Medic Buzz Wed, 21 Jul 2021 20:15:46 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Medic Buzz 32 32 Experts: spending opioid regulation funds to fight opioids Wed, 21 Jul 2021 19:43:00 +0000

Nassau County Director Laura Curran, right, speaks at a press conference to discuss a settlement in an opioid lawsuit, Tuesday, July 20, 2021, in Central Islip, NY Suffolk County Director Steve Bellone is behind her.  New York State reached an agreement on Tuesday with distribution companies AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health and McKesson to settle an ongoing lawsuit.  This deal alone would generate over $ 1 billion to reduce the damage caused by opioids there.  The lawsuit is expected to continue, but the settlement leaves only three drugmakers as defendants.  (AP Photo / Mark Lennihan)

Nassau County Director Laura Curran, right, speaks at a press conference to discuss a settlement in an opioid lawsuit, Tuesday, July 20, 2021, in Central Islip, NY Suffolk County Director Steve Bellone is behind her. New York State reached an agreement on Tuesday with distribution companies AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health and McKesson to settle an ongoing lawsuit. This deal alone would generate over $ 1 billion to reduce the damage caused by opioids there. The lawsuit is expected to continue, but the settlement leaves only three drugmakers as defendants. (AP Photo / Mark Lennihan)


As a possible $ 26 billion settlement with opioid producers looms, some public health experts cite the 1998 agreement with tobacco companies as a warning against rampant government spending and missed opportunities to save more lives.

Simple fractions of the more than $ 200 billion tobacco regulations have been used to prevent smoking and help people quit smoking in many states. Instead, much of the money helped balance state budgets, lay fiber optic cables, and repair roads.

And while the regulation has been successful in many ways – smoking rates have dropped dramatically – cigarettes are still responsible for more than 480,000 American deaths a year.

“We saw a lot of these dollars spent in ways that didn’t help people who had been injured by tobacco,” said Bradley D. Stein, director of the Opioid Policy Center at RAND Corporation. “And I think it’s critical that opioid settlement dollars are spent wisely.”

A group of state attorneys general and the companies involved presented key details of the settlement on Wednesday, a day after lawyers representing local governments nationwide said they were set to settle down .

The deal sees drugmaker Johnson & Johnson pay up to $ 5 billion, in addition to billions more from major national drug distribution companies. AmerisourceBergen and Cardinal Health will each contribute $ 6.4 billion. McKesson has to pay $ 7.9 billion.

States – with the exception of West Virginia, which has already settled with the companies – will have 30 days to approve the agreements. After that, local governments will have four months to sign. Each company will decide whether enough jurisdictions accept the deal to go ahead.

“While the companies strongly disagree with the allegations made in these lawsuits, they believe the proposed settlement agreement and the settlement process it establishes … are important steps towards a comprehensive resolution of government opioid claims and relief. meaningful communities across the United States, ”the distribution companies said in a statement.

Connecticut Attorney General William Tong said it would be the second-largest cash settlement in U.S. history behind the tobacco deal in the 1990s.

North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein said the opioid deal requires state and local governments to use the vast majority of the money for the reduction – and this will be subject to a court order. Stein said there is a strong will to comply due to the opioid devastation.

“We are all suffering the consequences in communities in North Carolina, across the country,” Stein said in a video press conference Wednesday.

The deal would be part of ongoing efforts to tackle the nation’s opioid addiction and overdose crisis. Prescription drugs and illegal drugs like illicitly produced heroin and fentanyl have been linked to more than 500,000 deaths in the United States since 2000. The number of cases reached an all-time high in 2020.

If approved, the settlement will likely be the largest of many nationwide opioid litigation. It is expected to contribute more than $ 23 billion in reduction and mitigation efforts to help secure treatment for people with drug addiction as well as other programs to deal with the crisis. The money would come in 18 annual installments, with the largest amounts over the next several years.

A group of advocacy organizations, public health experts and others are pushing for governments to adhere to a set of principles on how settlement money should be used. They include creating a dedicated epidemic fund with money from the settlement and making sure it doesn’t just replace other sources of funding in the budget.

The group pointed out that many state and local governments have already cut back on substance use and behavioral health programs due to the economic downturn caused by the coronavirus pandemic. And government officials may be tempted to fill the gaps in budgets with money.

Joshua Sharfstein, associate dean of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, said it was crucial that money be spent to fight the opioid scourge as the overdose epidemic rages on.

Last year there was a record 93,000 fatal overdoses of all drugs in the United States. The majority of these involved fentanyl, a potent synthetic opioid that has medical uses but is also produced illegally.

“Everyone is both excited and a little worried,” Sharfstein said of the expected funds, “a little worried that they are wasted”.

Another concern is that some government officials have been too busy dealing with the coronavirus to fully determine where the settlement funds should go.

“I’m concerned that in some places there just isn’t a lot of attention (being paid to it) and that it can be put back into the general fund,” said Marcus Plescia, Chief Medical Officer of the Association. of State and Territorial health officials. “It’s not that there aren’t people doing it. But leaders are struggling to commit to it because they are so caught up in the pandemic. ”

Stein of the RAND Corporation said it was important to spend the money on efforts that have been shown to be effective, including addiction treatment and the use of drugs to stop overdoses.

“We know the treatment is working,” he said. “We know that naloxone appears to be very important in preventing overdose deaths. … There will be no quick fixes. It may vary, community by community. ”

Thinking back to the tobacco regulations, Stein said guide rails were not in place to ensure all the money was used as intended.

“I think, or at least I hope, we’ve learned from history,” he said.

