Patient With Measles Who Visited Disneyland, L.A. Starbucks May Have Exposed Visitors: Health Officials

A measles patient visited Disneyland last week while contagious and could have exposed others to the disease, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health said Tuesday.

The patient was at the theme park on Oct. 16, between 9:15 a.m. and 8:35 p.m., and before that, at a Los Angeles Starbucks coffee shop on 3006 S. Sepulveda Blvd. on Oct. 16, between 7:50 a.m. and 10 a.m.

Anyone who visited Disneyland or the coffee shop during those time periods could be at risk of developing measles for up to 21 days after being exposed.

Those who believe they may have been exposed should review their immunization records, reach out to their health care provider as soon as possible and watch out for symptoms, including fever and an unexplained rash.

Those who experience symptoms should stay home and call their doctor immediately, health officials said.

#PressRelease : Measles Exposure Advisory – Confirmed #measles case traveled throughout Southern California. View https://t.co/cDtfp6XY16 for more info. More times and locations may follow as details become available. pic.twitter.com/k2zllK0kgC

— LA Public Health (@lapublichealth) October 23, 2019

The disease is considered among the most contagious viruses in the world. About 90% of people who have never been immunized experience the symptoms seven to 21 days after exposure, authorities said.

“The measles virus can remain in an environment for several hours, so when we list public exposure sites we take that into consideration. Individuals that were in those potential sites while that person was infection could be at risk of being exposed,” health officer Nichole Quick told KTLA.

So far in 2019, there have been 19 confirmed cases of measles among Los Angeles County residents, and another 11 cases among non-residents who traveled through the county, health officials said.

The majority of those cases were found among patients who were not immunized or did not know whether they had ever been immunized, according to the health department.

“For those who are not protected, measles is a highly contagious and potentially severe disease that initially causes fever, cough, red, watery eyes, and, finally, a rash,” Los Angeles County Health Officer Muntu Davis  said. “Measles is spread by air and by direct contact even before you know have it. The MMR immunization is a very effective measure to protect yourself and to prevent the unintentional spread of this potentially serious infection to others.”

Public Health officials said they will provide an update with additional locations and time periods in which people could have been exposed to measles in connection with this patient.

This content was originally published here.

Elijah Cummings has died: Baltimore congressman is dead at 68, from longstanding illness and health issues – CBS News

Representative Elijah Cummings, of Baltimore, died early Thursday at the age of 68, his office said. Cummings passed away at Johns Hopkins Hospital at 2:45 a.m. from “complications concerning longstanding health challenges,” his office said.

He hadn’t returned to work after having a medical procedure that he said would only keep him away for about a week, The Baltimore Sun noted.

Maya Rockeymoore Cummings, the chairwoman of the Maryland Democratic Party and Cummings’ wife, said in a statement that Cummings was “an honorable man who proudly served his district and the nation with dignity, integrity, compassion and humility.”

“He worked until his last breath because he believed our democracy was the highest and best expression of our collective humanity and that our nation’s diversity was our promise, not our problem,” Rockeymoore Cummings said. “I loved him deeply and will miss him dearly.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi ordered the flags at the Capitol to be flown at half staff in his memory. The White House, too, lowered its flag.

“He was not just a great congressman, he was a great man,” House Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said on MSNBC Thursday morning.

Baltimore Mayor Bernard C. Young said in a statement that “people throughout the world have lost a powerful voice and one of the strongest and most gifted crusaders for social justice.”

President Trump praised Cummings’ “strength, passion and wisdom” in a tweet, despite the insults he hurled at Cummings this summer.

“My warmest condolences to the family and many friends of Congressman Elijah Cummings. I got to see first hand the strength, passion and wisdom of this highly respected political leader. His work and voice on so many fronts will be very hard, if not impossible, to replace!” the president tweeted shortly before 9 a.m.

The House Oversight and Reform Committee chairman, a Democrat and 23-year House veteran, was a key figure in the impeachment inquiry into Mr. Trump and a recent target of intense criticism from the president.

Cummings missed two roll call votes Thursday, the first day back following a two-week House recess. He previously released a statement saying he’d be back by the time the session resumed. He hadn’t taken part in a roll call vote since Sept. 11.

The procedure already caused Cummings to miss a September hearing on Washington, D.C., statehood. The statement didn’t detail the procedure.

He previously was treated for heart and knee issues.

Humble beginnings

A sharecropper’s son, Cummings was a formidable orator who passionately advocated for the poor in his black-majority district, which encompasses a large portion of Baltimore as well as more well-to-do suburbs.

As chairman of the House Oversight and Reform Committee, Cummings led multiple investigations of Mr. Trump’s dealings, including probes in 2019 relating to the president’s family members serving in the White House.

The president responded by criticizing Cummings’ district as a “rodent-infested mess” where “no human being would want to live.” The comments came weeks after Mr. Trump drew bipartisan condemnation following his calls for Democratic congresswomen of color to get out of the U.S. “right now” and go back to their “broken and crime-infested countries.”

Cummings replied that government officials must stop making “hateful, incendiary comments” that only serve to divide and distract the nation from its real problems, including mass shootings and white supremacy.

