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Grunge, Scrunchies, and Chickenpox: One of These Things Should NOT Come Back

(By José R. Romero, MD) - Some 90’s retro trends are fun to see come around again, like classic songs returning to the playlist, hairstyles, and even fun 90s’ shoes. Other trends are better left in the past -- like the millions of cases of chickenpox that happened in the United States each year before we had an effective vaccine.       

What was once considered a rite of passage, something that just had to be tolerated during childhood with oatmeal baths and missing school, is now unusual. A lot of people might think, ‘Oh, it’s just chickenpox.’ While it’s true that most children recover, doctors and other pediatricians like me frequently saw very serious cases of chickenpox that could turn quickly into invasive disease, pneumonia, or even death. The fact is, chickenpox can be very serious, and it affects not just the person who is sick, but the entire family and community. Because of chickenpox, parents can miss work, brothers and sisters can miss school, and pregnant women and people with weakened immune systems have a higher chance of having serious chickenpox infections.     

Once someone is infected with the chickenpox virus, it stays in the body even after the person feels better. Because of this virus, about 1 in 3 people who had chickenpox as children will get shingles, usually later in life. Shingles is a very painful condition that happens when the hidden chickenpox virus becomes active in the body again. It can disrupt daily life for months or even longer.     

The United States was the first country to include the chickenpox CDC vaccine in the routine childhood vaccination program, and the vaccine has proven to be very effective. During the first 25 years of the vaccination program (1995 - 2019), we saw a staggering 97% drop in chickenpox hospitalizations and more than a 99% drop in deaths. For young people today, being hospitalized from chickenpox has become a rare event -- and chickenpox deaths are nearly eliminated in the U.S.   

There’s even more good news -- experts anticipate that protection from the chickenpox vaccine will also extend into the future to help protect them as adults against shingles. So kids who are vaccinated  now are protected from chickenpox, and most won’t have to worry about suffering from shingles later. If you’re not sure if your kids are caught up on their vaccines, just ask their doctor or nurse -- and go ahead and schedule any appointment they might need.     

Some trends, like chickenpox disease, should never come back.

Enter GOLO Fall Inspirations Giveaway for a Chance to Win

(NewsUSA) - As the weather outside cools down, our excitement builds for classic fall activities like apple picking, getting lost in a corn maze and nature hikes surrounded by colorful foliage. This year, GOLO, the wellness solutions company, wants you to add another fun activity to the fall schedule by entering the GOLO Fall Inspirations Giveaway.     

It’s easy, and entrants could win a special gift package, including the GOLO for Life® Plan with one bottle of Release® dietary supplement, an AeroTrainer® exercise platform, a COSORI Air Fryer and an Etekcity Fitness Tracker.     

Here’s how to enter the Giveaway:     

  • Between October 25, 2022, at 8:00 AM EST and November 29, 2022, at 11:59 PM EST, you can enter by submitting your name, email and mailing address online here.     
  • Include your favorite fall activity (for example, visiting a pumpkin patch).     
  • Three winners will be selected at random from all eligible entries.     
  • Click here for full details.     

Wherever you are on your health and wellness journey, GOLO offers a range of innovative products designed to help, including the GOLO for Life Plan®, a game-changing nutritional approach to losing weight, and a healthy alternative to conventional dieting. The program includes GOLO Release® (an all-natural dietary supplement), access to personal coaches and online tools.     

For more information on GOLO, please visit  

New Lung Cancer Research Offers Patients Hope

(NewsUSA) - New research in the treatment of small cell lung cancer offers hope to patients.     

Until recently, small cell lung cancer (SCLC) was considered a forgotten cancer, but now there is a new type of chemotherapy treatment and promising research into targeted therapies that may shrink the tumors of a subset of small cell lung cancer patients.     