The tobacco regulations were the result of states trying to recoup the health costs associated with tobacco-related illnesses, while alleging that the industry had misled the public.

Joelle Lester, director of commercial tobacco control programs at the Public Health Law Center in Minnesota, said the tobacco regulations were “both a huge success and a warning.”

This has resulted in higher prices for cigarettes, which has resulted in lower smoking rates. Marketing, especially to children, has been cut. And smoking among adults fell from 24.1% in 1998 to 13.7% in 2018, according to the American Lung Association.

But the settlement “continues to be a missed opportunity every year where payments are made and money is spent on other things,” Lester said.

“The people who negotiate these agreements must remain focused on the destruction of health and communities caused,” she said of the industry agreements in general. “Every element of the settlement should either try to repair the damage done or prevent it from continuing.”

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Non-citizen children are more likely to be uninsured than their siblings with citizenship Wed, 21 Jul 2021 18:30:51 +0000

Non-citizen children from families with mixed immigration status in the United States were much more likely to be uninsured than their citizen siblings, and this lack of coverage resulted in delays in needed medical care, according to a recent study.

Examination of family data from 2008 to 2018 where at least one child had citizenship and another did not show that 42% of non-citizen children were uninsured compared to 12% of those who had citizenship, a reported Leighton Ku, MD, PhD, of the George Washington University School of Public Health in Washington, DC, and Mariellen Jewers, PhD, of the Open Avenues Foundation in Boston.

Unsurprisingly, due to legal restrictions, significantly fewer non-citizen children were publicly insured through the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) or Medicaid (39% of non-citizens vs. 73% of brothers and sisters). citizen sisters). Private insurance, for which citizenship status is irrelevant, was similar (19% vs. 15%, respectively), according to the results in the July issue of Health affairs.

Non-citizen status “leads to inferior insurance coverage and reduced access to care,” Ku said at a briefing on Tuesday hosted by Health affairs, adding that more than twice as many non-national children suffered delays in treatment for necessary medical care (7% vs. 3%).

“This was mainly due to insurance services,” and the associated care costs, Ku said during the briefing, sponsored by the California Health Care Foundation, California Endowment and Con Alma Health Foundation. He noted that after checking the insurance status, the difference in processing times disappeared.

A second analysis of the study found that more than two-thirds of these non-citizen children eventually became citizens at the age of 30 or older.

Legal restrictions and exclusions from CHIP eligibility have been in place for decades – with a range of such restrictions related to immigration status operating in 48 states, as of 2020. A 1996 federal law established a period of ‘5-year wait for legal non-citizens to be eligible for Medicaid or CHIP. Another federal law in 2009 gave states the ability to waive the waiting period and provide coverage for legal immigrant children and pregnant women, but undocumented children continued to be excluded.

In their article, Ku and Jewers explained that “eligibility restrictions that prevent non-national children from being publicly insured can contribute to their poor health and higher medical costs in their adult lives.”

Their study drew on data from two sources: the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) from the National Center for Health Statistics, from 2008 to 2018, and the Current Population Survey (CPS) 2020 from the Census Bureau. NHIS data allowed researchers to assemble a sample of mixed-status families, while census data was used in a separate analysis to determine the extent to which non-citizen children ultimately became citizens.

Overall, the study included 251,861 child citizens and 8,282 non-citizen children in the United States, as well as 8,405 children from 2,832 “single mixed-status families.”

Using the ‘family-level fixed-effects model’, the researchers were able to control for variables such as the race, ethnicity and country of origin of parents, as well as the employment and education of parents. parents, family income, and Medicaid policies of different states related to family residence or year of survey. The model also controlled for more difficult-to-observe variables such as parents’ feelings about insurance and health care use, the study noted. The analysis also controlled for age and sex, with non-citizen children tending to be older than citizen children.

“The net effect of having this fixed-effect system, where we can control all the characteristics within families, [is] this provides very strong evidence of causation, ”said Ku.

While these models are “not as definitive as the randomized experiments,” the study noted, the fixed-effect models provide “a solid basis for identifying Medicaid and CHIP eligibility restrictions against non-nationals as caused by the poor health insurance status of immigrant children and limited access to medical care. “

The researchers focused on three main results:

  • Insurance coverage at the time of the survey
  • Whether or not parents postponed medical care due to costs in the past year
  • Child’s health (on a Likert scale of 1 to 5, ranging from poor to excellent)

The researchers found no significant difference in health status. “It’s just because most of the children are in excellent health,” said Ku. “So we don’t see a lot of these differences.”

In the second analysis using CPS 2020 data from the Census Bureau, researchers retrospectively examined adults who came to the United States as non-citizen children and found that 70% of those people became citizens by the age of 30 years or older.

Ku said the common thread between the two analyzes is the issue of fairness.

“And the question is, ‘Why would we want to build barriers that make children from the same families be treated differently?'” He said. “I don’t see why, as a politician, the United States would want to do this.”

When possible, as parents’ experience with private insurance clearly shows, parents “tend to cover their children the same way” regardless of their citizenship status, Ku said.

Ku argued that current US policy threatens children’s health insurance status and compromises their access to health care.

Although the study did not find any differences in health status between citizen and non-citizen siblings, other studies have shown the beneficial effects of children receiving Medicaid early in life, a- he noted.

“Our analyzes of CPS data indicate that the majority of non-citizen children grow up to be US citizens,” Ku and Jewers wrote in their article. “Excluding them from health insurance coverage hampers their access to health care and can ultimately harm their health, both in childhood and into adulthood.”