“Those in the highest levels of the government must stop invoking fear, using racist language and encouraging reprehensible behavior,” Cummings said in a speech at the National Press Club.

Cummings told the Baltimore Sun that he had only spoken to Mr. Trump one-on-one once, in 2017. Cummings recalled saying: “Mr. President, you’re now 70-something, I’m 60-something. Very soon you and I will be dancing with the angels. The thing that you and I need to do is figure out what we can do — what present can we bring to generations unborn?”

Working way up

Cummings’ career spanned decades in Maryland politics. He rose through the ranks of the Maryland House of Delegates before winning his congressional seat in a special election in 1996 to replace former Rep. Kweisi Mfume, who left the seat to lead the NAACP.

Cummings continued his rise in Congress. In 2016, he was the senior Democrat on the House Benghazi Committee, which he said was “nothing more than a taxpayer-funded effort to bring harm to Hillary Clinton’s campaign” for president.

Cummings was an early supporter of Barack Obama’s presidential bid in 2008.

Throughout his career, Cummings used his fiery voice to highlight the struggles and needs of inner-city residents. He was a firm believer in some much-debated approaches to help the poor and addicted, such as needle exchange programs as a way to reduce the spread of AIDS. Cummings was very popular in his district, where he was a key member of the community.

Cummings said in an interview with “60 Minutes” in January that he was one of the few members of Congress who lived in an inner city environment.

“I like to be among my constituents. Let me tell you something man, if I don’t do well in this block I’m in trouble. I mean, if you wanna take a poll, if I lost in this block I might as well go– I might as well stay home,” Cummings said in the interview.

Cummings was born on Jan. 18, 1951. In grade school, a counselor told Cummings he was too slow to learn and spoke poorly and he would never fulfill his dream of becoming a lawyer.

“I was devastated,” Cummings told The Associated Press in 1996, shortly before he won his seat in Congress. “My whole life changed. I became very determined.”

It steeled Cummings to prove that counselor wrong. He became not only a lawyer, but one of the most powerful orators in the Maryland House of Delegates, where he entered office in 1983. He rose to become House speaker pro tem, the first black delegate to hold the position. He would begin his comments slowly, developing his theme and raising the emotional heat until it became like a sermon from the pulpit.

Cummings was quick to note the differences between Congress and the Maryland General Assembly, which has long been controlled by Democrats.

“After coming from the state where, basically, you had a lot of people working together, it’s clear that the lines are drawn here,” Cummings said about a month after entering office in Washington in 1996.

Cummings chaired the Congressional Black Caucus from 2003 to 2004, employing a hard-charging, explore-every-option style to put the group in the national spotlight.

He cruised to big victories in the overwhelmingly Democratic district, which had given Maryland its first black congressman in 1970 when Parren Mitchell was elected.

Cummings addressed his recent health issues in the January interview with “60 Minutes.”

“Like I tell my constituents, “Don’t get it twisted. You know, I may– my knee may be hurtin’ a little bit, but my mind is clear. My mission is clear.” And I am prepared and able to do what I have to do. And I will do it to the very best of my ability, so help me God,” Cummings said.

This content was originally published here.

Cutting health benefits of 1,900 Whole Food workers saved world’s richest man Jeff Bezos what he makes in less than six hours

When billionaire Jeff Bezos cut health benefits on September 13 for part-time workers at his grocery store Whole Foods the richest man in the world saved the equivalent of what he makes from his vast fortune in just a few hours.

That’s according to an analysis from Decision Data’s “Data in the News” series, which found that Bezos could cover the entirety of annual benefits for part-time employees who work less than 30 hours a week with what he makes from stocks and investments in just a fraction of a day.

“Doing a quick calculation with existing publicly available numbers shows that Bezos makes more money than the cost of an entire year of benefits for these 1,900 employees in somewhere between 2-6 hours,” the study says.

The analysis used an estimate that Whole Foods would contribute between $5,000 and $15,000 annually per employee for benefits. At the middle of that range, $10,000, that comes to $19 million a year.

Bezos makes just under $9 million an hour, according to a 2019 Business Insider analysis, which would mean he makes enough money in a little over two hours to cover the benefits he cut. Decision Data used an earlier study which found Bezos makes $4.5 million an hour to conclude he would need approximately four and a half hours to cover the cost.

“CEO worth more than $110 billion cuts health care for 2,000 workers after raking in $9 million an hour,” tweeted economist Robert Reich, citing the 2019 Business Insider figure.

The disconnect between Bezos’ wealth and the cost of the benefits was remarked on by a number of observers.

“Jeff Bezos makes $3,182 a second,” said Jacobin writer Luke Savage.

Presidential candidate and former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julián Castro called the move “shameful” and noted that Bezos’ crown jewel, online retailer Amazon, pays nothing in taxes.

“Amazon pays zero dollars in federal income taxes,” Castro tweeted. “Jeff Bezos is the richest man in modern history, and yet they continue to degrade the rights of their workers.”

