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VETERANS NEWS VACCINE TRICARE

LATEST GEORGIA FIGURES (updated Jan. 14, 3 p.m.): Confirmed deaths: 10,721 | Confirmed cases: 660,720 | More details here

 

The AJC is covering the coronavirus outbreak with a focus on what it means to Atlanta and Georgia. Follow AJC for news updates, health information and helpful resources.

Why is Georgia slower than others in administering vaccines? Will pharmacies help with rollout?

Georgia has administered less than 23% of available vaccines, compared to West Virginia, which has administered about 65%, according to CDC data tracker.

Why is Georgia slower than others in administering vaccines? Will pharmacies help with rollout?

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Author: Paola Suro (WXIA)

Published: 8:30 PM EST January 16, 2021

Updated: 12:01 AM EST January 17, 2021

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ATLANTA — Georgia still stands as one of the slowest states in the U.S. when it comes to the administering of the COVID-19 vaccine. Health experts hope that making them available via pharmacies will change that statistic.

COVID-19 expert and Augusta University professor Dr. David Blake said the pharmacies should speed up the process.

 

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"It will certainly help and I've held for quite some time that we do really well each fall with the flu vaccine," said Dr. Blake. "We vaccinated 56 percent of the country this year for the flu and we need to do more than that for COVID. We should use the same sort of infrastructure."

He adds that there are many reasons other states, like West Virginia, which has administered about 65 percent of its available doses as of Saturday afternoon, are doing better. In comparison, Georgia sits at less than 23 percent. One of the reasons being they partnered with local pharmacies.

Credit: WXIA

"West Virginia has a statewide infrastructure," Dr. Blake said. "They're coordinating from the top, they have all of their pharmacies on board so if you're a West Virginia resident, you contact the state, fill out a form, they tell you which pharmacy to go, then the pharmacy has an appointment for you.

According to CNN, West Virginia also started vaccinating people in long-term care facilities a week before other states had, choosing speed over guidelines. 

It is important to note that West Virginia does have a smaller population.

And while in Georgia, pharmacies now offer some hope, Dr. Blake says the state should be looking at West Virginia as an example on how to set up appointments for residents.

Instead, the current scheduling system, he says, makes it a challenge for those who are eligible to get their shots.

"They're going to send vaccines to pharmacies like Publix and you're going to have to coordinate your appointment with that Publix," he explained. "It's going to be very hit or miss with respect to each pharmacy and their availability. You're going to have to make multiple calls if you want to get your vaccine in earlier."

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One of the first seniors in Georgia to receive the COVID-19 vaccine from a Publix pharmacy is Jim Mallory. The 68-year-old says he woke up at 6 a.m. Thursday to schedule his appointment and did not run into problems.

He knows he's one of the fortunate ones because appointments right now are hard to come by.

"I feel very lucky that I got it," Mallory told 11Alive. "I hope it works. I have my appointment set up for four weeks. I hope more people get it."

PublixKroger and Ingles are offering the vaccine for free but demand is high. 

"I wish more people could do this. Hopefully, they can soon," he added.

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TRICARE Costs: What You Need to Know

for 2021

By: Kevin Lilley

NOVEMBER 23, 2020

TRICARE Costs: What You Need to Know for 2021

TRICARE recently released comparison charts to help beneficiaries see what rates are rising in 2021, and the biggest change should come as no surprise to regular MOAA.org visitors: The addition of TRICARE Select fees for Group A members.

MOAA has worked to inform its members of this change for months, as have Defense Health Agency (DHA) officials. We’ve also fought successfully to extend the reinstatement period for beneficiaries, allowing them 180 days to seek reinstatement and secure retroactive coverage if they miss the Jan. 1, 2021, deadline.

You can learn more about the TRICARE Select fees at the links above, and you can access the official TRICARE cost-comparison documents, in PDF format, at the links below:

 

[RELATED: MOAA’s TRICARE GUIDE]

 

Catastrophic Cap Updates

Aside from the TRICARE Select fees, the largest year-over-year difference on either chart comes from the TRICARE Select Group A catastrophic cap, which jumps to $3,500 in 2021, up from $3,000 in 2020. The new annual enrollment fee ($150 for individuals, $300 for families) will apply to the cap.