For this reason, Ku argued that lawmakers should consider removing restrictions on Medicaid related to citizenship. He pointed out that under current law all states have the option to remove the 5-year waiting period and about half have done so. Many states could go even further, such as California has done, he noted.

“We harm future citizens if we refuse coverage early in life,” Ku said.

  • Shannon Firth has worked on health policy as a MedPage Today Washington correspondent since 2014. She is also a member of the site’s Enterprise & Investigative Reporting team. To pursue

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ZOLL Medical Obtains FDA Clearance for TBI Dashboard on its Propaq M Monitor and Propaq MD Monitor / Defibrillator Wed, 21 Jul 2021 13:00:00 +0000

CHELMSFORD, Mass .– (COMMERCIAL THREAD) – ZOLL® Medical Corporation, an Asahi Kasei company that manufactures medical devices and associated software solutions, today announced that it has received 510 (k) clearance from the FDA to launch the TBI Dashboard ™ feature on its Propaq® M and Propaq MD / defibrillator monitors. TBI Dashboard provides clinical decision support for the management of patients with TBI (head injury) and was previously available on Propaq devices in international markets. With FDA clearance announced today, ZOLL can now bring this capability to the US market.

TBI remains a significant problem in modern warfare, with frequent diagnoses in combat and training environments.1 TBI patients present a unique set of challenges. Close monitoring of vital signs and early treatment are both essential to minimize secondary injuries, common in patients with severe TBI. Often, patients do not die from the primary injury, but rather from a secondary brain injury that occurs after the initial impact.2

The TBI dashboard displays digital and graphical trend data on what the EPIC study calls the “Three H bombs”: hypotension, hypoxia and hyperventilation. Providing continuously updated vital signs data at a glance allows medical staff to make treatment decisions before a patient’s condition becomes critical, as recommended by TCCC guidelines3 and demonstrated by the EPIC study.4 In addition to monitoring key vital signs, TBI Dashboard also includes a breath-to-breath countdown to help healthcare providers maintain proper ventilation rates and prevent hyperventilation.

“ZOLL is focused on providing products that improve patient outcomes. TBI Dashboard provides clinical decision support capabilities that help physicians improve outcomes for injured combatants. ZOLL is proud to offer significant improvements to our Propaq series monitor / defibrillator and is honored to be a trusted partner providing acute critical care technologies to the US military, ”said Elijah White, President of ZOLL Resuscitation.

From the point of injury throughout the continuum of care en route, ZOLL’s Propaq M and Propaq MD monitors / defibrillators, now featuring TBI Dashboard capabilities, support rapid treatment and efficient management of TBI patients. The TBI instrument panel is also available and approved for use on the ZOLL X series® Advanced monitor / defibrillator.

ZOLL and the army

For over 25 years, ZOLL has been a trusted partner providing acute critical care technology to the military. ZOLL products are widely used throughout the military health system in support of combatant and casualty care in all roles of the operational en route health care system, and in disaster and humanitarian response. . ZOLL’s leading resuscitation and critical care technologies are used in all operational medical care roles on the battlefield, in evacuations and aero-medical transports, in field hospitals and in garrison for definitive care.

For more information, visit and

About ZOLL Medical Corporation

ZOLL Medical Corporation, an Asahi Kasei company, develops and markets medical devices and software solutions that help advance emergency care and save lives, while increasing clinical and operational efficiency. With products for defibrillation and cardiac monitoring, improved circulation and CPR feedback, supersaturated oxygen therapy, data management, ventilation and therapeutic temperature management, ZOLL provides a A comprehensive set of technologies that help clinicians, emergency and fire service professionals, as well as lay rescuers, improve outcomes for patients with critical cardiopulmonary conditions. For more information, visit

About Asahi Kasei

The Asahi Kasei Group contributes to the lives and the lives of people around the world. Since its founding in 1922 with ammonia and cellulose fiber businesses, Asahi Kasei has grown steadily through the proactive transformation of its business portfolio to meet the ever-changing needs of every age. With more than 40,000 employees worldwide, the company contributes to a sustainable society by providing solutions to global challenges through its three business segments of materials, homes and healthcare. Its healthcare business includes devices and systems for acute intensive care, dialysis, therapeutic apheresis, transfusion, and the manufacturing of biotherapeutics, as well as pharmaceuticals and diagnostic reagents. For more information, visit

1Pazdan R, et al. Head trauma in the military. Foundations of military medicine. Borden Institute-Office of the Surgeon General US Army MedCoE. 2019, chapter 38.

2Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI): Incidence and Distribution, 2004.

3Joint Trauma System / Tactical Combat Casualty Care Committee, TCC Guidelines August 1, 2019.

4Spaite DW et al. JAMA surgery. July 1, 2019; 154 (7): e191152.

Copyright © 2021 ZOLL Medical Corporation. TBI Dashboard, X Series, and ZOLL are trademarks or registered trademarks of ZOLL Medical Corporation in the United States and / or other countries. Asahi Kasei is a registered trademark of Asahi Kasei Corporation. All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners. Propaq is a registered trademark of Welch Allyn.

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Health insurer Anthem raises profit forecast for 2021 after strong second quarter Wed, 21 Jul 2021 10:24:00 +0000 The office building of health insurer Anthem is seen in Los Angeles, California on February 5, 2015. REUTERS / Gus Ruelas

July 21 (Reuters) – Health insurer Anthem Inc (ANTM.N) raised its 2021 profit target slightly on Wednesday and posted a 15.7% increase in second-quarter sales in part thanks to the increase revenues from its unit, which includes its activity of managing IngénioRx pharmaceutical services.

The company said it expected to earn more than $ 25.50 per share in 2021, compared to its previous estimate of more than $ 25.10.

