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PBS Frontline Dental Episode

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Dental Care PBS

PBS Frontline investigated the nation’s dental care on Tuesday, June 26, 2012 episode titled Dollars and Dentists (watch the episode below). PBS examined the nation’s dental care system by digging into the different methods that try to serve patients and their dental care woes.

Diane Herbert-Farrell, a spokeswoman for “Frontline,” said “The film looks at different states: the state of Florida, some work done in Virginia; we look at several of the models being tried. We look at how are people looking at dental care.”

Sarrell Dental Clinic was one of those different methods being looked at. Jeff Parker, CEO of Sarrell, said “Frontline” camera crew and members spent about 11 hours filming in the Anniston office, interviewing employees, patients and their families. He said, “I’m very pleased they chose us to use as a role model.”

Sarrell Dental has 14 clinics across Alabama and a mobile bus. They are currently the main provider in the state of dental care for children on Medicaid and has had continuous growth since its first clinic opened in 2005. In its first year, Sarrell served 3,500 children. Last year, Sarrell served 105,000 patients and has served 350,000 patients to date, according to the site.

More than 100 million Americans don’t go to the dentist because they simply can’t afford the bill that comes after. Many either go broke trying to pay for the dentist bill or they suffer from extreme pain while going untreated and some even die from the untreated disease.

One in four children have untreated tooth decay, which is now the most common chronic illness among school-aged children. Nearly 5 million American children, or one in 16, did not get a regular dental checkup in 2008 because their families could not afford it, according to a report released last year from the Institute of Medicine.

Kool Smiles Complaints

In 2009, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation data, 19 million children had no dental insurance. Poor children are covered by Medicaid and dentist will turn them away because the profit margins aren’t there. The problem, Medicare offers no dental coverage unless it’s connected to a medical procedure.

The PBS Frontline investigation also found that Kool Smiles, who specializes in treating low-income children, will financially reward their dentists for hitting a high revenue goal and sometimes fire those who don’t.

Kool Smiles denies that they influence dentists to boost revenues and says it offers quality dental care to an underserved population neglected by traditional dental practices.

Aspen Dental was another that PBS Frontline looked at. They are one of the largest for-profit chains that is aimed at adults who haven’t been to the dentists in years. Aspen Dental is a chain of 300 offices in 22 states managed by a company owned by a private-equity firm. It is part of a fast-growing industry of corporate dental practices, many of which specialize in serving people who cannot afford to go to the dentist, a group many dentists ignore, PBS reported.

Aspen Dental chief executive Robert Fontana said, “A typical patient is probably 45 to 65 and struggling just to make ends meet. They’re taking this week’s paycheck to pay last month’s mortgage, making their car payment, trying to put their kids through school and unfortunately, dentistry can become discretionary.”

Aspen Dental Complaints

Aspen Dental denies that its dentists have stronger financial incentives than other dentists or that its bonuses affect treatments. Fontana, founder and chief executive officer of Aspen Dental, says that dentists won’t do unnecessary treatments because it’s just not in their DNA.

Watch the PBS Frontline Dental Episode:

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  1. Brandy

    June 29, 2012 at 7:53 pm

    My mother goes to a dentist with a substantial office staff – or at least a crowd of young women wearing scrubs behind the main desk. I’m sure her insurance company has legions of office drones. These two groups of medical industry paper-pushers manage to generate one faulty bill after another, even sending re-billings on statements that have already been confirmed as paid in full. They take turns blaming the mistakes on a third company to which the dentist has out-sourced his billing. It’s the most expensive game of Three Card Monty anyone in my family has ever played!

