Health, Medicine & Nutrition
Physician Payments Sunshine Act data collection to begin PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Health, Medicine & Nutrition
Written by Grassley Press   
Monday, 10 February 2014 10:11

February 7, 2014

Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa today made the following comment on the announcement from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services that it will begin to receive data under the Physician Payments Sunshine Act on Feb. 18.  The agency said it will post the data on its website by the end of September 2014.  Grassley is the co-author of the bipartisan Sunshine Act, enacted in 2010, that will disclose the financial relationships between drug and medical device companies and doctors.  The legislation came after Grassley’s investigative and oversight work exposed numerous examples of major discrepancies between the reporting of payments and the receipt of payments.

“The Sunshine Act will help inform the public about the financial relationships between the drug and medical device industry and doctors.  The disclosure of key items will be uniform.  Consumers will get a much fuller picture of the industry’s financial presence in medicine than they have now.  The trend toward payment transparency is good for the public and good for accountability.”

 
Meditative Focus Improves Health and Business PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Health, Medicine & Nutrition
Written by Ginny Grimsley   
Monday, 10 February 2014 10:10

Can Mindfulness Raise Your Net Worth?
Meditative Focus Improves Both Health and Business
Intuition, Says Veteran Consultant

Sitting down with the intention of stilling one’s mind and body is no longer the sole province of hippies and Eastern medicine aficionados, says leadership expert Dr. Stephen Josephs.

Nike, 50 Cent and the Marine Corps all embrace the benefits of mindfulness meditation, he says.

“The benefits of mindfulness meditation do not exist in a vacuum; mindfulness meditation not only lowers your blood pressure, it also offers a host of other positives, including increasing business acumen,” says Josephs, who has coached executives for more than 30 years and recently authored the new book, “Dragons at Work,” (www.DragonsAtWork.com).

“It sharpens your intuitive business sense. By relaxing your body, breathing evenly, and paying attention to the present moment, you notice things you might otherwise miss. Paying exquisite attention is the key to staying real, and daily meditation builds that capacity.”

The benefits of a calm and focused mind are ubiquitous; Josephs offers tips for business leaders.

• If you’re faced with what looks like an enticing opportunity, don’t just do something. Sit there. Breathe quietly and let the fear and greed subside. The easiest way to fool yourself in a deal, negotiation or transaction is to let your thinking stray from what’s happening and get seduced by a dream. It could be the dream your counterpart is spinning for you or simply the dream of results, good or bad. Like most people, you have probably experienced moments when you knew something – a business relationship, an investment – was going south, but you hesitated to act because you didn’t have facts to support your intuition. Sometimes, your intuition knows something that your logical mind does not.

• Pay attention to what your body is telling you; you may be expressing signals that your logical mind is slow to notice. In a psychological study titled “The Iowa Gambling Task,” researchers gave subjects the task of making the most money possible by choosing cards from four decks. Unbeknownst to the subjects, the decks were stacked. Some were “good decks” (producing winners more of the time) and some were “bad decks,” (producing losers). After about 40 to 50 picks, most subjects caught on to which decks produced winners and losers. Their bodies knew something that their rational minds had missed. After about 10 picks they began to produce physiological symptoms of stress when their hands reached for the bad decks. If you’re not paying attention to those subtle signals, your innate wisdom is inaccessible.

• Meditation develops emotional balance and a better business mind. If you’ve never meditated, try it! Start small by simply sitting still and keeping your eyes closed for five minutes. Feel the weight of your body in its sitting position. Try to simplify your thoughts to basic things, down to the subtle sounds of the room, your breathing. Mindfulness meditation does not require extensive study in ancient traditions. Notice the difference after only five minutes; you will feel more relaxed. Later, try it for 10 minutes, and then longer. Do your due diligence in that state of mind. The equanimity that will sharpen your acumen is also the source of your happiness in life. Don’t trade it for anything.

About Dr. Stephen Josephs

With more than 30 years experience as an executive coach and consultant, Stephen Josephs, Ed. D, helps leaders build vitality and focus to make their companies profitable – and great places to work. His doctorate at the University of Massachusetts focused on Aesthetics in Education: how to teach anything through art, music, drama and movement. Josephs is particularly interested in the intersection of business performance, psychology and mind/body disciplines. His new novel, "Dragons at Work," tells the story of a tightly wound executive – a fictionalized case study of coaching that produces fundamental changes in a leader. Josephs has also co-authored "Leadership Agility: Five Levels of Mastery in Anticipating and Initiating Change" (Jossey-Bass, 2006) with Bill Joiner, which shows how certain stages of psychological development affect leadership.

