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As flu season creeps up on the Northern Hemisphere, cold and flu relief medications will inevitably fly off lowest price viagra store shelves. A natural remedy that shoppers might reach for is elderberry, a small, blackish-purple fruit that companies turn into syrups, lozenges and gummies. Though therapeutic uses of the berry date back centuries, Michael Macknin, a pediatrician at the lowest price viagra Cleveland Clinic, hadn’t heard of using elderberry to treat the flu until a patient’s mother asked him about it. Some industry-sponsored research claims that the herbal remedy could cut the length of the symptoms by up to four days.

For a comparison, Tamiflu, an FDA-approved treatment, lowest price viagra only reduces flu duration by about a single day. €œI said, 'Gee, if that’s really true [about elderberry], it would be a huge benefit,'” Macknin says. But the effectiveness and safety of elderberry is still fairly unclear. Unlike the over-the-counter medicines at your local pharmacy, elderberry hasn't been lowest price viagra through rigorous FDA testing and approval.

However, Macknin and his team recently published a study in the Journal of General Internal Medicine, which found that elderberry treatments did nothing for flu patients. This prompts a lowest price viagra need for further studies into the remedy — work that unfortunately stands a low chance of happening in the future, Macknin says. Looking For ProofElderberries are full of chemicals that could be good for your health. Like similar fruits, the berries contain high levels of antioxidants, compounds that shut lowest price viagra down reactions in our bodies that damage cells.

But whether or not elderberry's properties also help immune systems fend off a virus is murky. There are only a handful of studies that have examined if elderberries reduced the severity or duration of the flu. And though some of the work prior to Macknin’s was well-designed and supported this herbal remedy as a helpful flu aid, at least some — and potentially all — of those studies were funded by elderberry treatment manufacturers.Macknin says an elderberry supplement company provided his team with their products and a placebo version for free, but that the company wasn’t involved in the research beyond that lowest price viagra. Macknin's study is the largest one conducted on elderberry to date, with 87 influenza patients completing the entire treatment course.

Participants in the study were also welcome to take Tamiflu, for ethical reasons, as the team didn’t want to lowest price viagra exclude anyone from taking a proven flu therapy. Additionally, each participant took home either a bottle of elderberry syrup or the placebo with instructions on when and how to take it. The research team called participants every day for lowest price viagra a symptom check and to remind them to take their medication.By chance, it turned out that a higher percentage of the patients given elderberry syrup had gotten their flu shot and also chose to take Tamiflu. Since the vaccination can reduce the severity of infection in recipients who still come down with the flu, the study coincidentally operated in favor of those who took the herbal remedy, Macknin says.

Those patients could have dealt with a shorter, less-intense illness because of the Tamiflu and vaccination. €œEverything was stacked to have it turn out better [for the elderberry group],” Macknin says, “and it turned out lowest price viagra the same.” The researchers found no difference in illness duration or severity between the elderberry and placebo groups. While analyzing the data, the team also found that those on the herbal treatment might have actually fared worse than those on the placebo. The potential for this intervention to actually harm instead of help influenza patients explains why Macknin thinks the therapy needs further research.But, lowest price viagra don't expect that work to happen any time soon.

Researchers are faced with a number of challenges when it comes to studying the efficacy of herbal remedies. For starters, there's little financial incentive to investigate if they lowest price viagra actually work. Plant products are challenging to patent, making them less lucrative prospects for pharmaceutical companies or research organizations to investigate. Additionally, investigations that try and prove a proposed therapy as an effective drug — like the one Macknin and his team accomplished — are expensive, Macknin says.

Those projects need FDA oversight and additional paperwork, components that lowest price viagra drive up study costs. €œIt’s extraordinarily expensive and there’s no money in it for anybody,” Macknin says.Talk To Your DoctorUltimately, research on elderberry therapies for flu patients is a mixed bag, and deserves more attention from scientists. However, if you still want to discuss elderberry treatments for the flu with your doctor, that’s a conversation you should feel comfortable having, says Erica McIntyre, an expert focused on health and environmental lowest price viagra psychology in the School of Public Health at the University of Technology Sydney. Navigating what research says about a particular herbal medicine is challenging for patients and health practitioners alike.

The process is made lowest price viagra more complex by the range of similar-sounding products on the market that lack standardized ingredients, McIntyre says. But when doctors judge or shame patients for asking about non-conventional healthcare interventions, the response can distance people and push them closer to potentially unproven treatments. Even worse, those individuals might start to keep their herbal remedies a secret. €œIt is that fear about being judged for use of that medication,” lowest price viagra McIntyre says, that drives up to 50 percent of people taking herbal treatments to withhold that information from healthcare practitioners.

That’s a dangerous choice, as some herbal and traditional medications can interact and cause health problems.If a physician shames someone for asking about alternative medicines, it’s likely time to find a new doctor, McIntyre says. Look for someone who will listen to your concerns — whether it's that you feel traditional treatments haven’t worked for you, or that you didn’t like the side effects, the two common reasons people pursue herbal treatments in the first lowest price viagra place. €œYou’re not necessarily looking for a doctor that will let you do whatever you want,” McIntyre says, “but that they actually consider you as a patient, your treatment choices and your treatment priorities, and communicate in a way that’s supportive.” And if a doctor suggests that you avoid a treatment you’re interested in, ask why. They generally have a good reason, McIntyre says.For now, know that even if your doctor doesn’t support you taking elderberry, there are other proven preventative measures that are worth your while — like the flu shot.

Anyone six months or older should get it, Macknin says, and stick to the protocols lowest price viagra we’re used to following to prevent COVID-19 infections, like social distancing, mask-wearing and hand-washing. Those measures also help prevent flu transmission, too — something, so far, no elderberry supplement package can claim.The yearly influenza season threatens to make the COVID-19 pandemic doubly deadly, but I believe that this isn’t inevitable.There are two commonly given vaccines – the pneumococcal vaccine and the Hib vaccine – that protect against bacterial pneumonias. These bacteria lowest price viagra complicate both influenza and COVID-19, often leading to death. My examination of disease trends and vaccination rates leads me to believe that broader use of the pneumococcal and Hib vaccines could guard against the worst effects of a COVID-19 illness.I am an immunologist and physiologist interested in the effects of combined infections on immunity.

I have reached my insight by juxtaposing two seemingly lowest price viagra unrelated puzzles. Infants and children get SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, but very rarely become hospitalized or die. And case numbers and death rates from COVID-19 began varying greatly from nation to nation and city to city even before lockdowns began. I wondered why.One night I woke up lowest price viagra with a possible answer.

Vaccination rates. Most children, beginning at age two months, are vaccinated lowest price viagra against numerous diseases. Adults less so. And, both infant and adult vaccination rates vary widely across lowest price viagra the world.

Could differences in the rates of vaccination against one or more diseases account for differences in COVID-19 risks?. As someone who had previously investigated other pandemics such as the Great Flu Pandemic of 1918-19 and AIDS, and who has worked with vaccines, I had a strong background for tracking down the relevant data to test my hypothesis.Pneumococcal Vaccination Rates Correlate With Lower COVID-19 Cases and DeathsI gathered national and some local data on vaccination rates against influenza, polio, measles-mumps-rubella (MMR), diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis (DTP), tuberculosis (BCG), pneumococci and Haemophilus influenzae type B (Hib). I correlated them with COVID-19 case rates and death rates for 24 nations that had experienced their COVID-19 outbreaks at lowest price viagra about the same time. I controlled for factors such as percentage of the population who were obese, diabetic or elderly.I found that only pneumococcal vaccines afforded statistically significant protection against COVID-19.

Nations such as lowest price viagra Spain, Italy, Belgium, Brazil, Peru and Chile that have the highest COVID-19 rates per million have the poorest pneumococcal vaccination rates among both infants and adults. Nations with the lowest rates of COVID-19 – Japan, Korea, Denmark, Australia and New Zealand – have the highest rates of pneumococcal vaccination among both infants and adults.A recent preprint study (not yet peer-reviewed) from researchers at the Mayo Clinic has also reported very strong associations between pneumococcal vaccination and protection against COVID-19. This is especially true among minority patients who are bearing the brunt of the coronavirus lowest price viagra pandemic. The report also suggests that other vaccines, or combinations of vaccines, such as Hib and MMR may also provide protection.These results are important because in the U.S., childhood vaccination against pneumococci – which protects against Streptococcus pneumoniae bacteria – varies by state from 74% to 92%.

Although the CDC recommends that all adults 18-64 in high risk groups for COVID-19 and all adults over the age of 65 get a pneumococcal vaccination, only 23% of high-risk adults and 64% of those over the age of 65 do so.Similarly, although the CDC recommends at all infants and some high-risk adults be vaccinated against Haemophilus influenzae type B (Hib), only 80.7% of children in the U.S. And a handful lowest price viagra of immunologically compromised adults have been. Pneumococcal and Hib vaccination rates are significantly lower in minority populations in the U.S. And in countries that have been hit harder by COVID-19 lowest price viagra than the U.S.Based on these data, I advocate universal pneumococcal and Hib vaccination among children, at-risk adults and all adults over 65 to prevent serious COVID-19 disease.Left.

Combined rates of childhood and adult (over 65) pneumococcal vaccination (out of a possible 200). Right. Cases (per million) population of COVID-19 at about 90 days into the pandemic for 24 nations. Nations with high pneumococcal vaccination rates have low COVID-19 case rates.

(Credit. CC BY-SA)How Pneumococcal Vaccination Protects Against COVID-19Protection against serious COVID-19 disease by pneumococcal and Hib vaccines makes sense for several reasons. First, recent studies reveal that the majority of hospitalized COVID-19 patients, and in some studies nearly all, are infected with streptococci, which causes pneumococcal pneumonias, Hib or other pneumonia-causing bacteria. Pneumococcal and Hib vaccinations should protect coronavirus patients from these infections and thus significantly cut the risk of serious pneumonia.I also found that pneumococcal, Hib and possibly rubella vaccines may confer specific protection against the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19 by means of “molecular mimicry.”Molecular mimicry occurs when the immune system thinks one microbe looks like another.

In this case, proteins found in pneumococcal vaccines and, to a lesser degree, ones found in Hib and rubella vaccines as well look like several proteins produced by the SARS-CoV-2 virus.Two of these proteins found in pneumococcal vaccines mimic the spike and membrane proteins that permit the virus to infect cells. This suggests pneumococcal vaccination may prevent SARS-CoV-2 infection. Two other mimics are the nucleoprotein and replicase that control virus replication. These proteins are made after viral infection, in which case pneumococcal vaccination may control, but not prevent, SARS-CoV-2 replication.Either way, these vaccines may provide proxy protection against SARS-CoV-2 infection that we can implement right now, even before we have a specific virus vaccine.

Such protection may not be complete. People might still suffer a weakened version of COVID-19 but, like most infants and children, be protected against the worst effects of the infection.Fighting Influenza-related Pneumonias During the COVID-19 PandemicWhile the specific protection these other vaccines confer against COVID-19 has not yet been tested in a clinical trial, I advocate broader implementation of pneumococcal and Hib vaccination for one additional, well-validated reason.Pneumococcal and Hib pneumonias – both caused by bacteria – are the major causes of death following viral influenza. The influenza virus rarely causes death directly. Most often, the virus makes the lungs more susceptible to bacterial pneumonias, which are deadly.

Dozens of studies around the world have demonstrated that increasing rates of pneumococcal and Hib vaccination dramatically lowers influenza-related pneumonias.Similar studies demonstrate that the price of using these vaccines is balanced by savings due to lower rates of influenza-related hospitalizations, intensive care unit admissions and deaths. In the context of COVID-19, lowering rates of influenza-related hospitalizations and ICU admissions would free up resources to fight the coronavirus, independent of any effect these vaccines might have on SARS-CoV-2 itself. In my opinion, that is a winning scenario.In short, we need not wait for a SARS-CoV-2 vaccine to slow down COVID-19.I believe that we can and should act now by fighting the coronavirus with all the tools at our disposal, including influenza, Hib, pneumococcal and perhaps rubella vaccinations.Preventing pneumococcal and Hib complications of influenza and COVID-19, and perhaps proxy-vaccinating against SARS-CoV-2 itself, helps everyone. Administering these already available and well-tested pneumococcal and Hib vaccines to people will save money by freeing up hospital beds and ICUs.

It will also improve public health by reducing the spread of multiple infections and boost the economy by nurturing a healthier population.Robert Root-Bernstein is a Professor of Physiology at Michigan State University. This article was originally published on The Conversation under a Creative Commons liscense Read the original here.This story appeared in the November 2020 issue as "Bacteria and the Brain." Subscribe to Discover magazine for more stories like this.It’s not always easy to convince people that the human gut is a sublime and wondrous place worthy of special attention. Sarkis Mazmanian discovered that soon after arriving at Caltech for his first faculty job 14 years ago, when he explained to a local artist what he had in mind for the walls outside his new office.The resulting mural greets visitors to the Mazmanian Lab today. A vaguely psychedelic, 40-foot-long, tube-shaped colon that’s pink, purple and red snakes down the hallway.

In a panel next to it, fluorescent yellow and green bacteria explode out of a deeply inflamed section of the intestinal tract, like radioactive lava from outer space.The mural is modest compared with what the scientist has been working on since. Over the last decade or so, Mazmanian has been a leading proponent of the idea that the flora of the human digestive tract has a far more powerful effect on the human body and mind than we thought — a scientific effort that earned him a $500,000 MacArthur Fellowship “Genius Grant” in 2012. Since then, Mazmanian and a small but growing cadre of fellow microbiologists have amassed a tantalizing body of evidence on the microbiome’s role in all kinds of brain disorders, including schizophrenia, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and depression.But the results they’ve seen in autism could, in the end, prove the most transformative. Autism affects about 1 in 59 children in the U.S., and involves profound social withdrawal, communication problems, and sometimes anxiety and aggression.

The causes of the brain disorder have remained speculative. Now, Mazmanian and other researchers are finding that autism may be inextricably linked to — or even caused by — irregularities in the gut microbiome.A Biology StoryAt 47, Mazmanian — with his shaved head, flannel shirt and skinny jeans — resembles a young, urban hipster on his way to write at the local café. Originally, literary life was his plan. Born in Lebanon to two Armenian refugees, neither of whom had more than a first-grade education, Mazmanian landed in the class of an energetic high school English teacher in California’s San Fernando Valley, where his family first settled.

The teacher recognized his gift for language and encouraged him to pursue a career in literature. Mazmanian enrolled at UCLA in 1990, planning to major in English.Everything changed when he took his first biology class. Hunched over his new, thick textbook in the library, reading about basic biological concepts like photosynthesis, Mazmanian felt a vast new world opening up to him.Sarkis Mazmanian, shown in front of a mural that celebrates the human gut, is part of a group of microbiologists researching the effects of the digestive tract on a range of disorders. (Credit.

Caltech)“For the first time in my life, I wanted to turn the page and see where the story was going to go,” he says. €œI think I decided that minute to become a scientist.”Mazmanian was most fascinated by the idea that tiny organisms, invisible to the naked eye, could function as powerful, self-contained machines — powerful enough to take over and destroy the human body. After graduating with a degree in microbiology, Mazmanian joined a UCLA infectious diseases lab and began studying bacteria that cause staph infections.As his dissertation defense approached, Mazmanian read a one-page commentary penned by a prominent microbiologist, highlighting the fact that our intestines are teeming with hundreds, if not thousands, of different species of bacteria. But it was still largely unknown what they are and how they affect the human body.When Mazmanian dug further, he found that no one had yet answered what seemed to him to be the most obvious question.

Why would the human immune system, designed to attack and destroy foreign invaders, allow hundreds of species of bacteria to live and thrive in our guts unmolested?. To him, the bacteria’s survival implied that we had evolved to coexist with them. And if that were so, he reasoned, there must be some benefit to both the microbes and the human body — a symbiotic relationship. But what was it?.

Gut InvadersMazmanian set out to study the link between gut microbes and the immune system. As a postdoctoral researcher, he joined the lab of Harvard University infectious disease specialist Dennis Kasper.To start, Mazmanian examined how the immune systems of germ-free mice — lab mice completely protected, starting at birth, from all microbes — differed from those of mice with either few or normal levels of microbes. He expected this initial census would be just a first step in a long and arduous quest for scientific pay dirt. But when he went to examine a printout of his results in the lab, he realized immediately he might already be onto something big.

The germ-free mice had a 30 to 40 percent reduction in a specific type of immune cell known as helper T-cells.This colorized close-up of a mouse’s gut reveals the tight relationship between the gut microbe Bacteroides fragilis (red) and the epithelial surface of the colon (blue). (Credit. Caltech)Since helper T-cells play a key role in coordinating attacks against invading pathogens, the finding suggested that the immune systems of the germ-free mice were far less robust than those found in peers with normal levels of microbes.“That was exciting, right?. € Mazmanian recalls.

€œObviously I repeated it and tested it in a number of different ways. Then I asked the next question. €˜Can I restore the [immune] function in an adult animal?. €™â€‰â€Mazmanian colonized the guts of the immunocompromised, germ-free mice with microbes from standard lab mice.

After receiving the fecal transplant, their T-cell counts shot up. Within a month, their numbers were identical to mice raised outside the germ-free bubble.Resolving to identify the microorganisms causing this transformation, Mazmanian resorted to trial and error. One by one, he added strains of bacteria found in the guts of mice to the guts of germ-free mice.He got nowhere with the first five or six species he examined. Then, simply because it was convenient, he decided to test one more that was readily available in his lab.

Mazmanian’s adviser, Kasper, had been studying a gut microbe called Bacteroides fragilis. When Mazmanian implanted one of Kasper’s specimens into the gut of his germ-free mice, the results were dramatic. The T-cell numbers spiked to normal. Eventually, Mazmanian demonstrated he could reproduce this effect simply by adding a single molecule that these bacteria produce, called polysaccharide A, to their guts.“There was no logic in the choice whatsoever,” Mazmanian recalls.

€œ[B. Fragilis] was available, it came from the gut.” In other words, he got lucky.Mazmanian dug deeper and discovered that the biggest impact B. Fragilis had was on the population of a subtype of helper T-cells called regulatory, or suppressor, T-cells. These cells play a key role in preventing the immune system from attacking its host body, protecting against autoimmune or inflammatory diseases.

