health

Monday, July 3, 2017 at 4:51 pm
posted by Julia Ferrini in Wyoming County, events, Business, Attica, health.

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When Ryan LaVarnway was a child, 2 Market St., Attica, was Jim’s Deli and a general store. On Friday the Wyoming County Chamber of Commerce welcomed LaVarnway, owner of Attica Pharmacy, to the address with a ribbon-cutting ceremony.

Local dignitaries, family and friends gathered at the corner of Market and Main streets to celebrate the official opening of Attica’s new independent pharmacy. The last time residents of the village and surrounding town had the option of pharmacies was in 1996 when Burling Drug closed its doors. 

“I had worked for Walgreens for 15 years and decided I didn’t want to be a staff pharmacist,” LaVarnway said. “I didn’t want to have to uproot my family to move up the corporate ladder.”

So, about four years ago he opened up his first pharmacy in Hamburg – a purchase he made from David Brooks. 

“Before I bought Brooks’ I thought about opening the pharmacy here, in this same building I’m in now, but it wasn’t doable at the time. But the real cool coincidence was in buying the store in Hamburg, the Brooks family used to live in this area.” 

The brick building that sits kitty-corner from the pharmacy was called the Duoform Company – a manufacturer of home remedies and medicines during the 1800s. David’s grandfather, Sewell Brooks, built the building. David’s father, Chester, was a pharmacist at a shop in the village. Sometime during the 1940s Chester moved his family to Hamburg to open up his own store – Brooks Pharmacy.

During the 1970s, David had taken over the pharmacy and in 2013 sold it to LaVarnway. While he still owns the shop in Hamburg, a couple of years ago he felt he could finally take the leap of bringing an independent pharmacy back to Attica. But he had a lot of work to accomplish first. 

“It’s totally different starting from new. There is a lot more involved in the process of starting a business from scratch.”

Licensing had to be obtained, a computer system needed to be installed and the building itself needed a bit of work.

“The building was a bank in the '60s and then sold to a store owner who had moved the door a few feet to the right, more in the center of the space. I wanted to make the front look like the old bank building.”

He not only renovated the interior, he restored the entrance back to its original facade – projects that were almost a year in the making. He also retained all the original woodwork and even repurposed an old door that he found in the basement that was labeled for the employee lunch room.

“This is my hometown. I saw a big need. The community hadn’t had a choice in pharmacies for 20-plus years. It’s a great community to open up in. To have done it on my own is rewarding, but the best part is seeing the people come in and the positive response of the customers.”

Attica Pharmacy leans toward a more traditional pharmacy in the sense that it sells prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications and medical equipment. The shop has five employees: three pharmacists, of which LaVarnway is one, and a couple of part-time employees. 

The store is open from 9 a.m.  to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturdays. For information call (585) 591-1111.

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Thursday, June 29, 2017 at 4:55 pm
posted by Julia Ferrini in Wyoming County, health, government, announcements.

Press release:

Congressmen Chris Collins (NY-27) and Bill Pascrell (NJ-09) authored a bill which would require the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) to develop and maintain a registry to collect data regarding the incidence of cancer in firefighters. Today, the bill advanced through the Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee. The legislation would take the first step toward addressing the detrimental health effects firefighters may experience due to smoke inhalation and other harmful substances.

“This is an important piece of legislation that truly can save lives,” Collins said. “This database will assist the CDC with research, and the more information they have the better when it comes to developing new protocols and safeguards for these brave men and women.”

There was a 2015 study by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health that found that in the U.S. firefighters had a greater number of cancer diagnoses and cancer-related deaths. Unfortunately, this study was limited in scope by a small sample size, yet the proposed legislation would establish and improve collection infrastructure and activities to collect a greater abundance of data.

The legislation will advance to the full Energy and Commerce Committee, and if reported favorably can advance to the House floor.

For more information on H.R. 931, Firefighter Cancer Registry Act, click here.