 
Governor Quinn Announces MATTER, a New Healthcare Technology Startup Hub PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Health, Medicine & Nutrition
Written by Brooke Anderson/Grant Klinzman   
Friday, 07 February 2014 09:07

Innovative BioHub is Part of Governor's State of the State Commitment to Create Jobs, Drive Illinois’ Economy Forward

CHICAGO - Governor Pat Quinn today was joined by J.B. Pritzker and key civic and business leaders to announce MATTER - a new startup center for next-generation healthcare technology companies. A priority in the Governor’s 2014 State of the State address, the not-for-profit BioHub will drive entrepreneurship in the rapidly expanding medical and biotechnology fields. Supported by a $4 million state investment, MATTER is part of Governor Quinn’s agenda to create jobs and drive Illinois’ economy forward.

“We are committed to taking our medical technology industry to the next level,” Governor Quinn said. “MATTER will serve as a central location to empower entrepreneurs and spur economic growth, while advancing Illinois’ role as a national leader in life sciences and health innovation.”

As a not-for-profit organization, MATTER will be located in Chicago’s Merchandise Mart. Its collaborative workspace will allow interaction among entrepreneurs, academics and investors in order to create and grow new companies in healthcare information technology, medical devices, medical diagnostics and biopharmaceuticals. 1871, the digital startup hub what will be MATTER's neighbor in the Merchandise Mart, has followed that same recipe for success, resulting in more than 200 start-ups and creating more than 1,000 jobs since its launch in 2012.

“1871 changed the game for digital startups and has become an international model for encouraging entrepreneurial growth,” World Business Chicago President and CEO Jeff Malehorn, who represented Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel at the announcement, said. “Just as the State of Illinois, the City of Chicago and World Business Chicago together helped launch 1871, we’re collaborating to do the same thing for the medical technology sector, which has enormous growth potential to continue to fuel our economy.”

The state’s funding package, administered through the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO), consists of a $2.5 million state investment and a loan of $1.5 million that will provide seed funding support for the project. Business leaders including Jeff Aronin and Tim Walbert, who are co-chairs of the MATTER governing board, are raising additional funds from corporate sources.

“Over the past year, hundreds of entrepreneurs, university and industry leaders have volunteered their time to help us build the plan for MATTER,” said Paragon Pharmaceuticals Chairman and CEO Jeff Aronin, who is also chair of WBC’s ChicagoNEXT Bioscience Committee, which has been a key partner with the state in creating MATTER. “On behalf of the entire community, we are grateful for the support of Governor Quinn and DCEO, and for the continuing commitment to this effort of Mayor Emanuel and World Business Chicago.”

“MATTER will enable a community of life-science entrepreneurs to come together and realize their dream of starting a company,” Horizon Pharma Inc. Chairman, President and CEO Tim Walbert, who is also a member of the Illinois Innovation Council, said. “MATTER will also be an economic boon to our city and state, leveraging the innovation from our world-leading teaching hospitals and Horizon is proud to support it.”

Together the Quinn Administration and the Illinois Innovation Council, which was created by the Governor in 2011, have led significant progress in fostering the growth of the state’s technology sector. The Governor previously invested $2.3 million to help launch 1871, now one of the nation’s leading centers for early-stage digital technology companies. The state also invested $1.7 million to build the HTI, a new healthcare R&D facility located in the Illinois Medical District.

Illinois has the third-largest healthcare community in the U.S., and Chicago boasts the nation’s largest concentration of doctors. The state is home to leading national healthcare organizations, global biopharmaceutical, medical device, health IT, distribution and health insurance companies, leading research institutions and teaching hospitals, and a dynamic startup community. The life science industry in Illinois has a $98 billion economic footprint. For entrepreneurs building med-tech businesses, the Chicago area has one of the world’s highest concentrations of potential resources, but until now the community has not had a central focal point.

“When I moved to Chicago from Silicon Valley, I struggled to find and plug into the large and diverse med-tech community here,” said Andrew Cittadine, founder and CEO of Diagnostic Photonics. “MATTER will allow me and other entrepreneurs easy access to the people and resources we need to build our companies.”