It was the first time any scientist had demonstrated that a single compound from a single microbe could reverse a specific problem with the immune system.To Mazmanian, the finding, published in 2005 in the journal Cell, alluded to new approaches to treating a wide array of autoimmune, inflammatory and allergic disorders. What if it were possible to help a faulty immune system by tweaking a patient’s microbiome?. It was with this exploration in mind that he arrived in Pasadena in 2006 to set up his lab at Caltech.A Convenient CollaborationA few years later, Mazmanian was having lunch on campus with neuroscientist and colleague Paul Patterson. Patterson had been preoccupied with a mystery that had, for years, confounded those studying autism in humans.

When pregnant mothers have a severe infection in the second trimester, their babies are much more likely to develop autism.As Mazmanian tells it, Patterson was a man of few words, and at lunch Mazmanian was “going on and on” about his own work.“You know,” Patterson interjected thoughtfully, “I think kids with autism have GI issues.”Patterson recalled reading that something like 60 percent of children with autism had some form of clinical GI problem, such as bloating, constipation, flatulence or diarrhea. Was it possible, he wondered, that there was a microbiome connection?. As they talked, Mazmanian’s excitement grew.A few years earlier, Patterson had discovered that when he exposed pregnant mice to pathogens like the influenza virus, they gave birth to pups that grew up more likely to be startled by loud noises, to shy away from social contact and to groom themselves repetitively — symptoms that resemble those of autism. Patterson was in the process of comparing the brains of these autism-mimicking mice with their neurotypical cousins to see if he could detect any differences that might explain how the maternal immune system was somehow interfering with the pups’ brain development.Mazmanian had a suggestion.

The next time Patterson sacrificed one of his autistic mice to study their brains, what if he set the intestines aside for his colleague down the hall?. When the guts arrived in Mazmanian’s lab, he found that the intestines of the neurotypical mice looked normal. But the guts of the autism-mimicking offspring were almost uniformly inflamed. Could it be that the microbiome was the cause of this inflammation?.

And could that, in turn, be somehow connected to the behavioral symptoms?. Throughout the winter and spring of 2012, Mazmanian and Patterson continued their conversation. Mazmanian found distinct differences in the microbiomes of the mice. And, they noticed, the mice with the features of autism had leaky gut syndrome, an increased permeability of the gut lining that can allow pathogens and allergens to leach out.

This condition had also been reported in children with autism.So Mazmanian and Patterson turned their attention outside the gut. They took blood samples to see if any gut microbes, or the compounds they produce, were circulating in the rest of the body. They homed in on one molecule in particular, called 4-ethylphenyl sulfate, which was roughly 45 times as abundant in the mice that had symptoms of autism. And it looked familiar.

Structurally, it was almost identical to a molecule recently found to be significantly elevated in human children with autism.It was enough to take the next step. Every day for three weeks, Mazmanian injected the molecule, harvested from the mice with autism-like symptoms, directly into the bloodstream of 5-week-old normal lab mice (the age at which the autistic mice normally developed leaky gut). Then Mazmanian and his team gave them a series of behavioral tests. The mice were far more easily startled and were less comfortable in large empty spaces than their untreated peers, indications of an increase in anxiety-related behaviors commonly seen in the mice with autism-like symptoms.

The researchers published their results in Cell in 2013.Though surprising, the data made sense in some ways. Many drug companies rely on small-molecule drugs that can be taken orally, but still manage to cross the blood-brain barrier and affect behavior. It seemed entirely possible that small molecules, created by bacteria in the gut, could enter the bloodstream and reach the brain. And they don’t even have to leak out of the gut to do so.Of Mice and MenPatterson died in 2014, at age 70, just six months after the publication of the duo’s groundbreaking Cell paper.

Around the same time, a series of parallel experiments in a clinic hundreds of miles away was already paving the way forward. While Patterson and Mazmanian had been working in mice, Rosa Krajmalnik-Brown, a microbiologist at Arizona State University, had teamed up with Jim Adams, who directs the university’s autism and Asperger’s research program, to study humans.The researchers were conducting a detailed analysis of the microbiome of human autism patients and found that the bacteria were far less diverse in the children with autism. Notably, several important species involved in the digestion of carbohydrates were severely depleted.Krajmalnik-Brown and Adams launched a preliminary trial to test the effects of fecal transplants on 18 children between the ages of 7 and 16 with severe autism, who also had severe GI issues. The researchers administered powerful antibiotics to kill off the microbiomes of the children and followed them with a bowel cleanse.

They then replaced the microbes with transplanted flora taken from the guts of healthy neurotypical adult volunteers.The results were better than anyone could have expected. The procedure resulted in a large reduction in GI symptoms and increased the diversity of bacteria in the children’s guts. But more significantly, their neurological symptoms were reduced. At the onset of the study in 2017, an independent evaluator found 83 percent of participants had severe autism.

Two years after the initial trial, only 17 percent were rated as severely autistic. And 44 percent were no longer on the autism scale.“[My child] did a complete 180,” says Dana Woods, whose then-7-year-old son Ethan enrolled in the initial study five years ago. €œHis ability to communicate is so much different now. He’s just so much more present.

He’s so much more aware. He’s no longer in occupational therapy. He’s no longer in speech therapy. After the study, he tested two points away from a neurotypical child.”In their first report on the trial in 2017, the team highlighted a number of distinct changes in the microbiome after the transplants, in particular a surge in the populations of three types of bacteria.

Among them was a four-fold increase in Bifidobacterium, a probiotic organism that seems to play a key role in the maintenance of a healthy gut.But figuring out what was happening on a cellular level — to really look inside some guts — would require another vehicle. The ASU team needed Mazmanian’s mice.“At the end of the day, what we care about is healing people and how the microbiome affects people,” explains Krajmalnik-Brown. €œThat’s why we work with people. But with mice you can do things that are more mechanistic.”The Great Mouse Detective(Credit.

Caltech)Together, Krajmalnik-Brown, Mazmanian and their collaborators would uncover some tantalizing new insights that go a long way to solving the mystery. In May 2019, the team published another high-profile paper in Cell, after they transplanted stool samples from Krajmalnik-Brown’s severely autistic patients into the guts of Mazmanian’s germ-free mice. The offspring of these mice showed the autism-like symptoms, such as repetitive and compulsive behavior.This time, the team dug even deeper into the biochemical processes playing out in the brain, looking not just at behavior but at the chemicals involved in creating it. The mice that developed autism-like behaviors had measurably lower levels of two substances called taurine and 5-aminovaleric acid (5AV).

When they dug into the literature, the team learned that these two substances are known to mimic activity of a key signaling agent in the brain called gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) — a neurotransmitter that other studies have found is deficient in the brains of children with autism.What’s more, some have speculated that the tendency of children with autism to experience sensory overstimulation may stem from the inability to tamp down overexcited neurons. A lack of GABA could lead to just that.The scientists next orally administered high levels of taurine and 5AV to pregnant mice with the autistic children’s microbiomes. When their pups were born, the researchers continued to feed the young the substances until they reached adulthood. Compared with untreated animals, the second-generation mice had significantly fewer behavioral symptoms.

Taurine reduced repetitive behavior, as measured by marble burying, increased the level of social interaction, and relieved anxiety. Mice administered 5AV were more active and social.“We healed humans with behavioral problems,” says Krajmalnik-Brown. €œ[And we] transferred some of those deficits and behaviors to mice — basically the opposite. It’s huge.”Mazmanian hopes to take the next step in the months ahead.“I can flip a switch, turn on a light, I know that switch turns on that light.

I don’t know the circuit, I don’t know where the wire is,” Mazmanian says. €œExactly how that’s happening … we just don’t understand that.”This most recent study, by itself, hardly proves that dysregulated microbiomes cause the brain disorder — a point that plenty of other scientists skeptical of Mazmanian’s work are happy to make.“The paper made a big splash, but trying to model psychiatric-related human conditions in mice, in my view, is a little bit of a stretch,” says Sangram Sisodia, a neurobiologist at the University of Chicago who studies the microbiome. €œA mouse with autism?. €Nor was that the only criticism.

Several researchers have suggested that the group didn’t give proper attention to one of their tests ­— one whose results conflicted with their thesis ­— while others found flaws in the statistical methods they used to assess their results. Mazmanian downplays these criticisms, but agrees the work is not yet conclusive.Meanwhile, the ASU trial has also engendered skepticism, mainly due to its tiny sample size, the lack of a control group and the methods by which the children were assessed for autism severity. Krajmalnik-Brown and Adams say they stand by their results, but agree more research is needed. In recent months, they have launched two new studies that will address these issues.Adams insists the work is already changing lives.

€œWe followed up with every one of our 18 participants,” he says, referring to the children who received fecal transplants. €œSure enough, we found that most of the GI benefits had remained. And family after family said their child just slowly, steadily continued making more improvement.” They published the update in Scientific Reports in spring 2019.“I’m not ready to say the case is closed,” says Mazmanian. €œHealthy skepticism is a good thing.

I believe the preclinical data, I believe the mouse data. But there’s a lot of studies that still need to be done.” A Healthy Gut, A New OutlookEthan Woods had GI issues and symptoms of autism until researchers introduced new microbes to his gut. His mother says the treatment changed everything. (Credit.

Dana Woods)Prior to his fecal transplant at age 7, Ethan Woods suffered from chronic and severe diarrhea, constipation and cramping, symptoms so extreme that to his mother, Dana, he sounded like “a bit like a woman in labor when he was trying to have a bowel movement.” “It was just awful watching your child go through this,” she says, explaining that when she enrolled her autistic son in the Arizona State study, her “only goal was to fix his gut.”Remarkably, Ethan’s agony began to disappear just a few weeks into the trial. But that was not the most dramatic difference. Before the transplant, Ethan’s speech was drawn out and slow, his language skills rudimentary. He seemed to live in his own bubble.

He had frequent outbursts. For as long as Dana could remember, her mornings with Ethan had been marked by arguing, fighting, pushing and anger. But then one morning, something shocking happened.“He woke me up one morning with his face right in my face with this big smile and he said, ‘Morning, Mom!. €™â€‰â€ she recalls.

€œAnd he was just excited and happy and ready to go about his day with this big smile. It choked me up to the point where I teared up because I had never experienced a happy kid in the morning.”Later, Ethan carried over an iPad and opened an app with a talking cat that repeats back the words children speak aloud. He played back a video recording of himself from just a few weeks earlier.“[He] looks me in the eye and says, ‘Mom, why did I talk like that?. What is wrong with me?.

€™ And as soon as he did that, I caught my breath. I had to compose myself and say, ‘I don’t know. But do you feel better?. Do you feel different?.

Why do you think?. €™â€‰â€Ethan’s communication skills had already begun to improve. Within a year of the study, his speech therapist graduated him from speech therapy because he had met all his goals.“He went from one end of the rainbow all the way to the other end of the rainbow,” she says. €œPrior to the study, I was very afraid.

My biggest fear was ‘how is he going to navigate the world when I’m not here?. €™ And I think I have a lot of hope now that he is going to be OK now on his own.”There’s something strange about the female orgasm, something that scientists have been unable to explain. Biological functions are normally discussed in terms of evolutionary pressure, or reproductive advantage. If a biological trait improves your chances of having more offspring, then it’s more likely to stick around in your species.

The male orgasm makes perfect sense — ejaculate contains the genetic material that’s necessary for making babies. But the female orgasm has been harder to nail down. Fertilization doesn’t depend on it, and “fun” isn’t exactly in the pantheon of evolutionary explanations.Researchers that study how the female orgasm relates to reproductive success have two main options — either ask people invasive questions about their most personal moments, or to find a way to stick probes in or on them during said moments. Neither of these approaches have resulted in the kind of “wet lab” research that’s the gold standard for biological understanding.What we do know, despite widespread cultural discomfort with talking openly about sex and pleasure, is that there appears to be significant sexual dysfunction in American society.

Back in 2014, researchers from the Kinsey Institute, the preeminent U.S. Academy for the study of sex and relationships, said as much. In a survey of nearly 3,000 people, they found that men, straight or gay, orgasmed 85 percent of the time during consensual sexual encounters. Lesbian women orgasmed less often, 75 percent of the time, while straight women fared worst with just a 60 percent chance of orgasm.

Other studies have shown that something like 10-15 percent of women experience lifelong anorgasmia, meaning they’ve never experienced orgasm. A further 40 percent of women report some kind of inability to reach orgasm in the past year.The orgasm gap is hard to explain. Some think that it comes down to straight men’s finesse, or lack thereof, citing the difference between straight and lesbian satisfaction. Indeed, it makes sense that knowing your way around the territory would help.

But for many couples this isn’t a helpful revelation, since the emotional maturity necessary to teach sexual dexterity is often out of reach. Shortcut to SatisfactionLuckily, we live in an era of Silicon Valley disruption, which has even started lapping at the shores of sex research. Technologist Liz Klinger is at the forefront of this transition. She and her team have built a platform that lets people become citizen scientists of sex —without ever having to get out from between the sheets.About a decade ago, Klinger’s company, Lioness, released what they billed as the first “smart vibrator,” a sex toy that could actually learn about you.

The final product was a far cry from the first prototype, which was much more laboratory object than sex toy.The “test device was this whole mess of wires, with a hard connection. We had to physically send it to our beta testers, who used it and sent it back,” recalls Klinger. The researchers would download the data collected by the toy’s four sensors — temperature, motion, acceleration and pressure — and compile it into a chart that represented arousal and orgasm, as told through the story of pelvic-floor muscle contractions.It was an immediate success for sex partners who needed ways to talk about pleasure in a more objective way. Klinger recalled that when she got the first beta-test couple on the phone, “the wife was like ‘holy crap, we finally were able to talk about these things that I’ve had a lot of trouble talking about.’ It turned out that she wanted more foreplay, and he didn’t know quite that that meant.

He’d spend more time, but it just didn’t match up, you know?. € With the company’s signature offering in hand — a chart of sexual arousal over time — Klinger found that couples could have a conversation “without the subtext of ‘oh, you’re not good enough, or I don’t like you enough,’ on the husband’s part and ‘I’m so tired of talking about this’ on the wife’s part,” she says. The chart “can change people’s perceptions of their own experiences, and how they talk about them with others.”Doing the Deed — For ScienceThis spring, the company has launched a research platform dubbed Lioness 2.0 — a new optional service that, unsurprisingly, their data-obsessed users have greeted with open arms. Now, instead of simply using the toy to understand themselves better, Lioness owners can opt in to the kinds of hands-on studies that are necessary for a deeper understanding of sex and pleasure.

So far, the company is working with Nigeria’s Society for Family Health to study how pleasure changes with menopause across age, race and orientation, as well as with the U.S.’s Center for Genital Health and Education to explore the role of pelvic floor muscles in orgasm.Pani Farvid, a professor of applied psychology at The New School in New York City, has some reservations about the platform. €œI really like what they’re trying to do, but there could be more added to make it a bit more comprehensive. My concern is that there's a misconception that sex is just about the orgasm, that it’s just physiological and that pleasure just has to do with the genitals.” From where she’s sitting, “that’s a very mechanical view of sexuality.” If the Lioness is helping to equalize the orgasm gap, or helping people understand their bodies better, “I think that's great,” says Farvid. €œBut as a critical sexologist, I'm interested in delving deeper into what these practices mean.” If sex is hyper-focused on orgasm, to exclusion of everything else, she cautions that these norms “have real-life negative impacts on people's sex lives and their sense of themselves.”At this point, knee-deep in an era of data collection that was once the sole purview of white-coat-wearing scientists, it’s old news that we need to be careful with what our technology is doing to us.

No tool can serve as a cure-all, even if it comes loaded with a neat app and some space-age sensors. What it can offer, though, is the opportunity to start a conversation, and the chance to take a long, honest look at something about yourself — whether it’s the number of steps you take every day, or the way you want to be touched.Wondering how to keep your glasses from fogging up when your mask is on?. Look no further. If we've learned one thing throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, it's the importance of wearing a mask.

Countless studies have shown over the past eight months that wearing a protective barrier over your nose and mouth — whether it's a standard-issue surgical mask or an N95 respirator — can significantly decrease the odds of catching and transmitting disease. What's more, some research shows that masking up can reduce the severity of an infection if a masked person does contract COVID-19. But while masks are potentially lifesaving, they can be uncomfortable, often changing your breathing patterns and fogging up your glasses when breath escapes through the top of the mask. Among people who choose not to wear a mask to prevent the spread of COVID-19, many cite discomfort as a key reason why.Wesley Wilson, a tumor immunologist in Pennsylvania, knows how annoying it can be when your glasses are fogging up.

He says fogging is “definitely a problem” among his hospital colleagues, who need to wear protective goggles and surgical masks while on the job. Fortunately, they've also picked up a few helpful hacks for keeping their vision clear while wearing a mask with glasses.#1. Use Tape“If you have to keep your mask on for hours, tape works like a charm,” Wilson says. This especially applies to healthcare professionals in his practice who are required to keep their masks on at all times, except during lunch.

€œIf you're putting on your mask and taking it off a lot, tape probably isn't practical — but two small pieces of tape on the cheeks keep the mask fitted closer to your face, and the hot air out of your glasses,” he says.#2. Fit the Mask to Your FaceWhile some air leakage is to be expected, wearing a mask that fits securely to your face will prevent glass fogging and filter the virus more effectively since less air is coming in or out. Find surgical masks or N95s that come with a nose bridge, a small, flexible piece of metal or plastic that allows the mask to more closely fit the contours of your face. Nose bridges can be sewn inside masks or affixed to the front.Read More.

Why It Feels Like You Can't Breathe Inside Your Face Mask#3. Adjust Your MaskAccording to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, a minor adjustment in how you wear your mask could be enough to prevent fog as well. Simply pull the mask over your nose and rest your glasses on top of your face mask. As long as the mask is fitted close to your face, this should prevent hot air from slipping out.#4.

Spray Your GlassesA former ice hockey player, Wilson says the protective visor under his helmet would often fog with hot air while he was on the ice during games. Like an ocean diver, he would use de-misting solution or a defogging spray (such as this one) to keep his visor free of fog. The same concept applies to eyeglass fog caused by masking, he says. €œYou can either buy a spray or you can make your own with either shaving cream or soap and water,” says Wilson.