Most U.S. health insurers have been cautious in their outlook for 2021 as they anticipate more uncertainty due to the impact of viral variants and new outbreaks of infection in parts of the country, particularly in areas with low vaccination rates.

Biggest rival UnitedHealth Group (UNH.N) last week raised its adjusted profit forecast for 2021 for the second time this year, but stuck to its expectations of recording $ 1.80 per hit share of COVID-19. Read more

Anthem said its benefit expense ratio – the percentage of premiums paid for medical services – worsened to 86.8% from 77.9% a year earlier. Analysts were expecting an average of 87.78%, according to data from Refinitiv IBES.

The increase is due to an increase in healthcare costs unrelated to COVID and COVID from relatively depressed levels in the same quarter a year ago, the company said.

Excluding items, Anthem earned $ 7.03 per share in the second quarter ended June 30.

Operating revenue from the company’s pharmacy benefits management business jumped 18% to $ 6.22 billion from a year earlier.

Report by Manojna Maddipatla in Bengaluru; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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VA Maryland Health Care System Helps Veterans Struggle With Pandemic Tue, 20 Jul 2021 20:32:00 +0000 Some 43 years later, a local woman struggling with the trauma of rape says the pandemic has added to her hardship. A new program through Maryland’s veterans health care system is helping her and others cope. survivor of military sexual trauma, ”said Margaret Hill-Grigson. Click the video player above to watch other headlines from WBALTV-11 News. “There is no part of life that rape does not affect,” she said. Hill-Grigson said at that point her concerns were dismissed and she was subsequently fired before completing her enlistment. Now a disabled vet with PTSD, she frequents survivor groups, knits and gardens to stay mentally healthy. But when the coronavirus pandemic struck, she isolated herself and slipped back into depression. “I tended to be isolated just for the sake of safety. It only made it worse,” she said. Lucky for her, the VA Maryland Health Care System has launched a new program called VA Connection Plans to help veterans get through tough times. The program uses a holistic approach to physical, mental and social well-being. “You have a first meeting with one of our stakeholders and they get to know the veteran and identify what is really important to him, regarding the challenges he faces and priorities for their well-being. Then they co-create goals, so at least one goal of physical, mental and social connection, ”said health researcher Samantha Hack. Hill-Grigson has returned to knitting, gardening and socializing. out of your comfort zone to re-enter the world. Even if it’s not in person, you can always stretch out again in a Zoom meeting with friends or while on the phone or going out and playing in the mud in your backyard, ”she said. The VA Maryland Health Care System launched the program in December 2020. There are 40 registered veterans. As for Hill-Grigson, she said the program is slowly helping her come to herself. Veterans who wish to participate in the Connection Plans Project should call 443-421-6270.

Some 43 years later, a local woman struggling with the trauma of rape says the pandemic has added to her hardship. A new program through Maryland’s veterans health care system is helping her and others cope.

“I was 19 when I enlisted. It was in 1979. I did my basic training in Orlando, Florida while I was in basic training. I survived a sexual trauma. military, ”said Margaret Hill-Grigson.

Click on the video player above to watch other titles from WBALTV-11 News

It may have been over 40 years ago, but the veteran still suffers from being raped while in the Navy.

“There is no part of life that rape does not affect,” she said.

Hill-Grigson said at that point her concerns were dismissed and she was subsequently fired before completing her enlistment. Now a disabled vet with PTSD, she frequents survivor groups, knits and gardens to stay mentally healthy. But when the coronavirus pandemic struck, she isolated herself and slipped back into depression.

“I tended to be isolated just for the sake of safety. It just made it worse,” she said.

Lucky for her, the VA Maryland Health Care System has launched a new program called VA Connection Plans to help veterans get through this difficult time. The program uses a holistic approach to physical, mental and social well-being.

“You have a first meeting with one of our interventionists and they get to know the veteran and identify what is really important to him, in terms of the challenges he is facing and the priorities for his well-being. , they co-create goals, so at least one goal for body, mind and social connection, ”said health researcher Samantha Hack.

Hill-Grigson has returned to knitting, gardening and socializing.

“You have to step out of your comfort zone to re-enter the world. Even if it’s not in person, you can still develop yourself again in a Zoom meeting with friends or by calling or going out and playing mud in your garden, ”she said.

The VA Maryland Health Care System launched the program in December 2020. There are 40 registered veterans. As for Hill-Grigson, she said the program is slowly helping her recover.

Veterans who wish to participate in the Connection Plans project should call 443-421-6270.

In addition to this, you need to know more about it.

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How more businesses can embrace hybrid work Tue, 20 Jul 2021 18:58:04 +0000 Hybrid arrangements should be seen as an opportunity for “forward-looking design”, not just “back to work,” says Josh Bersin, keynoter of HR Tech.

Even as concerns about the Delta COVID variant continue to rise, many organizations are convinced the worst of the pandemic is behind us and are quickly planning the long-awaited “back to work”. While some CEOs expect this to mean a return to the traditional office, it is becoming increasingly evident that many companies will adapt to a “more flexible and forgiving work environment,” according to a new report from the Josh Bersin Academy.

“CEOs and their very senior management teams are used to having face-to-face interactions with people, so they expect the recovery from the pandemic to be a big comeback in the office,” said Josh Bersin. , founder and dean of Josh Bersin Academy and a speaker at the upcoming Human Resources Technology Conference that will explore the future of hybrid work in a free webinar on July 21. – half and I would like to keep doing what I’m doing, ”so there’s a bit of a showdown going on.

