Categoria: health care

TV Producer Chuck Lorre Donates $30 Million To Cedars-Sinai To Train New Health Care Professionals 

LOS ANGELES — Television producer and writer Chuck Lorre has created some of the most recognizable roles in entertainment. He is turning his attention toward creating some of the most important roles in medicine.

The Chuck Lorre Foundation has made a $30 million donation for the creation of a new school at Cedars-Sinai for those seeking to grow their health care career opportunities.

The Chuck Lorre School of Allied Health will provide training for emerging health care professionals in six areas that are chronically understaffed. Students will be able to pursue education and training in respiratory therapy, pharmacy technician, clinical laboratory science, MRI technology, radiologic technology or echo/cardio technology, areas identified as the most in-demand staffing needs in hospital settings.

“We are honored that Chuck Lorre and his foundation have chosen to continually invest in Cedars-Sinai’s flourishing programs,” said Arthur J. Ochoa, JD, senior vice president of Advancement and chief advancement officer for Cedars-Sinai. “The foundation’s forward thinking will help develop future generations of Cedars-Sinai caliber professionals.”

Within three years, those in the initial class of approximately 50 students are expected to start professional careers at Cedars-Sinai and become certified in their chosen fields. The goal is to double enrollment to more than 100 students in the program in seven years.

The programs will run from six months to two years, with in-person and online courses and students receiving paid positions while training. Tuition support is available for those eligible for financial aid.

“Choosing to collaborate with Cedars-Sinai, one of health care’s most respected institutions, was not a tough call for me,” said Lorre, whose many TV hits include “Two and a Half Men,” “The Kominsky Method,” “Mom” and “The Big Bang Theory.”

“When the opportunity presented itself to provide training and certificates for underserved individuals in our community, which in some instances would double their salaries, I was all in. Partnering with Cedars-Sinai to create the school of allied health will allow us to see long-term impacts in our communities.”

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Biden Says New Taxes On The Rich Can Help Save Medicare


WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden on Tuesday proposed new taxes on the rich to help fund Medicare, saying the plan would help to extend the insurance program’s solvency by 25 years and provide a degree of middle-class stability to millions of older adults.

In his plan, Biden is overtly declaring that the wealthy ought to shoulder a heavier tax burden. His budget would draw a direct line between those new taxes and the popular health insurance program for people older than 65, essentially asking those who’ve fared best in the economy to subsidize the rest of the population.

Biden wants to increase the Medicare tax rate from 3.8% to 5% on income exceeding $400,000 per year, including salaries and capital gains. That would likely increase tax revenues by more than $117 billion over 10 years, according to prior estimates by the Tax Policy Center.

“This modest increase in Medicare contributions from those with the highest incomes will help keep the Medicare program strong for decades to come,” Biden wrote in a Tuesday essay in The New York Times. He called Medicare a “rock-solid guarantee that Americans have counted on to be there for them when they retire.”

The proposed Medicare changes are part of a fuller budget proposal that Biden plans to release on Thursday in Philadelphia. Pushing the proposal through Congress will likely be difficult, with Republicans in control of the House and Democrats holding only a slim majority in the Senate.

The proposal is a direct challenge to GOP lawmakers, who argue that economic growth comes from tax cuts like those pushed through by President Donald Trump in 2017. Those cuts disproportionately favored wealthier households and companies. They contributed to higher budget deficits, when growth failed to boom as Trump had promised and the economy was then derailed in 2020 by the coronavirus pandemic.

The conflicting worldviews on how taxes would impact the economy is part of a broader showdown. Biden and Congress need to reach a deal to raise the government’s borrowing authority at some point this summer, or else the government could default and plunge the U.S. into a debilitating recession.

Ahead of the 2024 campaign season, Democrats have ramped up talk around Medicare, vowing to fend off any Republican attempts to cut the program, although so far the GOP has vowed to avoid any cuts. Still, Republican lawmakers have reached little consensus on how to fulfill their promise to put the government on a path toward balancing the federal budget in the next 10 years.

Last year, members of the House Republican Study Committee proposed raising the eligibility age for Medicare to 67, which would match Social Security. But that idea hasn’t moved forward in a split Congress.

Republicans have denied that they plan to cut the program. A proposal from Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla., that would require Congress to reconsider all federal laws every five years, including Medicare, has gotten little traction.

Biden’s plan is also intended to close what the White House describes as loopholes that allow people to avoid Medicare taxes on some income. Besides the taxes, Biden wants to expand Medicare’s ability to negotiate drug costs, which began with the Inflation Reduction Act. He signed the sweeping legislation last year.

Taken together, Biden’s new proposals would help shore up a key trust fund that pays for Medicare, which provides health care for older adults. According to the White House, the changes would keep the fund solvent until the 2050s, about 25 years longer than currently expected.

Changes would also be made to Medicare benefits. Biden wants to limit cost sharing for some generic drugs to only $2. The idea would lower out-of-pocket costs for treating hypertension, high cholesterol and other ailments.

In addition, the budget would end cost sharing for up to three mental health or behavioral health visits per year.