€œWiping some shaving cream on your glasses and then wiping it off will coat them with a similar surface-tension altering compound that prevents fog.”.

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Seven new cases of COVID-19 were diagnosed in the 24 hours to 8pm last night, bringing the total number of cases in NSW to 3,851.Confirmed cases (including interstate residents in NSW health care facilities)3,851Deaths (in NSW from confirm​​ed cases)54Total tests carried out2,157,255There were 19,626 tests reported lowest price viagra in the what does viagra do to men 24-hour reporting period, compared with 24,632 in the previous 24 hours.Of the seven new cases to 8pm last night:One is a returned traveller who is in hotel quarantineFive are linked to a known case or clusterOne is locally acquired with their source still under investigationOne of the cases today is a student at St Paul’s Catholic College Greystanes who attended school while infectious. The school lowest price viagra will be closed on Monday 31 August. Cleaning and contact tracing is underway. We will keep you updated about when the school will reopen.Five of the new cases are linked to the CBD cluster lowest price viagra.

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Due to these difficulties, agencies may not be able to serve all viagra online usa rural beneficiaries, initiate care on time, or deliver all covered services.Congress has supported measures to encourage home health agencies to work in rural areas since the 1980s by using rural add-on payments. A rural add-on is a percentage increase on top of per visit and episode-of-care payments. When a viagra online usa home health aide works in a rural county, Medicare pays their home health agency a standard fee plus a rural add-on.

With a 5% add-on, Medicare would pay $67.78 for an aide home visit in a city and $71.17 for the same care in a rural area.Home health care workers serve a particularly important role in rural areas. As rural areas lose physicians and hospitals, home health agencies often replace primary care providers.Rural add-on payments have fluctuated based on Congressional budgets and political priorities. From 2003 viagra online usa to 2019, the amount Medicare paid agencies changed eight times.

For instance, the add-on dropped from 10% to nothing in April 2003. Then, in April 2004, Congress set the rural add-on to 5%.The variation in payments created a natural experiment for viagra online usa researchers. Tracy Mroz and colleagues assessed how rural add-ons affected the supply of home health agencies in rural areas.

They asked if the number of agencies in urban and rural counties varied depending on the presence and dollar amount of rural add-ons between 2002 and 2018. Though rural add-ons have been in place for over 30 years, researchers had not previously investigated their effect on the availability of home healthcare.The researchers found that rural areas adjacent to urban areas were not affected viagra online usa by rural add-ons. They had similar supply to urban areas whether or not add-ons were in place.

In contrast, isolated rural areas were affected substantially viagra online usa by add-ons. Without add-ons, the number of agencies in isolated rural areas lagged behind those in urban areas. When the viagra online usa add-ons were at least 5%, the availability of home health in isolated rural areas was comparable to urban areas.In 2020, Congress implemented a system of payment reform that reimburses home health agencies in rural counties by population density and home health use.

Under the new system, counties with low population densities and low home health use will receive the greatest rural add-on payments. These payments aim to increase and maintain the availability of care in the most vulnerable rural home health markets. Time will tell if this approach gives sufficient incentive to ensure access to quality care in the nation’s most isolated areas.Photo via Getty ImagesStart Preamble Correction In proposed rule document viagra online usa 2020-13792 beginning on page 39408 in the issue of Tuesday, June 30, 2020, make the following correction.

On page 39408, in the first column, in the DATES section, “August 31, 2020” should read “August 24, 2020”. End Preamble [FR Doc viagra online usa. C1-2020-13792 Filed 7-17-20.

Over 12,000 home lowest price viagra health agencies served 5 million disabled and older Americans in 2018. Home health aides help their clients with the tasks of daily living, like eating and showering, as well as with clinical tasks, like taking blood pressure and leading physical therapy exercises. Medicare relies on home health care services because they help patients discharged from the hospital and skilled nursing facilities recover lowest price viagra but at a much lower cost. Together, Medicare and Medicaid make up 76% of all home health spending.Home health care workers serve a particularly important role in rural areas. As rural areas lose physicians and hospitals, home health lowest price viagra agencies often replace primary care providers.

The average age of residents living in rural counties is seven years older than in urban counties, and this gap is growing. The need for home health agencies serving the elderly in rural areas will continue to grow over the coming decades.Rural home health agencies face unique challenges. Low concentrations of people are dispersed over large geographic areas leading to long travel times lowest price viagra for workers to drive to clients’ homes. Agencies in rural areas also have difficulties recruiting and maintaining a workforce. Due to lowest price viagra these difficulties, agencies may not be able to serve all rural beneficiaries, initiate care on time, or deliver all covered services.Congress has supported measures to encourage home health agencies to work in rural areas since the 1980s by using rural add-on payments.

A rural add-on is a percentage increase on top of per visit and episode-of-care payments. When a home health aide works in a rural county, Medicare pays their home lowest price viagra health agency a standard fee plus a rural add-on. With a 5% add-on, Medicare would pay $67.78 for an aide home visit in a city and $71.17 for the same care in a rural area.Home health care workers serve a particularly important role in rural areas. As rural areas lose physicians and hospitals, home health agencies often replace primary care providers.Rural add-on payments have fluctuated based on Congressional budgets and political priorities. From 2003 to 2019, the lowest price viagra amount Medicare paid agencies changed eight times.

For instance, the add-on dropped from 10% to nothing in April 2003. Then, in lowest price viagra April 2004, Congress set the rural add-on to 5%.The variation in payments created a natural experiment for researchers. Tracy Mroz and colleagues assessed how rural add-ons affected the supply of home health agencies in rural areas. They asked if the number of agencies in urban and rural counties varied depending on the presence and dollar amount of rural add-ons between 2002 and 2018. Though rural add-ons have been in place for over 30 lowest price viagra years, researchers had not previously investigated their effect on the availability of home healthcare.The researchers found that rural areas adjacent to urban areas were not affected by rural add-ons.

They had similar supply to urban areas whether or not add-ons were in place. In contrast, isolated lowest price viagra rural areas were affected substantially by add-ons. Without add-ons, the number of agencies in isolated rural areas lagged behind those in urban areas. When the add-ons were at least 5%, the availability of home health in isolated rural lowest price viagra areas was comparable to urban areas.In 2020, Congress implemented a system of payment reform that reimburses home health agencies in rural counties by population density and home health use. Under the new system, counties with low population densities and low home health use will receive the greatest rural add-on payments.

These payments aim to increase and maintain the availability of care in the most vulnerable rural home health markets. Time will tell if this approach gives lowest price viagra sufficient incentive to ensure access to quality care in the nation’s most isolated areas.Photo via Getty ImagesStart Preamble Correction In proposed rule document 2020-13792 beginning on page 39408 in the issue of Tuesday, June 30, 2020, make the following correction. On page 39408, in the first column, in the DATES section, “August 31, 2020” should read “August 24, 2020”. End Preamble [FR lowest price viagra Doc. C1-2020-13792 Filed 7-17-20.

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Enrolling in an MSP for People age buy viagra online canada 65+ who Do Not Qualify this contact form for Free Medicare Part A - the "Part A Buy-In Program" 7. What Happens After MSP Approved - How Part B Premium is Paid 8 Special Rules for QMBs - How Medicare Cost-Sharing Works 1. NO ASSET LIMIT!. Since April 1, 2008, none of the three MSP programs have resource limits in New York -- which means many Medicare beneficiaries who might not qualify for Medicaid because of excess resources buy viagra online canada can qualify for an MSP.

1.A. SUMMARY CHART OF MSP BENEFITS QMB SLIMB QI-1 Eligibility ASSET LIMIT NO LIMIT IN NEW YORK STATE INCOME LIMIT (2020) Single Couple Single Couple Single Couple $1,064 $1,437 $1,276 $1,724 $1,436 $1,940 Federal Poverty Level 100% FPL 100 – 120% FPL 120 – 135% FPL Benefits Pays Monthly Part B premium?. YES, and also Part A premium if did not have enough work quarters and meets citizenship requirement buy viagra online canada. See “Part A Buy-In” YES YES Pays Part A &.

B deductibles &. Co-insurance YES - with limitations NO NO Retroactive to Filing of Application? buy viagra online canada. Yes - Benefits begin the month after the month of the MSP application. 18 NYCRR §360-7.8(b)(5) Yes – Retroactive to 3rd month before month of application, if eligible in prior months Yes – may be retroactive to 3rd month before month of applica-tion, but only within the current calendar year.

(No buy viagra online canada retro for January application). See GIS 07 MA 027. Can Enroll in MSP and Medicaid at Same Time?. YES YES buy viagra online canada NO!.

Must choose between QI-1 and Medicaid. Cannot have both, not even Medicaid with a spend-down. 2 buy viagra online canada. INCOME LIMITS and RULES Each of the three MSP programs has different income eligibility requirements and provides different benefits.

The income limits are tied to the Federal Poverty Level (FPL). 2019 FPL levels were released by NYS DOH in GIS 20 MA/02 - 2020 Federal Poverty Levels -- Attachment II and have been posted by Medicaid.gov and the National Council buy viagra online canada on Aging and are in the chart below. NOTE. There is usually a lag in time of several weeks, or even months, from January 1st of each year until the new FPLs are release, and then before the new MSP income limits are officially implemented.

During this lag period, local Medicaid offices should continue to use the previous year's FPLs AND count the person's buy viagra online canada Social Security benefit amount from the previous year - do NOT factor in the Social Security COLA (cost of living adjustment). Once the updated guidelines are released, districts will use the new FPLs and go ahead and factor in any COLA. See 2019 Fact Sheet on MSP in NYS by Medicare Rights Center ENGLISH SPANISH Income is determined by the same methodology as is used for determining in eligibility for SSI The rules for counting income for SSI-related (Aged 65+, Blind, or Disabled) Medicaid recipients, borrowed from the SSI program, apply to the MSP program, except for the new rules about counting household size for married couples. N.Y buy viagra online canada.

Soc. Serv. L. 367-a(3)(c)(2), NYS DOH 2000-ADM-7, 89-ADM-7 p.7.

Gross income is counted, although there are certain types of income that are disregarded. The most common income disregards, also known as deductions, include. (a) The first $20 of your &. Your spouse's monthly income, earned or unearned ($20 per couple max).

(b) SSI EARNED INCOME DISREGARDS. * The first $65 of monthly wages of you and your spouse, * One-half of the remaining monthly wages (after the $65 is deducted). * Other work incentives including PASS plans, impairment related work expenses (IRWEs), blind work expenses, etc. For information on these deductions, see The Medicaid Buy-In for Working People with Disabilities (MBI-WPD) and other guides in this article -- though written for the MBI-WPD, the work incentives apply to all Medicaid programs, including MSP, for people age 65+, disabled or blind.

(c) monthly cost of any health insurance premiums but NOT the Part B premium, since Medicaid will now pay this premium (may deduct Medigap supplemental policies, vision, dental, or long term care insurance premiums, and the Part D premium but only to the extent the premium exceeds the Extra Help benchmark amount) (d) Food stamps not counted. You can get a more comprehensive listing of the SSI-related income disregards on the Medicaid income disregards chart. As for all benefit programs based on financial need, it is usually advantageous to be considered a larger household, because the income limit is higher. The above chart shows that Households of TWO have a higher income limit than households of ONE.

The MSP programs use the same rules as Medicaid does for the Disabled, Aged and Blind (DAB) which are borrowed from the SSI program for Medicaid recipients in the “SSI-related category.” Under these rules, a household can be only ONE or TWO. 18 NYCRR 360-4.2. See DAB Household Size Chart. Married persons can sometimes be ONE or TWO depending on arcane rules, which can force a Medicare beneficiary to be limited to the income limit for ONE person even though his spouse who is under 65 and not disabled has no income, and is supported by the client applying for an MSP.

EXAMPLE. Bob's Social Security is $1300/month. He is age 67 and has Medicare. His wife, Nancy, is age 62 and is not disabled and does not work.

Under the old rule, Bob was not eligible for an MSP because his income was above the Income limit for One, even though it was well under the Couple limit. In 2010, NYS DOH modified its rules so that all married individuals will be considered a household size of TWO. DOH GIS 10 MA 10 Medicare Savings Program Household Size, June 4, 2010. This rule for household size is an exception to the rule applying SSI budgeting rules to the MSP program.

Under these rules, Bob is now eligible for an MSP. When is One Better than Two?. Of course, there may be couples where the non-applying spouse's income is too high, and disqualifies the applying spouse from an MSP. In such cases, "spousal refusal" may be used SSL 366.3(a).

(Link is to NYC HRA form, can be adapted for other counties). 3. The Three Medicare Savings Programs - what are they and how are they different?. 1.

Qualified Medicare Beneficiary (QMB). The QMB program provides the most comprehensive benefits. Available to those with incomes at or below 100% of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL), the QMB program covers virtually all Medicare cost-sharing obligations. Part B premiums, Part A premiums, if there are any, and any and all deductibles and co-insurance.

QMB coverage is not retroactive. The program’s benefits will begin the month after the month in which your client is found eligible. ** See special rules about cost-sharing for QMBs below - updated with new CMS directive issued January 2012 ** See NYC HRA QMB Recertification form ** Even if you do not have Part A automatically, because you did not have enough wages, you may be able to enroll in the Part A Buy-In Program, in which people eligible for QMB who do not otherwise have Medicare Part A may enroll, with Medicaid paying the Part A premium (Materials by the Medicare Rights Center). 2.

Specifiedl Low-Income Medicare Beneficiary (SLMB). For those with incomes between 100% and 120% FPL, the SLMB program will cover Part B premiums only. SLMB is retroactive, however, providing coverage for three months prior to the month of application, as long as your client was eligible during those months. 3.

Qualified Individual (QI-1). For those with incomes between 120% and 135% FPL, and not receiving Medicaid, the QI-1 program will cover Medicare Part B premiums only. QI-1 is also retroactive, providing coverage for three months prior to the month of application, as long as your client was eligible during those months. However, QI-1 retroactive coverage can only be provided within the current calendar year.

(GIS 07 MA 027) So if you apply in January, you get no retroactive coverage. Q-I-1 recipients would be eligible for Medicaid with a spend-down, but if they want the Part B premium paid, they must choose between enrolling in QI-1 or Medicaid. They cannot be in both. It is their choice.

DOH MRG p. 19. In contrast, one may receive Medicaid and either QMB or SLIMB. 4.

Four Special Benefits of MSPs (in addition to NO ASSET TEST). Benefit 1. Back Door to Medicare Part D "Extra Help" or Low Income Subsidy -- All MSP recipients are automatically enrolled in Extra Help, the subsidy that makes Part D affordable. They have no Part D deductible or doughnut hole, the premium is subsidized, and they pay very low copayments.

Once they are enrolled in Extra Help by virtue of enrollment in an MSP, they retain Extra Help for the entire calendar year, even if they lose MSP eligibility during that year. The "Full" Extra Help subsidy has the same income limit as QI-1 - 135% FPL. However, many people may be eligible for QI-1 but not Extra Help because QI-1 and the other MSPs have no asset limit. People applying to the Social Security Administration for Extra Help might be rejected for this reason.

Recent (2009-10) changes to federal law called "MIPPA" requires the Social Security Administration (SSA) to share eligibility data with NYSDOH on all persons who apply for Extra Help/ the Low Income Subsidy. Data sent to NYSDOH from SSA will enable NYSDOH to open MSP cases on many clients. The effective date of the MSP application must be the same date as the Extra Help application. Signatures will not be required from clients.

In cases where the SSA data is incomplete, NYSDOH will forward what is collected to the local district for completion of an MSP application. The State implementing procedures are in DOH 2010 ADM-03. Also see CMS "Dear State Medicaid Director" letter dated Feb. 18, 2010 Benefit 2.

MSPs Automatically Waive Late Enrollment Penalties for Part B Generally one must enroll in Part B within the strict enrollment periods after turning age 65 or after 24 months of Social Security Disability. An exception is if you or your spouse are still working and insured under an employer sponsored group health plan, or if you have End Stage Renal Disease, and other factors, see this from Medicare Rights Center. If you fail to enroll within those short periods, you might have to pay higher Part B premiums for life as a Late Enrollment Penalty (LEP). Also, you may only enroll in Part B during the Annual Enrollment Period from January 1 - March 31st each year, with Part B not effective until the following July.

Enrollment in an MSP automatically eliminates such penalties... For life.. Even if one later ceases to be eligible for the MSP. AND enrolling in an MSP will automatically result in becoming enrolled in Part B if you didn't already have it and only had Part A.

See Medicare Rights Center flyer. Benefit 3. No Medicaid Lien on Estate to Recover MSP Benefits Paid Generally speaking, states may place liens on the Estates of deceased Medicaid recipients to recover the cost of Medicaid services that were provided after the recipient reached the age of 55. Since 2002, states have not been allowed to recover the cost of Medicare premiums paid under MSPs.

In 2010, Congress expanded protection for MSP benefits. Beginning on January 1, 2010, states may not place liens on the Estates of Medicaid recipients who died after January 1, 2010 to recover costs for co-insurance paid under the QMB MSP program for services rendered after January 1, 2010. The federal government made this change in order to eliminate barriers to enrollment in MSPs. See NYS DOH GIS 10-MA-008 - Medicare Savings Program Changes in Estate Recovery The GIS clarifies that a client who receives both QMB and full Medicaid is exempt from estate recovery for these Medicare cost-sharing expenses.

Benefit 4. SNAP (Food Stamp) benefits not reduced despite increased income from MSP - at least temporarily Many people receive both SNAP (Food Stamp) benefits and MSP. Income for purposes of SNAP/Food Stamps is reduced by a deduction for medical expenses, which includes payment of the Part B premium. Since approval for an MSP means that the client no longer pays for the Part B premium, his/her SNAP/Food Stamps income goes up, so their SNAP/Food Stamps go down.

Here are some protections. Do these individuals have to report to their SNAP worker that their out of pocket medical costs have decreased?. And will the household see a reduction in their SNAP benefits, since the decrease in medical expenses will increase their countable income?. The good news is that MSP households do NOT have to report the decrease in their medical expenses to the SNAP/Food Stamp office until their next SNAP/Food Stamp recertification.