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Raw Story is independent. You won’t find mainstream media bias here. We’re not part of a conglomerate, or a project of venture capital bros. From unflinching coverage of racism, to revealing efforts to erode our rights, Raw Story will continue to expose hypocrisy and harm. Unhinged from billionaires and corporate overlords, we fight to ensure no one is forgotten.

We need your support to keep producing quality journalism and deepen our investigative reporting. Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Invest with us in the future. Make a one-time contribution to Raw Story Investigates, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you. Click to donate by check.

Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. Like you, we here at Raw Story believe in the power of progressive journalism — and we’re investing in investigative reporting as other publications give it the ax. Raw Story readers power David Cay Johnston’s DCReport, which we’ve expanded to keep watch in Washington. We’ve exposed billionaire tax evasion and uncovered White House efforts to poison our water. We’ve revealed financial scams that prey on veterans, and efforts to harm workers exploited by abusive bosses. We’ve launched a weekly podcast, “We’ve Got Issues,” focused on issues, not tweets. Unlike other news sites, we’ve decided to make our original content free. But we need your support to do what we do.

Raw Story is independent. You won’t find mainstream media bias here. We’re not part of a conglomerate, or a project of venture capital bros. From unflinching coverage of racism, to revealing efforts to erode our rights, Raw Story will continue to expose hypocrisy and harm. Unhinged from corporate overlords, we fight to ensure no one is forgotten.

We need your support to keep producing quality journalism and deepen our investigative reporting. Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Invest with us in the future. Make a one-time contribution to Raw Story Investigates, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you.

This content was originally published here.

The New Invisalign® Outcome Simulator 4.0 – iTero® Element™ Intraoral Scanner

Often Imitated. Never Simulated. Exclusive to the iTero® Element™ Scanner, the Invisalign® Outcome Simulator gives you a fun and engaging way to communicate the potential benefits of Invisalign treatment while increasing case acceptance. Simulated outcomes make it easy to show the benefits possible with Invisalign and may motivate greater patient acceptance. 3D Progress Tracking At…

This content was originally published here.

Eagle News Online – Goel Family Dentistry moving location, changing name

The Goel Family Dentistry staff at a recent outing to Beak and Skiff Apple Orchards. (courtesy Goel Family Dentistry)

Goel Family Dentistry, which has been serving the Cazenovia community for the past decade, has announced some major changes coming up for its business, not the least of which is a move to a new building and a re-naming of the practice.

The change is really about expansion — the practice has hired a new dentist and a new hygienist, has 9,500 patients from all over the Cazenovia area, and needs more room for working and more room to grow, said Dr. Vikas Goel, owner of the practice currently located in the Atwell Mill building on Albany Street.

“We’re busting at the seams here,” Goel said. “I’m nervous, excited, everything. It’s a good move for us, and also for Cazenovia.”

Goel has purchased the former Pro-Tel building at 4 Chenango Street and is currently undertaking some upgrades and renovations to prepare for a move-in that he hopes will be in January. Pro-Tel owner Eric Burrell sold the building after he moved his offices to 95 Albany St.

An artist rendering of the new business sign for Creekside Dental, the new name for Goel Family Dentistry. (Courtesy Goel Family Dentistry)

Goel’s new offices will double his current footprint from 2,400 to 5,000 square feet, he said. Patients will enter from the parking area through the lower level of the Chenango Street building, where the reception and waiting room will be, then take an elevator upstairs to the clinical space where there will be 11 chairs for patients, he said.

Goel recently hired Dr. Tyler Maxwell, a graduate from Buffalo University, as the third dentist in the practice, joining Goel and Dr. Anna Romans. He also recently hired another hygienist.

“Right now, we have three doctors, five hygenists and six chairs — the math just doesn’t work anymore,” he said. “And it’s just time I get my own place.”

With the new building, more chairs and more staff, an increased number of appointment times will also open up for their patients, Goel said.

The new dental office will not only have a new address, but also a new name: Creekside Dental. Goel said that with three dentists now, to keep his name alone on the business was “not really fair.”

Goel Family Dentistry is currently located at 135 Albany St., but will soon be moving to its new location at 4 Chenango St. For more information, call 315-655-5885 or visit the website at doctorgoel.com.

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Jason Emerson is editor of the Cazenovia Republican and Eagle Bulletin newspapers.

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Nancy Pelosi: No need to reinvent health care — improve Obamacare

Democrats should focus on making improvements to Obamacare instead of trying to reinvent the wheel with “Medicare for All,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Tuesday.

“God bless” 2020 Democratic presidential candidates putting forth Medicare for All proposals, Pelosi said in an interview with “Mad Money” host Jim Cramer. “But know what that entails.”

Pelosi’s thoughts on how to improve the nation’s health-care laws appear to align with those of former Vice President Joe Biden, who in his 2020 presidential bid is calling for building on provisions of Obamacare, formally known as the Affordable Care Act.

“I believe the path to ‘health care for all’ is a path following the lead of the Affordable Care Act,” Pelosi told Cramer. “Let’s use our energy to have health care for all Americans, and that involves over 150 million families that have it through the private sector.”