What Is Shingles? Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s Diagnosis, Explained

Diagnosed with a shingles infection in late February, Sen. Dianne Feinstein is now hospitalized and undergoing treatment at a San Francisco hospital.

Anyone who has contracted the virus knows how excruciatingly painful it it can be: about one out of every three people in the United States will develop shingles, also known as herpes zoster, in their lifetime, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

At greatest risk are the 99% of Americans born in or before 1980 who had chickenpox and have not been vaccinated against shingles. And while the shingles vaccine is highly effective, it’s not perfect, and protection may wane over time. Feinstein’s office did not discuss her medical history, citing privacy concerns.

To learn more about the virus, we talked to two experts: Dr. Kieron S. Leslie, professor of clinical dermatology at UCSF School of Medicine and Dr. Jennifer Yeh, clinical assistant professor of dermatology at Stanford University School of Medicine.

Q: What is shingles?

A: It’s an infection that is caused by varicella-zoster virus, the same virus as chickenpox. When people get chickenpox as children, the virus can hide away in the nervous system. And at a later point in their lives, it can be reactivated, following the distribution of nerves in the skin.

— Dr. Leslie, UCSF

Q: What are the symptoms?

A: Typically, there is a “pre-eruptive” phase, in which a patient has pain and burning in a particular area of the body. And then, a few days later, they may develop a rash there, with some red bumps as well as some blisters.

The distribution pattern is called a “dermatome” – it’s an area of skin that’s supplied by a single nerve. These dermatomes are typically arranged horizontally on the body, and may run up and down the length of the arms or legs.

— Dr. Yeh, Stanford

Q: Who is vulnerable?

A: We most commonly see shingles in people who are over age 60. And those who are immunosuppressed.

— Dr. Leslie, UCSF

Q: Is it dangerous?

A: Most of the time, shingles causes a painful rash that heals in one to two weeks. But some folks, especially older people, can be left with nerve pain after the rash heals. That can last for many months.

Q: Is there treatment?

A: Typically we treat it with antiviral medicines. It is recommended to start within the first 72 hours of the symptoms in order to really shorten the severity of that episode. We use valacyclovir (Valtrex) or acyclovir (Zovirax). A drug called foscarnet (Foscavir) is reserved for cases that are resistant to the first two antivirals.

— Dr. Yeh, Stanford

Q: Why would someone be hospitalized?

A: Shingles rarely causes serious illness. But it can be widespread over the body. If it affects the eyes, it can cause blindness. It can go to the brain and cause some inflammation there. It can cause pneumonia. So a small proportion of people would be admitted to the hospital with problems, because there are potentially serious outcomes.

— Dr. Leslie, UCSF

Hospitalization makes it possible to do closer monitoring to prevent possible complications. There may be intravenous treatment with antivirals.

— Dr. Yeh, Stanford

Q: Is it contagious?

A: You get shingles from yourself — it’s reactivated in your nerves. If you’ve already had chickenpox or the chickenpox vaccine, you’re not at risk of getting shingles from someone else. But if you’ve never had chickenpox or the vaccine, and you come in contact with somebody with shingles, you may get chickenpox. It’s highly infectious.

— Dr. Leslie, UCSF

Q: If you’ve been vaccinated against chickenpox, are you still vulnerable to shingles?

A: No, because you would not have gotten chickenpox.

— Dr. Leslie, UCSF

Q:  Is there a vaccine?

A: Absolutely. It’s a two-dose vaccine, with each dose separated by two to six months, called Shingrix. It’s recommended for adults ages 50 or older, and also for adults 19 years or older who have a weakened immune system.

It provides strong protection against shingles. It also helps protect against one of the complications that is common after shingles, called “post herpetic neuralgia,” which is the lingering pain and burning even after the case of shingles has resolved.

It’s highly recommended to get the vaccine, even if you’ve had shingles in the past. Or if you’ve had the chickenpox vaccine, as well.

— Dr. Yeh, Stanford

Q: How effective is the vaccine?

A: No vaccine is 100% effective. In adults over the age of 70, Shingrix is 89% effective. We consider that a really good vaccine.

— Dr. Leslie, UCSF

Protection may wane over time. That would mean a discussion with your primary care doctor as to whether you need another dose.

— Dr. Yeh, Stanford

Q: Are there side effects from the vaccine?

A: There’s a sharp pain when you get the injection. And you may feel a sore arm for a few days, potentially with redness where you got the shot. Sometimes people feel a little bit tired, with muscle pain and a headache, for a few days after the injection.

— Dr. Leslie, UCSF

Q: Is there the risk of getting shingles from the vaccine?

A: You will not get shingles from the vaccine. That’s because the vaccine contains only a small portion of the varicella zoster virus.

— Dr. Yeh, Stanford

Q: Is the vaccine covered by insurance?

A: Definitely. But oftentimes it’s limited to people who are age 50 and older, because that is what the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommended.

It is covered by Medicare’s prescription drug plan, called Part D. And most private insurance plans will cover the vaccine, if you’re over age 50. Older adults with Medicaid benefits also will receive the vaccine.

— Dr. Yeh, Stanford