Even if they do report the change, or the local district finds out because the same worker is handling both the MSP and SNAP case, there should be no reduction in the household’s benefit until the next recertification. New York’s SNAP policy per administrative directive 02 ADM-07 is to “freeze” the deduction for medical expenses between certification periods. Increases in medical expenses can be budgeted at the household’s request, but NYS never decreases a household’s medical expense deduction until the next recertification. Most elderly and disabled households have 24-month SNAP certification periods.

Eventually, though, the decrease in medical expenses will need to be reported when the household recertifies for SNAP, and the household should expect to see a decrease in their monthly SNAP benefit. It is really important to stress that the loss in SNAP benefits is NOT dollar for dollar. A $100 decrease in out of pocket medical expenses would translate roughly into a $30 drop in SNAP benefits. See more info on SNAP/Food Stamp benefits by the Empire Justice Center, and on the State OTDA website.

Some clients will be automatically enrolled in an MSP by the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) shortly after attaining eligibility for Medicare. Others need to apply. The 2010 "MIPPA" law introduced some improvements to increase MSP enrollment. See 3rd bullet below.

Also, some people who had Medicaid through the Affordable Care Act before they became eligible for Medicare have special procedures to have their Part B premium paid before they enroll in an MSP. See below. WHO IS AUTOMATICALLY ENROLLED IN AN MSP. Clients receiving even $1.00 of Supplemental Security Income should be automatically enrolled into a Medicare Savings Program (most often QMB) under New York State’s Medicare Savings Program Buy-in Agreement with the federal government once they become eligible for Medicare.

They should receive Medicare Parts A and B. Clients who are already eligible for Medicare when they apply for Medicaid should be automatically assessed for MSP eligibility when they apply for Medicaid. (NYS DOH 2000-ADM-7 and GIS 05 MA 033). Clients who apply to the Social Security Administration for Extra Help, but are rejected, should be contacted &.

Enrolled into an MSP by the Medicaid program directly under new MIPPA procedures that require data sharing. Strategy TIP. Since the Extra Help filing date will be assigned to the MSP application, it may help the client to apply online for Extra Help with the SSA, even knowing that this application will be rejected because of excess assets or other reason. SSA processes these requests quickly, and it will be routed to the State for MSP processing.

Since MSP applications take a while, at least the filing date will be retroactive. Note. The above strategy does not work as well for QMB, because the effective date of QMB is the month after the month of application. As a result, the retroactive effective date of Extra Help will be the month after the failed Extra Help application for those with QMB rather than SLMB/QI-1.

Applying for MSP Directly with Local Medicaid Program. Those who do not have Medicaid already must apply for an MSP through their local social services district. (See more in Section D. Below re those who already have Medicaid through the Affordable Care Act before they became eligible for Medicare.

If you are applying for MSP only (not also Medicaid), you can use the simplified MSP application form (theDOH-4328(Rev. 8/2017-- English) (2017 Spanish version not yet available). Either application form can be mailed in -- there is no interview requirement anymore for MSP or Medicaid. See 10 ADM-04.

Applicants will need to submit proof of income, a copy of their Medicare card (front &. Back), and proof of residency/address. See the application form for other instructions. One who is only eligible for QI-1 because of higher income may ONLY apply for an MSP, not for Medicaid too.

One may not receive Medicaid and QI-1 at the same time. If someone only eligible for QI-1 wants Medicaid, s/he may enroll in and deposit excess income into a pooled Supplemental Needs Trust, to bring her countable income down to the Medicaid level, which also qualifies him or her for SLIMB or QMB instead of QI-1. Advocates in NYC can sign up for a half-day "Deputization Training" conducted by the Medicare Rights Center, at which you'll be trained and authorized to complete an MSP application and to submit it via the Medicare Rights Center, which submits it to HRA without the client having to apply in person. Enrolling in an MSP if you already have Medicaid, but just become eligible for Medicare Those who, prior to becoming enrolled in Medicare, had Medicaid through Affordable Care Act are eligible to have their Part B premiums paid by Medicaid (or the cost reimbursed) during the time it takes for them to transition to a Medicare Savings Program.

In 2018, DOH clarified that reimbursement of the Part B premium will be made regardless of whether the individual is still in a Medicaid managed care (MMC) plan. GIS 18 MA/001 Medicaid Managed Care Transition for Enrollees Gaining Medicare ( PDF) provides, "Due to efforts to transition individuals who gain Medicare eligibility and who require LTSS, individuals may not be disenrolled from MMC upon receipt of Medicare. To facilitate the transition and not disadvantage the recipient, the Medicaid program is approving reimbursement of Part B premiums for enrollees in MMC." The procedure for getting the Part B premium paid is different for those whose Medicaid was administered by the NYS of Health Exchange (Marketplace), as opposed to their local social services district. The procedure is also different for those who obtain Medicare because they turn 65, as opposed to obtaining Medicare based on disability.

Either way, Medicaid recipients who transition onto Medicare should be automatically evaluated for MSP eligibility at their next Medicaid recertification. NYS DOH 2000-ADM-7 Individuals can also affirmatively ask to be enrolled in MSP in between recertification periods. IF CLIENT HAD MEDICAID ON THE MARKETPLACE (NYS of Health Exchange) before obtaining Medicare. IF they obtain Medicare because they turn age 65, they will receive a letter from their local district asking them to "renew" Medicaid through their local district.

See 2014 LCM-02. Now, their Medicaid income limit will be lower than the MAGI limits ($842/ mo reduced from $1387/month) and they now will have an asset test. For this reason, some individuals may lose full Medicaid eligibility when they begin receiving Medicare. People over age 65 who obtain Medicare do NOT keep "Marketplace Medicaid" for 12 months (continuous eligibility) See GIS 15 MA/022 - Continuous Coverage for MAGI Individuals.

Since MSP has NO ASSET limit. Some individuals may be enrolled in the MSP even if they lose Medicaid, or if they now have a Medicaid spend-down. If a Medicare/Medicaid recipient reports income that exceeds the Medicaid level, districts must evaluate the person’s eligibility for MSP. 08 OHIP/ADM-4 ​If you became eligible for Medicare based on disability and you are UNDER AGE 65, you are entitled to keep MAGI Medicaid for 12 months from the month it was last authorized, even if you now have income normally above the MAGI limit, and even though you now have Medicare.

This is called Continuous Eligibility. EXAMPLE. Sam, age 60, was last authorized for Medicaid on the Marketplace in June 2016. He became enrolled in Medicare based on disability in August 2016, and started receiving Social Security in the same month (he won a hearing approving Social Security disability benefits retroactively, after first being denied disability).

Even though his Social Security is too high, he can keep Medicaid for 12 months beginning June 2016. Sam has to pay for his Part B premium - it is deducted from his Social Security check. He may call the Marketplace and request a refund. This will continue until the end of his 12 months of continues MAGI Medicaid eligibility.

He will be reimbursed regardless of whether he is in a Medicaid managed care plan. See GIS 18 MA/001 Medicaid Managed Care Transition for Enrollees Gaining Medicare (PDF) When that ends, he will renew Medicaid and apply for MSP with his local district. Individuals who are eligible for Medicaid with a spenddown can opt whether or not to receive MSP. (Medicaid Reference Guide (MRG) p.

19). Obtaining MSP may increase their spenddown. MIPPA - Outreach by Social Security Administration -- Under MIPPA, the SSA sends a form letter to people who may be eligible for a Medicare Savings Program or Extra Help (Low Income Subsidy - LIS) that they may apply. The letters are.

· Beneficiary has Extra Help (LIS), but not MSP · Beneficiary has no Extra Help (LIS) or MSP 6. Enrolling in MSP for People Age 65+ who do Not have Free Medicare Part A - the "Part A Buy-In Program" Seniors WITHOUT MEDICARE PART A or B -- They may be able to enroll in the Part A Buy-In program, in which people eligible for QMB who are age 65+ who do not otherwise have Medicare Part A may enroll in Part A, with Medicaid paying the Part A premium. See Step-by-Step Guide by the Medicare Rights Center). This guide explains the various steps in "conditionally enrolling" in Part A at the SSA office, which must be done before applying for QMB at the Medicaid office, which will then pay the Part A premium.

See also GIS 04 MA/013. In June, 2018, the SSA revised the POMS manual procedures for the Part A Buy-In to to address inconsistencies and confusion in SSA field offices and help smooth the path for QMB enrollment. The procedures are in the POMS Section HI 00801.140 "Premium-Free Part A Enrollments for Qualified Medicare BenefiIaries." It includes important clarifications, such as. SSA Field Offices should explain the QMB program and conditional enrollment process if an individual lacks premium-free Part A and appears to meet QMB requirements.

SSA field offices can add notes to the “Remarks” section of the application and provide a screen shot to the individual so the individual can provide proof of conditional Part A enrollment when applying for QMB through the state Medicaid program. Beneficiaries are allowed to complete the conditional application even if they owe Medicare premiums. In Part A Buy-in states like NYS, SSA should process conditional applications on a rolling basis (without regard to enrollment periods), even if the application coincides with the General Enrollment Period. (The General Enrollment Period is from Jan 1 to March 31st every year, in which anyone eligible may enroll in Medicare Part A or Part B to be effective on July 1st).

7. What happens after the MSP approval - How is Part B premium paid For all three MSP programs, the Medicaid program is now responsible for paying the Part B premiums, even though the MSP enrollee is not necessarily a recipient of Medicaid. The local Medicaid office (DSS/HRA) transmits the MSP approval to the NYS Department of Health – that information gets shared w/ SSA and CMS SSA stops deducting the Part B premiums out of the beneficiary’s Social Security check. SSA also refunds any amounts owed to the recipient.

) CMS “deems” the MSP recipient eligible for Part D Extra Help/ Low Income Subsidy (LIS). ​Can the MSP be retroactive like Medicaid, back to 3 months before the application?. ​The answer is different for the 3 MSP programs. QMB -No Retroactive Eligibility – Benefits begin the month after the month of the MSP application.

18 NYCRR § 360-7.8(b)(5) SLIMB - YES - Retroactive Eligibility up to 3 months before the application, if was eligible This means applicant may be reimbursed for the 3 months of Part B benefits prior to the month of application. QI-1 - YES up to 3 months but only in the same calendar year. No retroactive eligibility to the previous year. 7.

QMBs -Special Rules on Cost-Sharing. QMB is the only MSP program which pays not only the Part B premium, but also the Medicare co-insurance. However, there are limitations. First, co-insurance will only be paid if the provide accepts Medicaid.

Not all Medicare provides accept Medicaid. Second, under recent changes in New York law, Medicaid will not always pay the Medicare co-insurance, even to a Medicaid provider. But even if the provider does not accept Medicaid, or if Medicaid does not pay the full co-insurance, the provider is banned from "balance billing" the QMB beneficiary for the co-insurance. Click here for an article that explains all of these rules.

This article was authored by the Empire Justice Center.THE PROBLEM. Meet Joe, whose Doctor has Billed him for the Medicare Coinsurance Joe Client is disabled and has SSD, Medicaid and Qualified Medicare Beneficiary (QMB). His health care is covered by Medicare, and Medicaid and the QMB program pick up his Medicare cost-sharing obligations. Under Medicare Part B, his co-insurance is 20% of the Medicare-approved charge for most outpatient services.

He went to the doctor recently and, as with any other Medicare beneficiary, the doctor handed him a bill for his co-pay. Now Joe has a bill that he can’t pay. Read below to find out -- SHORT ANSWER. QMB or Medicaid will pay the Medicare coinsurance only in limited situations.

First, the provider must be a Medicaid provider. Second, even if the provider accepts Medicaid, under recent legislation in New York enacted in 2015 and 2016, QMB or Medicaid may pay only part of the coinsurance, or none at all. This depends in part on whether the beneficiary has Original Medicare or is in a Medicare Advantage plan, and in part on the type of service. However, the bottom line is that the provider is barred from "balance billing" a QMB beneficiary for the Medicare coinsurance.

Unfortunately, this creates tension between an individual and her doctors, pharmacies dispensing Part B medications, and other providers. Providers may not know they are not allowed to bill a QMB beneficiary for Medicare coinsurance, since they bill other Medicare beneficiaries. Even those who know may pressure their patients to pay, or simply decline to serve them. These rights and the ramifications of these QMB rules are explained in this article.

CMS is doing more education about QMB Rights. The Medicare Handbook, since 2017, gives information about QMB Protections. Download the 2020 Medicare Handbook here. See pp.

53, 86. 1. To Which Providers will QMB or Medicaid Pay the Medicare Co-Insurance?. "Providers must enroll as Medicaid providers in order to bill Medicaid for the Medicare coinsurance." CMS Informational Bulletin issued January 6, 2012, titled "Billing for Services Provided to Qualified Medicare Beneficiaries (QMBs).

The CMS bulletin states, "If the provider wants Medicaid to pay the coinsurance, then the provider must register as a Medicaid provider under the state rules." If the provider chooses not to enroll as a Medicaid provider, they still may not "balance bill" the QMB recipient for the coinsurance. 2. How Does a Provider that DOES accept Medicaid Bill for a QMB Beneficiary?. If beneficiary has Original Medicare -- The provider bills Medicaid - even if the QMB Beneficiary does not also have Medicaid.

Medicaid is required to pay the provider for all Medicare Part A and B cost-sharing charges, even if the service is normally not covered by Medicaid (ie, chiropractic, podiatry and clinical social work care). Whatever reimbursement Medicaid pays the provider constitutes by law payment in full, and the provider cannot bill the beneficiary for any difference remaining. 42 U.S.C. § 1396a(n)(3)(A), NYS DOH 2000-ADM-7 If the QMB beneficiary is in a Medicare Advantage plan - The provider bills the Medicare Advantage plan, then bills Medicaid for the balance using a “16” code to get paid.

The provider must include the amount it received from Medicare Advantage plan. 3. For a Provider who accepts Medicaid, How Much of the Medicare Coinsurance will be Paid for a QMB or Medicaid Beneficiary in NYS?. The answer to this question has changed by laws enacted in 2015 and 2016.

In the proposed 2019 State Budget, Gov. Cuomo has proposed to reduce how much Medicaid pays for the Medicare costs even further. The amount Medicaid pays is different depending on whether the individual has Original Medicare or is a Medicare Advantage plan, with better payment for those in Medicare Advantage plans. The answer also differs based on the type of service.

Part A Deductibles and Coinsurance - Medicaid pays the full Part A hospital deductible ($1,408 in 2020) and Skilled Nursing Facility coinsurance ($176/day) for days 20 - 100 of a rehab stay. Full payment is made for QMB beneficiaries and Medicaid recipients who have no spend-down. Payments are reduced if the beneficiary has a Medicaid spend-down. For in-patient hospital deductible, Medicaid will pay only if six times the monthly spend-down has been met.

For example, if Mary has a $200/month spend down which has not been met otherwise, Medicaid will pay only $164 of the hospital deductible (the amount exceeding 6 x $200). See more on spend-down here. Medicare Part B - Deductible - Currently, Medicaid pays the full Medicare approved charges until the beneficiary has met the annual deductible, which is $198 in 2020. For example, Dr.

John charges $500 for a visit, for which the Medicare approved charge is $198. Medicaid pays the entire $198, meeting the deductible. If the beneficiary has a spend-down, then the Medicaid payment would be subject to the spend-down. In the 2019 proposed state budget, Gov.

Cuomo proposed to reduce the amount Medicaid pays toward the deductible to the same amount paid for coinsurance during the year, described below. This proposal was REJECTED by the state legislature. Co-Insurance - The amount medicaid pays in NYS is different for Original Medicare and Medicare Advantage. If individual has Original Medicare, QMB/Medicaid will pay the 20% Part B coinsurance only to the extent the total combined payment the provider receives from Medicare and Medicaid is the lesser of the Medicaid or Medicare rate for the service.

For example, if the Medicare rate for a service is $100, the coinsurance is $20. If the Medicaid rate for the same service is only $80 or less, Medicaid would pay nothing, as it would consider the doctor fully paid = the provider has received the full Medicaid rate, which is lesser than the Medicare rate. Exceptions - Medicaid/QMB wil pay the full coinsurance for the following services, regardless of the Medicaid rate. ambulance and psychologists - The Gov's 2019 proposal to eliminate these exceptions was rejected.

hospital outpatient clinic, certain facilities operating under certificates issued under the Mental Hygiene Law for people with developmental disabilities, psychiatric disability, and chemical dependence (Mental Hygiene Law Articles 16, 31 or 32). SSL 367-a, subd. 1(d)(iii)-(v) , as amended 2015 If individual is in a Medicare Advantage plan, 85% of the copayment will be paid to the provider (must be a Medicaid provider), regardless of how low the Medicaid rate is. This limit was enacted in the 2016 State Budget, and is better than what the Governor proposed - which was the same rule used in Original Medicare -- NONE of the copayment or coinsurance would be paid if the Medicaid rate was lower than the Medicare rate for the service, which is usually the case.

This would have deterred doctors and other providers from being willing to treat them. SSL 367-a, subd. 1(d)(iv), added 2016. EXCEPTIONS.

The Medicare Advantage plan must pay the full coinsurance for the following services, regardless of the Medicaid rate. ambulance ) psychologist ) The Gov's proposal in the 2019 budget to eliminate these exceptions was rejected by the legislature Example to illustrate the current rules. The Medicare rate for Mary's specialist visit is $185. The Medicaid rate for the same service is $120.

Current rules (since 2016). Medicare Advantage -- Medicare Advantage plan pays $135 and Mary is charged a copayment of $50 (amount varies by plan). Medicaid pays the specialist 85% of the $50 copayment, which is $42.50. The doctor is prohibited by federal law from "balance billing" QMB beneficiaries for the balance of that copayment.

Since provider is getting $177.50 of the $185 approved rate, provider will hopefully not be deterred from serving Mary or other QMBs/Medicaid recipients. Original Medicare - The 20% coinsurance is $37. Medicaid pays none of the coinsurance because the Medicaid rate ($120) is lower than the amount the provider already received from Medicare ($148). For both Medicare Advantage and Original Medicare, if the bill was for a ambulance or psychologist, Medicaid would pay the full 20% coinsurance regardless of the Medicaid rate.

The proposal to eliminate this exception was rejected by the legislature in 2019 budget. . 4. May the Provider 'Balance Bill" a QMB Benficiary for the Coinsurance if Provider Does Not Accept Medicaid, or if Neither the Patient or Medicaid/QMB pays any coinsurance?.