Several 2020 candidates are advocating for some version of Medicare for All. Arguably the most drastic proposal is from Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., who is calling for eliminating private health insurance and replacing it with a universal Medicare plan. Proponents say it would help reduce administrative inefficiencies and costs in the U.S. health-care system. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., has backed Sanders’ proposal.

However, policy analysts say actually implementing such a law would be tough even if a candidate such as Sanders won the presidency. Democrats would need to hold on to their edge in the House and win the Senate in the 2020 election to regain control of Congress. Then they would likely need 60 votes in the Senate and two-thirds of the House to overcome any potential filibusters. Republicans hold a 53-47 majority in the Senate.

Pelosi’s comments also come as lawmakers and the Trump administration are both trying to pass legislation sometime this year that would bring more transparency to health-care costs and, ultimately, lower costs for consumers.

Pelosi and House Democratic leaders are expected to unveil as soon as this week a long-anticipated plan to reduce U.S. drug prices.

The main thrust of the plan, which is still in flux, would allow Medicare to negotiate lower prices on the 250 most expensive drugs and apply those discounts to private health plans across the U.S., according to a document that surfaced on Capitol Hill on Sept. 10.

The Department of Health and Human Services is prohibited from negotiating drug prices on behalf of Medicare — the federal government’s health insurance plan for the elderly. Private insurers use pharmacy benefit managers to negotiate drug rebates from pharmaceutical manufacturers in exchange for better coverage.

Pelosi has been working for months on a plan that would give HHS that power. House Democratic leaders went on a “listening tour” around the party earlier this year to discuss details of Pelosi’s plan but haven’t yet distributed it across the caucus, a Democratic aide said in an interview.

This content was originally published here.

Avoiding red or processed meat doesn’t seem to give health benefits | New Scientist

Many health bodies have said in the past that people should limit their red meat intake

Owen Franken/Corbis Documentary/Getty

Owen Franken/Corbis Documentary/Getty

There are no health reasons to cut down on eating red or processed meat, according to a new review of the evidence. The claims, which contradict most existing dietary advice, come from a review of existing studies led by the Spanish and Polish Cochrane Centers, part of a global collaboration for assessing medical research.

Numerous health bodies have said for decades that we should limit our intake of red meat because it is high in saturated fat, thought to raise cholesterol levels and cause heart attacks. More recently, both red and processed meat have been linked with cancer.

In the latest review, though, the authors came to a different conclusion because they considered separately the two main kinds of research. The best evidence comes from randomised trials. In these, some participants are helped to change their diet in a certain way, such as eating less meat, and the rest aren’t. At the end, the health of the people in the two groups is compared.

But such trials are costly and hard to do. According to one estimate, only about 5 per cent of nutrition studies are large, good-quality randomised trials. It is much more common to do research that just observes what people choose to eat undirected. Known as observational studies, these are notoriously open to bias and can give misleading results.

Bradley Johnston of Dalhousie University in Halifax, Canada, and his colleagues first reviewed all previous observational studies looking at the health impact of eating red or processed meat. These pointed to a “very small” adverse effect on deaths, heart disease and cancer.

Then they separately reviewed the 12 randomised trials that have been done in this area, and found that there was little or no health benefit for people who cut down on eating these meats. Based on these findings, the authors conclude that people should “continue to eat their current levels of red and processed meat unless they felt inclined to change them themselves”. However, they added that some might want to change their diet because of animal welfare or environmental reasons.

“It may be time to stop producing observational research in this area,” Tiffany Doherty from Indiana University’s Pediatric and Adolescent Comparative Effectiveness Research team wrote in an accompanying editorial.

Duane Mellor, a spokesperson for the British Dietetic Association, says people shouldn’t take the advice as a green light to eat more red meat. “What it doesn’t say is that we can tear up the guidelines and start eating twice as much meat. But red meat three times a week is not a problem.”

Journal reference: Annals of Internal Medicine, DOI:

More on these topics:

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8 Celebrities Who Used Invisalign Treatment

A lot of people feel that, once they are adults or older teens, the time to improve their smiles with braces has gone by. But, thanks to advanced cosmetic dentistry, Invisalign allows many people to discreetly straighten their teeth without calling attention to the work.

Not convinced? Invisalign dentists straightened the smiles of all these celebrities while they were in the public eye:

1. Khloe Kardashian’s Invisalign Treatment

As a reality star, Khloe Kardashian is rarely far from the public view, which makes her self-improvement projects all the more noticeable. She’s slimmed down significantly during her years in the spotlight, shedding over 30 pounds with the help of a personal trainer. She decided to straighten her smile, as well, and had her braces put on last year at the age of 28.

Invisalign-Treatment-Justin2. Justin Bieber’s Invisalign Treatment

This Baby singer was still a teenager when he opted for clear Invisalign braces. In a Youtube video, he praised the braces’ unobtrusive look. The unobtrusive nature of the braces meant that they could really only be seen when he took them out to show them off.