Thursday, June 8, 2017 at 12:09 pm
posted by Julia Ferrini in Wyoming County, health, news, announcements.

Press release:

Congressman Chris Collins (NY-27) recently reacted to news of anticipated steep increases in the price of BlueCross BlueShield plans available to New Yorkers through the New York State Insurance Marketplace.

“Not only has Obamacare been a failure for most of America, it is now failing the people of Western New York by making basic healthcare completely unaffordable and inaccessible,” Collins said. “I am absolutely appalled a BlueCross BlueShield plan in Western New York would increase by almost 50 percent in the marketplace.”

BlueCross BlueShield pointed to the failed Obamacare policies that have cost insurance companies millions of dollars, driving up costs for Americans. Regulations put in place under Obamacare have made the insurance marketplace less competitive, thus increasing costs for consumers.

While President Obama promised that premiums under his plan would decrease during these last few years, a May 23 report from the Department of Health and Human Services showed that Obamacare increased premiums across the country by 105 percent between 2013 and 2017.

“Obamacare’s chief cheerleader in our state, Governor Andrew Cuomo, owes our community an apology. Cuomo is part and parcel to (former President Barak) Obama’s promises that ‘you can keep your plan’ and premiums will be lower. Those have turned out to be lies.”

Collins said there was help on the way. The American Health Care Act (AHCA), which passed the House of Representatives on May 4, repeals and replaces Obamacare and removes more than $800 billion in onerous taxes and fees that have been stifling the economy and eliminating job growth.

“I am working with my colleagues in Congress to implement policies that allow the people of Western New York the opportunity to make their own choice when it comes to healthcare and provide lower premiums. Americans deserve to be able to pick which plan works best for their family, and I’m urging the senate to take up the American Health Care Act so we can get ourselves out of this mess.”

 The American Health Care Act:

    • Eliminates the individual and employer mandate;

    • For Western New Yorkers, the bill also includes the largest property tax reduction ever to be enacted. The legislation includes an amendment Collins introduced that would bar federal reimbursements for New York State Medicaid funds raised from local governments;

    • Guarantees protections for individuals with pre-existing conditions by prohibiting insurance companies from denying coverage on the basis of a pre-existing condition, banning insurers from rescinding coverage based on a pre-existing condition, and preventing insurers from raising premiums on individuals with pre-existing conditions who maintain continuous coverage. Additionally, New York state law fully protects individuals with pre-existing conditions;

    •  Modernizes and strengthens Medicaid by implementing a per capita allotment which provides more flexibility for states;

    • Provides Americans access to affordable care that works for their needs by delivering monthly tax credits of $2,000-$14,000 a year, which individuals and families can use to purchase private insurance of their choice; and

    • A provision within the American Health Care Act (AHCA), The Patient and State Stability Fund, would provide solutions to help lower costs and repair insurance markets damaged by Obamacare.

The American Health Care Act is with the Senate where it will need to be approved before heading to President Donald Trump’s desk to be signed into law.

Friday, May 26, 2017 at 5:48 pm
posted by Julia Ferrini in Wyoming County, events, health, Varysburg, Warsaw, Silver Springs.

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As Mental Health Awareness month comes to a close, the Wyoming County Mental Health Department recently hosted a recognition breakfast at Byrncliff Resort & Conference Center, Varysburg. 

Awards were given out for Outstanding Business of the Year – Silver Lake Marina, Outstanding Community Member – Village of Warsaw Police Chief Pete Hoffmeister, Outstanding Community Organization – Restore Sexual Assault Services, and a Special Recognition Award was presented to former Mental Health Department Director of Community Services Nancy Balbick.

Silver Lake Marine, 4213 W. Lake Road, Silver Springs, was recognized for offering an opportunity to Joe Jackson. Silver Lake Marine President Quinn Bellamy was able to customize the job for Jackson to be able to help him be gainfully employed.