The catastrophic cap for TRICARE Prime Group A members remains $3,000 for 2021. Group B beneficiaries in both TRICARE Prime and Select will have a $3,703 cap in 2021, up from $3,655 in 2020. Under both plans, Group A includes those whose sponsor entered service before Jan. 1, 2018; other beneficiaries fall into Group B.

For active duty family members, the TRICARE Prime and Select Group A cap remains $1,000, while the Group B cap increases to $1,058 in 2021 under both plans, up from $1,044.

 

[TAKE ACTION: Urge Your Lawmakers to Stop Cuts to Military Medicine]

 

What Else Is Changing?

Review the charts above to check out your specific plans, but services such as medical care visits, inpatient admission, and specialty care services either went unchanged or rose in small increments, usually no more than a dollar. Primary care costs remained unchanged from 2020 for TRICARE Select beneficiaries, for example, while TRICARE Prime users will pay $21 for such visits in 2021, up from $20.

The largest of these upticks comes with emergency room visits – TRICARE Select Group A beneficiaries must pay $125 for an in-network visit in 2021, up from $118 in 2020. The out-of-network cost remains at 25%.

MOAA has provided details on other TRICARE programs in previous weeks, including a review of TRICARE Young Adult cost changes and good news for TRICARE pharmacy users. Get the full 2021 Cost and Fees Sheet at this link.

 

More Resources

If you’re trying to figure out what these changes mean for your future coverage options, or if you have other questions on TRICARE or your medical benefits, check out these links to start your ALsearch:

  • MOAA’s TRICARE Guide includes details on all types of coverage, videos answering frequently asked questions, and step-by-step guidance for beneficiaries at critical life stages – those nearing retirement from service and those nearing age 65.
  • MOAA’s Health Care Resources page offers additional TRICARE materials, links to MOAA Insurance offerings, and the latest military and veteran health care news.
  • Health.mil and TRICARE.mil have an array of pages with official benefit guidance, including a details on the ongoing TRICARE Open Season and a Plan Finder to help beneficiaries determine which plan (or plans) they can access.

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1) Veteran Care

2)  Prevent/Reach Program

3)  Veterans Suicide Medicine

4)  Infantry News

5)  VA News

6)   DOD ID News

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VA launches new electronic health record system, reaching milestone in Veteran care

 

OEHRM go live in the PNW

 Posted onTuesday, October 27, 2020 4:00 pm Posted in HealthTechnologyTop StoriesVA Medical Centers by VAntage Point Contributor

In a landmark event for Veteran health care, VA began using its new electronic health record (EHR) system at select facilities in the Pacific Northwest and Las Vegas on Oct. 24.

VA will deploy the new system at facilities across the country over a 10-year period, scheduled to end in 2028. After the implementation at Mann-Grandstaff, VA plans to roll out the EHR at sites in Alaska, Idaho, Ohio, Oregon and Washington state.

This modern EHR will help improve the health care experience for Veterans by connecting VA medical centers and clinics with the Department of Defense (DOD), the U.S. Coast Guard and community care providers. It will allow clinicians to easily access a Veteran’s full medical history in one location, without needing to track down information such as pharmacy or lab records.

“This is great news for our nation’s Veterans, who deserve the best health care in the world,” said John H. Windom, executive director of VA’s Office of Electronic Health Record Modernization, which leads the nationwide EHR deployment effort. “This technology will help VA improve health outcomes and access to care for our Veterans.”

First locations

Mann-Grandstaff VA Medical Center in Spokane, Washington, and its associated clinics in Wenatchee, Washington; Libby, Montana; and Coeur d’Alene and Sandpoint, Idaho, are the first VA medical facilities using the new EHR system. Together, these locations serve more than 24,000 Veterans. The other deployment site, the West Consolidated Patient Account Center in Las Vegas, is an administrative facility that supports Mann-Grandstaff and other VA facilities in the Pacific Northwest.