Invisalign-Treatment-Katherine3. Katherine Heigl’s Invisalign Treatment

Actress Katherine Heigl began wearing Invisalign in 2007 in preparation for her wedding. With these discreet braces, she could keep attention on her instead of on the corrections to her teeth. These days, the former Grey’s Anatomy star is all smiles as she prepares for the premiere of her upcoming TV series State of Affairs.

Invisalign-Treatment-Tom4. Tom Cruise’s Invisalign Treatment

Hollywood hunk Tom Cruise has always been famous for his smile. But, when the star began bringing his kids to the orthodontist in 2002, he discovered that his front teeth were not as straight as they could be. He chose a combination of Invisalign and ceramic brackets to keep his smile metal-free while straightening his teeth.

Invisalign-treatment-Gisele5. Gisele Bundchen’s Invisalign Treatment

Not even supermodels are born perfect! Gisele Bunchen told interviewers that she started wearing Invisalign because one of her teeth was moving and made her smile look less than perfect in pictures. She wore the braces only at night, taking advantage of the Invisalign system’s flexibility.

Invisalign-Treatment-Zac6. Zac Efron’s Invisalign Treatment

As this actor made the jump from teen heart throb in High School Musical to grown-up stunner in fare like The Neighbors, he decided that it was time for the slight gap between his front teeth to transition to a solid white smile, as well.

Invisalign-treatment-eva7. Eva Longoria’s Invisalign Treatment

This steamy star began wearing Invisalign at age 36 to straighten her bottom teeth. No longer spooked by a crooked smile, the star is working on a new horror TV series based on Latin American folk tales.

Invisalign-Treatment-Serena8. Serena Williams’ Invisalign Treatment

This powerful tennis player made sure that her smile was as strong as her serve by wearing Invisalign braces as a teenager. Years later, she has a straight and stunning smile, and continues to stack up the Grand Slam wins.

Are you ready to take on your insecurities and improve your smile? Talk to a local dentist about Invisalign in Mansfield. There are a number of highly qualified Mansfield MA dentists who can talk to you about whether these invisible braces are right for you.

This content was originally published here.

Americans Spent More on Taxes in 2018 Than on Food, Clothing and Health Care Combined

A grocery shopper in Los Angeles on July 24, 2019. (Photo by Mark RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images)

Americans on average spent more on taxes in 2018 than they did on the basic necessities of food, clothing and health care combined, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics Consumer Expenditure Survey.

The survey’s recently published Table R-1 for 2018 lists the average “detailed expenditures” of what the BLS calls “consumer units.”

“Consumer units,” says BLS, “include families, single persons living alone or sharing a household with others but who are financially independent, or two or more persons living together who share major expenses.”

In 2018, according to Table R-1, American consumer units spent an average of $9,031.93 on federal income taxes; $5,023.73 on Social Security taxes (which the table calls “deductions”); $2,284.62 on state and local income taxes; $2,199.80 on property taxes; and $77.85 on what BLS calls “other taxes.”

The combined payments the average American consumer unit made for these five categories of taxes was $18,617.93.

At the same time the average American consumer unit was paying these taxes, it was spending $7,923.19 on food; $4,968.44 on health care; and $1,866.48 on “apparel and services.”

These combined expenditures equaled $14,758.11.

So, the $14,758.11 that the average American consumer unit paid for food, clothing and health care was $3,859.82 less than the $18,617.93 it paid in federal, state and local income taxes, property taxes, Social Security taxes and “other taxes.”

I asked the BLS to confirm these numbers, which it did while noting that the “Pensions and Social Security” section of its Table R-1 included four other types of payments (that many people are not required to make or that do not go to the government) in addition to the average of $5,023.73 in Social Security taxes that 77.21% of respondents reported paying.

“You asked us to verify the amounts for the total taxes and expenditures on food, apparel/services, and healthcare,” said BLS. “Based on table R-1 for 2018, your definition for food, apparel, and healthcare matches the BLS definition and the total dollars. Your dollar amounts for federal, state, and local income taxes and for property taxes are correct, as is the amount for Social Security deductions. For the combined pension amount [$6,830.71] that we publish however, in addition to the $5,023.73 for Social Security, there is an additional amount for government retirement deductions [$135.11], railroad retirement deductions [$2.85], private pension deductions [$608.22], and non-payroll deposits for pensions [$1,060.79].”

That Americans are forced to pay more for government than they pay for food, clothing and health care combined has become an enduring fact of life.

A review of the BLS Table R-1s for the last six years on record shows that in every one of those years, the average American consumer unit paid more in taxes than it paid for food, clothing and health care combined.

In 2013, the average American consumer unit paid a combined $13,327.22 for the same five categories of taxes cited above for 2018, while paying a combined $11,836.80 for food, clothing and health care.

In 2014, the average American consumer unit paid $14,664.13 for those same taxes and $12,834.34 for those same necessities.

In 2015, it was $15,548.36 versus $13,210.83. In 2016, it was $17,153.30 versus $13,617.60. And, in 2017, it was $16,750.20 versus $14,489.54.

Even when all the numbers for the last six years are converted into constant December 2018 dollars (using the BLS inflation calculator), the largest annual margin between the amount paid in taxes and the amount paid for food, clothing and health care was last year’s $3,859.82.