Small cell lung cancer (SCLC) is currently only treatable by chemotherapy and immunotherapy, and it is difficult to identify, so most patients are already an in advanced stage of cancer when they are diagnosed. SCLC spreads quickly and is resistant to many treatments; it also comes back more aggressively after treatment. However, researchers have identified a subset of SCLC patients who appear to respond to drugs that are already proven cancer fighters; the proteins in the tumors of these patients make them more receptive to targeted therapies, according to the researchers.   

“The next step in the research is enrolling patients in clinical trials, which are safe and the gold standard of care for SCLC patients,” says Dr. Dwight Owen, a medical oncologist at The Ohio State University.     

Dr. Owen recommends that all adults aged 50 years and older with a history of smoking, or who are current smokers, should be screened for lung cancer. However, “anyone with lungs can have lung cancer,” he emphasized.     

Meanwhile, Dr. Owen encourages anyone with a lung cancer diagnosis to ask their doctor about clinical trials, which are often the best resource for the most advanced treatment.     

“Clinical trial research determines if a promising new treatment, drug or device is safe and effective. For many patients, these trials are the best treatment option and provide new treatments that help them live,” he says.     

Many clinical trials are using telemedicine to “take the trial to the patient” to make clinical trials more accessible to more patients.     

“You should always ask questions to make sure you understand what you will need to do to be part of a clinical trial and make sure you are comfortable,” Dr. Owen explains.     

Be sure to ask your medical team about whether clinical trials could be part of your treatment.     

For more information, visit or text L-C-F-A to 41444.

Questions Veterans Should Ask About Medicare

(NewsUSA) - The Medicare Advantage and Prescription Drug Plan Annual Election Period is underway, running from Oct. 15 through Dec. 7. Whether you are new to Medicare or are re-evaluating your options for a health care plan, navigating the abundance of choices can feel overwhelming. This is especially true for Veterans who also may be covered by other government-sponsored benefits, like those offered by Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), depending on their time in service and disability rating. With there being so many options to choose from, the biggest challenge is often knowing where to begin.     

To select the best plan for your health needs, it’s important that all Medicare eligible individuals, including Veterans, conduct a personal needs assessment. To start, consider your unique needs, such as:     

• What health coverage will I need in 2023? Medicare Advantage plans often offer all-in-one features for beneficiaries to receive dental, vision and hearing all in one plan, in addition to other benefits such as access to urgent care and prescription drugs. Also consider if you may need to see a specialist or have a surgery planned so you can ensure your preferred doctor is in network.     

• What additional benefits would I use? Plans with additional benefits that support mental health services, increase access to fitness programs, or even transportation services to doctor appointments can help Veterans maintain their health. There are also plans that can provide allowances for eligible members to help pay for healthy foods, rent and utilities, pet supplies and more.     

• How can my VA benefits work with a Medicare Advantage plan? Although VA and Medicare Advantage benefits do not coordinate coverage, they work alongside one another. Veterans can enroll into any MA plan, but Humana has designed some plans with Veterans in mind, like the Humana Honor plan.  Humana Honor Plans are available to anyone eligible for Medicare and they provide coverage that can complement healthcare benefits from the VA. All Humana Medicare Advantage plans are recommended by USAA     

If you are eligible for Medicare, take the time to evaluate your options to find the one that best fits your health needs. While these questions can serve as a starting point for Veterans to identify plans that will best suit their needs, there are additional resources available. allows you to compare plans and estimate costs based on what a typical enrollee experiences.     

Additionally, you can visit or call toll-free 1-888-372-2614, 8 a.m. - 8 p.m. local time, seven days a week, to speak to Humana licensed sales agents. In addition, current Humana members can call toll-free 1-888-372-2614, 8 a.m. - 8 p.m. local time, seven days a week to speak with Customer Care specialists that are Veterans themselves and have collaborated with USAA to receive special training to serve the unique healthcare needs of Veterans. H

umana is a Medicare Advantage HMO, HMO SNP, PPO, PPO SNP, and PFFS organization with a Medicare contract. Enrollment in any Humana plan depends on plan renewal. The Humana Honor plans are available to anyone eligible for Medicare and veterans should consider all their health plan options. USAA and the USAA logo are registered trademarks of the United Services Automobile Association. All rights reserved. USAA means United Services Automobile Association and its affiliates. Use of the term “member” or “membership” refers to membership in USAA Membership Services and does not convey any legal or ownership rights in USAA. Restrictions apply and are subject to change. 

