Posts tagged with "Healthcare"

Four reasons why Original Medicare is too expensive

By Christian Worstell, licensed insurance agent and Senior Writer for MedicareAdvantage.com.

As the Medicare Annual Enrollment Period approaches (AEP, also called the fall Medicare Open Enrollment Period), some Medicare beneficiaries may think the enrollment period for private Medicare plans is not relevant to them because they can’t afford a private Medicare plan. I’m here to tell you otherwise. It may actually be Original Medicare that you can’t afford.

There are at least four reasons why Original Medicare — Part A and Part B — may actually be harsher on your wallet than private Medicare plans like a Medicare Advantage (Part C) plan or a Medicare Part D prescription drug plan.

1. Original Medicare doesn’t have an annual out-of-pocket spending limit

Original Medicare offers a lot of benefits. But one thing you won’t find is an out-of-pocket spending limit for all those benefits.

Neither Medicare Part A nor Part B contain an annual out-of-pocket spending limit. That means there is no limit to the amount of money you can spend on Medicare deductibles, copayments and coinsurance over the course of the year. Depending on what types of health care services you need, these costs can add up quickly. Meanwhile, privately sold Medicare Advantage plans are required by law to include an annual out-of-pocket spending limit. For 2021, this limit is $7,550 for the year. And due to market competition, some plans may feature limits that are less than that amount. 

Once you spend $7,500 on deductibles, copayments and coinsurance for qualified care, your plan pays for 100% of your out-of-pocket costs for covered care for the remainder of the year. 

2. Many Medicare Advantage plans feature $0 premiums

90% of Medicare Advantage plans in 2020 include prescription drug coverage. These plans are called Medicare Advantage Prescription Drug (MA-PD) plans. In 2020, nearly half (49%) of all MA-PD plans came with no monthly premium. If you have a $0 premium Medicare Advantage Prescription Drug plan, the only monthly premium you likely have to pay is your Medicare Part B premium, which you would still have to pay anyway if you stick with Original Medicare. (Most beneficiaries aren’t required to pay a Part A premium. If you are, you’d still have to pay those premiums if you have a $0 premium Medicare Advantage plan). 

So with a $0 premium MA-PD plan, there’s no extra monthly premium for you to pay. Your premiums are the same as they would be in Original Medicare.

3. Many Medicare Advantage plans offer extra benefits 

For as much as Original Medicare covers, it has several glaring holes: it doesn’t typically cover routine dental or vision coverage, and it doesn’t typically offer prescription drug coverage. 

But dental, vision and prescription drug coverage are three extra benefits that some Medicare Advantage plans may offer. As mentioned above, 9 in 10 Medicare Advantage plans covered prescription drugs in 2020. If you are enrolled only in Original Medicare, how — and how much — are you paying for things like routine dental care, vision care and prescriptions? 

A Medicare Advantage plan that bundles these benefits into one plan may be more cost effective for you.

4. Medicare drug coverage can help you save money

I mentioned drug coverage above, but given the skyrocketing cost of medications, it’s worth repeating. Paying for your prescription drugs entirely out of pocket can put you at a substantial financial risk. Medicare beneficiaries have two choices for Medicare drug coverage: enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan that includes prescription drug coverage, or enroll in a standalone Medicare Part D plan. Both offer prescription drug coverage with typically low copayments for generic drugs. 

Depending on the plans available where you live, you may be able to find a plan that offers more benefits at the same monthly premium cost with annual spending protection. If you think the Annual Enrollment Period doesn’t apply to you because Original Medicare is all you can afford, you may want to think again.

Doctor, Coronavirus, Health, Vaughn Lowery, 360 Magazine,

Austin Adventure’s Essential Service Providers Contest

Austin Adventures Awards Free Vacation to Texan COVID-19 Nurse Through Essential Service Providers Contest

Top-rated travel company Austin Adventures has acknowledged a winner for their friendly Essential Service Providers contest which honored heroic workers amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. The lucky recipient of an all-inclusive five-day vacation from Austin Adventures is Debora Ybarra, a nurse assigned to the coronavirus intensive care unit at Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston.

To honor Ybarra’s dedicated work in the healthcare field, she was awarded a 2021 trip for four guests to Yellowstone National Park, planned and guided by Austin Adventures. The announcement was made on Oct. 16, 2020, over a live Zoom call by Dan Austin, founder and director of the decorated Austin Adventures company operating out of Billings, Mont.

“While we may never be able to thank Debora enough for her personal sacrifice and dedication, we do hope our adventure vacation into the natural beauty of Yellowstone helps her recharge and heal,” adds Austin.

Ybarra’s name was chosen from a drawing that included 24 other finalists from around the country. By working with Life is Good partners, these top nominees will receive a Life is Good High Sierra backpack full of Austin Adventures and Life is Good swag.

Like many who were nominated, Ybarra has worked tirelessly tending to patients diagnosed with the coronavirus disease. Before the pandemic spread, she dedicated over 20 years volunteering her medical skills around the country and the world assisting natural disaster victims in southern United States, Haiti and Puerto Rico. She also fulfilled needs in Mexico and South America. Ybarra recently finished work to become a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner and is completing her doctorate degree.