VA clinicians and administrative staff at these sites can now more easily access patient information directly within the EHR itself, rather than using multiple systems as they had before. This includes patient medications, allergies, immunizations, past medical procedures and ongoing health concerns, as well as contact information, such as addresses, phone numbers and emails.

With this information more accessible, VA care providers will be able to view patient medical histories that will support clinical decision-making and improve Veteran health results. This more complete view of a patient’s records will also allow clinicians to make better connections between Veterans’ time on active duty and potential medical issues they might experience later in life.

“Once it is fully implemented, VA’s new EHR will transform the country’s largest integrated health care system and benefit over 23.9 million Veterans, as well as their families and caregivers,” Windom said. “No other health care organization in the world is attempting something of this scale and complexity, and we are committed to getting this absolutely right for our Veterans.”

Next locations

 

For more information about VA’s EHRM program, visit https://vaww.ehrm.va.gov.


Dr. Laura Kroupa is VA’s Office of Electronic Health Record Modernization’s chief medical officer (CMO). As CMO, she represents VA and the Veterans Health Administration as a clinical leader overseeing clinical strategy and planning efforts for the EHR transformation.

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2) Five Facts About REACH, the VA’s New

Anti-Suicide Effort

By: Tony Lombardo

JULY 14, 2020

 

The White House and the VA launched a new national anti-suicide campaign this month with an emphasis on supporting veterans.

The REACH campaign is part of PREVENTS, the President’s Roadmap to Empower Veterans and End a National Tragedy of Suicides, a three-year effort President Donald Trump created by executive order in March 2019. MOAA supports PREVENTS, and we called it a “much-needed call to action” in testimony delivered in Congress earlier this year.

Here’s what you need to know about the new campaign:

1. What is REACH? It’s both an awareness campaign and a call to action – and not just for veterans. VA states the mission is “to educate all Americans that suicide is preventable and to encourage them to REACH to those in need to provide hope. It also encourages people who are hurting to REACH to find help.”

2. Who is leading the charge? The president’s executive order created the PREVENTS Task Force, which includes leadership from VA Secretary Robert Wilkie. Its lead ambassador is Karen Pence, wife of Vice President Mike Pence and mother of a Marine Corps officer.

We owe it to [veterans] and all Americans to play a critical role in preventing suicide,” Pence said in a PREVENTS webinar July 8.  “We’re facing an epidemic of suicide right now.”

[MOAA INTERVIEW: Second Lady Karen Pence on Helping Military Spouses Succeed]

3. What do the numbers say? Despite years of suicide prevention efforts across DoD, the data reveal a sustained challenge that needs more research and new solutions. REACH shares the following stats on its website:

  • On average, 132 Americans die by suicide each day, accounting for 47,173 suicide deaths in 2017.
  • The number of veteran suicides exceeded 6,000 each year from 2008-2017.
  • Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death among all ages and the second leading cause of death among those ages 10-34 in the United States.

4. Has COVID-19 affected efforts? If anything, the campaign is well-timed. A PREVENTS Roadmap summary released in June notes, “The long-term psychological stress resulting from the pandemic and the massive disruption to our mental health delivery system threatened the mental health of those already vulnerable and increased the likelihood that many more Americans would suffer — resulting in a possible increase in deaths by suicide.”

5. How can you get involved? Visit the REACH website, wearewithinreach.net. There you can sign up for campaign updates. You’re encouraged to use the hashtag #REACHnow to “tell your network, it’s time to REACH to prevent suicide.”

If you are struggling, or you are concerned about someone you know, please REACH out and call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 (press 1 ), or chat online at suicidepreventionlifeline.org/chat/.

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3) 

Why Ketamine Could Be the All-in-One Solution to Curb Veteran Suicide Rates

 

Ketamine

Ketamine was launched decades ago as an anesthetic for animals and people, then became a potent battlefield pain reliever in Vietnam and morphed into the trippy club drug Special K. Now. it is finding new life as a treatment for depression and suicidal behavior. (AP Photo/Teresa Crawford)

23 Nov 2020

Military.com | By Gregg Peterson

Gregg Peterson is the co-founder and CEO of Bexson Biomedical.