No. Balance billing is banned by the Balanced Budget Act of 1997. 42 U.S.C. § 1396a(n)(3)(A).

In an Informational Bulletin issued January 6, 2012, titled "Billing for Services Provided to Qualified Medicare Beneficiaries (QMBs)," the federal Medicare agency - CMS - clarified that providers MAY NOT BILL QMB recipients for the Medicare coinsurance. This is true whether or not the provider is registered as a Medicaid provider. If the provider wants Medicaid to pay the coinsurance, then the provider must register as a Medicaid provider under the state rules. This is a change in policy in implementing Section 1902(n)(3)(B) of the Social Security Act (the Act), as modified by section 4714 of the Balanced Budget Act of 1997, which prohibits Medicare providers from balance-billing QMBs for Medicare cost-sharing.

The CMS letter states, "All Medicare physicians, providers, and suppliers who offer services and supplies to QMBs are prohibited from billing QMBs for Medicare cost-sharing, including deductible, coinsurance, and copayments. This section of the Act is available at. CMCS Informational Bulletin http://www.ssa.gov/OP_Home/ssact/title19/1902.htm. QMBs have no legal obligation to make further payment to a provider or Medicare managed care plan for Part A or Part B cost sharing.

Providers who inappropriately bill QMBs for Medicare cost-sharing are subject to sanctions. Please note that the statute referenced above supersedes CMS State Medicaid Manual, Chapter 3, Eligibility, 3490.14 (b), which is no longer in effect, but may be causing confusion about QMB billing." The same information was sent to providers in this Medicare Learning Network bulletin, last revised in June 26, 2018. CMS reminded Medicare Advantage plans of the rule against Balance Billing in the 2017 Call Letter for plan renewals. See this excerpt of the 2017 call letter by Justice in Aging - Prohibition on Billing Medicare-Medicaid Enrollees for Medicare Cost Sharing 5.

How do QMB Beneficiaries Show a Provider that they have QMB and cannot be Billed for the Coinsurance?. It can be difficult to show a provider that one is a QMB. It is especially difficult for providers who are not Medicaid providers to identify QMB's, since they do not have access to online Medicaid eligibility systems Consumers can now call 1-800-MEDICARE to verify their QMB Status and report a billing issue. If a consumer reports a balance billng problem to this number, the Customer Service Rep can escalate the complaint to the Medicare Administrative Contractor (MAC), which will send a compliance letter to the provider with a copy to the consumer.

See CMS Medicare Learning Network Bulletin effective Dec. 16, 2016. Medicare Summary Notices (MSNs) that Medicare beneficiaries receive every three months state that QMBs have no financial liability for co-insurance for each Medicare-covered service listed on the MSN. The Remittance Advice (RA) that Medicare sends to providers shows the same information.

By spelling out billing protections on a service-by-service basis, the MSNs provide clarity for both the QMB beneficiary and the provider. Justice in Aging has posted samples of what the new MSNs look like here. They have also updated Justice in Aging’s Improper Billing Toolkit to incorporate references to the MSNs in its model letters that you can use to advocate for clients who have been improperly billed for Medicare-covered services. CMS is implementing systems changes that will notify providers when they process a Medicare claim that the patient is QMB and has no cost-sharing liability.

The Medicare Summary Notice sent to the beneficiary will also state that the beneficiary has QMB and no liability. These changes were scheduled to go into effect in October 2017, but have been delayed. Read more about them in this Justice in Aging Issue Brief on New Strategies in Fighting Improper Billing for QMBs (Feb. 2017).

QMBs are issued a Medicaid benefit card (by mail), even if they do not also receive Medicaid. The card is the mechanism for health care providers to bill the QMB program for the Medicare deductibles and co-pays. Unfortunately, the Medicaid card dos not indicate QMB eligibility. Not all people who have Medicaid also have QMB (they may have higher incomes and "spend down" to the Medicaid limits.

Advocates have asked for a special QMB card, or a notation on the Medicaid card to show that the individual has QMB. See this Report - a National Survey on QMB Identification Practices published by Justice in Aging, authored by Peter Travitsky, NYLAG EFLRP staff attorney. The Report, published in March 2017, documents how QMB beneficiaries could be better identified in order to ensure providers do not bill them improperly. 6.

If you are Billed -​ Strategies Consumers can now call 1-800-MEDICARE to report a billing issue. If a consumer reports a balance billng problem to this number, the Customer Service Rep can escalate the complaint to the Medicare Administrative Contractor (MAC), which will send a compliance letter to the provider with a copy to the consumer. See CMS Medicare Learning Network Bulletin effective Dec. 16, 2016.

Send a letter to the provider, using the Justice In Aging Model model letters to providers to explain QMB rights.​​​ both for Original Medicare (Letters 1-2) and Medicare Advantage (Letters 3-5) - see Overview of model letters. Include a link to the CMS Medicare Learning Network Notice. Prohibition on Balance Billing Dually Eligible Individuals Enrolled in the Qualified Medicare Beneficiary (QMB) Program (revised June 26. 2018) In January 2017, the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau issued this guide to QMB billing.

A consumer who has a problem with debt collection, may also submit a complaint online or call the CFPB at 1-855-411-2372. TTY/TDD users can call 1-855-729-2372. Medicare Advantage members should complain to their Medicare Advantage plan. In its 2017 Call Letter, CMS stressed to Medicare Advantage contractors that federal regulations at 42 C.F.R.

§ 422.504 (g)(1)(iii), require that provider contracts must prohibit collection of deductibles and co-payments from dual eligibles and QMBs. Toolkit to Help Protect QMB Rights ​​In July 2015, CMS issued a report, "Access to Care Issues Among Qualified Medicare Beneficiaries (QMB's)" documenting how pervasive illegal attempts to bill QMBs for the Medicare coinsurance, including those who are members of managed care plans. Justice in Aging, a national advocacy organization, has a project to educate beneficiaries about balance billing and to advocate for stronger protections for QMBs. Links to their webinars and other resources is at this link.

Their information includes. September 4, 2009, updated 6/20/20 by Valerie Bogart, NYLAG Author. Cathy Roberts. Author.

Geoffrey Hale This article was authored by the Empire Justice Center..

Medicare Savings Programs (MSPs) pay for the monthly Medicare Part B premium for low-income Medicare beneficiaries and qualify enrollees for the "Extra Help" lowest price viagra subsidy for Part D prescription gas station viagra drugs. There are three separate MSP programs, the Qualified Medicare Beneficiary (QMB) Program, the Specified Low Income Medicare Beneficiary (SLMB) Program and the Qualified Individual (QI) Program, each of which is discussed below. Those in QMB receive additional subsidies for Medicare costs. See 2019 Fact Sheet on MSP in NYS lowest price viagra by Medicare Rights Center ENGLISH SPANISH State law.

§ 367-a(3)(a), (b), and (d). 2020 Medicare 101 Basics for New York State - 1.5 hour webinar by Eric Hausman, sponsored by NYS Office of the Aging TOPICS COVERED IN THIS ARTICLE 1. No Asset Limit 1A. Summary Chart of MSP Programs 2.

Income Limits &. Rules and Household Size 3. The Three MSP Programs - What are they and how are they Different?. 4.

FOUR Special Benefits of MSP Programs. Back Door to Extra Help with Part D MSPs Automatically Waive Late Enrollment Penalties for Part B - and allow enrollment in Part B year-round outside of the short Annual Enrollment Period No Medicaid Lien on Estate to Recover Payment of Expenses Paid by MSP Food Stamps/SNAP not reduced by Decreased Medical Expenses when Enroll in MSP - at least temporarily 5. Enrolling in an MSP - Automatic Enrollment &. Applications for People who Have Medicare What is Application Process?.

6. Enrolling in an MSP for People age 65+ who Do Not Qualify for Free Medicare Part A - the "Part A Buy-In Program" 7. What Happens After MSP Approved - How Part B Premium is Paid 8 Special Rules for QMBs - How Medicare Cost-Sharing Works 1. NO ASSET LIMIT!.

Since April 1, 2008, none of the three MSP programs have resource limits in New York -- which means many Medicare beneficiaries who might not qualify for Medicaid because of excess resources can qualify for an MSP. 1.A. SUMMARY CHART OF MSP BENEFITS QMB SLIMB QI-1 Eligibility ASSET LIMIT NO LIMIT IN NEW YORK STATE INCOME LIMIT (2020) Single Couple Single Couple Single Couple $1,064 $1,437 $1,276 $1,724 $1,436 $1,940 Federal Poverty Level 100% FPL 100 – 120% FPL 120 – 135% FPL Benefits Pays Monthly Part B premium?. YES, and also Part A premium if did not have enough work quarters and meets citizenship requirement.

See “Part A Buy-In” YES YES Pays Part A &. B deductibles &. Co-insurance YES - with limitations NO NO Retroactive to Filing of Application?. Yes - Benefits begin the month after the month of the MSP application.

18 NYCRR §360-7.8(b)(5) Yes – Retroactive to 3rd month before month of application, if eligible in prior months Yes – may be retroactive to 3rd month before month of applica-tion, but only within the current calendar year. (No retro for January application). See GIS 07 MA 027. Can Enroll in MSP and Medicaid at Same Time?.

YES YES NO!. Must choose between QI-1 and Medicaid. Cannot have both, not even Medicaid with a spend-down. 2.

INCOME LIMITS and RULES Each of the three MSP programs has different income eligibility requirements and provides different benefits. The income limits are tied to the Federal Poverty Level (FPL). 2019 FPL levels were released by NYS DOH in GIS 20 MA/02 - 2020 Federal Poverty Levels -- Attachment II and have been posted by Medicaid.gov and the National Council on Aging and are in the chart below. NOTE.

There is usually a lag in time of several weeks, or even months, from January 1st of each year until the new FPLs are release, and then before the new MSP income limits are officially implemented. During this lag period, local Medicaid offices should continue to use the previous year's FPLs AND count the person's Social Security benefit amount from the previous year - do NOT factor in the Social Security COLA (cost of living adjustment). Once the updated guidelines are released, districts will use the new FPLs and go ahead and factor in any COLA. See 2019 Fact Sheet on MSP in NYS by Medicare Rights Center ENGLISH SPANISH Income is determined by the same methodology as is used for determining in eligibility for SSI The rules for counting income for SSI-related (Aged 65+, Blind, or Disabled) Medicaid recipients, borrowed from the SSI program, apply to the MSP program, except for the new rules about counting household size for married couples.

367-a(3)(c)(2), NYS DOH 2000-ADM-7, 89-ADM-7 p.7. Gross income is counted, although there are certain types of income that are disregarded. The most common income disregards, also known as deductions, include. (a) The first $20 of your &.

Your spouse's monthly income, earned or unearned ($20 per couple max). (b) SSI EARNED INCOME DISREGARDS. * The first $65 of monthly wages of you and your spouse, * One-half of the remaining monthly wages (after the $65 is deducted). * Other work incentives including PASS plans, impairment related work expenses (IRWEs), blind work expenses, etc.

For information on these deductions, see The Medicaid Buy-In for Working People with Disabilities (MBI-WPD) and other guides in this article -- though written for the MBI-WPD, the work incentives apply to all Medicaid programs, including MSP, for people age 65+, disabled or blind. (c) monthly cost of any health insurance premiums but NOT the Part B premium, since Medicaid will now pay this premium (may deduct Medigap supplemental policies, vision, dental, or long term care insurance premiums, and the Part D premium but only to the extent the premium exceeds the Extra Help benchmark amount) (d) Food stamps not counted. You can get a more comprehensive listing of the SSI-related income disregards on the Medicaid income disregards chart. As for all benefit programs based on financial need, it is usually advantageous to be considered a larger household, because the income limit is higher.

The above chart shows that Households of TWO have a higher income limit than households of ONE. The MSP programs use the same rules as Medicaid does for the Disabled, Aged and Blind (DAB) which are borrowed from the SSI program for Medicaid recipients in the “SSI-related category.” Under these rules, a household can be only ONE or TWO. 18 NYCRR 360-4.2. See DAB Household Size Chart.

Married persons can sometimes be ONE or TWO depending on arcane rules, which can force a Medicare beneficiary to be limited to the income limit for ONE person even though his spouse who is under 65 and not disabled has no income, and is supported by the client applying for an MSP. EXAMPLE. Bob's Social Security is $1300/month. He is age 67 and has Medicare.

His wife, Nancy, is age 62 and is not disabled and does not work. Under the old rule, Bob was not eligible for an MSP because his income was above the Income limit for One, even though it was well under the Couple limit. In 2010, NYS DOH modified its rules so that all married individuals will be considered a household size of TWO. DOH GIS 10 MA 10 Medicare Savings Program Household Size, June 4, 2010.

This rule for household size is an exception to the rule applying SSI budgeting rules to the MSP program. Under these rules, Bob is now eligible for an MSP. When is One Better than Two?. Of course, there may be couples where the non-applying spouse's income is too high, and disqualifies the applying spouse from an MSP.

In such cases, "spousal refusal" may be used SSL 366.3(a). (Link is to NYC HRA form, can be adapted for other counties). 3. The Three Medicare Savings Programs - what are they and how are they different?.

1. Qualified Medicare Beneficiary (QMB). The QMB program provides the most comprehensive benefits. Available to those with incomes at or below 100% of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL), the QMB program covers virtually all Medicare cost-sharing obligations.

Part B premiums, Part A premiums, if there are any, and any and all deductibles and co-insurance. QMB coverage is not retroactive. The program’s benefits will begin the month after the month in which your client is found eligible. ** See special rules about cost-sharing for QMBs below - updated with new CMS directive issued January 2012 ** See NYC HRA QMB Recertification form ** Even if you do not have Part A automatically, because you did not have enough wages, you may be able to enroll in the Part A Buy-In Program, in which people eligible for QMB who do not otherwise have Medicare Part A may enroll, with Medicaid paying the Part A premium (Materials by the Medicare Rights Center).

2. Specifiedl Low-Income Medicare Beneficiary (SLMB). For those with incomes between 100% and 120% FPL, the SLMB program will cover Part B premiums only. SLMB is retroactive, however, providing coverage for three months prior to the month of application, as long as your client was eligible during those months.

3. Qualified Individual (QI-1). For those with incomes between 120% and 135% FPL, and not receiving Medicaid, the QI-1 program will cover Medicare Part B premiums only. QI-1 is also retroactive, providing coverage for three months prior to the month of application, as long as your client was eligible during those months.

However, QI-1 retroactive coverage can only be provided within the current calendar year. (GIS 07 MA 027) So if you apply in January, you get no retroactive coverage. Q-I-1 recipients would be eligible for Medicaid with a spend-down, but if they want the Part B premium paid, they must choose between enrolling in QI-1 or Medicaid. They cannot be in both.

It is their choice. DOH MRG p. 19. In contrast, one may receive Medicaid and either QMB or SLIMB.

4. Four Special Benefits of MSPs (in addition to NO ASSET TEST). Benefit 1. Back Door to Medicare Part D "Extra Help" or Low Income Subsidy -- All MSP recipients are automatically enrolled in Extra Help, the subsidy that makes Part D affordable.

They have no Part D deductible or doughnut hole, the premium is subsidized, and they pay very low copayments. Once they are enrolled in Extra Help by virtue of enrollment in an MSP, they retain Extra Help for the entire calendar year, even if they lose MSP eligibility during that year. The "Full" Extra Help subsidy has the same income limit as QI-1 - 135% FPL. However, many people may be eligible for QI-1 but not Extra Help because QI-1 and the other MSPs have no asset limit.

People applying to the Social Security Administration for Extra Help might be rejected for this reason. Recent (2009-10) changes to federal law called "MIPPA" requires the Social Security Administration (SSA) to share eligibility data with NYSDOH on all persons who apply for Extra Help/ the Low Income Subsidy. Data sent to NYSDOH from SSA will enable NYSDOH to open MSP cases on many clients. The effective date of the MSP application must be the same date as the Extra Help application.

Signatures will not be required from clients. In cases where the SSA data is incomplete, NYSDOH will forward what is collected to the local district for completion of an MSP application. The State implementing procedures are in DOH 2010 ADM-03. Also see CMS "Dear State Medicaid Director" letter dated Feb.

18, 2010 Benefit 2. MSPs Automatically Waive Late Enrollment Penalties for Part B Generally one must enroll in Part B within the strict enrollment periods after turning age 65 or after 24 months of Social Security Disability. An exception is if you or your spouse are still working and insured under an employer sponsored group health plan, or if you have End Stage Renal Disease, and other factors, see this from Medicare Rights Center. If you fail to enroll within those short periods, you might have to pay higher Part B premiums for life as a Late Enrollment Penalty (LEP).

Also, you may only enroll in Part B during the Annual Enrollment Period from January 1 - March 31st each year, with Part B not effective until the following July. Enrollment in an MSP automatically eliminates such penalties... For life.. Even if one later ceases to be eligible for the MSP.

AND enrolling in an MSP will automatically result in becoming enrolled in Part B if you didn't already have it and only had Part A. See Medicare Rights Center flyer. Benefit 3. No Medicaid Lien on Estate to Recover MSP Benefits Paid Generally speaking, states may place liens on the Estates of deceased Medicaid recipients to recover the cost of Medicaid services that were provided after the recipient reached the age of 55.

Since 2002, states have not been allowed to recover the cost of Medicare premiums paid under MSPs. In 2010, Congress expanded protection for MSP benefits. Beginning on January 1, 2010, states may not place liens on the Estates of Medicaid recipients who died after January 1, 2010 to recover costs for co-insurance paid under the QMB MSP program for services rendered after January 1, 2010. The federal government made this change in order to eliminate barriers to enrollment in MSPs.

See NYS DOH GIS 10-MA-008 - Medicare Savings Program Changes in Estate Recovery The GIS clarifies that a client who receives both QMB and full Medicaid is exempt from estate recovery for these Medicare cost-sharing expenses. Benefit 4. SNAP (Food Stamp) benefits not reduced despite increased income from MSP - at least temporarily Many people receive both SNAP (Food Stamp) benefits and MSP. Income for purposes of SNAP/Food Stamps is reduced by a deduction for medical expenses, which includes payment of the Part B premium.