Once seen as a code to “not work,” Bersin says, the pandemic has broken the stigma of working from home and taught employers that it can work. As the job market becomes increasingly competitive, employers need to reassess their attitude towards remote working. Already, Bersin points out, the second most common “location” for job postings on LinkedIn is “remotely”.

Yet not all organizations are convinced by the idea of ​​a fully remote workforce. As a result, many are turning to a hybrid work environment where employees work in the office on some days and remotely on others. In the Hybrid work manual, the researchers write that there is no clear blueprint for this new hybrid world of work. However, simply “reassigning legacy policies to remote work” is unlikely to be sufficient.

“Before the pandemic, working remotely or working days from home were considered a joke,” Bersin explains. “Now it’s much more common. We have learned a lot of good things about remote working during the pandemic, and as companies look to move to a hybrid work environment, they should see it as a design opportunity for the future, not an exercise. back to work. “

As HR managers seek to formulate their company’s hybrid work strategies, Bersin recommends that they operate in cross-functional teams, bringing together senior leaders, IT, facilities, security, legal and management. They should also involve employees in the design and implementation. After all, he says, they are the customers of hybrid work.

McLean, Va.-Based Mars Inc. has created a team focused solely on the future of work. According to Nuno Gonçalves, Global Head of Strategic Capacity Building, the team “listened, interviewed and conducted focus groups and surveys to understand where we are collectively and to co-create that future”. Since the global pet food and care business operates in around 50 countries, the timing of its transition to a hybrid work environment is going to vary depending on the vaccination rates in each location, according to Gonçalves. In Portugal, for example, where he lives, only 20% of the population had been vaccinated by mid-June. With vaccination rates in Spain having recently surpassed 50%, Gonçalves will soon be traveling to Barcelona to meet his boss for the first time. By September, the company hopes to officially start operating under a hybrid work regime.

See also: Bersin-8 factors to remember when creating a hybrid plan

“We encourage around 50/50 office / remote presence, but we also provide advice on what kind of work is best done face to face and what kind of work is best done remotely,” says Gonçalves. “We will continuously monitor our performance as a company and listen to our associates to determine whether this is the right strategy or not.”

The ability to experiment, learn what works, and continually improve will be crucial for success, says Bersin. Businesses cannot afford to get stuck in “an endless pursuit of perfection,” he says. “Instead, we need to embrace agile techniques, such as co-creation, rapid deployment of flexible solutions, and rapid detection and response to change. While conceding that the world of hybrid work is uncertain, Bersin points out that HR executives are in a much better position as they plan to transition to a hybrid work model than they were at the start of the pandemic when ‘they had to pivot on a dime to a largely remote workforce.

“During the pandemic, most companies remotely went through a very rapid design process in which they didn’t have a lot of choice,” says Bersin. “HR now has the ability to very purposefully design what the hybrid work experience will look like, soliciting feedback along the way. So the business lands in a place where everyone feels comfortable. “

Click here to sign up for HRE ‘s free July 21 webinar with Josh Bersin: Hybrid Work Planning for What Comes Next.

Julie Cook Ramirez is a Rockford, Illinois-based journalist and writer who covers all aspects of human resources. She can be reached at

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Lou Cannon: Healthcare upgrades are becoming the new normal | Opinions Tue, 20 Jul 2021 18:55:00 +0000

The Affordable Care Act, often referred to as Obamacare, became entrenched in the national safety net after a third U.S. Supreme Court ruling upholding its constitutionality.

As a result of the move, President Joe Biden’s administration and various states are looking to upgrade Medicaid, the federal state program that provides medical coverage to low-income Americans and people with disabilities.

Several states are taking advantage of a $ 1.9 billion American Rescue Plan Act provision signed by Biden in March that allows Medicaid to offer one year of health coverage to new mothers instead of the current 60 days.

While this provision has been overshadowed by other parts of the bailout, it’s a big deal, as Biden might put it.

The United States has a high infant mortality rate for a developed country, 5.7 deaths per 1,000 births. This translates to over 22,000 infants dying each year.

Medicaid covers nearly half of all births in the United States, and experts say improved newborn care will save lives.

Medicaid is growing at a rapid rate

Overall, Medicaid, known as Medi-Cal in California, now insures nearly one in four Americans and is growing faster than any US safety net program.

Enrollment in Medicaid and the associated children’s health insurance program fell from 71.3 million in February 2020, at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, to 80.5 million in January of this year, according to an analysis of data from the Kaiser Family Foundation.

“The pandemic has forced states to review their programs, and efforts have been made to improve access,” said Emily Blanford, Medicaid specialist at the National Conference of State Legislatures.

A helpful ARPA provision will provide $ 12 billion for long-term Medicaid services. This will enable millions of older people to receive health services at home and in their communities, rather than in nursing homes and other institutions.

Forty-two states have requested funding under this program.

ARPA also provides additional Medicaid funds to states to establish mobile crisis services for people facing mental health or substance abuse emergencies.

“There was a lot of talk (about this) during (President Donald’s) Trump administration, but not the capital to do it,” Kate McEvoy, Connecticut’s Medicaid program director, told KFF.

On another front, California has budgeted $ 1.3 billion to extend health insurance to unauthorized immigrants aged 50 and over. The state estimates that this will cover 175,000 adults in 2022.

Since 2016, the Golden State has provided health insurance for children of unauthorized immigrants up to the age of 18.

Five other states – Illinois, Massachusetts, New York, Oregon and Washington – and the District of Columbia offer health insurance for children up to 18 years of age. Sixteen states provide antenatal care to undocumented pregnant women.

