Coming into Columbia University as a pre-med first-year student, I expected to be studying anatomy, biology, psychology, and many other subjects. I would have never thought that I would encounter gender and sexuality studies. Interestingly, this led to my discovery of a very pressing issue that not only affects the transgender community, but potentially many other people who rely on health insurance, like me. In recent years, health insurances have ...

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A successful transition from the Trump administration will be essential as America braces itself for record-breaking hospitalizations and mortality due to SARS-CoV-2. Beyond the COVID-19 Task Force of the Biden Administration, new Department of Homeland Security (DHS) leadership will also play a vital role in assuring our health care workforce's capacity. Recently, the Biden Administration announced Alejandro Mayorkas as his pick to lead ...

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During COVID-19, I have developed a special dislike for jazz. The dreaded phone call hold—upbeat music paired with frequent interruptions by a robotic voice assuring me that someone will be with me shortly—has become an all-too-familiar sound. Though customer service lines have experienced increasing automation levels for several decades, their inefficiencies have been set against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. Following the pandemic’s beginning in the U.S. ...

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Primary care is in trouble again. Last summer, as government assistance programs expired or wound down, primary care practices across the country were struggling to stay afloat because of lost business. By October, patient visits had rebounded in most specialties. But by mid-November, as COVID-19 surged everywhere, primary care physicians reported that they faced critical staffing shortages and limited resources,
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Starting on January 1, 2021, clinicians across the country can expect new Medicare rules on billing, documentation, and payment for evaluation and management (E/M) services -- or common office/outpatient visits – to go into effect. These historic changes will give clinicians more flexibility in how they document visits in their patients’ medical record, reduce their paperwork burden and give them more time to spend with patients. With over 750,000 clinicians ...

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Those of us in health care understand that the pandemic represents just one more example of the disproportionately negative impact of health issues on people of color.  As stated in a 2017 National Institutes of Health report, “For racial and ethnic minorities in the United States, health disparities take on many forms, including higher rates of chronic disease and premature death compared to the rates among ...

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“There are only two groups of people on this earth who know when and where they will die,” Steve disclosed to me, peering carefully over the rims of his glasses. “They’re the people in hospitals and people with life in prison.” The discomfort of his words slowly settled in the silence between us. Before me was a man serving two consecutive life sentences in prison, each eye an amphitheater of ...

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In November, President-elect Joseph Biden announced a panel of thirteen health experts as part of his Transition COVID-19 Advisory Board. The board boasts of a distinguished cohort of public health officials, scientists, and physicians. However, in reading through the board’s members' accomplished biographies, one profession seems conspicuously absent: nurses. Angela Phung is a family nurse practitioner in Washington state who grew up in Snohomish County, an area north of Seattle with ...

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I recently experienced, up close and personal, yet another injury to our doctors and our health care system. I have an undiagnosed, undiagnosable, autoimmune disease. I am rarely, if ever, without any physical symptoms. I have learned about them and how to manage them. Annoying? Sometimes. But no longer frightening, once my doctors and I understand and incorporate them into my health care plan. A few weekends ago, I suddenly had a ...

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As a medical and public health student quarantined at home with two physician parents and a new college graduate sibling, we can speak about the COVID-19 pandemic research, guidelines, and epidemiology around the dinner with relative ease. Everyone in my immediate family has experience with interpreting research and data; in fact, my sister’s first scientific paper was published in a journal a few months ago. In this way, because of ...

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