Since approval for an MSP means that the client no longer pays for the Part B premium, his/her SNAP/Food Stamps income goes up, so their SNAP/Food Stamps go down. Here are some protections. Do these individuals have to report to their SNAP worker that their out of pocket medical costs have decreased?. And will the household see a reduction in their SNAP benefits, since the decrease in medical expenses will increase their countable income?.

The good news is that MSP households do NOT have to report the decrease in their medical expenses to the SNAP/Food Stamp office until their next SNAP/Food Stamp recertification. Even if they do report the change, or the local district finds out because the same worker is handling both the MSP and SNAP case, there should be no reduction in the household’s benefit until the next recertification. New York’s SNAP policy per administrative directive 02 ADM-07 is to “freeze” the deduction for medical expenses between certification periods. Increases in medical expenses can be budgeted at the household’s request, but NYS never decreases a household’s medical expense deduction until the next recertification.

Most elderly and disabled households have 24-month SNAP certification periods. Eventually, though, the decrease in medical expenses will need to be reported when the household recertifies for SNAP, and the household should expect to see a decrease in their monthly SNAP benefit. It is really important to stress that the loss in SNAP benefits is NOT dollar for dollar. A $100 decrease in out of pocket medical expenses would translate roughly into a $30 drop in SNAP benefits.

See more info on SNAP/Food Stamp benefits by the Empire Justice Center, and on the State OTDA website. Some clients will be automatically enrolled in an MSP by the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) shortly after attaining eligibility for Medicare. Others need to apply. The 2010 "MIPPA" law introduced some improvements to increase MSP enrollment.

See 3rd bullet below. Also, some people who had Medicaid through the Affordable Care Act before they became eligible for Medicare have special procedures to have their Part B premium paid before they enroll in an MSP. See below. WHO IS AUTOMATICALLY ENROLLED IN AN MSP.

Clients receiving even $1.00 of Supplemental Security Income should be automatically enrolled into a Medicare Savings Program (most often QMB) under New York State’s Medicare Savings Program Buy-in Agreement with the federal government once they become eligible for Medicare. They should receive Medicare Parts A and B. Clients who are already eligible for Medicare when they apply for Medicaid should be automatically assessed for MSP eligibility when they apply for Medicaid. (NYS DOH 2000-ADM-7 and GIS 05 MA 033).

Clients who apply to the Social Security Administration for Extra Help, but are rejected, should be contacted &. Enrolled into an MSP by the Medicaid program directly under new MIPPA procedures that require data sharing. Strategy TIP. Since the Extra Help filing date will be assigned to the MSP application, it may help the client to apply online for Extra Help with the SSA, even knowing that this application will be rejected because of excess assets or other reason.

SSA processes these requests quickly, and it will be routed to the State for MSP processing. Since MSP applications take a while, at least the filing date will be retroactive. Note. The above strategy does not work as well for QMB, because the effective date of QMB is the month after the month of application.

As a result, the retroactive effective date of Extra Help will be the month after the failed Extra Help application for those with QMB rather than SLMB/QI-1. Applying for MSP Directly with Local Medicaid Program. Those who do not have Medicaid already must apply for an MSP through their local social services district. (See more in Section D.

Below re those who already have Medicaid through the Affordable Care Act before they became eligible for Medicare. If you are applying for MSP only (not also Medicaid), you can use the simplified MSP application form (theDOH-4328(Rev. 8/2017-- English) (2017 Spanish version not yet available). Either application form can be mailed in -- there is no interview requirement anymore for MSP or Medicaid.

See 10 ADM-04. Applicants will need to submit proof of income, a copy of their Medicare card (front &. Back), and proof of residency/address. See the application form for other instructions.

One who is only eligible for QI-1 because of higher income may ONLY apply for an MSP, not for Medicaid too. One may not receive Medicaid and QI-1 at the same time. If someone only eligible for QI-1 wants Medicaid, s/he may enroll in and deposit excess income into a pooled Supplemental Needs Trust, to bring her countable income down to the Medicaid level, which also qualifies him or her for SLIMB or QMB instead of QI-1. Advocates in NYC can sign up for a half-day "Deputization Training" conducted by the Medicare Rights Center, at which you'll be trained and authorized to complete an MSP application and to submit it via the Medicare Rights Center, which submits it to HRA without the client having to apply in person.

Enrolling in an MSP if you already have Medicaid, but just become eligible for Medicare Those who, prior to becoming enrolled in Medicare, had Medicaid through Affordable Care Act are eligible to have their Part B premiums paid by Medicaid (or the can you take viagra every day cost reimbursed) during the time it takes for them to transition to a Medicare Savings Program. In 2018, DOH clarified that reimbursement of the Part B premium will be made regardless of whether the individual is still in a Medicaid managed care (MMC) plan. GIS 18 MA/001 Medicaid Managed Care Transition for Enrollees Gaining Medicare ( PDF) provides, "Due to efforts to transition individuals who gain Medicare eligibility and who require LTSS, individuals may not be disenrolled from MMC upon receipt of Medicare. To facilitate the transition and not disadvantage the recipient, the Medicaid program is approving reimbursement of Part B premiums for enrollees in MMC." The procedure for getting the Part B premium paid is different for those whose Medicaid was administered by the NYS of Health Exchange (Marketplace), as opposed to their local social services district.

The procedure is also different for those who obtain Medicare because they turn 65, as opposed to obtaining Medicare based on disability. Either way, Medicaid recipients who transition onto Medicare should be automatically evaluated for MSP eligibility at their next Medicaid recertification. NYS DOH 2000-ADM-7 Individuals can also affirmatively ask to be enrolled in MSP in between recertification periods. IF CLIENT HAD MEDICAID ON THE MARKETPLACE (NYS of Health Exchange) before obtaining Medicare.

IF they obtain Medicare because they turn age 65, they will receive a letter from their local district asking them to "renew" Medicaid through their local district. See 2014 LCM-02. Now, their Medicaid income limit will be lower than the MAGI limits ($842/ mo reduced from $1387/month) and they now will have an asset test. For this reason, some individuals may lose full Medicaid eligibility when they begin receiving Medicare.

People over age 65 who obtain Medicare do NOT keep "Marketplace Medicaid" for 12 months (continuous eligibility) See GIS 15 MA/022 - Continuous Coverage for MAGI Individuals. Since MSP has NO ASSET limit. Some individuals may be enrolled in the MSP even if they lose Medicaid, or if they now have a Medicaid spend-down. If a Medicare/Medicaid recipient reports income that exceeds the Medicaid level, districts must evaluate the person’s eligibility for MSP.

08 OHIP/ADM-4 ​If you became eligible for Medicare based on disability and you are UNDER AGE 65, you are entitled to keep MAGI Medicaid for 12 months from the month it was last authorized, even if you now have income normally above the MAGI limit, and even though you now have Medicare. This is called Continuous Eligibility. EXAMPLE. Sam, age 60, was last authorized for Medicaid on the Marketplace in June 2016.

He became enrolled in Medicare based on disability in August 2016, and started receiving Social Security in the same month (he won a hearing approving Social Security disability benefits retroactively, after first being denied disability). Even though his Social Security is too high, he can keep Medicaid for 12 months beginning June 2016. Sam has to pay for his Part B premium - it is deducted from his Social Security check. He may call the Marketplace and request a refund.

This will continue until the end of his 12 months of continues MAGI Medicaid eligibility. He will be reimbursed regardless of whether he is in a Medicaid managed care plan. See GIS 18 MA/001 Medicaid Managed Care Transition for Enrollees Gaining Medicare (PDF) When that ends, he will renew Medicaid and apply for MSP with his local district. Individuals who are eligible for Medicaid with a spenddown can opt whether or not to receive MSP.

(Medicaid Reference Guide (MRG) p. 19). Obtaining MSP may increase their spenddown. MIPPA - Outreach by Social Security Administration -- Under MIPPA, the SSA sends a form letter to people who may be eligible for a Medicare Savings Program or Extra Help (Low Income Subsidy - LIS) that they may apply.

The letters are. · Beneficiary has Extra Help (LIS), but not MSP · Beneficiary has no Extra Help (LIS) or MSP 6. Enrolling in MSP for People Age 65+ who do Not have Free Medicare Part A - the "Part A Buy-In Program" Seniors WITHOUT MEDICARE PART A or B -- They may be able to enroll in the Part A Buy-In program, in which people eligible for QMB who are age 65+ who do not otherwise have Medicare Part A may enroll in Part A, with Medicaid paying the Part A premium. See Step-by-Step Guide by the Medicare Rights Center).

This guide explains the various steps in "conditionally enrolling" in Part A at the SSA office, which must be done before applying for QMB at the Medicaid office, which will then pay the Part A premium. See also GIS 04 MA/013. In June, 2018, the SSA revised the POMS manual procedures for the Part A Buy-In to to address inconsistencies and confusion in SSA field offices and help smooth the path for QMB enrollment. The procedures are in the POMS Section HI 00801.140 "Premium-Free Part A Enrollments for Qualified Medicare BenefiIaries." It includes important clarifications, such as.

SSA Field Offices should explain the QMB program and conditional enrollment process if an individual lacks premium-free Part A and appears to meet QMB requirements. SSA field offices can add notes to the “Remarks” section of the application and provide a screen shot to the individual so the individual can provide proof of conditional Part A enrollment when applying for QMB through the state Medicaid program. Beneficiaries are allowed to complete the conditional application even if they owe Medicare premiums. In Part A Buy-in states like NYS, SSA should process conditional applications on a rolling basis (without regard to enrollment periods), even if the application coincides with the General Enrollment Period.

(The General Enrollment Period is from Jan 1 to March 31st every year, in which anyone eligible may enroll in Medicare Part A or Part B to be effective on July 1st). 7. What happens after the MSP approval - How is Part B premium paid For all three MSP programs, the Medicaid program is now responsible for paying the Part B premiums, even though the MSP enrollee is not necessarily a recipient of Medicaid. The local Medicaid office (DSS/HRA) transmits the MSP approval to the NYS Department of Health – that information gets shared w/ SSA and CMS SSA stops deducting the Part B premiums out of the beneficiary’s Social Security check.

SSA also refunds any amounts owed to the recipient. (Note. This process can take awhile!. !.

!. ) CMS “deems” the MSP recipient eligible for Part D Extra Help/ Low Income Subsidy (LIS). ​Can the MSP be retroactive like Medicaid, back to 3 months before the application?. ​The answer is different for the 3 MSP programs.

QMB -No Retroactive Eligibility – Benefits begin the month after the month of the MSP application. 18 NYCRR § 360-7.8(b)(5) SLIMB - YES - Retroactive Eligibility up to 3 months before the application, if was eligible This means applicant may be reimbursed for the 3 months of Part B benefits prior to the month of application. QI-1 - YES up to 3 months but only in the same calendar year. No retroactive eligibility to the previous year.

7. QMBs -Special Rules on Cost-Sharing. QMB is the only MSP program which pays not only the Part B premium, but also the Medicare co-insurance. However, there are limitations.

First, co-insurance will only be paid if the provide accepts Medicaid. Not all Medicare provides accept Medicaid. Second, under recent changes in New York law, Medicaid will not always pay the Medicare co-insurance, even to a Medicaid provider. But even if the provider does not accept Medicaid, or if Medicaid does not pay the full co-insurance, the provider is banned from "balance billing" the QMB beneficiary for the co-insurance.

Click here for an article that explains all of these rules. This article was authored by the Empire Justice Center.THE PROBLEM. Meet Joe, whose Doctor has Billed him for the Medicare Coinsurance Joe Client is disabled and has SSD, Medicaid and Qualified Medicare Beneficiary (QMB). His health care is covered by Medicare, and Medicaid and the QMB program pick up his Medicare cost-sharing obligations.

Under Medicare Part B, his co-insurance is 20% of the Medicare-approved charge for most outpatient services. He went to the doctor recently and, as with any other Medicare beneficiary, the doctor handed him a bill for his co-pay. Now Joe has a bill that he can’t pay. Read below to find out -- SHORT ANSWER.

QMB or Medicaid will pay the Medicare coinsurance only in limited situations. First, the provider must be a Medicaid provider. Second, even if the provider accepts Medicaid, under recent legislation in New York enacted in 2015 and 2016, QMB or Medicaid may pay only part of the coinsurance, or none at all. This depends in part on whether the beneficiary has Original Medicare or is in a Medicare Advantage plan, and in part on the type of service.

However, the bottom line is that the provider is barred from "balance billing" a QMB beneficiary for the Medicare coinsurance. Unfortunately, this creates tension between an individual and her doctors, pharmacies dispensing Part B medications, and other providers. Providers may not know they are not allowed to bill a QMB beneficiary for Medicare coinsurance, since they bill other Medicare beneficiaries. Even those who know may pressure their patients to pay, or simply decline to serve them.

These rights and the ramifications of these QMB rules are explained in this article. CMS is doing more education about QMB Rights. The Medicare Handbook, since 2017, gives information about QMB Protections. Download the 2020 Medicare Handbook here.

See pp. 53, 86. 1. To Which Providers will QMB or Medicaid Pay the Medicare Co-Insurance?.

"Providers must enroll as Medicaid providers in order to bill Medicaid for the Medicare coinsurance." CMS Informational Bulletin issued January 6, 2012, titled "Billing for Services Provided to Qualified Medicare Beneficiaries (QMBs). The CMS bulletin states, "If the provider wants Medicaid to pay the coinsurance, then the provider must register as a Medicaid provider under the state rules." If the provider chooses not to enroll as a Medicaid provider, they still may not "balance bill" the QMB recipient for the coinsurance. 2. How Does a Provider that DOES accept Medicaid Bill for a QMB Beneficiary?.

If beneficiary has Original Medicare -- The provider bills Medicaid - even if the QMB Beneficiary does not also have Medicaid. Medicaid is required to pay the provider for all Medicare Part A and B cost-sharing charges, even if the service is normally not covered by Medicaid (ie, chiropractic, podiatry and clinical social work care). Whatever reimbursement Medicaid pays the provider constitutes by law payment in full, and the provider cannot bill the beneficiary for any difference remaining. 42 U.S.C.

§ 1396a(n)(3)(A), NYS DOH 2000-ADM-7 If the QMB beneficiary is in a Medicare Advantage plan - The provider bills the Medicare Advantage plan, then bills Medicaid for the balance using a “16” code to get paid. The provider must include the amount it received from Medicare Advantage plan. 3. For a Provider who accepts Medicaid, How Much of the Medicare Coinsurance will be Paid for a QMB or Medicaid Beneficiary in NYS?.

The answer to this question has changed by laws enacted in 2015 and 2016. In the proposed 2019 State Budget, Gov. Cuomo has proposed to reduce how much Medicaid pays for the Medicare costs even further. The amount Medicaid pays is different depending on whether the individual has Original Medicare or is a Medicare Advantage plan, with better payment for those in Medicare Advantage plans.

The answer also differs based on the type of service. Part A Deductibles and Coinsurance - Medicaid pays the full Part A hospital deductible ($1,408 in 2020) and Skilled Nursing Facility coinsurance ($176/day) for days 20 - 100 of a rehab stay. Full payment is made for QMB beneficiaries and Medicaid recipients who have no spend-down. Payments are reduced if the beneficiary has a Medicaid spend-down.

For in-patient hospital deductible, Medicaid will pay only if six times the monthly spend-down has been met. For example, if Mary has a $200/month spend down which has not been met otherwise, Medicaid will pay only $164 of the hospital deductible (the amount exceeding 6 x $200). See more on spend-down here. Medicare Part B - Deductible - Currently, Medicaid pays the full Medicare approved charges until the beneficiary has met the annual deductible, which is $198 in 2020.

For example, Dr. John charges $500 for a visit, for which the Medicare approved charge is $198. Medicaid pays the entire $198, meeting the deductible. If the beneficiary has a spend-down, then the Medicaid payment would be subject to the spend-down.

In the 2019 proposed state budget, Gov. Cuomo proposed to reduce the amount Medicaid pays toward the deductible to the same amount paid for coinsurance during the year, described below. This proposal was REJECTED by the state legislature. Co-Insurance - The amount medicaid pays in NYS is different for Original Medicare and Medicare Advantage.

If individual has Original Medicare, QMB/Medicaid will pay the 20% Part B coinsurance only to the extent the total combined payment the provider receives from Medicare and Medicaid is the lesser of the Medicaid or Medicare rate for the service. For example, if the Medicare rate for a service is $100, the coinsurance is $20. If the Medicaid rate for the same service is only $80 or less, Medicaid would pay nothing, as it would consider the doctor fully paid = the provider has received the full Medicaid rate, which is lesser than the Medicare rate. Exceptions - Medicaid/QMB wil pay the full coinsurance for the following services, regardless of the Medicaid rate.

ambulance and psychologists - The Gov's 2019 proposal to eliminate these exceptions was rejected. hospital outpatient clinic, certain facilities operating under certificates issued under the Mental Hygiene Law for people with developmental disabilities, psychiatric disability, and chemical dependence (Mental Hygiene Law Articles 16, 31 or 32). SSL 367-a, subd. 1(d)(iii)-(v) , as amended 2015 If individual is in a Medicare Advantage plan, 85% of the copayment will be paid to the provider (must be a Medicaid provider), regardless of how low the Medicaid rate is.

This limit was enacted in the 2016 State Budget, and is better than what the Governor proposed - which was the same rule used in Original Medicare -- NONE of the copayment or coinsurance would be paid if the Medicaid rate was lower than the Medicare rate for the service, which is usually the case. This would have deterred doctors and other providers from being willing to treat them. SSL 367-a, subd. 1(d)(iv), added 2016.

EXCEPTIONS. The Medicare Advantage plan must pay the full coinsurance for the following services, regardless of the Medicaid rate. ambulance ) psychologist ) The Gov's proposal in the 2019 budget to eliminate these exceptions was rejected by the legislature Example to illustrate the current rules. The Medicare rate for Mary's specialist visit is $185.

The Medicaid rate for the same service is $120. Current rules (since 2016). Medicare Advantage -- Medicare Advantage plan pays $135 and Mary is charged a copayment of $50 (amount varies by plan). Medicaid pays the specialist 85% of the $50 copayment, which is $42.50.

The doctor is prohibited by federal law from "balance billing" QMB beneficiaries for the balance of that copayment. Since provider is getting $177.50 of the $185 approved rate, provider will hopefully not be deterred from serving Mary or other QMBs/Medicaid recipients. Original Medicare - The 20% coinsurance is $37. Medicaid pays none of the coinsurance because the Medicaid rate ($120) is lower than the amount the provider already received from Medicare ($148).