Courts reject Republican ACA challenges

All of these states have Democratic-controlled legislatures and – with the notable exception of Republican Governor Charlie Baker in Massachusetts – Democratic governors.

It’s not surprising. ARPA was passed by Congressional Democrats in a party line vote, as was the Affordable Care Act, enacted in 2010 by President Barack Obama.

But the talks to buy health insurance didn’t start until 2014, and Republicans effectively opposed Obamacare in the gap between the law’s passage and the creation of the exchanges.

Demonizing Obamacare as a step towards socialized medicine, Republicans seized control of Congress and the majority of state legislatures in the 2010 midterm elections.

But Republicans have done badly since the ACA took full effect in 2014; The GOP’s efforts to overthrow Obamacare have failed three times in Congress and three times in the Supreme Court.

The High Court’s acceptance of Obamacare gradually widened: 5-4 in 2012, 6-3 in 2015, and 7-2 in June of this year, when even Judge Clarence Thomas, the most conservative judge of the court, joined the ratification of the ACA.

In the latest challenge, attorneys general for Texas and 17 other Republican states claimed the law became unconstitutional when Congress in 2017 eliminated the financial penalty for Americans who did not purchase health insurance.

The majority of the court ignored this argument, ruling that the states which had brought the lawsuit had no standing because they had not been wronged by the ACA.

ACA is growing in popularity

As a result of the court ruling, most Republicans have abandoned the effort to kill the Affordable Care Act. Republican congressional leaders criticized the decision but did not repeat previous calls to repeal and replace Obamacare.

This may reflect the growing popularity of the law. A May poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that respondents were in favor of ACA by a range of 53% to 35%.

The ACA has three goals: to make health insurance affordable for more people, to expand Medicaid, and to support the research and development of innovative medical care that could lower overall health care costs in the United States.

He partially managed the first two goals, while the third was largely delayed by COVID-19.

As of June 15, 31 million Americans had obtained ACA health care coverage, according to the Department of Health and Human Services.

HHS data identified 11.3 million Americans as having obtained coverage through exchanges and 14.8 million enrolled in Medicaid due to the expansion of ACA eligibility.

Thirty-eight states and the District of Columbia have extended Medicaid to provide health insurance to families and individuals with incomes up to 138% above the poverty line. (The federal poverty line is $ 12,880 for an individual and $ 31,040 for a family of five.)

Single adults were covered in the expansion for the first time.

Twelve Republican-controlled states, including Florida and Texas, have refused to extend Medicaid to ACA levels despite generous federal grants if they do so. This has left an estimated 2 million people in these states without health insurance.

Medicaid and Obamacare still face an uncertain future

Looking ahead, Medicaid and Obamacare face uncertainties as the nation emerges from the coronavirus pandemic into a changing healthcare landscape.

Medicaid was created in 1965 by the same law that, at the behest of President Lyndon B. Johnson, created Medicare, the federal medicare program for the country’s seniors.

Unlike Medicare, however, Medicaid was voluntary for the states, which shared the costs of the program. Arizona, the last state to do so, only implemented a Medicaid program in 1982.

Forty-three states cut Medicaid benefits during the Great Recession from December 2007 to June 2009, placing heavy burdens on state and local governments.

When the pandemic hit in 2020, state budget analysts feared a repeat of the Great Recession scenario, but federal financial payments to individuals and extended unemployment benefits kept Medicaid growth lower than expected.

Congress has also helped by increasing the federal share of Medicaid costs.

Nonetheless, total Medicaid costs to states exceed $ 600 billion, and states may have to cut benefits during the next economic downturn.

When it comes to the Affordable Care Act, current upgrades may prove to be even more fleeting.

Even the cheapest insurance plans available on the ACA were beyond the financial reach of millions of Americans who did not qualify for a subsidy.

The Biden administration solved this problem in ARPA by extending eligibility for ACA health insurance subsidies to people with incomes above 400% of the poverty line. But the provision only lasts for two years, retroactive to January 1, 2021.

The Republican perception of the ACA as a partisan agenda remains its Achilles heel.

To maintain the health insurance upgrades made possible by Biden’s election and passage of ARPA, Democrats will need to either persuade some Republicans of their merits or win the 2022 midterm legislative election. .

Achieving either of these goals could prove to be a tall order.

– Lou Cannon, a resident of Summerland, is a longtime national political writer and acclaimed presidential biographer. His most recent book – co-authored with his son, Carl – is Reagan’s Disciple: George W. Bush’s Troubled Quest for Presidential Legacy. Cannon is also an editorial advisor to the State Net Capitol Journal, which originally published this column. Click here to read the previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.

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Michigan MNR field offices partially reopen to the public Tue, 20 Jul 2021 10:45:08 +0000

Michigan Department of Natural Resources reopens customer service centers and field offices at least two days a week. This is the latest step in the state’s attempts to get operations back to normal after the COVID-19 outbreak. Even with this new change, thousands of government employees remain outside their normal work environment and do their jobs remotely.

Starting today, the Department of Natural Resources’ field offices and customer service centers will be open Tuesday through Thursday, at least until the Labor Day holiday weekend. For residents of the Battle Creek area, the nearest field office is approximately 30 miles to Plainwell (15 miles from Kalamazoo). Or take the approximately 80 km drive to Lansing. After Labor Day – the department plans to reopen completely. The DNR and other State Department employees may be working remotely. Some might never come back. It is still too early to see how it will all play out.

The main offices of state parks and recreation areas, DNR-maintained ports, and shooting ranges have all been open for some time now. The very popular DNR Outdoor adventure center in Detroit reopened last weekend.