For more information on MATTER, visit www.matterchicago.com.

###

 
SENATORS DEMAND ANSWERS ON BOTCHED OBAMACARE ENROLLMENT APPEALS PROCESS PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Health, Medicine & Nutrition
Written by Grassley Press   
Thursday, 06 February 2014 16:58
In Letter To CMS Administrator Tavenner, Senators Write,  “This latest impediment has caused individuals to pay more for their insurance or to go without it, and leaves applicants with almost no recourse to fix their problems.”

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senators Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), and Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) wrote to Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Administrator Marilyn Tavenner seeking answers on how the agency will process appeals when Americans attempting to enroll in the ObamaCare exchanges through HealthCare.gov are denied coverage due to technical errors.

Earlier this week, the Washington Post reported that roughly 22,000 individuals had appealed HealthCare.gov’s mistakes when they were signing up for insurance. However, CMS does not have the appropriate technology in place to manage appeals. Questioning whether the agency will be able to resolve these appeals promptly and efficiently, the Senators asked CMS to provide details on how long it will be before the technical infrastructure is properly functioning and requested information on the appeals process that is currently in place.

“As Americans continue to endure the badly botched rollout of a website that cost taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars, we learned recently that thousands of applicants have been unable to correct mistakes on their insurance applications and that CMS does not have a system in place to resolve these mistakes,” wrote the Senators. “This latest impediment has caused individuals to pay more for their insurance or to go without it, and leaves applicants with almost no recourse to fix their problems.”

Hatch is the Ranking Member of the Senate Finance Committee, Alexander is the Ranking Member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, Grassley is the Ranking Member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and Enzi is the Ranking Member of the Senate HELP Subcommittee on Children & Families.

The text of the letter to Administrator Tavenner is below and a signed copy can be found HERE:

February 6, 2014

The Honorable Marilyn Tavenner

Administrator

Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

200 Independence Avenue, SW

Washington, DC  20201


Dear Administrator Tavenner:

We are writing to request information about how the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) plans to reconcile the mistakes that have been generated in the healthcare.gov application process. As Americans continue to endure the badly botched rollout of a website that cost taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars, we learned recently that thousands of applicants have been unable to correct mistakes on their insurance applications and that CMS does not have a system in place to resolve these mistakes. This latest impediment has caused individuals to pay more for their insurance or to go without it, and leaves applicants with almost no recourse to fix their problems.

The Washington Post reported this week[1] that 22,000 people have appealed to CMS to try to correct mistakes on their insurance applications filed through the federal health exchange. Our understanding is that most of the mistakes were caused by the website and not the individuals. For example, some people who need health insurance are not getting the full subsidy to which they are entitled. Others found that their applications had obvious mistakes, like declaring one of their children eligible for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) and the other one ineligible. Others became stuck in a never-ending loop when the exchange found them ineligible for exchange coverage because they were eligible for Medicaid, but their state disagreed. These consumers have legitimate complaints and their concerns should be remedied as expeditiously as possible by your agency.

However, according to the Post, CMS does not have a system in place to resolve these appeals. While this in itself is perplexing, the article further states that CMS has no plans to develop the appeals system in the near future. Like other “back-end” systems—such as the technology that sends enrollees’ information to insurance companies through “834” electronic forms—the automated appeals system has not yet been constructed. Instead, people are directed to file appeals by mail, a more time-consuming process that could result in the denial of necessary care, or to delete their online profiles and start over, only to find themselves back in the same predicament. All of this is because the technology that would allow CMS staff to handle appeals has not been built.

CMS’ intention to initiate hearings for some of the affected appellees is a step in the right direction, but generally, hearings do not result in timely resolution.  Healthcare.gov’s website states that “In general, we must tell you our decision and mail our response within 90 days of when we received your appeal request.”[2] Ninety days or more is unacceptable to the thousands of Americans who may have their care interrupted, or be unable to insure themselves or their children, while they are waiting to have the issues with their application resolved. The challenges faced by these individuals should be investigated and promptly resolved by the appropriate officials. A seven-page form, followed by investigative hearings, is a burdensome process to resolve what are reportedly technical “glitches” that the affected individual had no part in creating.