Ybarra was one among a total of 156 outstanding nominations in Austin Adventures’ Essential Service Providers contest. All of these contenders, including the top 24 nominees, will receive a gift certificate for a $500 discount on a future Austin Adventures trip. This opportunity to recognize brave individuals was created by Austin Adventures in early June 2020 while the company rolled out many other consumer-focused initiatives amidst the pandemic.

“We wanted to recognize those selfless individuals who never rested or who didn’t have the luxury of sheltering in place,” said Austin. “America’s essential workers have and will continue to sacrifice their health and their family time for the rest of us. This is our way of saying thank you.”

Austin Adventures has and continues to prioritize optimism and transparency whether or not facing a difficult travel season. This year Austin Adventures offered unique additional domestic trip options to sustain travel in the United States as well as implemented safe travel procedures for guests and guides and lightened its cancelation policies. They stuck to the A, B, C’s of the business by Anticipating, Being Honest and Communicating with guests and supporting travel agents by giving 50% of commission at the time of bookings.

About Austin Adventures
Austin Adventures has spent 40 years building an international reputation as a top provider of luxury, small group and multisport tours for adults and families of the world’s most captivating destinations. With cruises and accommodations on seven continents, they have been recognized twice by Travel + Leisure Magazine with the prestigious World’s Best Awards along with other national media accolades and distinctions. Austin Adventures has perfected the art of creating itineraries featuring exceptional regional dining, distinctive accommodations, incredible guides and exhilarating activities, all while keeping all-inclusive rates and services the norm. In addition to scheduled group departures, Austin Adventures has developed a reputation as the leader in customized trip planning and execution supported by the industry’s best money-back satisfaction guarantee. Austin Adventures is a Virtuoso Preferred Tour Operator.

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Steps Linked to Reduced Medical Costs

Proactive Steps Linked To Reduced Medical Costs, Hospital Visits for Children With Asthma

A new study looking at data from tens of thousands of children with asthma finds that several widely available interventions are associated with both reduced medical costs and a reduced likelihood that the children will need to visit an emergency room or stay in the hospital.

“This work shows that you can improve the quality of life for children with asthma and you can reduce government spending by implementing these proactive interventions,” says Julie Swann, lead author of the study. Swann is the department head and A. Doug Allison Distinguished Professor of the Fitts Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering at North Carolina State University.

The researchers looked at data from 2010 and 2011 on more than 70,000 children with asthma enrolled in the Medicaid programs in New York and Michigan. The researchers focused on four interventions: asthma self-management education (ASME); flu vaccine; the use of spacers, which are low-cost plastic tubes that improve the performance of inhalers; and the use of nebulizers, which are devices that convert liquid medicine into an aerosol that patients can inhale.

Specifically, the researchers analyzed the data to understand the extent to which each of these interventions was associated with three outcomes: asthma-related visits to the emergency room; asthma-related visits to a primary-care physician; and asthma-related stays in the hospital. The researchers also assessed the extent to which each intervention influenced costs associated with each child’s asthma medication and so-called “utilization costs” – which are the costs associated with other aspects of a child’s asthma treatment, such as the cost of visiting a primary-care provider or hospital.

To address these questions, the researchers plugged the healthcare data into models that allowed them to assess the impact of each intervention separately, compared to no intervention.

“One of the key findings, which should be of interest to policymakers, is that all four interventions were associated with lower medication costs and utilization costs,” Swann says.

And while the numbers varied between states, the decreases in cost could be substantial. For example, being vaccinated against the flu was associated with a 16.4% reduction in utilization expenses and a 15.6% reduction in medication expenses for children in New York. 

“There can be significant cost reductions associated with a fairly inexpensive intervention,” Swann says.

“Our results suggest that ASME training, and the use of spacers and nebulizers, are also associated with significant decreases in both emergency room visits and hospitalizations,” says study co-author Pinar Keskinocak. “And the flu vaccine helps reduce the number of visits to a child’s primary care provider.” Keskinocak is the William W. George Chair and Professor in Georgia Tech’s H. Milton Stewart School of Industrial and Systems Engineering and the director of the Center for Health and Humanitarian Systems at Georgia Tech.

“It’s important to note that we looked at the impact of these outcomes separately while accounting for other interventions,” Swann says. “You would expect that the more of these proactive interventions a child has, the greater the positive impact we would expect to see on both their health and on what Medicaid would be asked to spend on their care.”

The study, “Estimating the Impact of Self-Management Education, Influenza Vaccines, Nebulizers, and Spacers on Healthcare Utilization and Expenditures for Medicaid-Enrolled Children with Asthma,” is published in the Journal of Asthma.

The paper was co-authored by Fatma Melike Yildirim, a Ph.D. student at Georgia Tech; Paul Griffin, the St. Vincent Health Chair of Healthcare Engineering at Purdue University; and Jean O’Connor of Emory University.

The work was done with support from the Center for Health and Humanitarian Systems and the William W. George Endowment at Georgia Tech, and the Edward P. Fitts and the A. Doug Allison Distinguished Professorship at NC State.

