities.

MICHAEL MOORE: Permission to enter. I have three 9/11 rescue workers. They just want some medical attention — the same kind that the evildoers are getting. Hello?

AMY GOODMAN: So, that was Sicko — right? — 2007, talking about healthcare in this country. I wanted to turn right now to the debate moderators, the news personalities on television, framing the question of healthcare as a question of “Will you increase our taxes?”

MARC LACEY: You have not specified how you’re going to pay for the most expensive plan, Medicare for All. Will you raise taxes on the middle class for pay — to pay for it, yes or no?

MARTHA MacCALLUM: It will drive up taxes to pay for healthcare. And not just the wealthy will pay for that, the middle class will also pay for it.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS: Look, OK, very good.

KRISTEN WELKER: What do you say to voters who are worried that your position on Medicare for All could cost you critical votes in the general election?

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: Senator Sanders has been candid about the fact that middle-class taxes are going to go up and most of private insurance is going to be eliminated. Will you make that same admission?

AMY GOODMAN: So, that’s some of the questions debate moderators and news personalities — sometimes you might call them journalists — are asking of the presidential candidates when it comes to Medicare for All: “Are you going to increase taxes?” Talk about the framing of that.

MICHAEL MOORE: Well, these questions are asked by these moderators who work for news organizations that are owned by large conglomerates who have a vested interest in maintaining the status quo. So, the real question never gets asked in terms of — it’s all, yes, they always want to pin them on how much is it going to cost in taxes.

And the answer to that is, well, actually, we pay more taxes than any country on Earth, more than the Scandinavians, more than the French. And people: “What do you mean by that? No, we don’t. You can look at their tax rate and our tax rate.” And I say, “No, it’s because we lie. We don’t call — what they get for their taxes, we don’t call it a tax here. We call it tuition. We call it copayment. We call it, I mean, daycare, daycare fees.” You know, in France, in Norway, countries like that, they get those things for free or nearly free, because they pay taxes for it, and everybody gets it. If you’re qualified to go to the Sorbonne in Paris, you go there for free. You know, you pay for your books in France. Daycare in France is about a dollar, $2 — if you make a lot of money, you’ve got to pay $2 an hour for your daycare of your kids.

If you take the average of what people spend just on daycare, what you spend a week — let’s say you’re paying a couple hundred dollars a week in daycare, probably more for some people. Let’s say your college debt you’re paying off is a couple hundred dollars a month. Let’s say that during the year, through copays and deductibles — well, I know what that number is. The average American pays about $6,000 between things that aren’t covered or they have to pay part of their premium, copay, deductible. Add all that up, the $200 a month for the daycare and the $200 a month for the college. So that’s — you know, per year, it’s $2,500 for each of those, then now you’re at $5,000. Six thousand for the healthcare. Each American is paying about $11,000 that you don’t pay if you’re French or Spanish or Swedish. Yet we don’t call it a tax. We have all these other fake names for it. They just get this stuff, and they get a good version of it.

I mean, I got — when we were making this film, I don’t know, I came down — I had the flu or something or whatever. It was the middle of the night. I didn’t feel good. Our French producer said, “Oh, just get the doctor to come over.” I said, “It’s like 2 in the morning.” “Eh, no problem.” I said, “What? You mean doctors here make house calls?” He goes, “Yes. We will have to pay $50 when he or she gets here.” But if you’re French, you can turn that in and get the $50 reimbursed. So, at 2 in the morning, I had a doctor arrive where I was staying, and check me out and make sure the fever was OK, whatever. And they gave him 50 bucks. And I’m not going to get the 50 bucks back because I’m not French. But I couldn’t believe it.

And one of the women I interviewed, American ex-pats that live there, she said to me, “The reason we don’t have this stuff in the U.S. and the reason they have it here in France is because in France the government is afraid of the people. In the U.S., the people are afraid of the government.” And as long as you’re afraid of the government, as long as you’re afraid of losing your job — “I can’t lose my job. I need the benefits.” Nobody in France ever says, “I need the benefits.” The benefits are already there. It’s a human right. So you want to quit your job? You want to stand up? You want to start a strike? You want to try to unionize someplace that isn’t unionized? You’re not going to lose your job. And if you do —

AMY GOODMAN: You want to have mass protests in the streets all over France?

MICHAEL MOORE: Do it. Do it. And you will not lose your healthcare. You won’t. Your kids can still go to daycare. Your parents that are in the old age home, they’re taken care of. None of that’s coming out of your pocket. Wow! Think of the freedom, the absolute freedom, if you didn’t have to worry about how to pay for these things, and how much extra time you would have to get politically involved.

Our system is set up so you are struggling from paycheck to paycheck, where you don’t know what’s going to happen next. You’re constantly on the edge of “What if I lose my job?” What if you lose your job in France? The government will take care of you to find a new one. It’s like, “How do they have the money to do that? They must be taxing people!” Yes, they tax people, but they also — what’s their — their military, their GDP percentage, I don’t know what it is, but I am certain it’s in the single digits. Not this country. How much of your taxes go to some form of the military or homeland security? I’m sure it’s over 50% at this point. So, that’s how we choose to spend our money. What if we chose to spend it on the people? How much better it would be.

AMY GOODMAN: Michael Moore, I want to thank you for being with us, Academy Award-winning filmmaker, his most recent documentary, Fahrenheit 11/9. His other films include Michael Moore in TrumpLand, Fahrenheit 9/11, Bowling for Columbine, Sicko, Capitalism: A Love Story, Where to Invade Next

MICHAEL MOORE: Oh, that’s a good one. I like that one.