Sudden Cardiac Arrest: Learning from a Survivor

(NewsUSA) - For Julie Lycksell, a wife, a mother and retired operating room nurse from Long Island, NY, Feb. 6, 1998, is a date she will never forget. On that day, only two days after her actual birthday, Julie celebrates her “re-birthday” -- marking the day she nearly died from sudden cardiac arrest (SCA).     

Luckily, when Julie experienced SCA and lost consciousness at a local restaurant, she benefited from having the right people with the right equipment help her at just the right time. From the doctor and nurse dining near Julie who performed CPR, to the police officer who used an automated external defibrillator (AED) to shock her heart back into rhythm, Julie is here today because of their quick action. At the hospital, doctors inserted an implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) in her chest to prevent future life-threatening heart events. ICDs have given Julie the gift of more than 20 extra years of life following that fateful episode.     

Julie’s story sounds remarkable because it is. If not treated immediately, SCA can be fatal. Approximately 95% of people who experience an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest event and are not treated by defibrillation within 10 minutes will die.

What Is Sudden Cardiac Arrest?     

SCA is a condition in which the heart suddenly and unexpectedly stops beating. Unlike other heart conditions, SCA can impact people off all ages, races and ethnicities, and often with no warning -- in fact, 1,000 people each day experience SCA. Different from a heart attack, SCA is an electrical issue that stops the heart, leading to lack of blood flow to the body. Cardiac arrest remains a public health crisis, claiming more lives than breast cancer, AIDS and lung cancer combined.

Who is at Risk?     

People who have had a heart attack, heart failure or a low ejection fraction, or people who previously experienced SCA or come from a family with a history of heart disease are at higher risk. If a family member experiences any of these events, it’s important to talk to a doctor about potential risk. In Julie’s case, several family members received an ICD to ensure their hearts beat properly and protect them should an abnormal heart rhythm strike.     

Julie’s career as an OR nurse gave her a forum to offer firsthand advice about the lifesaving benefits of ICDs and the reassurance they can bring: “This is your insurance policy for your heart -- it offers added protection … you are safer with this.”

How Does an ICD Work?     

An ICD is a small device, the size of a pocket watch, placed under the skin below the collarbone, requiring a two-to-four-inch incision, with leads (thin wires) to monitor your heart rhythm 24 hours a day and deliver therapy if needed. Its battery lasts nearly a decade, as seen in Julie’s case. If the heart beats irregularly, the device sends low-energy electrical pulses to correct it. If the fast rate continues, the defibrillator will deliver a shock to restore the heart to a normal rate.     

If you have experienced or are at risk for abnormal heart rhythms (arrhythmias) called ventricular tachycardia/ventricular fibrillation, you may be eligible for an ICD.     

If you or a loved one have questions regarding ICDs or other implanted heart devices, visit

Five Ways to Make the Most of Your Prescription Drug Plan

(TJ Gibb, VP, Medicare Part D, Humana) - While inflation is forcing many people to cut back on purchases, spending on your health is not where you want to trim your budget. However, if you have a prescription drug plan (PDP), now is a good time to take a closer look at how you can get the most out of your PDP, including ways to make your medications more affordable and accessible.     

Here are six considerations to keep in mind for your medications:     

Smart Shoppers Compare Costs: Many seniors take multiple medications to treat chronic conditions, which can get expensive. If you’re taking a brand-name drug, you can likely reduce costs by either taking a generic or an alternative medication that treats the same condition but is less expensive. For instance, some pharmacies like CenterWell Pharmacy will let you know if there’s a lower-cost option available and how much it will save you annually.     