“My first memory with Joe was at our wedding reception in the showroom 14 years ago,” Bellamy said. “At one point in the reception, after the standard dances, a song came on that I would be prone to dance to. So I was dancing alone at the reception, when lo and behold, cutting the rug with me was Joe Jackson. Now we are together in that same showroom working side by side.”

Hoffmeister was nominated for his integrity. 

“We found in this man a place of respect, heart, and help,” Joann Robb said. “He is caring, compassionate, helpful, approachable, and kind-hearted. He can be trusted. We can call upon him for help with the assurance that help will be provided.”

“I surround myself with people who help and they make me look good,” Hoffmeister said. “I was born and raised in Warsaw and will serve the community until the day I retire.”

Restore Sexual Assault Services, specifically Outreach & Education Specialist Lauren Berger, was recognized for the protection and counseling of the most vulnerable in the community and collaborative efforts with assisting organizations.

“While Lauren is always hanging around our meetings, what I remember the most about her was at the 10th anniversary of the Suicide Prevention Walk,” Balbick said. “At the balloon launch, Lauren wrote and spoke a meditation that was important and needed to be heard by the people who were there. Restore is a better organization with her.”

Balbick received special recognition for her impact on thousands of lives throughout her career.

“In the same paper that headlined John F. Kennedy’s assassination in 1963, there was an article written on mental health in which those same words could have been written today,” Gordon Lew said. “We must continue to bring awareness and services to those afflicted with mental health issues – and Nancy does just that."

Balbick began her career in the Foster Care field, and then the Child Protective Services Unit, before moving on to the Genesee County Mental Health Department. It was there that she found her passion, got her degree, and shortly thereafter, began her work with the Wyoming County Mental Health Department.

Although she has worked for the department for a dozen or more years, she recently retired from her county position to open a private practice in Warsaw.

In addition to the award presentations, guest speaker Megan Stapley, of Suburban Adult Services Inc. (SASI), spoke about High Hurdles Therapeutic Horseback Riding Program. The program, developed in 1997, is designed to provide a therapeutic riding experience for children with developmental disabilities. 

High Hurdles currently serves riders from 3 to 83 years old. The program helps clients feel more in tune with themselves by working toward a goal without the feeling of working, program officials say.

“There was a boy who wouldn’t speak,” Stapley said. “He would use noise, but the sound never meant the same thing twice. With horse therapy, he would mimic the sounds used to train the horses. He started using the ‘whoa’ sound to get the horse to stop or the ‘click’ sound to get the horse to trot. He started using vocalization as a means to get the animal to do something.”

Through the activity on a horse, instructors say it is more the horse teaching the rider than the counselor teaching them. According to Stapley, some of the horses even choose their own riders.

“Some of them (horses) do better with certain conditions or choose riders that have certain afflictions.”

For more information about High Hurdles click here.

For more information about the Mental Health Department click here, or call (585) 786-8871. 

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Friday, May 26, 2017 at 1:04 pm
posted by Julia Ferrini in Wyoming County, events, health, news, Business, Perry.

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Serving those with disabilities just got a bit easier for Independent Living of the Genesee Region. The organization recently opened a satellite office at 6470 Route 20A (in the Community Action building), Perry. To celebrate its opening, a ribbon cutting and open house was held at the new office.

The organization got its start in Batavia in 2010. Although the Batavia office has served residents with disabilities in Wyoming, Genesee and Orleans counties, the Warsaw office will make getting services more convenient to those in Wyoming County.

“It’s important to have a presence here because going to Batavia was inconvenient to some of our clients,” said Independent Living Director Rae Frank. “It was time to expand into other communities.”

According to its website, the organization is “designed by people with disabilities for people with disabilities.” Staff help their clients become advocates for themselves, while also being advocates for change in the community. 

Independent Living specialists can assist those with disabilities with Social Security, housing, employment, and other areas to improve the quality of their lives. Additionally, a facilitated enroller is available to help with the Medicaid application. 