  2. vine

    June 28, 2012 at 7:46 am

    Whatever happened to dentist hygiene? This film shows dentists putting their fingers into patient mouths, then using the same fingers to adjust the lamp, then back into the patient mouths again. Over and over, throughout the entire film, they do this. Unless the lamp handle is sterilized from one patient to the next, the dentist is transferring germs from the mouth of one patient to the mouth of the next. Same thing with the x-ray button, dental tools, and even eye implements that need adjusting. These people touch everything that can be contaminated before putting their filthy fingers in patient mouths. I don’t need to be suffering from OCD to have an aversion to dental-office visits. The last time I was in, the gal dropped the x-ray film on the floor. She would’ve succeeded in picking it up and placing it in my mouth had I not had the peripheral vision to notice and clutch her wrist in time. And that x-ray shield she threw on my lap? It was filthy, way dirtier than the pad my mechanic throws on my car fenders. Imagine how filthy the chair, itself, must be, much less the unprotected head rest! No matter how clean your clothes and hair are going in, you can come away only as clean as the filthiest patient before you. The thought alone makes my skin crawl. And dentist wonder why patients hate to see them or why infections are now epidemic in the health-care industry. What a sorry spectacle of health-care professionalism, infested with people who mistakenly believe that donning rubber gloves makes it okay to touch everything that is not sterilized.

    • Spenser Cammack

      July 1, 2012 at 9:51 am

      The standard set in each and every state requires that all these items be disinfected between every patient that is seen in the operatory. In our office we use a barrier system for the light, chair, x-ray unit, air-water syringe, and suction units (the tips for air/water are replaced and sterilized after each patient, the suction tips are disposed of). The x-ray bibs are wiped down with a heavy disinfectant after each and every use. This may actually be what you see on the bib. They can be discolored by the disinfectant. We keep tract of everything that is touched in the room during the visit, and wipe it down if it has been touched. This includes solid surfaces (wiped down every time anyway), keyboards, monitors, eye wear (providers that is- patient eye wear soaks overnight in a cold sterile bath). We also wear personal barriers that cover from the neck to the knee, as required by WA state. If you have concerns, simply ask your dentist to allow you to watch the room be taken down and prepared prior to you coming in for a visit. This is not a terribly uncommon request. Patient safety and health is the top priority of our office and most out there. You just may not be seeing what is going on behind the scene.

  3. Dr. Doolittle

    June 27, 2012 at 3:18 pm

    On the flip side…..you shut these medicaid practice down because you’ve investigate and interviewed disgruntled employees and guess what…..no one will see these patients……I sure won’t…they can’t afford me and I can’t afford to take a reduced fee.

    They will all end up in the ER costing the govt billions of dollars. What’s the solution…..no idea but your skewed discussion makes us want to vomit. Have another opinion out there besides your own and let the public make up their own mind.

    • wendi456

      June 29, 2012 at 2:09 pm

      I do not think anyone is suggesting that these practices shut down. However, once again free enterprise has trumped the better good. These practices are suffering from a lack of government regulation and tax paying citizens are paying for unnecessary procedures. Unfortunately, this time it is at the expense of children.

      Oh and for the record, I have dental insurance and what I consider a descent dentist. Guess what. To suggest that you cannot afford to take a reduced fee is absurd. Dental fees are unbelievably inflated. Even with insurance, my 20% co-pay on any procedure is a huge kick in the ass. The idea that that a dentist will go broke if he or she consents to or is required to allow a small percentage of their patients to pay with Medicaid reimbursement is laughable. Sorry no one who has ever paid a dental bill thinks, “oh my poor poor self-sacrificing dentist. I sure hope he can pay his house note this month”

    • Spenser Cammack

      July 1, 2012 at 10:06 am

      Wendi456

      I understand your frustration with dental fees. Dentistry is a significant investment. What frustrates me a provider is that the law in WA is absurd to cover Medicaid. We have patients of record that are on Medicaid and we gladly see them. I don’t ask for your sympathy, but the reimbursement doesn’t cover expenses, much less pay me anything. We do it because they have been patients, they are kids, and I can’t turn them away (ethically). This state will not allow me to take on a “small percentage” of new patients. Either I take everyone (honestly can’t afford to,cheaper to shut the doors) or I can add no one. I want to see and take on some level of constant new patients that are on medicaid, especially my existing patients that fall on hard times, but the state says they can sue me if I do that. To have any sort of profit margin seeing a large portion of Medicaid, it becomes a numbers game. You have to push them through quickly. That is the only way it is doable. This is not the care I am willing to provide. There has to be a better way.