The margin was so great last year that you can add the $3,225.55 Table R-1 says the average consumer unit paid for entertainment to the $14,758.11 it paid for food, clothing and health care, and the combined $17,983.66 is still less than the $18,617.93 it paid for the five categories of taxes.

You get a similar result if you add the combined $2,903.50 that the average consumer unit paid in 2018 for electricity ($1,496.14) and telephone services ($1,407.36).

Yes, Americans on average paid more in taxes last year than they paid for food, clothing, health care, electricity and telephone services combined.

Was the government you got worth it?

(Terence P. Jeffrey is the editor in chief of CNSNews.com.)

This content was originally published here.

Veterans Affairs To Share Veterans’ Health Information Without Consent

Thousands of veterans were alarmed to learn VA is quietly rolling out is plan to automatically share veterans’ health information with third parties without written consent.

You got that right. Thanks to the VA MISSION Act, VA will now automatically enroll, or opt-in, all veterans into a health information sharing system with numerous government agencies and private organizations after September 30, 2019, unless you object in writing on a paper form.

Veterans must submit the VA Form 10-0484 in person or by mail to their local VA Release of Information office by of September 30, 2019, if they do not want to be “automatically enrolled” into the eHealth Exchange managed by The Sequoia Project.

Sound absurd? Here is what VA wrote in its Virtual Lifetime Electronic
Record (VLER) FAQ:

All Veterans who have not previously signed form 10-0484 as of September 30, 2019 will be automatically enrolled, but have the option to opt out.

Let me say that a third way in case I have not been clear.

VA will automatically share your health information with third parties without your written consent unless you opt-out in writing or submit a revocation in writing submitted in person or by US mail. You cannot submit your opt-out or revocation electronically.

How ironic, right?

In the name of technology, VA is about to force veterans into an electronic data sharing system without consent. The only way to prevent this violation is to present your objection on an agency mandated form ON PAPER by hand or snail mail by Monday. How old school.

And we are just learning about the deadline now.

In order to opt-out or revoke consent, there are a couple of forms you need to consider, noted above… but you only have until Monday to figure it out.

Curiously, the VA Form 10-10164 opt-out that is not technically an official form until October 2019 based on the available form.

One could argue that submitting the 10-10164 before September 30 may still result in a veteran’s automatic opt-in and then opt-out since the form may lack legal effect until October 2019.

So, the forms you can use to opt-out or revoke consent:

How do you get the form to VA? Can I send it on eBenefits or
fax it to Janesville Evidence Intake Center?

No. The agency requires that you either hand deliver the
signed form or mail it to the local Release of Information office at your VA Medical
Center by Monday.

No revocations will be processed after September 30, 2019. I
hope VA will not auto-opt-in veterans who submit the new form before the
deadline.

Either way, if you fail to take action by September 30, your
health information will be shared with the eHealth Exchange managed by The Sequoia
Project.

Good luck.

Once health information is shared, it cannot be unshared as
best I can tell from the information available including the old form.

This means meaning you lose control of your data. While you can possibly opt-out at a later date, whatever is shared is out there in the great and mysterious cloud for whatever hacker to access however and whenever they choose.

Who may get access?

The eHealth Exchange is a massive data-sharing system between federal agencies and private organizations in all 50 states that was originally controlled by the Department of Health and Human Services.

A nonprofit called The Sequoia Project took over management of the eHealth Exchange for “maintenance.” Many VA contractors and vendors are on the Board of Sequoia including Cerner and Mitre Corporation.

VA reassures us everything is safe. Right. Kind of like all
the times our data was illegally shared or hacked within the existing system?

“Rest assured. Your health information is safe and secure as it moves from VA to participating community care providers,” promises VA.

Believe them? We don’t, either.

We Drove To Minneapolis VA To Investigate

On Thursday, colleague Brian Lewis and I went to Minneapolis VA Medical Center immediately after reviewing what I describe below to confront agency officials about the highly questionable timing of the notice.

The Facebook Live video contains our initial impressions, which later evolved after we spoke with local officials and conducted an additional deep dive. Veterans who do not revoke consent/opt-out by September 30 will be enrolled automatically per the VLER FAQ.

We learned some inside baseball by asking around about it
and inspecting the facility. But, many of the VA officials we spoke with were
generally unaware of what VA Central Office was rolling out.

Our local Release of Information booth at Minneapolis VA did not have any of the forms available for veterans seeking to opt-out or revoke their previous consent. The attendant seemed to think her boss might bring some forms up sometime Friday or Monday since a few veterans were asking about it.

Fantastic.

Btw, you may have noticed my reference to “booth” about our ROI. In order to speak with someone at ROI, Minneapolis VA leadership decided to move the ROI intake to the open lobby area where anyone and everyone can hear about what you are asking about regarding your private health information.

So much for privacy when trying to get your private health
records.

For newbies reading this, Brian and I are veterans rights attorneys in the Minneapolis Metro who are well-known, but not well-loved, by VA officials locally and nationally.

I will explain the forms in a bit.