Breast Cancer Illustration by Kaelen Felix for 360 Magazine

Breast Cancer Awareness Month

October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month and there are many ways to support the cause this month. This annual campaign is held to both spread awareness and raise money for the cause. 

The website for the National Breast Cancer Foundation provides many resources to help with this cause. Although things are challenging for everyone this year, this important organization has been fighting for women since 1993 and continues to thrive thanks to its supporters. 

New this year on the foundation’s website anyone is able to designate a donation to one of four specific causes. Donations are being accepted to screening, education, support and the general fund. 

The screening fund allows the National Mammography and Patient Navigation programs to provide free cancer screenings and mammograms to those in need; this helps remove barriers in the cancer care system. By donating to education, more women will be given resources and education to detect breast cancer early and lower their risk. To help women that have been diagnosed, donating to the support services will help them gain resources and support they need to heal. This money goes to funding HOPE Kits, Metastatic Retreats and Support Groups.

If you are unsure which program you would like to donate to, giving to the general fund allows the National Breast Cancer Foundation to designate your donation to the area they believe needs it most. You can even donate in honor or memory of someone in your life that has been impacted by breast cancer. 

The National Breast Cancer Foundation is sharing stories of hope through October. They are sharing stories of hope of survivors and those impacted by breast cancer. Stories and photos can be submitted here. This is a great way to spread hope and positive messages to those struggling with breast cancer and their loved ones. 

Available for download from the foundation is the Breast Problems That Aren’t Breast Cancer ebook. This free resource will help women recognize common problems versus breast problems that need to be looked at by a professional. 

Breast cancer screenings are important for women to get regularly so they can detect problems from the start. The United States Preventive Services recommends women ages 50 to 74 get screened every two years, while women 40 to 49 should talk to their doctor about getting screened sooner if they are at higher risk. Self-examinations are recommended for all women to check that there is no concern. 

The American Cancer Society has been hosting Making Strides Against Breast Cancer for over twenty years. This walk helps fundraise for research and support for breast cancer patients. Even though the ongoing coronavirus pandemic has canceled many events, the walk will still be taking place virtually. Donations are still being accepted and people everywhere will be coming together virtually to support the cause. 

Ways to volunteer with the National Breast Cancer Foundation are being moved virtually as well. This is a great way to give back in October instead of donating. People everywhere are helping to pack HOPE Kits for women in treatment and write encouragement cards to put in the kits. There are many ways to help in the month of October to spread awareness about breast cancer and give hope to those in need.

The non-profit organization, Susan G. Komen for the cure, also supports women with breast cancer and their families. On their website, women can find information, resources and assistance to help them with their journey. Founded in 1982 by Nancy Brinker, is the largest breast cancer organization in America.

Kaelen Felix Illustrates a Healthcare Article for 360 MAGAZINE

Authenticx x Healthcare Companies

Healthcare companies are at the center of so many debates right now, and their involvement in the pandemic is one of the biggest.

Having to answer customer questions while COVID-19 impacts the nation in a manner unprecedented in our lifetime can be a challenge, but Authenticx is offering advice to companies attempting to provide answers.

Authenticx CEO Amy Brown said the upcoming flu season will bring about more questions, and we can use the past several months to prepare.

“Americans are tuned into what healthcare experts are saying like never before. We’re urging healthcare providers to seize this opportunity to listen to the concerns of the public and use their resources to provide clear guidelines and straightforward advice so healthcare consumers can make the best decisions to protect themselves and others,” Brown said.

Based on 45,000 data points pulled from customer conversations, Authenticx was able to determine three main concerns regarding coverage. The three concerns are as follows:

1. Contraction Risk: Patients have divided themselves into different demographics trying to determine the possibility of contracting COVID-19, and the flu will only make it more difficult to determine. Customers called their healthcare providers to ask questions like:

  1. Should I get my flu shot this year or does that lower my immune system?
  2. Is there anything I should know about flu shots relative to my specific treatment plan?
  3. Should I quarantine if I think I have the flu?
  4. How do I know if I have the flu or COVID-19? What should I do about that?

2. Flexible Payment Options: Unstable employment and loss of insurance have been devastating results of COVID-19, but customers are still trying to remain safe. Customers reportedly asked how to proceed forward with healthcare given limited financial flexibility. Those concerns are not likely to curtail in the very near future.

3. Supply Chain & Access to Medications: With COVID-19 taking priority in national health, many patients expressed concern about getting medication they required prior to the pandemic. Issues with the mail system could also cause consumers to panic if their medication sees shipping delays or problems. Between flu shots and COVID vaccines, drug manufacturers are being kept busy. Some worry they’re too busy to handle normal mandatory medication.

Brown said healthcare companies can implement a listening system for customers with these questions by doing the following:

1. Listen at Scale: It will be nearly impossible to give full attention to each and every customer. The goal should be to prioritize the most important questions and select customer interactions to monitor. Determine a specific sample size suited to the customer base and use that sample to select questions and customers to address specifically.

2. Be Strategic: Listening can provide insight when choosing a strategy for engaging with customers. The customers will tell companies what they are hoping for in terms of service, and that information can be used to change for the better. Once a strategy is solidified, deploy resources to give the customers what they hope to receive from the company.