• Carefully Choose Your Pharmacy: It is best to select a pharmacy that is in your plan’s network. Some pharmacies, referred to as preferred pharmacies, might offer prescriptions at a lower cost. Check with your PDP to see if there’s another pharmacy in your area that could save you money.       

• Need a Refill? There’s an App for That: Another good way to make sure you refill prescriptions on time and easily manage your medications is to use mobile applications. For example, Humana members have access to MyHumana, a secure and easy-to-use web and mobile application designed to help members get the most out of their PDP benefits.     

• The Pharmacy is Ready to Help: While doctors prescribe your medication, pharmacists are most knowledgeable about them. Many PDPs have pharmacists available to speak with you. If you have any questions or concerns about the medicine you’re taking, make that call rather than wait in line at a pharmacy or for your next doctor’s visit.     

• Get Extra Assistance When Needed: There are low-income subsidies that can further reduce copays and help you afford your medication if you qualify. Additionally, there are patient assistance programs offered through drug manufacturers, foundations and state-based assistance programs that can help cover medication costs.     

• There’s No Place Like Home for Getting Your Medications: Transportation can be costly and not always accessible, making it difficult to get to the pharmacy for needed medications. And you could make a trip to the pharmacy, only to find out your medication is out-of-stock. Instead, take advantage of home delivery options to help ensure medications are received on time. Reduce your costs with home delivery by getting a 90-day supply of the medicine, which often has a lower copay than filling it each month, and by signing up for auto-refills to ensure you don’t miss a dose.       

These options are especially important for seniors to consider since research shows they take an average of 15 prescriptions per year. If you’re enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan that offers prescription drug coverage or a stand-alone prescription drug plan, check to see what’s included so you can start using these services.

Humana is a Medicare Advantage HMO, HMO SNP, PPO, PPO SNP and PFFS organization and a stand-alone PDP prescription drug plan with a Medicare contract. Enrollment in any Humana plan depends on contract renewal. Other pharmacies are available in the Humana network. 

4 Questions to Ask When Selecting a Medicare Advantage Plan

(George Renaudin, Medicare President, Humana) - As inflation causes us all to stretch our dollars, the majority of Americans are likely focused on finding the best prices without sacrificing quality. Healthcare is no exception, so picking the right insurance plan that meets your needs can be critical to maintaining a balanced budget.       

During the Medicare Advantage and Prescription Drug Plan Annual Election Period, which runs Oct. 15 through Dec. 7, people eligible for Medicare have the opportunity to select a plan that provides the affordability, convenience and benefits they want as well as the quality healthcare they deserve.     

When evaluating Medicare Advantage plans, here are four key questions to consider:     

• Are your preferred doctors and hospitals in-network? If you have a doctor you trust or limited hospitals in your area, make sure they are in your network before selecting a plan.     

• Do you need dental, vision or hearing coverage? Evaluate your health needs. Some people will just need dental insurance, while others may need vision and hearing coverage.     

• What about prescription drug coverage? Prescription drug coverage is included in many Medicare Advantage plans, and some plans even offer $0 copays. Make a list of your medications and compare estimated prescription costs as you evaluate plans.     

• What additional benefits do you need? Some plans include transportation assistance to and from doctors’ offices; fitness programs; mental health services; or allowances for out-of-pocket dental, vision or hearing costs. Medicare Advantage members may also consider getting healthcare in the home from in-network providers, such as Heal for primary care or CenterWell Home Health for acute care and chronic health issues.     

There are many new Medicare Advantage offerings this year, so it is worth taking the time to evaluate your options to find the best plan for your healthcare needs --  and your wallet. In fact, consumers who select Medicare Advantage save nearly $2,000 per year compared with what beneficiaries pay with original Medicare.     

For more information, visit or call 1-800-MEDICARE (TTY: 1-877-486-2048) 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Additionally, you can learn about Humana Medicare Advantage plans, which are recommended by USAA, by going to or calling 1-888-372-2614 (TTY: 711) from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. local time, seven days a week, to speak with a licensed sales agent.