The office is open from 12:30 to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday.

For more information visit http://ilgr.org/ or call (585) 969-4258. 

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Monday, May 8, 2017 at 10:00 am
posted by Julia Ferrini in Wyoming County, news, government, health, announcements.

Press release:

The Senate recently passed a package of bipartisan bills aimed at encouraging more New Yorkers to become organ and tissue donors and protecting the rights of those who do. The bills enhance public awareness, remove bureaucratic obstacles and will increase the number of residents who sign up to help save lives through organ, tissue, bone marrow, and blood donation.

“Organ and tissue transplants save lives, but too few New Yorkers are enrolled in the Donate Life program,” said Sen. Patrick M. Gallivan (R-C-I, Elma). “New York can and must do better. This legislation will help raise awareness of the importance of organ and tissue donation, provide support for those who participate and make it easier for residents to get involved in this lifesaving effort.”

Currently, only 27 percent of potential New Yorkers are enrolled in the New York State Donate Life Registry – the lowest rate in the country. Additionally, nearly 10,000 people are waiting for organ transplants in New York – the third highest rate in the country.

The Senate continues to advocate for increasing resources and public awareness on the importance of organ and tissue donation through legislation and funding, officials say. This year’s enacted state budget included $1.3 million as part of the Senate’s ongoing commitment to help New Yorkers’ need of lifesaving transplants.

The two bills, cosponsored by Gallivan, provide a wide variety of protections and support for prospective organ donors. The measures would bolster the amount of lifesaving organ and tissue and donations and shield donors in New York by: 

    • Enacting the “Living Donor Protection Act of 2017” to prevent discrimination against living organ or tissue donors who have or are applying for life, accident, health, or long-term care insurance; designating transplantation preparation and recovery related to donation as “serious health conditions” covered by paid family leave; and directing the Commissioner of Health, in cooperation with the transplant council and other interested parties to develop and distribute information on live organ donation (S2496); and

    • Establishing a one-time personal income tax credit for up to $10,000 for expenses related to a taxpayer donating his or her organs for transplantation. The bill also repeals the personal income tax modification, reducing federal adjusted income, for such expanses (S2497).

To further increase public awareness of organ and tissue donation, especially among youth, a bill (S5283B) cosponsored by Gallivan would allow SUNY, CUNY, and library card applicants to register as an organ donor. The bill would expand Lauren’s Law, which changed DMV forms to require applicants to choose “yes” or “skip” the question about becoming a donor.

The Senate also passed legislation (S2162A) to help medical transport teams quickly operate within their necessary and sensitive periods. The bill would add human organ delivery vehicles to the list of authorized emergency vehicles in the state.

Additionally, the Senate passed a bill (S474B) that would give the option to applicants for the practice of a profession or occupation, state income tax filers, and applicants registering motor vehicles to register in the Donate Life Registry for organ, eye, and tissue donation.

The Senate also passed a measure (S1475) that would allow a taxpayer or the spouse of a taxpayer to deduct costs related to the taxpayer’s organ donation, and include childcare costs within such allowable costs.

The bills will be sent to the Assembly.

Additionally, another bill (S2495) cosponsored by Gallivan passed both houses this year. The legislation allows the state's Transplant Council to expand its scope. It aims to help New York organ donation efforts by making annual recommendations to the Commissioner of Health on organ donation, procurement organizations, and organ banks and storage.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017 at 7:52 pm
posted by Julia Ferrini in Wyoming County, news, Business, Warsaw, health.

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Hypno-psychotherapist Daniel Nightingale, who earned a doctorate in psychotherapy in the United Kingdom, can’t control a person’s mind through hypnosis. He can’t make a person cluck like a chicken. As a matter of fact, he can’t make you do anything you don’t want to do, because in clinical hypnosis, the patient is always in control.