Back In The Day When Consent Was In Writing… And It Mattered

For years, VA was required secure informed consent from veterans prior to the sharing of health information. Whether you were a veteran trying to get care in the community or allow your attorney access to a claims file, you were required to provide VA with a release of information granting consent to share the date.

If you wanted to give VA your genomic information so they
could share it with private researching organizations for God knows whatever
reason, specifically the Million Veteran Program, you had to sign a form
granting permission.

If you wanted to opt in to allow your community care provider to use the health exchange to access your electronic health records, you need to sign the VA Form 10-0485. If you wanted to revoke that access, you needed to sign and submit the VA Form 10-0484.

There’s Gold In Those Records, Boys And Girls

To me, and millions of other veterans, this process seems
straightforward, but VA officials, university researchers, and private industry
really wanted more access to more veteran data since our electronic health records
comprise one of the most valuable datasets in the history of the world to date.

Yes, there is an incredible monetary value within the database containing all of our electronic health information, and private industry would profit handsomely from various marketing, advertising, and health solutions that could be developed by simply accessing our records.

Now, that access to our records comes at a cost. For at
least the past eight years, standard HIPAA requirements to de-identify records
no longer provide the security previously believed. Companies like Facebook
readily work to hack HIPAA protections using algorithms to connect HIPAA de-identified
data with a person’s Facebook profile using various markers including data like
that given by veterans to the Million Veteran Program, for example.

That data can then provide the backbone of entirely new research and advertising arm of companies like Facebook and Google to connect pharmaceutical ads with individuals who may be interested in the newest and greatest pill for anxiety or erectile dysfunction.

VA Throws Off The Heavy Yoke Of Privacy

Fortunately for business partners, researchers, and anyone
else who wants to access our data but not be troubled with difficult privacy
laws, VA will no longer have its research potential hamstrung by sentimental
laws like the Privacy Act or HIPAA.

Veterans can thank Congress and its passage of the VA MISSION
Act for allowing automatic access to all veterans’ health information by third
party community care providers and “partners.”

One of my readers alerted me to a change in protocol yesterday
starting with a PDF flyer circulating at VA.

That flyer, called the Veteran Notification Flyer, informs veterans of the five things we “need to know” about the VA’s new implementation of the health information mandate. I included this below in italics verbatim from the agency’s flyer.

You may be thinking, ‘Well, at least VA thought to give you
notice.’

Not exactly. I have not received any notice yet. However,
many veterans are writing in starting yesterday with notice letters that VA was
transitioning veterans into a new and brave system of data sharing.

The flyer was created September 11, 2019, informing veterans that in 20 days the process was flipping on its head where we need to opt-out after automatically being opted-in.

5 Things You Need To Know About Health Information
Sharing

If you are a little unclear about how to be sure no one
receives the health information, you are in good company. A lot of readers and
agency officials were unclear of exactly what is going on, and multiple dates
are floating around within VA’s own notices.

One page reads, “VA will begin opting all Veterans into
health information sharing, beginning January 2010.” Another page
reads, “VA Systems will begin opting all Veterans into health information
sharing, beginning January 2020.”

So, when did or will VA start the sharing of our health information
without consent?

An intranet notice to VA employees indicated the actual
process of sharing will start on or about November 18, 2019.

The VLER FAQ sheet probably provides the best advice
specific to veterans who do not want their data shared in the electronic system:

All Veterans who have not previously signed form 10-0484 as of September 30, 2019 will be automatically enrolled, but have the option to opt out. Beginning late 2019, a VA patient’s information will be shared with any community providers that also provide health care services for the shared patient.

“Revocation forms will not be processed after September 30,
2019. However, if you submit VA Form 10-0484, before September 30, your
preference will remain honored and no further action is needed by you.”

This language suggests the form must be submitted before
September 30, because the agency will stop processing them after September 30.

But how to do you revoke the consent that you never granted?

What is also important is the language difference between
the two forms.

Old VA Form 10-0484 vs New VA Form 10-10164

Let’s start with the new form, VA Form 10-10164. Basically,
the form says the agency cannot share your health information unless treatment
is required for an emergency:

So, the opt-out is not absolute. The form also indicates the
opt-in means all your health information can be shared for treatment.

What about your mental health records? How will VA protect
that data? Could that data also be shared with DHS or other organizations for
their own purposes?

The VA Form 10-0484 handles the issues differently.

First, it addresses that the signer revokes their previous
consent. Obviously, most of us never consented to this program. So, by signing
this 0484, can you preemptively revoke?

That is a question for your local Release of Information
Official.

The old form provides the following list about revocation
that I think is far clearer about what is at stake. Here is the list from VA in
italics:

One of the differences that jumped out at me in the old form was the promise that VA “will no longer share any of my individually-identifiable health information”. It did not qualify that revocation by stating the information will be shared in an emergency.

However, the revocation qualifies the health information by calling it “individually-identifiable health information” demonstrating the agency will share your information so long is it is de-identified. As noted above, merely adhering to HIPAA is no longer sufficient to protect your identity or other information that can be traced right back to you with today’s computing power.