Additional Information
Humana is a Medicare Advantage HMO, HMO SNP, PPO, PPO SNP AND PFFS organization with a Medicare contract. Enrollment in any Humana plan depends on contract renewal. Other providers are available in the Humana network.  

USAA and the USAA logo are registered trademarks of the United Services Automobile Association. All rights reserved. USAA means United Services Automobile Association and its affiliates. Use of the term “member” or “membership” refers to membership in USAA Membership Services and does not convey any legal or ownership rights in USAA. Restrictions apply and are subject to change.   

Understanding Common Kidney Diseases

(NewsUSA) - Did you know that one in seven Americans lives with a kidney disease? As a nephrologist, I see the range of emotions patients experience when they are first diagnosed. Anxiety, fear and guilt are all common feelings that may be accompanied by physical aches and pains stemming from their condition. While these emotions may be overwhelming, I encourage my patients to take charge of their diagnosis by educating and empowering themselves to learn more about a management strategy that works for them.     

I also try to educate my patients on the nuances between kidney diseases, as some variants -- such as autosomal dominant polycystic kidney disease (ADPKD) -- can be inherited and easily masked by another condition, including high blood pressure, diabetes, and the sickle cell trait. The following are common kidney diseases you should be aware of so that you can discuss them with your family and your healthcare provider:     

• Chronic kidney disease (CKD) is characterized by kidney damage or a decrease in kidney function for at least three months. People living with CKD lose their ability to filter extra salt and fluid from the blood properly due to loss of kidney function. CKD is common in the United States, with more than 37 million adults potentially living with this disease. Individuals are at a higher risk for CKD if they already have diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease or a family history of kidney failure.     

• Polycystic kidney disease (PKD) is an inherited disorder and a form of chronic kidney disease that causes cysts to form and grow in the kidneys; as cysts grow, kidneys enlarge and damage progresses, reducing kidney function and potentially leading to kidney failure.   

 • Autosomal dominant polycystic kidney disease (ADPKD) is an inherited, rare disease that affects more than 140,000 Americans. ADPKD, the most common form of PKD, causes cysts to form and grow in the kidneys. As the cysts grow, kidneys enlarge, with some kidneys growing to the size of a football. As a result, kidney function progressively declines and may lead to kidney failure.     

ADPKD may be diagnosed by clinical imaging such as an ultrasound, computed tomography  scan or magnetic resonance imaging. Genetic testing may also be used to diagnose ADPKD. While ADPKD is considered a rare disease, it frequently occurs in families impacted by the condition -- with a child of a parent with ADPKD having a 50 percent chance of inheritance.     

• Autosomal recessive polycystic kidney disease (ARPKD) is often detected before a baby is born due to ultrasound images showing the unborn baby’s kidneys larger than normal. A child is only born with ARPKD if both parents are carriers of the gene that causes it.   

 There are a variety of healthy lifestyle changes and management strategies that may help to delay disease progression such as maintaining a kidney-friendly diet, drinking a certain amount of water and maintaining a healthy weight. It’s also important to utilize educational resources, such as, to ensure you’re educated about the disease so you can have open conversations with your doctor and family.

Dr. Dahl is a paid consultant of Otsuka America Pharmaceutical, Inc.

Join National Stair Climb to Honor Fallen Firefighters, Support Their Families

(NewsUSA) - Joe Minogue knows the meaning of service. The retired lieutenant from the New York City Fire Department (FDNY) began his firefighting career in 1998. But on September 11, 2001, his chosen career changed radically when the World Trade Center Twin Towers collapsed following a devastating terrorist attack.     

Minogue rushed to the rubble. He would not know at the time that his musical talent would become part of his duty. He became an FDNY bugler for the Ceremonial Unit, playing Taps for hundreds of firefighter funerals and memorials.     