3. Move Fast: Begin moving on customer questions right away. As news regarding healthcare develops, so do the needs of the customers. Concerns not handled right away could get lost in the shuffle in an ever-developing news cycle, and customers want their problems solved in real time.

To see a full step-by-step guide on how to properly serve healthcare customers right now, you can click right here.

SAMI-Aid Offers Free Appointment to Those Affected by Wildfires

California telehealth company wants to ensure people’s health needs are met during historic wildfire crisis

SAMI-Aid, a patient-focused telemedicine platform and healthcare concierge company, announced that it is offering free telehealth appointments to those who have been affected by the wildfires raging across the state of California and other western states. The California-based company saw an opportunity to use its platform to help those who have been affected by the fires.

“As a San Jose-based company, we’ve seen firsthand how this summer’s wildfire season has affected Californians in the Bay Area and across the state,” said Bijan Farhangui, SAMI-Aid Founder and CEO. “Whether you’ve been displaced by the wildfires or aren’t able to visit your doctor’s office due to the poor air quality, we realized we could do something to help ensure people’s health needs were met during this difficult time.”

According to the California Air Resources Board, particulate matter is the largest health concern relating to wildfires. Particles from wildfire smoke can be inhaled into different parts of the lung, potentially resulting in negative lung and heart health effects. Those who suffer from respiratory issues or illnesses have been advised to remain indoors as much as possible while particulate matter from the wildfires remains a concern.

“Patients in need of prescriptions, medical advice, or regular behavioral health consultations should not have to sacrifice their health and wellbeing because of the wildfires,” added Farhangui. “Our telemedicine platform can help Californians get the health services they need in a safe and easy way.”

Those who have been affected by the California wildfires can call SAMI-Aid at 844-726-4243 to redeem the code for a free consultation through their telehealth platform. SAMI-Aid offers on-demand access to medical professionals of a variety of specialties including general physicians as well as mental and behavioral health specialists. SAMI-Aid also recently launched its new at-home COVID-19 testing program where patients can confirm their COVID-19 status from the safety and convenience of their own home. More information is available at samiaid.com.

About SAMI-Aid:

Founded in 2014, SAMI-Aid is an online healthcare concierge platform that features a searchable medical procedure pricing database, a dedicated call center for patient support, and 24/7 access to telemedicine doctors and nurses. Its platform is secure, HIPAA-compliant, user-friendly, and mobile-friendly, offering members 24/7 access to doctors and nurses, and exclusive medical pricing information which helps them save money on care. Based in San Jose, California, SAMI-Aid serves the entire US. The acronym SAMI stands for Smart Affordable Medical Information. For more information, visit samiaid.com.

Gabrielle Marchan illustrates Dianne Morales for 360 MAGAZINE

Dianne Morales

As of late, one of our team members had the opportunity to sit down with New York City mayoral candidate Dianne Morales for an interview. After eight years under Mayor Bill de Blasio, New York City will see someone new in the position in 2021, and Morales, a member of the Democratic Party, is jumping at the opportunity.

360: What are the major points of inspiration throughout your life, so far, that have led you to where you are today?

Morales: At my core is a commitment to community, and I learned community at home. I am the youngest of three girls and the daughter of Puerto Rican parents. My mother, a secretary for the Leather Workers’ Union, and my father, a building manager on the waterfront, created a working-class life for us in Bed-Stuy. But our home was not just for me and my sisters. My grandmother, Mami, lived with us my whole childhood. In fact, she and I shared a bed until the day that I left home for college. Our home was a resting place, a layover, a transition point for whoever needed it. There was always someone new sleeping on the couch or joining us at the dinner table. Whether they had just arrived from Puerto Rico, were in between jobs, had just returned from the military or from being incarcerated, there were always other people staying with us while they “got back on their feet.” My parents opened their arms and their front door to whoever needed it. I never questioned this way of life. I was taught, “If you have, then you provide.” We took care of each other. I saw, firsthand, the opportunity created when we each take responsibility, not just for ourselves, but for our neighbors and for our communities. This belief has spurred me on through 30 years in the public sector, as an educator, a foster care worker and a leader of nonprofits.

As I established my own home in Bed-Stuy as a single mom, my children and I recreated the dynamic my parents had built. We always have a few extra people living in our home – whom we often refer to as our “chosen family.” These extended family members have filled my home with love and reciprocal support. In a twist of fate, since the pandemic hit, I have shared my home with my parents and my children. I envision a New York City where we take care of each other, where everyone is welcome to the dinner table, where neighbors provide more support than extra sugar and all of us have a warm place to rest our heads. Although NYC is vast with diversity, we are all inextricably bound together and are only as strong as our most vulnerable link.

360: How can a mayor, as opposed to any other civic official, lead unique positive changes for equity?