  4. Dave Howard

    June 27, 2012 at 11:42 am

    You failed to investigate, the pervasive practice, how these Medicaid providers uses outside “marketers” to lure patients to these clinics. Basically, the marketers get money from clinics, then “bus” children to these clinics. In return, the marketers offer gift cards and pizza to these families. A major disadvantage for the honest and small offices.

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Editors' Pick

AMCA Breach: 20 Million Victims, 19 Class Actions

[bctt tweet=”AMCA previously reported that there were only 200,000 victims in the recent breach, but their partner labs said there were more than 20 million.” username=”Z6Mag”]

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AMCA previously reported that there were only 200,000 victims in the recent breach but the company, but their partner labs said there were more than 20 million.
AMCA previously reported that there were only 200,000 victims in the recent breach but the company, but their partner labs said there were more than 20 million. Photo: cbgrfx123 | Flickr | CC BY-SA 2.0

More than 20 million and not 200,000 have fallen victim to a massive data breach that has seen medical clients using the services of healthcare billing company, American Medical Collection Agency (AMCA), to pay for their laboratory tests in different blood testing labs across the U.S. were confirmed by the SEC filings of affected medical institutions amidst the earlier claims of AMCA that there were fewer victims.

The data breach was a result of a cyber attack that aims to phish for financial information from the website of the AMCA. The exposed data belongs to Americans who paid laboratory services at several clinical and blood testing labs and institutions and used the AMCA billing portal.

What happened in the AMCA breach?

Data that were stolen from the victims include their names, phone numbers, dates of birth, home addresses, social security numbers, credit card numbers, and other bank details. The said information was auctioned off by the hacker in several financial hacking forums.

According to DataBreaches.net, the organization who first reported about the incident, AMCA officials, following the notification of the breach confirmed that their system has been compromised and has remained undetected for more than eight months. AMCA corroborated that the breach took place between August 1, 2018, and March 30, 2019.

Notifications have been sent by several of AMCA’s corporate partners and clients to their customers following the disclosure of the security breach that has seen information from millions of Americans compromised.

Related: Hospitals Only Spend 5% Of Its Budget For Cybersecurity Amidst 82% Of Them Reporting To Have Been Attacked

The list of impacted testing laboratories includes Quest Diagnostics (11.9 million patients), LabCorp (7.7 million patients), BioReference Laboratories (Opko Health subsidiary, 422,600 patients), Carecentrix (500,000 patients), and Sunrise Laboratories (undisclosed number of patients).

However, neither the AMCA nor its five clients have yet to notify ALL impacted citizens by the breach making them vulnerable to a lot of cyber crimes and their financial data could be used by anyone who gets hold of the information against the persons of those who still don’t know that their financial information is floating around the internet.

The companies involved in the breach are facing several lawsuits

Appropriately, the lawsuit came into the direction of AMCA, Quest, and LabCorp regarding the incident. More than 11 class-suite actions have been filed against the three companies for their inability to protect consumer data. The 11 lawsuits were recorded at The United States Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) on June 3. Since then, eight more lawsuits were filed against the companies in federal courts from New Jersey, New York, and California.

According to litigation experts, “If many cases are filed in federal court, any of the lawyers on any of those cases can file a motion with the JPML [..] to centralize the various federal cases that have been filed by sending all of them to a single judge for coordinated pre-trial proceedings.”

“Healthcare companies are especially susceptible to data breaches not only because they aggregate a tremendous amount of important and sensitive data, but also because they tend to be less focused on cybersecurity protection than other industries,” said John Yanchunis of Morgan and Morgan, one of the firms who filed lawsuits against Quest Diagnostics.

“These companies, like Quest Diagnostics, know they are at an increased risk and yet have not taken the proper steps to protect their patients’ data. We will fight for justice on behalf of those impacted by this breach,” added Yanchunis.

Lawmakers are demanding an explanation

The U.S. government, led by attorneys general from Connecticut and Illinois has also opened an investigation on the matter. Furthermore, lawmakers and other politicians have sent letters to the responding companies to ask for an explanation of why an eight-month data breach remained undetected and to demand accountability from them.

In Washington, US Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) also sent a letter to Quest Laboratories demanding the company explain its vetting process for selecting AMCA as a billing vendor, and what requirements a third-party vendor has to pass. Democratic New Jersey Sens. Cory Booker and Bob Menendez also sent letters to AMCA, Quest, and LabCorp, seeking official answers on how a breach of this severity went undetected for eight months.