For both Medicare Advantage and Original Medicare, if the bill was for a ambulance or psychologist, Medicaid would pay the full 20% coinsurance regardless of the Medicaid rate. The proposal to eliminate this exception was rejected by the legislature in 2019 budget. . 4.

May the Provider 'Balance Bill" a QMB Benficiary for the Coinsurance if Provider Does Not Accept Medicaid, or if Neither the Patient or Medicaid/QMB pays any coinsurance?. No. Balance billing is banned by the Balanced Budget Act of 1997. 42 U.S.C.

§ 1396a(n)(3)(A). In an Informational Bulletin issued January 6, 2012, titled "Billing for Services Provided to Qualified Medicare Beneficiaries (QMBs)," the federal Medicare agency - CMS - clarified that providers MAY NOT BILL QMB recipients for the Medicare coinsurance. This is true whether or not the provider is registered as a Medicaid provider. If the provider wants Medicaid to pay the coinsurance, then the provider must register as a Medicaid provider under the state rules.

This is a change in policy in implementing Section 1902(n)(3)(B) of the Social Security Act (the Act), as modified by section 4714 of the Balanced Budget Act of 1997, which prohibits Medicare providers from balance-billing QMBs for Medicare cost-sharing. The CMS letter states, "All Medicare physicians, providers, and suppliers who offer services and supplies to QMBs are prohibited from billing QMBs for Medicare cost-sharing, including deductible, coinsurance, and copayments. This section of the Act is available at. CMCS Informational Bulletin http://www.ssa.gov/OP_Home/ssact/title19/1902.htm.

QMBs have no legal obligation to make further payment to a provider or Medicare managed care plan for Part A or Part B cost sharing. Providers who inappropriately bill QMBs for Medicare cost-sharing are subject to sanctions. Please note that the statute referenced above supersedes CMS State Medicaid Manual, Chapter 3, Eligibility, 3490.14 (b), which is no longer in effect, but may be causing confusion about QMB billing." The same information was sent to providers in this Medicare Learning Network bulletin, last revised in June 26, 2018. CMS reminded Medicare Advantage plans of the rule against Balance Billing in the 2017 Call Letter for plan renewals.

See this excerpt of the 2017 call letter by Justice in Aging - Prohibition on Billing Medicare-Medicaid Enrollees for Medicare Cost Sharing 5. How do QMB Beneficiaries Show a Provider that they have QMB and cannot be Billed for the Coinsurance?. It can be difficult to show a provider that one is a QMB. It is especially difficult for providers who are not Medicaid providers to identify QMB's, since they do not have access to online Medicaid eligibility systems Consumers can now call 1-800-MEDICARE to verify their QMB Status and report a billing issue.

If a consumer reports a balance billng problem to this number, the Customer Service Rep can escalate the complaint to the Medicare Administrative Contractor (MAC), which will send a compliance letter to the provider with a copy to the consumer. See CMS Medicare Learning Network Bulletin effective Dec. 16, 2016. Medicare Summary Notices (MSNs) that Medicare beneficiaries receive every three months state that QMBs have no financial liability for co-insurance for each Medicare-covered service listed on the MSN.

The Remittance Advice (RA) that Medicare sends to providers shows the same information. By spelling out billing protections on a service-by-service basis, the MSNs provide clarity for both the QMB beneficiary and the provider. Justice in Aging has posted samples of what the new MSNs look like here. They have also updated Justice in Aging’s Improper Billing Toolkit to incorporate references to the MSNs in its model letters that you can use to advocate for clients who have been improperly billed for Medicare-covered services.

CMS is implementing systems changes that will notify providers when they process a Medicare claim that the patient is QMB and has no cost-sharing liability. The Medicare Summary Notice sent to the beneficiary will also state that the beneficiary has QMB and no liability. These changes were scheduled to go into effect in October 2017, but have been delayed. Read more about them in this Justice in Aging Issue Brief on New Strategies in Fighting Improper Billing for QMBs (Feb.

2017). QMBs are issued a Medicaid benefit card (by mail), even if they do not also receive Medicaid. The card is the mechanism for health care providers to bill the QMB program for the Medicare deductibles and co-pays. Unfortunately, the Medicaid card dos not indicate QMB eligibility.

Not all people who have Medicaid also have QMB (they may have higher incomes and "spend down" to the Medicaid limits. Advocates have asked for a special QMB card, or a notation on the Medicaid card to show that the individual has QMB. See this Report - a National Survey on QMB Identification Practices published by Justice in Aging, authored by Peter Travitsky, NYLAG EFLRP staff attorney. The Report, published in March 2017, documents how QMB beneficiaries could be better identified in order to ensure providers do not bill them improperly.

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04 September, buy generic viagra online 2020. Following a comprehensive search, the Board of the Australian Digital Health Agency announced today that Ms Amanda Cattermole PSM will be appointed as Chief Executive Officer of the Agency. Ms Cattermole has a long and distinguished history of senior leadership roles in service delivery in the buy generic viagra online public sector, leading high performing organisations, while growing customer satisfaction and staff engagement. She also has deep expertise in digital transformation across government and within the health sector.Most recently, Ms Cattermole was Chief Operating Officer of Services Australia with responsibility for budget and financial services, people, governance, audit and risk.

Ms Cattermole was previously the buy generic viagra online interim CEO of Services Australia and has held Deputy Secretary roles in health service delivery in the Commonwealth and in the Victorian State Government. Ms Cattermole holds a Master of Laws from Charles Darwin University, a Master of Business Administration from the University of Western Australia and Bachelor Degrees in Law and Commerce from the University of Melbourne.Welcoming Ms Cattermole’s appointment on behalf of the Agency, Board Chair Dr Elizabeth Deveny said “Amanda Cattermole is held in the highest regard across the public service and health sector and will bring a depth of knowledge and capability to the role of CEO at a time when digital health has never been more important. The Board has appointed a leader who is deeply skilled, committed to improving the health of all Australians and who understands the importance of digital innovation in better connecting Australia’s healthcare system.”The Hon Greg Hunt, Minister for Health, said “I am pleased to welcome Ms Cattermole and look forward buy generic viagra online to working closely together to drive technology in healthcare as the need has never been greater.”The Board of the Agency also acknowledged the invaluable leadership of Ms Bettina McMahon, who has acted as CEO since February this year. €œThe Board of the Agency would like to thank Ms McMahon for her leadership, dedication and commitment, and wishes her the best for the future.”Ms Cattermole will commence on Tuesday 29 September.Media contactAustralian Digital Health Agency Media TeamMobile.

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04 September, 2020 lowest price viagra. Following a comprehensive search, the Board of the Australian Digital Health Agency announced today that Ms Amanda Cattermole PSM will be appointed as Chief Executive Officer of the Agency. Ms Cattermole has a long and distinguished history of senior leadership roles in service delivery in the public sector, leading high lowest price viagra performing organisations, while growing customer satisfaction and staff engagement. She also has deep expertise in digital transformation across government and within the health sector.Most recently, Ms Cattermole was Chief Operating Officer of Services Australia with responsibility for budget and financial services, people, governance, audit and risk.

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PCEHR means the My Health Record, formerly the "Personally Controlled Electronic Health Record", within the meaning of the My Health Records Act 2012 (Cth), formerly called the Personally Controlled Electronic Health Records Act 2012 (Cth). Website Accessibility Copyright ©2015-2020 Australian Digital Health Agency.

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The past week has best herbal viagra seen an explosion of media commentary about whether children in the UK should go back to school. Since ‘lockdown’ best herbal viagra (23 March 2020) began schools have been open to vulnerable children and young people, and to the children of ‘key workers’. Right from the start there have been differing opinions about the necessity or wisdom of closing schools. Viner et best herbal viagra al1 produced a rapid systematic review that concludes that school closures have less impact on infection rate and mortality than other social distancing measures. Many countries have closed their schools for less time than the UK and have already started to reopen with several protective measures in place.2Concerns about the long-term economic, social and mental impact of lockdown led to the generation of plans to ‘get back to business’.

This was conveyed to the population of the UK on 10 May by the UK prime best herbal viagra minister, Boris Johnson. He announced a range of measures to gradually reduce the level of lockdown. This is in keeping with modelling undertaken by various groups, including a preprint (not peer-reviewed) modelling exercise by Zhang et al.3Mr Johnson announced that there would be a phased return (in best herbal viagra England) of some children to school from 1 June. There are no national guidelines as it is recognised that school have differences that require a flexible approach, but there are a broad set of principles relating to social distancing and hygiene.Government ministers and teachers’ unions have opposing views on the safety of reopening schools. In a joint statement nine unions representing teachers stated that they thought 1 June was too early to be safe.4 They recognise that the opening of schools is a vital part of restarting the UK economy, but they have concerns about the safety and welfare of children and others.Meanwhile, the education secretary, Gavin Williamson, spoke at a press best herbal viagra conference on 16 May stating that scientific evidence backed their decision.

Interestingly, much of his statement was not about the scientific evidence but setting out an emotive argument that school was essential for safe and happy children.There is a consequence to this, the longer that schools are closed the more that children miss out. Teachers know that there are children out there that have not spoken or played with another child their own age best herbal viagra for the last two months. They know there are children from difficult or very unhappy homes for whom school is the happiest moment in their week, and it’s also the safest place for them to be. The poorest best herbal viagra children will be the ones who fall further behind if we keep school gates closed. This phased return is in line with what other European countries are doing.There ensued an at times ill-tempered debate best herbal viagra and a flurry of tweets and news articles identifying problems in enacting the government plan and the illogical nature of Williamson’s statement.

The Institute for Fiscal Studies has produced a briefing note on children’s experiences of learning during lockdown.5 This is being widely cited as a rationale for reopening schools because children from vulnerable backgrounds are disproportionately affected by not being able to attend school. This has caused concern about the attainment gap, but as Quinn6 points out fewer children from disadvantaged backgrounds are likely to return to school than those from more affluent backgrounds.Government ministers and spokespeople reiterated that scientific evidence and observation of other European best herbal viagra countries where schools had reopened demonstrated their decision was the correct one. However, there were no links provided to the scientific evidence and unions were quick to seize on this (eg, NASUWT7).The chief scientific advisor to the Department for Education, Osama Rahman, made a statement in a parliamentary science and technology committee meeting on 13 May that:There is a low degree of confidence in evidence that [children] might transmit it less.Carol Monaghan, the Scottish National Party education spokesperson, replied:We’re putting together hundreds of potential vectors that can then go on and transmit. Is that best herbal viagra correct?. Osama Rahman responded:Possibly, depending on school sizes.His final statement contains layers of complexity but can be interpreted simply as ‘we don’t know’.

This provoked a great deal of disquiet best herbal viagra. Rahman had already stated that the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) was collecting and considering evidence that was new and emerging, and that confidence was low in the evidence relating to transmission because there was very little evidence.8 However, this normal scientific caution in the evidence base was not discussed, and therefore it was assumed that low or moderate confidence in the evidence means a high-risk strategy is being mooted.There appear to be two major concerns about lifting the lockdown for children. First is the risk to children best herbal viagra of developing coronavirus disease. The second is the risk to others of children transmitting coronavirus disease, either while being symptomatic or asymptomatic. Here are best herbal viagra some of the available evidence.Morbidity and mortality in children from coronavirus diseaseChildren appear to be less likely to acquire coronavirus disease in various nations.9–11 Barton et al12 found that children account for 1.9% of confirmed cases (data collected from government websites and publications).

Of these 8113 paediatric cases, 14% required hospital admission. The admission rate to critical care was 2.2% of confirmed cases (7.2% best herbal viagra of admitted children). Death was reported in 15 cases (0.18%) best herbal viagra. This adds to other evidence suggesting that children are at a relatively low risk from the virus, with other estimates coming in at around 0.01%.13 14 This is likely to be because they appear to have a stronger immune response to the virus.15There are concerns that children who have been infected with the virus can develop a postviral inflammatory reaction (Kawasaki disease) and this can be severe,16 but the research evidence for this is not well developed yet.Transmission by childrenChildren can be asymptomatic and test positive for COVID-19, and in the absence of effective community testing it will be impossible to know if they are carrying the virus. Children also can have normal or abnormal signs (eg, chest imaging) when they have tested positive.17 In short, it is difficult to determine without much more extensive testing if a child can transmit the infection.Arav et al18 found that the contact route was much more important than the airborne route, which they best herbal viagra concluded had a negligible contribution.

They suggest protective measures would therefore be good hand hygiene, careful cleaning and avoiding physical contact.Given that there are quite low numbers of symptomatic cases and an unknown quantity of asymptomatic cases, it is very difficult to determine whether children are a significant vector for the disease. Studies cited by the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health that explored best herbal viagra family clusters of infection suggest that the child was unlikely to be the index case.The riskThis evidence suggests that there is a case for reopening schools to limited numbers of pupils—the risk to pupils and the adults they come into contact with seems to be small, and the potential gains for children may outweigh them. There is a big proviso with this however, and that is that the overall incidence of COVID-19 has fallen below specified threshold. This is quite a contentious issue and depends on us meeting the five key tests for easing lockdown.Making sure the National Health Service can cope.A sustained and consistent fall in the daily death rate.Rate of infection decreasing to manageable levels.Ensuring that personal protective equipment supply can meet demand.Being confident that any adjustments would not risk a second peak.These conditions are open to best herbal viagra interpretation, and there appears to be a lack of trust by the public and by professionals from education and health in the information that the government and their scientific advisors are sharing. An example of this is a group of scientists who have come together to challenge the government about their decision-making.19 The concern about whether the evidence and advice that we are given are biased in any way has also been increased by concerns that a government advisor (Dominic Cummings) has attended what were supposed to be politically independent meetings of the SAGE.Scientific evidence continues to emerge, but weighing up the risks and benefits is not easy.

Decisions about whether to reopen schools are taken on a national level with a best herbal viagra distance from personal concerns and fears. Individuals who are making decisions often rely on media translations of the evidence, and there is a level of mistrust in politicians and the media.20 Individuals are often irrational in their risk perception and management (eg, continuing to smoke or drink alcohol despite strong scientific evidence about the risk).21 22Overall, we are information-poor and opinion-rich. It is a difficult best herbal viagra path to navigate. The debate about whether the benefits outweigh the risks of returning to school reminds me of the post-Wakefield Measles Mumps and Rubella vaccination situation. Parents were being asked to believe that MMR was a safe vaccine in the face of best herbal viagra a massive and emotive campaign that promoted the ‘risk’ of having the vaccine above all else.

This situation is even more complex than that as we have increased access to opinion best herbal viagra and difficulty in understanding if or how much that information is biased. It is no wonder that decision-making is difficult. It is likely that evidence will best herbal viagra continue to emerge and gradually the choice will become easier to make. For now, however, we can understand the difficulties that parents, teachers and councils face.IntroductionWhenever developing training competencies, tools to support clinical practice or a response to a professional issue, seeking the opinion of experts is a common approach. By working best herbal viagra to identify a consensus position, researchers can report findings on a specific question (or set of questions) that are based on the knowledge and experience of experts in their field.However, there are challenges to this approach.

For example, what should be done when consensus cannot be reached?. How can experts be engaged in a way that allows them to consider objectively the views of others and—where appropriate—change best herbal viagra their own opinions in response?. One approach that attempts to provide a clear method for gathering expert opinion is the Delphi technique.The Delphi technique was first developed in the 1950s by Norman Dalkey and Olaf Helmer in an attempt to gain reliable expert consensus. Specifically, they developed an approach—named after the Ancient Greek Oracle of Delphi, who could predict the future—which promoted anonymity and avoided direct confrontation between experts, so that the methods employed “…appear to be more best herbal viagra conducive to independent thought on the part of the experts and to aid them in the gradual formation of a considered opinion”.1 Though the original Delphi study was linked to the defence industry, the technique has spread to other research areas, including nursing.2Characteristics of Delphi studiesAs with all research methods, the Delphi technique has evolved since it was first reported on in the 1960s. However, many of the fundamental characteristics of the approach still remain from Dalkey and Helmer’s original outline.

First, the overarching approach is based on a series of ‘rounds’, where a set of experts are asked their opinions best herbal viagra on a particular issue. The questions for each round are based in part of the findings of the previous one, allowing the study to evolve over time in response to earlier findings.Second, participants are able to see the results of previous rounds—including their own responses—allowing them to reflect on the views of others and reposition their own opinions accordingly.2 This also gives them the opportunity to consider and feedback on what they perceive to be the strengths and weaknesses of other’s responses. Finally, the findings of each round are best herbal viagra always shared with the broader group anonymously. This avoids any bias that might result from participants being concerned about their own views being viewed negatively or from their own best herbal viagra opinions being biased by personal factors. This framework of expert opinion rounds, with each round built on previous findings and each allowing for responses to be reconsidered by participants, is designed to allow the development of a consensus view that answers the research question.Within this broad approach, there can be variation in areas such as how many rounds there are, how the questions are delivered and responses collected, and how ‘consensus’ is judged.

For example, a study best herbal viagra of human factors that contributed to nursing errors used only two rounds. The first took the form of an online survey asking 25 experts to list all the ‘human’ causes of nursing errors that they could. Analysis of responses resulted in a list best herbal viagra of 28 potential reasons—this list was sent back to the same group of experts for the second round, asking them to score each one for importance. Analysis of this scoring then allowed for consensus conclusions on the top 10 human factors that contributed to nursing errors (with fatigue, heavy workload and communication problems the top three).3In another example, nurse practitioners (NPs) were recruited to participate in a Delphi study to achieve consensus related to NP advance care planning competencies. In round 1, draft competencies were developed from the findings of a survey of best herbal viagra NP beliefs, knowledge and level of implementation of advance care planning.

Round 2 included engagement with 29 NPs who evaluated the draft competencies and their components. Revisions were made based on the original feedback, and a third round was conducted best herbal viagra where 15 of the original NP participants confirmed their consensus with the final document. The final document includes four competencies, each with several elements. Clinical Practice, best herbal viagra Consultation and Communication, Advocacy and Therapeutic Management.4Strengths and weaknesses of Delphi studiesThe Delphi technique offers a flexible approach to gathering the views of experts on an area of interest. The ability for participants to reconsider their views in light of the contribution of others allows for an element of reflection that is missing from studies based on single interviews or focus groups.