AMY GOODMAN: Last week, Michael Moore witnessed the historic impeachment vote from the front row of the gallery, and he has just launched a new project, a podcast. It’s supposed to be weekly. It’s called Rumble with Michael Moore. But you’re doing it daily, Michael?

MICHAEL MOORE: Well, I’m just doing it through the holidays, mostly every day, just because I’ve never done this before. I mean, you had a radio show like forever, so you’re very used to this. I’m a filmmaker. So, I started last — a week ago, last Tuesday. And I am going to do it until New Year’s, pretty much on a daily basis. Yesterday, I did one from my dentist chair. I had this dental work done. I asked — the dentist is a very political dentist. I always talk to him about politics. I asked him, “Would you mind if I just recorded this?” So, you get both of us talking about Trump and Murdoch, and also you hear him drilling my two teeth. So, I know it will feel a little painful to have to listen to that drill. Nothing is more painful than what we’ve had to go through the last three years.

AMY GOODMAN: Filmmaker and activist Michael Moore, his most recent documentary, 11/9. He won an Academy Award for his film Bowling for Columbine. Michael Moore has just launched a new project, a podcast called Rumble with Michael Moore. We’ll talk more with him in the coming days about another major topic of this election: guns and gun control and war. That does it for today’s show.

This content was originally published here.

Many health care workers are refusing flu shots, endangering patients, regulators say – The Boston Globe

In response, Massachusetts regulators are now intensifying efforts to improve vaccination rates — sending reminder letters to dozens of facilities that failed to report their numbers, visiting dialysis centers to review their process for vaccinating workers, and even offering cash to nursing homes as an incentive to improve their rates.

Advertisement

“First and foremost, health care personnel are directly interacting with residents and patients. They could be transmitting influenza to them and we want to prevent that from happening,” said Katherine Fillo, director of clinical quality improvement at the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.

High vaccination rates also help ensure that a large number of caregivers don’t fall ill during a flu outbreak, Fillo said.

State regulations require all health care facilities, as a condition of receiving a license, to provide free flu shots each year to all employees. Yet workers are allowed to decline the shot. Facilities must report to the state how many declined and how many cited medical reasons for opting out. They must also report how many workers had an unknown vaccination status.

A recent report from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that health care workers in the Northeast had the lowest flu vaccination rates in the United States. It also found that rates nationwide were lowest among those who worked in long-term care, such as in nursing homes.

In Massachusetts, among the 315 nursing homes that reported data to the state health department, roughly 16 percent of workers declined to be vaccinated. That’s down slightly from 18 percent in 2017.

Tara Gregorio, president of the Massachusetts Senior Care Association, a trade association, said nursing home administrators are working diligently to increase rates but often encounter barriers.

“Some of our staff decline vaccination for religious or health reasons and others are concerned that the vaccine is ineffective or dangerous,” she said in a statement. “Our efforts to educate everyone in our facilities on the benefits of the flu vaccine are ongoing and a top priority.”

For nursing and rest homes that achieve at least a 90 percent vaccination rate this flu season, the state will reimburse the cost of renewing their license, which can run up to $1,000.

Among the 61 dialysis centers that reported vaccination rates, 83 percent of workers got a flu shot and roughly 9 percent declined. The rest cited medical reasons or their status was unknown.

Dr. Holly Kramer, president of the National Kidney Foundation and a professor of medicine at Loyola University Chicago, said patients receiving dialysis are at particular risk for serious complications from the flu because they often have a greatly weakened immune system.

“The health care workers need to be vaccinated because dialysis patients are more likely to develop severe influenza and need to be hospitalized and can die from influenza,” Kramer said.

Fresenius Medical Care North America, the largest dialysis center chain in Massachusetts with more than 35 centers, said in a statement that it has worked hard to educate patients and employees about the benefits of receiving a flu shot.

Fresenius said that about 86 percent of its workers in Massachusetts were vaccinated last flu season, higher than the industry average here of 83 percent.

“Our policy mandates that any health care provider working with patients in our dialysis centers receive a flu vaccine each season, and if an employee refuses, requires that employee to wear a face mask when near patients,” said Fresenius spokesman Brad Puffer.

“We continue to invest significant resources in reminding both employees and patients about the dangers of flu for people living with kidney failure, and we are committed to further improving these efforts,” he said.

For years, regulators focused on boosting flu vaccinations among hospital workers, which as recently as a decade ago was mired below 70 percent. The state health department started publishing a list of vaccination rates at each facility, and many hospitals started cracking down on workers who declined shots, making them wear masks for the entire flu season. A number of hospitals required caregivers to receive a flu shot each year as a condition of employment.

Rates slowly but steadily climbed, and for the last several years have been above 90 percent.

“Some health care providers use creative ways to ensure vaccination compliance, such as offering vaccinations on-site around the clock and allowing employees to use work time to be inoculated,” said Patricia Noga, vice president for clinical affairs at the Massachusetts Health and Hospital Association.

She said the association strongly supports new policies to improve statewide rates, including requiring the entire health care workforce be vaccinated.

For now, regulators are turning their attention to the rest of the state’s health facilities with a goal of matching the success it had with hospitals.

“We hope and anticipate we will see this same trajectory in these other types of healthcare facilities,” Fillo said.

Kay Lazar can be reached at kay.lazar@globe.com Follow her on Twitter @GlobeKayLazar.

This content was originally published here.