“The months-long leak leaves sensitive personal and financial information vulnerable in the hands of criminal enterprises. Moreover, such breaches force victims to contend with identity theft that may lead to irreparable harm to their credit reports and financial future,” said the letter sent by the NJ senators.

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Arts & Entertainment

‘The Hunger Games’ Is Launching A Prequel And A Possible Movie

[bctt tweet=”Suzanne Collins is releasing a prequel to The Hunger Games storyline and Lionsgate is already looking forward in turning it into a blockbuster movie” username=”Z6Mag”]

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Source: Scholastic

Almost fours years after the last The Hunger Games movie (The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part II) and almost nine years after the first book from the trilogy was released, Suzanne Collins is returning with the famed trilogy — but this time in a form of a prequel.

Scholastic, the publishing company that distributed Collins’ The Hunger Games trilogy, announced today that it is publishing a prequel novel to the series, currently untitled, which will hit shelves on May 19, 2020.

“Suzanne Collins is a master at combining brilliant storytelling, superb world-building, breathtaking suspense, and social commentary,” Scholastic Trade Publishing President Ellie Berger said in a statement. “We are absolutely thrilled — as both readers and publishers — to introduce the devoted fans of the series and a new audience to an entirely new perspective on this modern classic.”

Collins’ original Hunger Games trilogy—The Hunger GamesCatching Fire, and Mockingjay—altogether, sold more than 100 million copies and has been translated into more than 50 languages. Moreover, The Hunger Games books appeared on the New York Times bestseller list for more than 260 consecutive weeks (more than five straight years).

After writing the last installment in 2010, Collins teased in 2013 that she was working on a new series, but did not say whether it was related to The Hunger Games.

This time, the novel will be set in the world of Panem, 64 years before the events of the original Hunger Games trilogy—the morning where Katniss Everdeen volunteered as a tribute on the 74th Hunger Games. Presumably, Katniss Everdeen played by Jeniffer Lawrence will not be involved in the upcoming novel.

Based on the previous novels in the series, 74 years before the main novels, the 13 Districts of Panem already tried to initiate a rebellion against the Capital. In the aftermath of the failed attempt, 12 Districts remained to leave District 13 to rubbles. The Hunger Games was a result and served as a reminder that all the other Districts should obediently comply with the Capital’s rule.

The novel will take place 10 years after the first rebellion and will tell the story of Panem during the “Dark Days following a failed rebellion in Panem “With this book, I wanted to explore the state of nature, who we are, and what we perceive is required for our survival,” Collins told the Associated Press in the announcement. “The reconstruction period 10 years after the war, commonly referred to as the Dark Days — as the country of Panem struggles back to its feet — provides fertile ground for characters to grapple with these questions and thereby define their views of humanity.”

On other news, the Lionsgate film studio, who adapted The Hunger Games trilogy into movies, is already looking forward to the next addition to Collins’ franchise given that it received praise and public attention for producing them.

“As the proud home of the Hunger Games movies, we can hardly wait for Suzanne’s next book to be published,” said Joe Drake, chairman of the Lionsgate Motion Picture Group, in a recent statement to the Associated Press. “We’ve been communicating with her during the writing process and we look forward to continuing to work closely with her on the movie.”S

Lionsgate turned Collins’ Hunger Games novels into a series of four films, dividing the last novel, Hunger Games: Mockingjay, into a two-part finale. Over the course of the four movies, it earned almost $3 billion dollars an the worldwide box office with the last movie earning $653.4 million.

Collins helped with the movies as an executive producer and a co-screenwriter on the first 2012 movie but distanced herself after she finalized Mockingjay in 2010.

Lionsgate is also known to have produced Twilight, which is one of their platinum franchises along with Collins’ trilogy. The studio earlier licensed The Hunger Games to theme parks and live concert tours being built around the movie franchise.

Additionally, it starred Jenniffer Lawrence who played the main character as Katniss Everdeen in all of the four movies, which helped catapult her acting career in 2012.