Our society is suffering from two health crises that existed before COVID-19, but have been worsened by social distancing and quarantine conditions -- opioid addiction and suicide.

 

As is so often the case, whatever mental health consequence our society is suffering, it unfortunately affects our U.S. military population to an even greater degree.

After experiencing a small dip in 2018, drug overdose deaths in the United States rose 4.6% in 2019 to 70,980, the vast majority of which involved opioids. Studies of opioid overdoses among male Afghanistan/Iraq-era U.S. military veterans estimate that around one in seven active-duty Army service members are taking prescription opioids.

According to a September 2019 Veteran Suicide Prevention Annual Report, between 2005 and 2017, the most common risk factor for veteran suicide was Opioid Use Disorder. The deadly link between opioids and increased mortality spans both overdose deaths and suicide, but the other key driver of veteran suicide is post-traumatic stress disorder. Prevalence of combat-related PTSD in U.S. military veterans since the Vietnam War is as high as 17%.

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All of these risk factors for suicide -- opioid use, addiction and PTSD -- are more prevalent in our active-duty military and veterans than the already high rates in the general population. A recent Associated Press article reported Defense Department numbers showing a 20% increase in active-duty suicides in 2020. But even before COVID-19, veterans, including National Guard and Reserve members, sadly took their lives at a rate of 20 per day.

The impact of these ailments can bridge generations, with the human cost of trauma, depression, addiction and suicide flowing down to a patient's children. The economic and societal impact of these diseases is astounding, with hundreds of billions of dollars in health care treatment costs and reduced economic output.

Indeed, the data all shows that U.S. active-duty service members and veterans desperately need new non-opioid therapies and pain management strategies. Injury and pain are inevitable in the work of our warrior class, and initial opioid use is where our veterans' problems can start to compound. Potent non-opioid pain treatment can allow us to prevent the inception of difficult conditions, such as chronic pain and addiction, right where they start.

In similar fashion, immediate behavioral therapy after traumatic events is key to reducing the likelihood of developing PTSD. A multi-therapeutic approach may be even more effective. In fact, early use of some non-opioid therapies, such as ketamine, for pain management may substantially mitigate the onset of PTSD.

The good news is that new therapies are in development through both public and private investment. The National Institutes of Health has funded research into new non-opioid therapies with hundreds of millions of dollars via the HEAL Initiative, and several biopharma companies have promising new drugs in development.

At Bexson Biomedical, we hope to alleviate suffering from the opioid crisis with safe and potent non-opioid therapies for pain management. We have assembled an expert team of chemists, physicians and engineers to develop new pain therapies targeting the NMDA receptor.

That receptor is involved in acute pain signaling, as well as the fundamental processes that graduate this initial process into chronic pain. At a molecular level, chronic pain is a learned process, and blocking the neurotransmitter at this receptor can help prevent the "habit of pain" that is often associated with prolonged opioid use. We are working with safe, existing drugs that block the NMDA receptor, as well as developing new compounds targeting it.

Ketamine blocks the NMDA receptor and was originally approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for anesthesia. Recently, a new formulation was approved for depression as well. While not yet FDA-approved for pain management, ketamine is used off-label by some pain management physicians and is even identified as a pain reliever in the U.S. military's Tactical Combat Casualty Care Guidelines.

And, fundamental to our larger goals at Bexson, data suggests ketamine can be effective not only in treating pain, but in preventing development of PTSD after trauma. When ketamine was administered to treat burn victims, patients not only received effective pain relief, they were less likely to develop PTSD as a result of the event.

While the FDA is rightly expediting vaccine and antiviral research for COVID-19, this cannot be at the expense of the addiction and mental health diseases waiting for solutions. With the right support, the U.S. may be only a few years away from a major breakthrough treatment for the pain and emotional trauma far too common in our veterans. Academic research, federal funding, and public and private funding support for small biotechnology companies -- so often the engine of innovation for new therapies -- can make all the difference. Our active military and veterans need and deserve these breakthroughs.

Our veterans shouldn't have to choose between pain relief and a healthy, thriving life.

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Rx Refills During the Pandemic

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The video is featured on Carry the Load's Lessons From the Front. 

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