 

We collectively are concerned about whether or not participants in the exchanges will have their problems resolved promptly and efficiently.  To help us better understand how CMS intends to assist those negatively impacted by the healthcare.gov website, please provide us with answers to the following questions:

 

1.       Which division within CMS is responsible for managing exchange-related appeals and which division had the ultimate responsibility for overseeing the development and operational functionality of the exchange appeals process?

2.       How many healthcare.gov appeals has CMS addressed and resolved to date?

3.       What is the schedule for resolving the current backlog of appeals?

4.       How long does CMS anticipate it will take to resolve the average appeal and how is CMS communicating to appellees about the length of time for resolution of their appeals?

5.       What is the timeline for building the infrastructure necessary to route appeals to the proper channels so that CMS officials can address their needs and resolve them expeditiously?

6.       When will consumers be able to file appeals by phone or electronically?

7.       What is CMS’ rationale for not including the appeals infrastructure in the initial phase of the Federal exchange functionality?

8.       Why was a contingency plan for handling appeals not developed sooner given the lack of infrastructure to handle appeals that was present from the launch of the exchanges onward?

We remain concerned that CMS has continued to over promise and under deliver. We urge you to carefully consider the above issues and to provide a written response to our questions by February 28, 2014.

Sincerely,

HATCH
GRASSLEY
ALEXANDER
ENZI

###

 
Anti-Glycation: the Next Level in the Battle Against Aging PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Health, Medicine & Nutrition
Written by Ginny Grimsley   
Thursday, 06 February 2014 15:22
Things Everyone Should Know About the Effects
of Sugar on Skin

Most people today know antioxidants to be an effective method of fighting age, but few are aware of the biological process underlying for most skin damage – and what directly addresses the problem, says skin-care expert Ron Cummings.

“The word that has been on the minds of dermatologists and other skin-care researchers for many years is glycation, which is what happens on the cellular level to age our skin,” says Cummings, founder and CEO of AminoGenesis Skin Care, (www.aminogenesis.com).

Glycation – damage to proteins caused by sugar molecules – has long been a focus of study in people with diabetes, because it results in severe complications, such as blindness and nerve damage. People with uncontrolled diabetes have excess blood sugar, so they experience a higher rate of systemic glycation, he says.

“Antioxidants fight inflammation caused by free radicals, which are largely created from external, environmental factors such as excessive sunlight or cigarette smoke. Glycation, though, damages from the inside out.”

Using antioxidants and topical moisturizers are a good start to keeping the effects of aging at bay, but they only go so far, Cummings says. Even more important is reversing the damage to skin caused by glycation, which became possible only recently.

Cummings shares two points anyone interested in skin care should know about glycation:

• Glycation is the skin’s No.1 aging factor. Sugar molecules in our body bombard our cells like a ferocious hail storm, bonding with fats and proteins. The proteins then become misshapen and excrete exotoxins that disrupt cellular metabolism. Collagen, which makes skin look smooth and plump, is a protein that’s particularly vulnerable to glycation. The damage manifests as wrinkles, lines, discoloration and edema. Rather than attacking a cell from the outside, like a free radical, glycation occurs from within.

• Anti-glycation topical solutions have been clinically shown to be effective. Old lotions, from your favorite moisturizer to Grandma’s secret facial solution to the new DIY recipe you found online act as a barrier to moisture evaporation. But their effect is temporary, and they don’t prevent or reverse damage. New anti-glycation formulas, however, directly address aging by releasing the sugar molecule’s bond with protein, allowing the cell to return to its natural shape and state.

“Just as antioxidants have revolutionized anti-aging efforts around the world, anti-glycation will be understood to be exponentially more effective,” Cummings says.

About Ron Cummings

Ron Cummings is the founder and CEO of AminoGenesis Skin Care, which utilizes amino acids as the key ingredients to its age- and damage-reversing products. The formula for the solution features 17 plant-purified amino acids, which are necessary for healthy and radiant skin. The company’s formulas include anti-glycation properties, which are very rare in today’s skin-care products. Cummings donated one of his products, a protective agent, to support military forces in Afghanistan and received a hearty letter of gratitude from the Marines of Special Operations Company Bravo, which described the product’s excellent performance, as well as a flag that was flown “in the face of the enemy, over Forward Operating Base Robinson in Sangin, Afghanistan.”

 
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