Scholastic acquired world English rights to the prequel novel and it will publish in print, digital and audio formats in the US, Canada, the UK and Ireland, Australia, and New Zealand next year. The deal was negotiated by Rosemary Stimola of the Stimola Literary Studio for Suzanne Collins and David Levithan, VP, Publisher, and Editorial Director, for Scholastic.

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Editors' Pick

Global Ice Melting At Rates Faster Than Expected

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Photo by Sergey Kuznetsov on Unsplash

The global ice, or the size and number of glaciers located across cold spots around the world, is a clear indicator of the effects of global warming. With human’s excessive and consistent use of o-zone depleting resources such as fossil fuels — the rate of global ice is melting will only keep accelerating.

The National Snow and Ice Data Center reported that based on data they have gathered since the1900s, glaciers around the globe are shrinking and melting at an alarming rate.

Arctic sea ice has been in constant general low over the years following the increasing trend of greenhouse gas. Additionally, as the frozen ground across the Arctic melts, it releases a massive amount of methane, a potent greenhouse gas. Scientists say that this effect could make global ice melt accelerate even faster.

A separate study found that parts of the Canadian Arctic are experiencing a rate of permafrost thaw six times the long-term average.

Meanwhile, melted ice is especially notable both in and around Greenland — home to the second largest ice sheet on the planet.

“Communities in #Greenland rely on the sea ice for transport, hunting, and fishing. Extreme events, here flooding of the ice by abrupt onset of surface melt call for increased predictive capacity in the Arctic,” Steffen Olsen, a climate researcher at the Danish Meteorological Institute said in a tweet.

Olsen was referring to Greenland losing 2 billion metric tons of ice. “The high melt is unusual so early in the season but not unprecedented,” Greenland Ice said in a tweet.

Experts are calling the lost ice “not normal” considering that it equates to almost half of Greenland. Roughly 45 percent of the ice sheet surface has been melting. Usually, less than 10 percent of the ice sheet surface is melting at this time of year. According to data from the National Snow and Ice Data Center, Wednesday set a daily record for the widest melt area on that date, with 275,000 square miles.

“I’m losing the ability to communicate the magnitude [of change],” Jeremy Mathis, a longtime Arctic researcher and a current board director at the National Academies of Sciences told Mashable. “I’m running out of adjectives to describe the scope of change we’re seeing.”

On other parts of the globe, a city in western Alaska is experiencing drastic changes to its land formations as the state’s ice and permafrost are starting to thaw away.

“Springtime in Alaska isn’t what it used to be. This is the 3rd time past 21 years we can say” warmest spring of record.” 1998 was the warmest to date, exceeded in 2016 and now 2016 exceeded in 2019. Trend +4.0F (+2.2C) since the 1970s.” Rick Thoman said in a tweet.

The continued ice and permafrost melting in Iceland are causing significant damages in terms of requiring towns and villages like Newtok in western Alaska to relocate to avoid dangers.

“It’s a real challenge because in the US there isn’t the precedence to deal with this and there isn’t the political framework to deal with it either,” said Susan Natali, a scientist and Arctic expert at the Woods Hole Research Center in Massachusetts. “The numbers needing relocation will grow, the costs are going up and people’s lives and cultural practices will be impacted.

“Every year there’s a new temperature record, it’s getting worse and worse and you feel like a broken record saying it. This should be the number one urgent conversation happening right now because it’s not just going to be Alaska, it’s going to be other communities all over the US,” Natali added.

The problem does not only persist in Greenland, the Arctic or Alaska. Global ice is melting all across the globe. “The famed snows of Kilimanjaro have melted more than 80 percent since 1912. Glaciers in the Garhwal Himalaya in India are retreating so fast that researchers believe that most central and eastern Himalayan glaciers could virtually disappear by 2035 […] From the Arctic to Peru, from Switzerland to the equatorial glaciers of Man Jaya in Indonesia, massive ice fields, monstrous glaciers, and sea ice are disappearing, fast,” the National Geographic reported.

This week, the Pope has talked to oil executives in the Vatican to find solutions in the growing problem of global warming. He called for a “radical energy transition” from conventional fossil fuels and develop greener energy alternatives.

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