The anonymity among the expert groups that underpins Delphi studies promotes best herbal viagra honesty among participants and reduces the risk of the ‘halo effect’ where views from dominant or high-profile members of the group are given extra credence.5However, Delphi studies can—by their very nature—be complex and time consuming. The need for participants to complete multiple rounds can lead best herbal viagra to high drop-out rates which impacts on validity of the study. The ability of participants to amend or alter their views at each round is also something of a double-edged sword. It provides those taking part with the opportunity to reflect and reconsider their position in response to best herbal viagra additional information, which is an important part of nursing practice. Conversely though, there is a danger that this flexibility introduces bias, with participants altering their response to comply with what they view to be the majority view (sometime called the ‘bandwagon effect’).5Delphi studies can be criticised due to a lack of clarity on what is meant by ‘consensus’.

Even with the level of flexibility and reflexivity present in Delphi studies, it is still unlikely that a group of experts will demonstrate 100% best herbal viagra agreement on issues. However, because consensus is a requirement of a Delphi study, there does need to be a judgement on when this point is reached. This is best herbal viagra where there is inconsistency across studies and authors, with the suggested level of consensus ranging from 51% to 100%.2 In addition, it has been identified that in some areas, consensus is not predefined as part of the study method. For example, a review of Delphi studies in nurse education found that fewer than half of the papers appraised included a predefined level at which consensus was judged to have been achieved.6 In addition, the identification of an objective level consensus is only possible when gathering quantifiable data—the judgement on consensus being reached in some qualitative Delphi studies will always be rather more subjective on the part of the researcher, and therefore potentially open to bias.By their nature, Delphi studies often rely purely on expert opinion to generate findings. A further limitation is therefore related to the quality of evidence, with expert opinion viewed best herbal viagra as providing a poor basis for making judgements on healthcare interventions.7 This does not mean that the findings of Delphi studies are intrinsically unreliable or invalid.

It does mean that researchers should consider whether their research question is one that can be answered through expert consensus or whether other approaches (such as a systematic review of research evidence) are more appropriate.ConclusionThe Delphi technique is a well-established approach to answering a research question through the identification of a consensus view across subject experts. It allows for reflection among participants, who are able to best herbal viagra nuance and reconsider their opinion based on the anonymised opinions of others. However, researchers must take steps to enhance robustness of the studies. It is best herbal viagra important to try and prevent participants from simply resorting to agreeing with the majority view. Studies must also predefine what is meant by ‘consensus’ and how it will be established.With careful and clear design though, Delphi studies can make a valuable contribution to the nursing evidence base by tapping into the profession’s most precious resource—the knowledge and expertise of its practitioners..

The past week has seen lowest price viagra an explosion of media commentary about whether children in the UK should go back to school. Since ‘lockdown’ (23 March 2020) began schools have been open to vulnerable lowest price viagra children and young people, and to the children of ‘key workers’. Right from the start there have been differing opinions about the necessity or wisdom of closing schools. Viner et al1 produced a rapid systematic review that concludes that school closures have lowest price viagra less impact on infection rate and mortality than other social distancing measures. Many countries have closed their schools for less time than the UK and have already started to reopen with several protective measures in place.2Concerns about the long-term economic, social and mental impact of lockdown led to the generation of plans to ‘get back to business’.

This was conveyed to the population of the UK on 10 May by lowest price viagra the UK prime minister, Boris Johnson. He announced a range of measures to gradually reduce the level of lockdown. This is in keeping with modelling undertaken by various groups, including a preprint (not peer-reviewed) modelling exercise by Zhang et al.3Mr Johnson lowest price viagra announced that there would be a phased return (in England) of some children to school from 1 June. There are no national guidelines as it is recognised that school have differences that require a flexible approach, but there are a broad set of principles relating to social distancing and hygiene.Government ministers and teachers’ unions have opposing views on the safety of reopening schools. In a joint statement nine unions representing teachers stated that they thought 1 June lowest price viagra was too early to be safe.4 They recognise that the opening of schools is a vital part of restarting the UK economy, but they have concerns about the safety and welfare of children and others.Meanwhile, the education secretary, Gavin Williamson, spoke at a press conference on 16 May stating that scientific evidence backed their decision.

Interestingly, much of his statement was not about the scientific evidence but setting out an emotive argument that school was essential for safe and happy children.There is a consequence to this, the longer that schools are closed the more that children miss out. Teachers know that there are children out lowest price viagra there that have not spoken or played with another child their own age for the last two months. They know there are children from difficult or very unhappy homes for whom school is the happiest moment in their week, and it’s also the safest place for them to be. The poorest children will be the ones who fall further behind if lowest price viagra we keep school gates closed. This phased return is in line with what other European countries are doing.There ensued an at times ill-tempered debate and a flurry of tweets and news articles identifying problems lowest price viagra in enacting the government plan and the illogical nature of Williamson’s statement.

The Institute for Fiscal Studies has produced a briefing note on children’s experiences of learning during lockdown.5 This is being widely cited as a rationale for reopening schools because children from vulnerable backgrounds are disproportionately affected by not being able to attend school. This has caused concern about the attainment gap, but as Quinn6 points out fewer children from disadvantaged backgrounds are likely lowest price viagra to return to school than those from more affluent backgrounds.Government ministers and spokespeople reiterated that scientific evidence and observation of other European countries where schools had reopened demonstrated their decision was the correct one. However, there were no links provided to the scientific evidence and unions were quick to seize on this (eg, NASUWT7).The chief scientific advisor to the Department for Education, Osama Rahman, made a statement in a parliamentary science and technology committee meeting on 13 May that:There is a low degree of confidence in evidence that [children] might transmit it less.Carol Monaghan, the Scottish National Party education spokesperson, replied:We’re putting together hundreds of potential vectors that can then go on and transmit. Is that lowest price viagra correct?. Osama Rahman responded:Possibly, depending on school sizes.His final statement contains layers of complexity but can be interpreted simply as ‘we don’t know’.

This provoked lowest price viagra a great deal of disquiet. Rahman had already stated that the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) was collecting and considering evidence that was new and emerging, and that confidence was low in the evidence relating to transmission because there was very little evidence.8 However, this normal scientific caution in the evidence base was not discussed, and therefore it was assumed that low or moderate confidence in the evidence means a high-risk strategy is being mooted.There appear to be two major concerns about lifting the lockdown for children. First is lowest price viagra the risk to children of developing coronavirus disease. The second is the risk to others of children transmitting coronavirus disease, either while being symptomatic or asymptomatic. Here are some of the available evidence.Morbidity and mortality in children from coronavirus diseaseChildren appear to be less likely to lowest price viagra acquire coronavirus disease in various nations.9–11 Barton et al12 found that children account for 1.9% of confirmed cases (data collected from government websites and publications).

Of these 8113 paediatric cases, 14% required hospital admission. The admission rate to critical lowest price viagra care was 2.2% of confirmed cases (7.2% of admitted children). Death was reported in 15 cases lowest price viagra (0.18%). This adds to other evidence suggesting that children are at a relatively low risk from the virus, with other estimates coming in at around 0.01%.13 14 This is likely to be because they appear to have a stronger immune response to the virus.15There are concerns that children who have been infected with the virus can develop a postviral inflammatory reaction (Kawasaki disease) and this can be severe,16 but the research evidence for this is not well developed yet.Transmission by childrenChildren can be asymptomatic and test positive for COVID-19, and in the absence of effective community testing it will be impossible to know if they are carrying the virus. Children also can have normal or abnormal signs (eg, chest imaging) when they have tested positive.17 In short, it is difficult to determine without much lowest price viagra more extensive testing if a child can transmit the infection.Arav et al18 found that the contact route was much more important than the airborne route, which they concluded had a negligible contribution.

They suggest protective measures would therefore be good hand hygiene, careful cleaning and avoiding physical contact.Given that there are quite low numbers of symptomatic cases and an unknown quantity of asymptomatic cases, it is very difficult to determine whether children are a significant vector for the disease. Studies cited by the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health that explored family clusters of infection suggest that the child was unlikely to be the index case.The riskThis evidence suggests that there is a case for reopening schools to limited numbers of pupils—the risk to pupils and the adults they come into contact with lowest price viagra seems to be small, and the potential gains for children may outweigh them. There is a big proviso with this however, and that is that the overall incidence of COVID-19 has fallen below specified threshold. This is quite a contentious issue and depends on us meeting the five key tests for easing lockdown.Making sure the National Health Service can cope.A sustained and consistent fall in the daily death rate.Rate of infection decreasing to manageable levels.Ensuring that personal protective equipment supply lowest price viagra can meet demand.Being confident that any adjustments would not risk a second peak.These conditions are open to interpretation, and there appears to be a lack of trust by the public and by professionals from education and health in the information that the government and their scientific advisors are sharing. An example of this is a group of scientists who have come together to challenge the government about their decision-making.19 The concern about whether the evidence and advice that we are given are biased in any way has also been increased by concerns that a government advisor (Dominic Cummings) has attended what were supposed to be politically independent meetings of the SAGE.Scientific evidence continues to emerge, but weighing up the risks and benefits is not easy.

Decisions about whether to reopen schools are taken on a national level with a distance from personal concerns and fears lowest price viagra. Individuals who are making decisions often rely on media translations of the evidence, and there is a level of mistrust in politicians and the media.20 Individuals are often irrational in their risk perception and management (eg, continuing to smoke or drink alcohol despite strong scientific evidence about the risk).21 22Overall, we are information-poor and opinion-rich. It is a difficult path to navigate lowest price viagra. The debate about whether the benefits outweigh the risks of returning to school reminds me of the post-Wakefield Measles Mumps and Rubella vaccination situation. Parents were being asked to believe that MMR was a safe vaccine in the face of a massive and emotive campaign that promoted the ‘risk’ of having the vaccine above all lowest price viagra else.

This situation is even more complex than that as we have increased access to opinion and difficulty in understanding if or how much that information is lowest price viagra biased. It is no wonder that decision-making is difficult. It is likely that evidence lowest price viagra will continue to emerge and gradually the choice will become easier to make. For now, however, we can understand the difficulties that parents, teachers and councils face.IntroductionWhenever developing training competencies, tools to support clinical practice or a response to a professional issue, seeking the opinion of experts is a common approach. By working to identify a consensus position, researchers can report findings on a specific question (or set of questions) that are based on the lowest price viagra knowledge and experience of experts in their field.However, there are challenges to this approach.

For example, what should be done when consensus cannot be reached?. How can experts be engaged in a way that allows them to consider objectively the views of others and—where appropriate—change lowest price viagra their own opinions in response?. One approach that attempts to provide a clear method for gathering expert opinion is the Delphi technique.The Delphi technique was first developed in the 1950s by Norman Dalkey and Olaf Helmer in an attempt to gain reliable expert consensus. Specifically, they developed an approach—named after the Ancient Greek Oracle of Delphi, who could predict the future—which promoted anonymity and avoided direct confrontation between experts, so that the methods employed “…appear to lowest price viagra be more conducive to independent thought on the part of the experts and to aid them in the gradual formation of a considered opinion”.1 Though the original Delphi study was linked to the defence industry, the technique has spread to other research areas, including nursing.2Characteristics of Delphi studiesAs with all research methods, the Delphi technique has evolved since it was first reported on in the 1960s. However, many of the fundamental characteristics of the approach still remain from Dalkey and Helmer’s original outline.

First, the overarching approach is based on a lowest price viagra series of ‘rounds’, where a set of experts are asked their opinions on a particular issue. The questions for each round are based in part of the findings of the previous one, allowing the study to evolve over time in response to earlier findings.Second, participants are able to see the results of previous rounds—including their own responses—allowing them to reflect on the views of others and reposition their own opinions accordingly.2 This also gives them the opportunity to consider and feedback on what they perceive to be the strengths and weaknesses of other’s responses. Finally, the findings of each round are lowest price viagra always shared with the broader group anonymously. This avoids any bias that might result from participants being concerned lowest price viagra about their own views being viewed negatively or from their own opinions being biased by personal factors. This framework of expert opinion rounds, with each round built on previous findings and each allowing for responses to be reconsidered by participants, is designed to allow the development of a consensus view that answers the research question.Within this broad approach, there can be variation in areas such as how many rounds there are, how the questions are delivered and responses collected, and how ‘consensus’ is judged.

For example, a study of human factors that contributed to nursing lowest price viagra errors used only two rounds. The first took the form of an online survey asking 25 experts to list all the ‘human’ causes of nursing errors that they could. Analysis of responses resulted in a list of 28 potential reasons—this list was sent back to the same group of experts for the lowest price viagra second round, asking them to score each one for importance. Analysis of this scoring then allowed for consensus conclusions on the top 10 human factors that contributed to nursing errors (with fatigue, heavy workload and communication problems the top three).3In another example, nurse practitioners (NPs) were recruited to participate in a Delphi study to achieve consensus related to NP advance care planning competencies. In round 1, draft competencies were developed from the findings of a survey of NP beliefs, knowledge and level of implementation of advance care lowest price viagra planning.

Round 2 included engagement with 29 NPs who evaluated the draft competencies and their components. Revisions were made based on the lowest price viagra original feedback, and a third round was conducted where 15 of the original NP participants confirmed their consensus with the final document. The final document includes four competencies, each with several elements. Clinical Practice, Consultation and Communication, Advocacy and Therapeutic Management.4Strengths and weaknesses of Delphi studiesThe Delphi technique offers a flexible approach to gathering the views of experts on an lowest price viagra area of interest. The ability for participants to reconsider their views in light of the contribution of others allows for an element of reflection that is missing from studies based on single interviews or focus groups.

The anonymity among the expert groups that underpins Delphi studies promotes honesty lowest price viagra among participants and reduces the risk of the ‘halo effect’ where views from dominant or high-profile members of the group are given extra credence.5However, Delphi studies can—by their very nature—be complex and time consuming. The need for participants to complete multiple rounds can lead to high drop-out rates which impacts on validity of the lowest price viagra study. The ability of participants to amend or alter their views at each round is also something of a double-edged sword. It provides those taking part with the opportunity to reflect and reconsider their position in response to additional information, which is an important part lowest price viagra of nursing practice. Conversely though, there is a danger that this flexibility introduces bias, with participants altering their response to comply with what they view to be the majority view (sometime called the ‘bandwagon effect’).5Delphi studies can be criticised due to a lack of clarity on what is meant by ‘consensus’.

Even with the level of flexibility and reflexivity present in Delphi studies, it is still unlikely that a group lowest price viagra of experts will demonstrate 100% agreement on issues. However, because consensus is a requirement of a Delphi study, there does need to be a judgement on when this point is reached. This is where there is inconsistency across studies and authors, with the suggested level of consensus ranging from 51% to 100%.2 In addition, it has been lowest price viagra identified that in some areas, consensus is not predefined as part of the study method. For example, a review of Delphi studies in nurse education found that fewer than half of the papers appraised included a predefined level at which consensus was judged to have been achieved.6 In addition, the identification of an objective level consensus is only possible when gathering quantifiable data—the judgement on consensus being reached in some qualitative Delphi studies will always be rather more subjective on the part of the researcher, and therefore potentially open to bias.By their nature, Delphi studies often rely purely on expert opinion to generate findings. A further limitation is therefore related to the lowest price viagra quality of evidence, with expert opinion viewed as providing a poor basis for making judgements on healthcare interventions.7 This does not mean that the findings of Delphi studies are intrinsically unreliable or invalid.

It does mean that researchers should consider whether their research question is one that can be answered through expert consensus or whether other approaches (such as a systematic review of research evidence) are more appropriate.ConclusionThe Delphi technique is a well-established approach to answering a research question through the identification of a consensus view across subject experts. It allows for reflection among participants, who are able to nuance and reconsider their opinion based on the anonymised opinions of others lowest price viagra. However, researchers must take steps to enhance robustness of the studies. It is important to try and prevent participants from simply lowest price viagra resorting to agreeing with the majority view. Studies must also predefine what is meant by ‘consensus’ and how it will be established.With careful and clear design though, Delphi studies can make a valuable contribution to the nursing evidence base by tapping into the profession’s most precious resource—the knowledge and expertise of its practitioners..

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Protecting the safety and health lowest price viagra of essential workers who support America’s food security—including the meat, poultry, and pork processing industries—is a top priority for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). OSHA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued additional guidance to reduce the risk of exposure to the coronavirus and keep workers safe and healthy in the meatpacking and meat processing industries —including those involved in beef, pork, and poultry operations. This new guidance provides specific recommendations for employers to meet their obligations to protect workers in these facilities, where people normally work closely together and share workspaces and equipment. Here are eight ways to help minimize meat processing workers’ exposure to the coronavirus lowest price viagra.

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OSHA is committed to ensuring that lowest price viagra workers and employers in essential industries have clear guidance to keep workers safe and healthy from the coronavirus—including guidance for essential workers in construction, manufacturing, package delivery, and retail. Workers and employers who have questions or concerns about workplace safety can contact OSHA online or by phone at 1-800-321-6742 (OSHA). You can find additional resources and learn more about OSHA’s response to the coronavirus at www.osha.gov/coronavirus. Loren Sweatt is the Principal Deputy Assistant lowest price viagra Secretary for the U.S.

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With COVID-19 a factor this year, it's even more important to take precautions to prevent the flu from spreading. Here are 10 ways lowest price viagra to keep workers safe. Recommend all workers get vaccinated. Vaccination is the most important way to prevent the spread of the flu.

It takes about lowest price viagra two weeks for flu antibodies to develop, so the time to get a shot is before peak flu season. Encourage workers to stay home if they are sick. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that workers who have a fever and respiratory symptoms stay at home until 24 hours after their fever ends (100 degrees Fahrenheit or lower) without the use of medication. Not everyone who has the flu lowest price viagra will have a fever.

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Learn more about workplace safety and the lowest price viagra flu on OSHA's website. You can find additional resources and learn more about OSHA's response to the coronavirus at osha.gov/coronavirus. Workers and employers who have questions or concerns about workplace safety can contact OSHA online or by phone at 1-800-321-6742 (OSHA). Loren Sweatt is the Principal lowest price viagra Deputy Assistant Secretary for the U.S.

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