The hatchery buildings are closed to the public, but the outdoor areas and paths of most hatcheries are open, including to Wolf Lake Hatchery just west of Kalamazoo

The DNR reopening announcement offers the following reminder of COVID-19 safety precautions: “The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services continues to recommend that people not yet fully vaccinated against COVID-19 wear protective clothing. face masks when in crowded outdoor locations. Additionally, visitors to MNR facilities and sites may see some MNR employees wearing face masks as an added precaution for the comfort and safety of visitors, volunteers and staff. “

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Vaccines will be more likely once FDA grants full approvals, health experts say Tue, 20 Jul 2021 08:30:37 +0000

WASHINGTON – The United States could see a wave of Covid-19 vaccine warrants as soon as the Food and Drug Administration grants full approval to one or more of the shots, public health experts have predicted.

All three vaccines cleared by the FDA for emergency use against the coronavirus have been shown to be safe and effective under this expedited review process and in the real world, and doctors and most senior public health officials of the country said it was not necessary to wait to be vaccinated. .

But as the pace of vaccinations slows and concerns about the highly contagious delta variant increase, official regulatory approval would remove an important legal and public relations hurdle for businesses and government agencies wishing to require vaccinations for their employees. and clients, former health officials. of the Biden and Obama administrations said.

“I think once the vaccines are approved by the FDA, everything should be on the table, and I think everything will be on the table at the municipal, state, employer, site, government agency level,” he said. said Andy Slavitt, who stepped down as President Joe Biden’s Covid response coordinator last month and remains in close contact with administration officials.

Many institutions, including colleges and universities, have long required certain vaccines. Yet the suggestion of Covid vaccine warrants, whether by local governments for schoolchildren or by businesses for their clients, has so far met stiff resistance – mainly from lawmakers and conservative activists.

At least 20 state legislatures have passed bills or are considering measures that would prohibit businesses and state and local governments from imposing restrictions on unvaccinated people. Even so, some colleges, concert halls and employers have already started requiring vaccinations against Covid.

But the Covid Vaccine Expedited Review process has been cited as a safety concern by some who have yet to be vaccinated and as a legal hurdle for organizations that have been reluctant to put in place a mandate.

Institutions that have vaccine requirements in place have already faced legal action, with opponents arguing that the law creating the emergency use authorization says people should be able to refuse a treatment. One such lawsuit brought by healthcare workers at the Houston Methodist was dismissed last month.

But with the spread of the new delta variant and the filling of hospitals, public health officials feel a renewed sense of urgency to find ways to reach nearly one in three eligible Americans who have yet to receive his first dose. Pfizer, maker of the first vaccine cleared for emergency use in the United States, said on Friday it expects the FDA to grant full approval by January 2022 at the latest. Acting FDA Commissioner Janet Woodcock said a decision is expected to be made well ahead of that date.

Health officials have said they believe vaccine requirements may be the latest push for people who have not made vaccination a priority or who have been indifferent to needing it.

Shame on us if we sit here in July and do nothing to increase immunization rates and we can’t open schools or have a situation where, God forbid, the economy takes another hit because that businesses need to shut down, ”said Kathleen Sebelius, who served as Secretary of Health and Human Services under President Barack Obama.

Biden’s administration has so far resisted all vaccine demands, choosing instead to offer incentives. But Slavitt said he expects that to change with full FDA approval.

He said he believed some federal agencies should then start requiring vaccinations for their employees, including members of the military, healthcare workers in veterans’ hospitals and nursing homes, and d other federal workers in close contact with the public, such as airport security officers.

“I think every government agency should rethink what’s appropriate,” Slavitt said. “There are a number of people in the polls, by the way, who say precisely these words: ‘I’m not going to take it, unless it’s required.’ “

White House press secretary Jen Psaki declined to say on Friday whether the administration plans to make the vaccine a requirement for the military or the federal workforce. The federal government already requires the military to get vaccinated. Applicants for immigration must also be vaccinated against various diseases.

We don’t know how much authority the Biden administration could go so far as to require vaccinations beyond the federal workforce. No federal immunization warrant has ever been tested in court, and none has ever been issued for the general population. Instead, much of the power to require vaccinations rests with state and local governments following a Supreme Court ruling in 1905 that upheld a city health council law requiring all adults get vaccinated against smallpox.

So far, only a handful of large companies, businesses and sites have implemented immunization mandates. Delta Air Lines and United Airlines are among the few companies requiring new employees to be vaccinated, but the policy does not apply to current employees.

Several other companies, like BlackRock, have said that only vaccinated employees can return to the office, but have yet to say what will happen with the unvaccinated. Both Madison Square Garden and Yankee Stadium have limited their events to vaccine attendees, but many other venues have only encouraged guests to be immunized.

Even hospitals and nursing homes have been reluctant to make vaccines mandatory for employees. Among nursing home workers, the vaccination rate is lower than that of the general population and in some states, including Florida and Georgia, the vaccination rate is less than 50 percent for workers, according to The data from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

“I think it’s a responsibility of employers and others who have the capacity to enforce it on their sites,” Zeke Emanuel, Obama administration health adviser, said of the vaccine requirement. for healthcare workers. “It’s not like it’s easy, but it’s a leadership moment and sometimes when you’re a leader you have to do tough things.”

Hundreds of colleges have demanded that students be fully vaccinated against Covid before returning to campus, but it is unclear how these warrants will be enforced and there have already been setbacks, including lawsuits. A federal judge confirmed Indiana University’s vaccine requirement on Monday. Most colleges already had vaccine requirements in place for other diseases.