Morales: Over the past several months there is a mantra I have been repeating consistently: a budget is a reflection of our values. The mayor has executive power over what gets funded in the city and by how much. Funding for services that contribute to true public safety (access to housing, medical/mental healthcare, economic stability, job training, education) will provide access and opportunity to those who have historically been left behind by our elected officials. Line by line, the budget reveals the values of a city and government. The NYC budget passed in June was a failure. It failed the residents of NYC, who have been raising their voices in protest and demanding a divestment from law enforcement since May 29. It failed those whose lives have been lost at the hands of the NYPD. It failed communities of color that have been disproportionately impacted by violence and brutality.

The budget highlights the need for NYC leadership to put New Yorkers first by investing in communities. The NYC Mayor also has the ability to work to desegregate public schools and impact the quality of education provided to over 1.1 million students, many of whom are students of color living in poverty. This alters the course of a student’s life and provides an entry point to economic mobility and a true career trajectory. New Yorkers deserve a bold, transformational leader who is unapologetically committed to prioritizing justice in the budget’s bottom line. I fundamentally believe that those closest to the problem are closest to the solution. Our city needs a mayor that is in tune with her people and provides a vision for and direction for what is possible.

360: What are some of the most pressing or urgent issues that need attention within New York City, and how would you address them?

Morales: New York’s problems all stem from structural oppression by Race, Gender and Class, so our solutions must go deeper, all the way to the root causes. Too many New Yorkers are living in a time of scarcity, and that’s been going on since long before the virus hit. The are working two jobs, just barely surviving and always one misfortune away from losing everything. Instead of this “Scarcity Economy,” we need a “Solidarity Economy,” and that requires bold action. First, transforming public safety in the city by providing access to the same critical resources found in wealthy communities will be a critical step toward creating the long-term change we need for all to live in dignity. True public safety includes ensuring that every New Yorker has access to “life essentials,” like quality transportation, affordable housing, excellent and equal education and human-centered healthcare. All New Yorkers deserve access to these fundamental resources in order to live in dignity, and it is the necessary floor needed to break through glass ceilings.

Next, we must enhance and overhaul vital infrastructure requiring multi-part, creative solutions that address the deeper issues embedded in the fabric of NYC. To break the racist cycle of poverty that divides our city into the “haves” and the “have-nots,” we will establish a guaranteed minimum income. We will push for universal healthcare and eliminate inequities in the health system faced by women, and especially women of color. We will work to address the persistent segregation of our schools and disrupt the school-to-prison pipeline by replacing school safety officers with trained mental health professionals. The driving force behind all policy initiatives is the experiences, needs and voices of women of color. Particularly, Black women. As the Combahee River Collective wisely wrote in its 1977 statement, “If Black women were free, it would mean that everyone else would have to be free since our freedom would necessitate the destruction of all the systems of oppression.” We know that if New York does right by Black women, the entire city will be better for it.

360: How can you use your personal experiences with serving as a single mother and observing the many other challenges that face New York City residents to enact policy reform?

Morales: So many of New York’s problems have impacted me directly, and so much of who I am and what I know comes from being a mom. My greatest joy is being the mother of my two children, Ben and Gabby. They constantly push me, teach me and nourish me. As a single parent, I share experiences with hundreds of thousands of other New Yorkers. A 2018 study found that single-parent households are the second largest household type in New York City. I navigated New York City’s systems – economic, health and education – on my own. I balanced a budget for my family each month, figuring out how to make it work. My greatest challenge was parenting my children through the NYC education system. The rigid and unforgiving education that my children received did not allow any space for their learning differences. They did not see themselves in the white-centric curriculum and we struggled to find support during their developmental years. Advocating for my children was a full-time job on top of my paying-full-time-job. Again and again I have stood with parents for a more equitable and life-affirming education for our kids. It is with this same community spirit of coalition building, advocacy and bettering of our social safety nets that I will push for policies that support all types of families in NYC.

360: What is one of the most significant components of your background or experiential knowledge that separates you from any other candidate?

Morales: I am, in so many ways, the average New Yorker. I was born and bred in Bed-Stuy. I am an Afro Latina single-mom of two children who survived the New York City public school system. I am a first generation college graduate who came back home to my city after school. I am a woman of color who discovered that I was not being paid the same as my white male counterparts. I’ve watched my neighborhood change, I’ve seen Starbucks replace the corner bodega, and I have spent my weekends marching side by side – 6 feet apart – with my fellow New Yorkers demanding justice for those killed at the hands of a racist policing system. Because I am the average New Yorker, my voice reflects the voices of thousands of others. We share our lived experiences, frustrations and joys. I love New York City because I see our full potential for all of us.

360: How does your previous extensive work with social service nonprofits inform your motivations and goals to serve as Mayor?

Morales: For decades, I worked within the community to address structural inequities burdening communities of color. I worked alongside those experiencing the symptoms of our broken system most acutely – poverty, lack of access to education, homelessness and mental health services. I witnessed firsthand the day-to-day struggles of New Yorkers that are perpetuated by cycles of poverty and oppression. I worked from the ground, up and from the inside, out. But as I hammered away, I recognized these structural and institutional barriers, and began to ask, “So how do we burn them down?” It felt as though I was only tinkering around the edges of the problem and providing Band-Aid solutions to deep, deep wounds. The core, perpetuating issues were centralized and foundational. I realized that if I want to create lasting, effective change, I must address these systemic and political problems at the root. As Mayor, I would carry with me the voices of those I have served.