Minogue remains an active member of the FDNY community. He’s currently a liaison to the FDNY for the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation (NFFF), the nonprofit organization established by Congress in 1992 to lead a nationwide effort honoring America’s fallen firefighters, assisting their families and working to reduce line-of-duty deaths.     

Every year, Minogue now participates in the NFFF National 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb to commemorate the FDNY firefighters killed in the 9/11 attacks. He says the climbs are meaningful for three reasons. “It’s about the past, the now, and the future. We remember the past; we live in the now because we don’t know what the future will bring. And no matter what -- we can’t forget the 343 who gave their lives in service, so we’re honoring their memory and supporting their families into the future, for as long as they need.”     

The National Stair Climb takes place on October 16 at Belmont Park in Elmont, NY. Participants symbolically retrace the steps of the FDNY firefighters who died on 9/11 by climbing stairs until they reach the equivalent of 110 stories -- or 2,220 steps -- of the World Trade Center. Each climber also carries a photo of a firefighter who died on 9/11. Visit this link to the Belmont climb to register and participate in New York on October 16.      

Approximately 50 local NFFF Stair Climbs also occur yearly in cities on or around September 11. Funds from the climbs support much-needed programs for families of firefighters killed in the line of duty. These programs offer various services, including grief and behavioral counseling -- and even a summer camp for the children of fallen firefighters. Current FDNY members benefit from this support as well as the survivors of those lost on September 11, 2001. The programs are available for as long as firefighters and their families need them.     

Anyone anywhere can support fallen firefighters and their families by climbing, walking or even biking in an NFFF Virtual Stair Climb. That’s possible now through December 31, 2022. Registration is required HERE.     

For more information and other ways to support families of fallen firefighters and reduce line-of-duty deaths, visit

Medicare Cuts Could Limit Access to Critical Lab Tests

(NewsUSA) - Medical tests done by clinical laboratories are an essential part of health care. However, repeated Medicare reimbursement cuts to clinical laboratory services could threaten patients’ access to common tests used to diagnose, monitor and manage serious diseases such as cancer, diabetes and heart disease.     

A new campaign, called Stop Lab Cuts, is working to fix this problem and is urging Congress to pass the Saving Access to Laboratory Services Act (SALSA) this year.     

SALSA is intended to reform the Protecting Access to Medicare Act (PAMA) passed by Congress in 2014, which has led to three rounds of payment cuts to laboratory services since the law was enacted.     

PAMA put Medicare reimbursement for clinical laboratory tests on an unsustainable path of multiyear cuts and relied on a narrow sample of clinical laboratory test prices to set Medicare rates, according to the American Clinical Laboratory Association (ACLA), the national trade organization representing clinical laboratories that provide diagnostic services across the United States.     

Congress has acknowledged the potentially harmful effects of PAMA and has taken bipartisan legislative action three times to delay cuts. Now, on the cusp of the next scheduled round of cuts, SALSA has been introduced to reform PAMA and protect access to laboratory tests, according to ACLA.     

SALSA has support from both parties in the House and Senate and from patient, provider and hospital groups.     

“Without congressional action this year, laboratories across the country will face a fourth round of cuts to reimbursement. These cuts could reduce access to testing and undermine the laboratory infrastructure essential for day-to-day care and needed to respond to emergencies such as COVID-19 and monkeypox. Ongoing cuts to payment will also stifle innovation and investment in new screening and diagnostic tests,” ACLA leadership said in a statement.   

Reforms proposed in SALSA include:     

  • Ensuring that representative data is used in Clinical Laboratory Fee Schedule (CLFS) rates and alleviating the reporting burden on labs by using statistical sampling.     
  • Setting a limit of 5% on how much a CLFS rate could be increased or decreased from year to year.       
  • Improving the types of private payor data used to set CLFS rates.     
  • Increasing the length of time between data reporting from three years to four years.     

America needs a strong clinical laboratory infrastructure to support the delivery of routine patient care, and passage of SALSA would help protect access to the most common laboratory tests on which so many of America’s seniors depend, according to ACLA. 

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