What About Health Information Already Shared

The old 10-0484 says the information “already exchanged”
will continue to the used despite revocation meaning once the information is
out there, it is out there.

The health information being passed between VA and its
community care providers is supposedly shared in “guidance” with the Health
Insurance Portability Accountability Act (HIPAA) regulations.

Do we have enough information to make informed decisions?
Does VA seem to give a rip about our informed consent?

I plan to update this post as more information comes out. You may want to check back from time to time.

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This content was originally published here.

Kansas health officials confirm first death from vaping related lung disease

TOPEKA, Kan. — The Kansas Department of Health and Environment confirmed Tuesday that a person has died due to an outbreak of serious lung disease
related to vaping or using e-cigarettes.

Health officials said the individual was a Kansas resident who was older than 50.

“The patient had a history of underlying health issues and was hospitalized with symptoms that progressed rapidly,” a news release said.

State health officials said they do not have a detailed list of the products that the individual used. They did say many patients report using vaping or e-cigarette products with liquids that contain cannabinoid products, such as tetrahydrocannabinol.

“Our sympathies go out to the family of the person who died,” Governor Laura Kelly said in the statement. “Health officials are working hard to determine a cause and share information to prevent additional injuries. As that work continues, I urge Kansans to be careful. Don’t put yourself in harm’s way, and please follow the recommendations of public health officials.”

Kansas State Health Officer and Secretary for the Kansas Department of Health and Environment Dr. Lee Norman added in that release that it is time to stop vaping.

“If you or a loved one is vaping, please stop,” Norman said. “The recent deaths across our country, combined with hundreds of reported lung injury cases continue to intensify. I’m extremely alarmed for the health and safety of Kansans who are using vaping products and urge them to stop until we can determine the cause of vaping related lung injuries and death.”

So far, there have been six reports associated with the outbreak in Kansas. Three have been confirmed or listed as probable while the other three are still under investigation.

Symptoms of the outbreak include shortness of breath, fever, cough, and vomiting and diarrhea. Other symptoms reported by some patients included headache, dizziness and chest pain.

For individuals wanting more information on how to quit tobacco products, please call 1-800-QUIT-NOW.

This content was originally published here.

HP and Smile Direct Club want to disrupt orthodontics with 3D-printed braces | VentureBeat

HP and SmileDirectClub hope to disrupt the $12 billion orthodontics business by making 3D-printed teeth molds.

At the Rapid 2019 3D printing conference, the company said they will use 49 HP Jet Fusion 3D printing systems around the clock to make more than 50,000 unique mouth molds per day. This means they have the capacity to make as many as 20 million individualized 3D-printed mouth molds in the next 12 months.

The goal is to revolutionize the way millions of people achieve a straighter smile.

“SmileDirectClub is digitally transforming the traditional orthodontics industry, making it more personal, affordable, and convenient for millions of consumers to achieve a smile they’ll love,” said Alex Fenkell, cofounder of SmileDirectClub, in a statement. “HP’s breakthrough 3D printing and data intelligence platform makes this level of disruption possible for us, pushing productivity, quality, and manufacturing predictability to unprecedented levels, all with economics that allow us to pass on savings to the consumers seeking treatment using our teledentistry platform.”

The orthodontics industry is 120 years old. SmileDirectClub cofounders Fenkell and Jordan Katzman first met at summer camp as teens with metal braces. They decided later that innovations in technology and telehealth could democratize access to safe, affordable, and convenient orthodontic care.

They started the company in 2014 using a digital network of state-licensed dentists and orthodontists who prescribe teeth straightening treatment plans and manage all aspects of clinical care — from diagnosis to the completion of treatment — using the company’s proprietary teledentistry platform. To date, they have served half a million customers in the U.S., Canada, and Puerto Rico, with plans to expand to Australia and the United Kingdom in 2019.

An estimated 80% of Americans could benefit from orthodontic care, yet only 1% receive it each year, with cost being the biggest prohibitive issue. In the U.S., 60% of counties do not have access to an orthodontist. By leveraging the benefits of teledentistry coupled with HP’s 3D printing technology, SmileDirectClub is bridging these gaps, offering people a chance to build confidence through a straighter, brighter smile at a cost that is up to 60% less than traditional options.

SmileDirectClub and its manufacturing partners rely on HP Jet Fusion 3D printing solutions to produce the mouth molds for each patient’s aligners and retainers, creating an average of more than 50,000 personalized mouth molds each day.

“SmileDirectClub and HP are reinventing the future of orthodontics, pushing the boundaries of customized 3D mass production and democratizing access to affordable, high-quality teeth straightening for millions of people,” said Christoph Schell, president of 3D Printing and Digital Manufacturing at HP, in a statement. “Through this collaboration, HP is helping SmileDirectClub accelerate its growth, enabling a new era of personalized consumer experiences only made possible by industrial 3D printing and digital manufacturing.”

HP and SmileDirectClub also announced a new recycling program, through which excess 3D material and already processed plastic mouth molds are recycled by HP and turned into pellets for traditional injection molding, leading to more sustainable production.

This content was originally published here.