360: In outlining your points of action and reform for New York City, how does the COVID-19 pandemic affect any of these potential strides for change?

Morales: As we know, COVID-19 is a catastrophe that illuminates all of the cracks and splinters in our broken systems. At first, many claimed the COVID-19 was a “great equalizer,” affecting all people, regardless of race, class or gender. Instead COVID-19 disproportionately impacts people of color and low-income communities. This is not a coincidence or personal failing, but rather the direct result of racist systems, putting structural oppression in stark relief. While some New Yorkers are able to escape crowded areas, arm themselves with personal protective equipment and work remotely, others, namely people of color, are on the front lines providing essential services to our city.

As COVID-19 has had devastating consequences that will leave a lasting impact for years to come, it has also provided us with a unique moment. As we saw after the murder of George Floyd by the Minneapolis police, being homebound and isolated forces us to pay attention. We have paused. We have slowed down. With fewer distractions and a center of focus, folks all across the country have had the veil lifted. People are noticing the interconnected webs of oppression I have lived with and that I have been fighting to dismantle my entire life. In this moment, we need leaders in office who are of, by and for the movement for social change. There is a momentum and hunger for justice that can no longer be ignored. As we overcome the challenge of the disease, I will never let the city forget who is truly essential. Together we will create a world in which front-line workers are truly valued as indispensable. A world where we accompany our applause and platitudes with a livable wage, unquestionable dignity and real community power.

360: What are some of the most rewarding takeaways you have gained from leading several momentous organizations?

Morales: I’ve learned firsthand about the barriers and challenges that people have to overcome in order to gain access to opportunities that are alleged to be available to everyone. I also have watched as community members care for one another to bridge the gaps in access to those opportunities. This is testament to the power of our communities to be true partners in determining the solutions they face when given the resources to do so. Finally, I have been able to bear witness to what is possible when people finally gain access and opportunity and how that has the potential to change the trajectory of people’s lives and transform families and communities.

360: Regarding the national and global movement, Black Lives Matter, how will you utilize your unique identity to empower minorities in the City of New York?

Morales: Like many people of color, I have lived years of my life trying not to take up space. I have seen the ways that my identities – my Blackness, my Latina roots, my politics, my womanhood – make people, namely white people, uncomfortable. In these spaces I would constantly ask myself, “Do I seem too opinionated, too articulate, too aggressive?” I would contort and deflate myself to fit into tight corners and small boxes. I would shrink myself so that others could feel big. When making the decision to run for Mayor of NYC, I decided it was important for me to run as my full, unadulterated, unapologetic, multi-hyphenated self. There would be no more shrinking, questioning or self-doubt. I recognize that by the very nature of stepping into this space, I am opening up a path of possibility. As the first Afro-Latina running for mayor of New York City, I recognize the awesome responsibility I hold. I know that when I speak, unfairly or not, I am representing all Afro-Latina women. Missteps become mass stereotypes. Accolades become communal achievements.

This is both beautiful and deeply terrifying. But in moments of fear, I am guided by a greater purpose to bring with me those whom have been devalued and made to feel small, as I have been; to elevate the voices of those with shared experiences and claim our rightful place in democracy and representation in leadership. People like me, individuals and communities of color, women of color, we must be at the forefront of our politics and policies. I am deeply committed to divesting from racist systems and investing in Black and Brown communities. I am committed to reimagining public safety on our streets and in our schools. I am committed to shifting wealth opportunities to those who have been historically marginalized. I am committed to redressing and repairing the wounds of oppression that scar our city. I am in this race to stand taller in the face of a world that tells me to shrink. I am here to tell them that Black lives are beloved. We matter today and every day forward.

360: To all of the NYC citizens following your efforts to better numerous communities, what are some of the best ways individuals can support your campaign?

Morales: The best way to help me is to join the campaign with a small contribution. I am not a career politician, and unlike other candidates, I have not spent decades cultivating a war chest of people, networks and resources to kickstart my run for mayor. I want to be responsive to the people, not the special interests.. My campaign was born out of my home in Bed-Stuy, out of conversations with my neighbors, friends and colleagues. Our campaign is 100% powered by the people, not the 1%. We are an intersectional coalition of Black and Brown, Latinx, LGBTQIA and working class New Yorkers. We are backed by the people being hit the hardest at this moment in time. I am so incredibly humbled that in the middle of a pandemic, without employment, people are finding a way to donate to our campaign. I know what is at stake and the choices they have had to make to do so. If donating to our campaign is not possible for you during this financially uncertain time, we understand. Visit my website, dianne.nyc, for information and volunteer opportunities. Spread our mission to your fellow New Yorkers. Reach out to join our team. Remember me in November 2021.

To learn more about Dianne Morales, you can click right here. To learn more about her stances and solutions, you can click right here. To support Morales through donations, you can click right here. You can also support her on Twitter and Instagram.

Poor People's Campaign illustrated by Mina Tocalini for 360 MAGAZINE.