Slavitt said a compromise employers could offer those who are strongly opposed to vaccination would be to force them to get tested several times a week.

Biden’s administration has backed private companies putting in place vaccine requirements and his chief medical adviser, Dr Anthony Fauci, said on July 11 that he believed there should be more mandates for vaccines at the local level.

The Biden administration’s strategy has focused heavily on trying to make vaccinations more accessible, disseminating information about vaccines, and warning of the risks of not getting the vaccine.

“We know that some employers, hospitals, health systems, colleges, universities and local leaders have chosen to take this step, and we expect others to do so as well,” Psaki said of the requirements. vaccines. “But we play our part from there, we continue to go community by community, person to person, making sure we meet people where they are to get the vaccine out.”

Last week, the White House turned to pop star Olivia Rodrigo in an attempt to reach the youngest, who have the lowest vaccination rates. The surgeon general also released a report on the influence of misinformation on social media on vaccination efforts. Biden said on Friday that these social media platforms, including Facebook, were “killing people” by allowing lies about Covid vaccines to spread across their websites.. He returned to criticism on Monday, saying those who published the false information were to blame.

the rate vaccinations have halved since June 1, when the administration declared a “month of action” to redouble their efforts as the delta variant spreads. By the end of last week, new cases had risen by 70 percent in the past seven days with the bulk of infections in four states with relatively low vaccination rates, and the number of deaths had risen by 26 for one hundred to 211 a day, according to the CDC.

“We have a chance to really continue the progress, the incredible progress that has been made since January,” said Sebelius. “But we also have some real warning signs around the world that we should pay close attention to.”

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Zing Health Joins ConnectureDRX Platform to Simplify Path to Medicare Enrollment Tue, 20 Jul 2021 08:00:00 +0000

CHICAGO, July 20, 2021 / PRNewswire / – Zing Health has partnered with ConnectureDRX, a leading healthcare software company, to provide insurance brokers and consumers with a superior experience in choosing the Medicare Advantage plans that best match needs of each beneficiary.

Zing Health. (PRNewsfoto / Zing Health)

The collaboration will create more efficient workflows for Zing Health’s enrollment teams.

As part of this collaboration, Zing Health will join the Brokerlink network of ConnectureDRX, the largest distribution network in the Medicare industry. More than 70 insurance agencies, Field Marketing Organizations (FMOs) and online brokers use ConnectureDRX’s cutting-edge quote and registration technology, including self-service purchasing options and tools. Rx comparison for the elderly.

Platform Finds Best Medicare Advantage Plans

Features such as accurate drug cost estimates and highly personalized Medicare enrollment options on ConnectureDRX will give consumers insight into the innovative, community-driven benefits of Zing Health. The platform also helps identify plans that meet the particular needs of consumers, such as those with chronic illnesses, dual Medicare-Medicaid eligibility, or qualification for Low Income Grants.

“For more than two decades, ConnectureDRX has helped consumers connect to healthcare plans with technologies that simplify complex healthcare choices, enabling them to make informed decisions,” said Zing Founder and CEO Health, Dr. Eric E. Whitaker. “Our new partnership with ConnectureDRX will further support our mission to serve those without coverage and to influence the social determinants of health.”

As a doctor-founded startup, Zing Health understands the challenges minority populations face in obtaining coverage. Working closely with local communities to help those who need it most, Zing Health offers holistic care benefits that traditional health insurance plans do not, such as dental, visual, hearing and hearing programs. Fitness.

“This partnership will allow Zing to increase its exposure and become familiar with its Medicare Advantage plans and benefits,” said the executive vice president of ConnectureDRX. Grant hoffman. “We take an omnichannel approach to our platform and our distribution network. We provide drug listing and pricing transparency tools to consumers, brokers and call centers. “

Healthcare Technology Ensures Confidence In Medicare Enrollment

FMOs and agencies use ConnectureDRX’s PlanCompare ONE platform to manage all registration tasks and activities. Agents can see all carriers in one place, instead of having to contact each carrier for plan information and registration forms. This intuitive platform complies with HIPAA privacy requirements to securely collect member information and build trust in an often confusing Medicare registration process.

The collaboration will create more efficient workflows for Zing Health’s enrollment teams, supporting their awareness of underserved communities and saving time for consumers, brokers and call centers.

This partnership is just the latest way Zing Health is establishing itself as a major player in the Medicare Advantage market. Over the past year, Zing Health has added new technology partnerships to benefit its members and to address the clinical and social determinants of health. Its latest addition, the Member Assistance Service HealthMine, empowers healthcare consumers to take the right steps to improve their health. Zing Health expanded into new markets in 2021, including underserved communities in Illinois, Michigan, and Indiana.

About Zing Health

Founded in 2019, Zing Health Holdings Inc. is a revolutionary technology-based insurance company, making Medicare Advantage the best it can be for people 65 years of age and older or with long-term disability. Zing Health’s community-based approach addresses the social determinants of health to keep individuals and communities healthy and puts the physician and the member at the center of the health care equation. This gives each member personalized care and service tailored to their unique needs. Members also receive one-on-one assistance to make their transition to Zing Health as easy as possible, and have the ability to customize their plans, access to facilities designed to help them better meet their healthcare needs and a dedicated care team. For more information on Zing Health, visit

About ConnectDRX

ConnectureDRX is focused on providing integrated web-based solutions to the health insurance industry, offering drug pricing solutions, analytics and expertise that help elevate the star rating of healthcare plans. ConnectureDRX automates elements of the insurance sales and service process to increase sales, improve broker loyalty, improve back office efficiency, reduce customer acquisition costs and decrease overall operating expenses . For more information visit

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