Poor People’s Campaign

The Poor People’s Campaign will demand a moral policy agenda to heal America in a congressional briefing Thursday as it follows up on its digital Mass Poor People’s Assembly and Moral March on Washington that drew millions of viewers.

Legislators and other political leaders from both sides of the aisle have been invited to attend the digital briefing, where campaign leaders will lay out the specifics of the Moral Policy Agenda to Heal America: The Poor People’s Jubilee Platform

The agenda is grounded in constitutional and moral values and offers concrete solutions to end the ongoing, concurrent crises of the five interlocking injustices: systemic racism, systemic poverty, militarism, ecological devastation and the false moral narrative of extreme religious nationalism.

“It’s time that we lift from the bottom, which requires us to address all five of the interlocking injustices,” said Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II, president of Repairers of the Breach and co-chair of the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival. “We cannot put more money in systemic racism, corporate interests and the war economy than we do in living wages, health care, public education and guaranteeing equal protection under the law. Poverty is lethal; systemic racism is lethal; COVID-19 is lethal. This agenda demands what must be now and after the election to heal the nation.”

Also invited to attend are the tri-chairs from the 45 states where the Poor People’s Campaign is organizing, along with the campaign’s national partners and faith partners.

The briefing follows the campaign’s digital justice assembly on June 20th, when millions of people tuned in to the digital justice gathering to hear the reality facing 140 million people who are poor or low-income in the wealthiest country in the world and where 700 people die each day from poverty — even before COVID-19.

Also on that day, the campaign’s coordinating committees from 45 states and over 200 organizational partners, labor unions and religious denominations came together around the moral policy agenda to heal America.

“Biblically, the Year of Jubilee was a time to release people from their debts, release all slaves and ensure that all people have what they need to thrive, not just barely survive,” said Rev. Liz Theoharis, director of Kairos Center for Religions, Rights and Social Justice and co-chair of the Poor People’s Campaign. “Our Justice Platform provides a way for this country to do the same with policies and budgets that lift people out of poverty and revive the economy with the promise of a brighter future for all.”

The sweeping platform offers a roadmap for lawmakers to take seriously the moral and constitutional principles upon which this country was founded: to establish justice, promote the general welfare, ensure domestic tranquility, secure the blessings of liberty and provide for the common defense.

In addition to Barber and Theoharis, the policy director for the Kairos Center and the Poor People’s Campaign, Shailly Gupta Barnes, will address the briefing. The briefing begins at 1 p.m. and lasts until 2:30 p.m. Thursday. It’s open only to the media and invited guests. Reporters can register here.

The Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral  Revival, is building a broad and deep moral fusion movement rooted in the leadership of poor people to unite our country from the bottom up. We demand that both major political parties address the interlocking injustices of systemic racism, poverty, ecological devastation, militarism and the distorted moral narrative of religious nationalism. Our updated agenda, the Poor People’s Moral Justice Jubilee Policy Platform addresses these issues.

America can’t address the moral crisis of poverty without addressing healthcare. Some 140 million people in the U.S. – or more than 43 percent – live in poverty or are low-wealth” Rekindling a Prophetic Moral Vision for Justice, Social Change and Movement BuildingFollow Poor People’s Campaign: Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | YouTube

Doctor, Coronavirus, Health, Vaughn Lowery, 360 Magazine,

6 Proactive Ways a Hospital Billing Company Can Maximize Your Revenue Collection

By MedcareMSO

The federal government has brought about a lot of changes in the US healthcare system since the past few years. These changes have introduced a lot of challenges for providers and patients alike. Many aspects of healthcare reform including; the introduction of more time-consuming, value-based compensation models and the frequent alterations to hospital medical billing rules and regulations can cause a significant range of revenue loss for providers across the United States.

Therefore, if providers fail to stay up-to-date on hospital billing rules and regulations result in providers leaving approximately $125 billion in uncollected revenue each year. Specialty practitioners like radiologists face even greater difficulties due to the complexity of their billing procedures.

Simultaneously, patients can’t afford increasingly expensive healthcare services due to high-deductible plans. Therefore, hospitals should partner with a reliable hospital billing company that can help them guide them strategies to help them encounter these challenges.

How can a hospital billing company help you over hurdles?

Let’s paint a dismal picture of the financial health of the industry with authentic data paints. It would help providers to analyze their reimbursement models and mitigate practice financial issues and compliance risks. In this article, I have enlisted 6 proactive ways that can help providers to take a proactive approach to maximize their revenue generation.

1. Prepare a Clear Collections Process

All practices require a collection process to ensure the financial health of their medical business. They should establish a step-by-step procedure that clarifies the procedure for all. It can greatly improve revenue cycles by ensuring patients are properly and thoroughly aware of their responsibilities.

2. Focus on Claim Management Properly

According to a recent study, 80% of claims are rejected due to errors yearly. Due to the strict policies of insurance companies about accurate medical billing and coding practices, they are likely going to end up being rejected. Therefore, practitioners should prepare claim management that focuses on streamlining each step with 100% focus on the cycle of submission, rejection, editing and resubmission can take weeks. It often results in providers waiting for months prior to receiving payment for their services.

3. Minimize Coding Errors

Medical coders describe the performed medical procedures within a claim using standardized medical codes. It makes the claims easy to understand and proceed for further levels. These codes can use ICD-10_CM, CPT and HCPCS Level II classification systems. This process provides a standard method of describing procedures. However, a hospital billing specialist can ensure that the claim is prepared with less or no error. So it can be reimbursed for the first time without wasting the times and efforts of the whole team. Most importantly, if you partner with a reliable hospital billing company then their certified employees can ensure that your claims are not filed with out-to-date, mismatched, incorrect or missing codes. Because when these mistakes are identified by the clearinghouses then they deny such erroneous claims before they can become an issue for payers.

4. Promptly Follow-up on Denied or Rejected Claims

Before diving into details, let’s establish the difference between a rejected claim and a denied claim.

Rejected Claim: A rejected claim is one that hasn’t been processed yet due to the existence of one or more errors. It hinders the insurance company from paying the bills as it is written.

Denied Claim: A denied claim is a claim that the insurance company has processed and has considered unplayable due to the discovery of a violation of the payer- patient contract or due to the identification of vital errors caught after processing the claim.

In both of these scenarios, the payer will return the claim to the biller without paying any amount with an explanation of the problem. If you have the best hospital billing company on your side then you can rectify and resubmit your claims. But remember that a denied claim is appealed prior to resubmission. Consequently, it is a much more costly and time-consuming process.

Therefore, it is essential to check for errors in a claim to minimize the occurrence of rejections and denials. However, if such errors occur then make sure that they are handled as quickly as possible. Here comes the profitable aspect of a dedicated hospital billing company that consistently keeps in touch with the representatives of the payer.

Hence, they can help clarify problems with the original claims and provide information on current claims as they are processed. All of these endeavours would result in the expedition of the claim editing process, minimize appeals and resubmission times. Hence, it would save your practice sufficient time so you can invest your time and efforts in providing quality care services.

5. Improve Operational Capabilities

The healthcare field is constantly changing, therefore, hospitals should follow suits to maximize their efficiency and revenue. A hospital billing company can save your administration time by providing analytical reports and guidelines to comply with the latest healthcare regulations. Hence, medical staff at hospitals can identify key areas that are causing problems and demand new strategies to address those problems.

6. Partner with a Reliable Medical Billing Company

Medical practices must constantly deliver quality care services and comply with current trends in medicine and proper staff management. They must also stay current with the most recent rules about medical coding protocols, insurance companies and medical billing regulations. With so much depth to comply with, an already busy medical staff can slip through the cracks that can lead to rejections, denials, and underpayments that make medical practices to invest their important time and money in the administration procedures.

Along with their insider’s view or in-depth knowledge, a hospital billing company can implement billing procedures and use smart software solutions and equipment to help providers stand out. This can help you manage challenges that arise due to the costly time and labour involved in monitoring down debtors, submitting and editing claims. In this way, it’s an effective way to increase revenue and regain control over your hospital billing department.

If you are looking for the best hospital billing company that can help you achieve your success with fast and reliable collection management, then outsource hospital billing services to medical billing companies, Learn more! We provide the best medical billing services and help you run the business more efficiently!

 

Coronavirus Vaccine – Dr. Jeremy M. Levin

A story in USA Today this morning asks whether a coronavirus vaccine could repair the pharma industry’s reputation despite drug price increases. Dr. Jeremy M. Levin, an iconic biotech thought-leader who first introduced immuno oncology to the world 10 years ago, is quoted:

“The pandemic ‘has driven the public eye onto what the biotech industry does, which is change the dynamic of a disease,’ said Jeremy Levin, chairman of BIO and author of the recently published book Biotechnology in the Time of COVID-19: Commentaries from the Front Line. “In the noise that came from the bad actors, we basically lost sight of the essence of what the biotech is all about, which is patients and innovation.”

Here are some additional thoughts from Dr. Levin’s on developing a vaccine and the road forward:

What can you (and the biotech industry) tell the American people that they haven’t already heard? Unless we are able to get a handle on COVID-19, we as a society as a whole are at great risk. There has never been a greater risk from a transmissible disease to our nation, and the world at large.

There is incredible pressure to expedite a COVID-19 vaccine, even if it hasn’t been tested in the way it needs to be tested.

What are the risks/rewards? The risks of rushing a vaccine are  considerable, and the FDA will be acutely aware of this when making an approval. I expect there will be extraordinary diligence from the FDA, as well as from each company producing a vaccine. Despite this, the risk of not developing a vaccine are nearly unimaginable.

How long is the typical timeline for vaccine development? A typical timeline for vaccine development is at least a decade, but many variables go into this. This article in the NY Times is a useful explainer.

Dr. Levin is available for interviews on COVID-19 and other biotech topics. He is currently CEO and Chairman of OVID Therapeutics, Inc., and Chair of the global Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO). In 2018 Dr. Levin was named “one of the most influential figures in biopharmaceutical industry” by FierceBiotech, and one of the top three biotechnology CEOs in 2020 by The Healthcare Technology Report. See him interviewed HERE on CNBC.