Nightingale, and his wife Kathleen, recently opened Nightingale Hypnosis at 4 W. Buffalo St., Warsaw. While Kathleen is a native Western New Yorker, Daniel’s homeland is England. The couple moved to Wyoming County in September after a four-year stint in Arizona. Daniel first opened his practice in Orchard Park, but the long trek from their home in Portageville during the Western New York winter prompted the move closer.

Although both use hypnosis to help heal a multitude of symptoms – it will also help with smoking cessation and weight loss – Daniel’s speciality is in dementia.

“My drive here is to cut the risk of dementia,” he said, “and smokers have got three times the risk of getting dementia than anyone else.”

Daniel trained for four years in the U.K. in hypno-psychology. However, he said one really doesn’t start learning until you begin to gain experience.

“I qualified in practice in 2002 and was U.K.’s first clinical dementia specialist. While I was there I was involved in its National Dementia Strategy and I was responsible for the dementia care for 800 care homes in England, Scotland, Northern Ireland, and Wales.”

When he first qualified, he worked in forensic medicine with offenders – serial killers, rapists and the like – in the U.K.. During that time, he was asked to cover geriatrics for six months. At first, he didn’t want the position, however, he said he was told he was going to be covering geriatrics.

“I didn’t want to do it at first, but what happened was I discovered how awful the care was for the elderly and people with dementia. After the six months were up, I was to go back to that really ‘sexy’ area of forensic medicine. However, I said no. I decided to retrain and specialize in dementia and start changing things.”

U.K.’s National Dementia Strategy is a nationwide effort to educate citizens on dementia and improve public spaces for those living with dementia. The strategy encompasses a community effort from a variety of organizations and the commitment of its residents. The effort extends from education to details like sign colors. Nightingale says people with dementia tend to lose the ability to see colors at the low end of the spectrum.

He also likens the treating of dementia with the fire triangle. Whereas fuel, oxygen and heat propel a fire, with dementia, anxiety and fear fuel memory loss.

“Just think about it. Every morning you wake up and look in the mirror and the fact you’re looking at is a face you don’t recognize anymore. The house that you live in, the one you’ve live in for 40 years and you’ve been married to the same person for 40 years, and all of the sudden it’s like ‘Who the hell are you?' and 'What is this stuff?’

“Every day I see it perpetuate. You’re in this constant state of fear and anxiety and throughout the course of the day this anxiety builds up and builds up. So, you’re symptoms of not being able to remember things or not being able to do something deteriorates throughout the day.”

Nightingale says hypnotherapy alleviates those symptoms. It relieves that anxiety so the person becomes more alive and empowered to start doing things again. Therefore, the anxiety and fear are what needs to be dealt with when working with people with dementia. While hypnotherapy is not a cure-all for the disease, it has been shown to slow down its progress and there are tools that can reverse some of the symptoms.

“Coconut oil has been shown to reverse some symptoms and repetitive muscular activity exercises, a form of Montessori therapy, is used to lay down new neuron pathways in the brain so the person relearns some of the skills they have lost.”

One of the research projects Nightingale was involved with was in a nursing home where none of the patients were able to feed themselves. About 45 minutes before the meal, repetitive muscular activity exercises were performed. On day four and day five and day six, the researchers noticed some of the patients started eating by themselves again.

“What you’ve done, because of the activity, you’ve laid down new neuron pathways in the brain. We also know the hippocampus – memory center of the brain – from the around the age of 40 shrinks every year. Walking and adult coloring stops that because people are using, and concentrating on using, their brain. There is so much people don’t know about dementia. I want to make Warsaw a dementia-friendly town.”

Hypnosis is a tool quite often used in forensic medicine to tap into issues that are deep-rooted at an emotional level. And while hypnosis is not meditation, it is a deep-seated state of relaxation.

“There are similarities with meditation as far as the state of relaxation is concerned and we take you to wherever your special place is – whether it’s in a forest, on a beach, a room, or on a ship or wherever that may be – and that’s where we start doing the work.”

He likened the deep state of relaxation to opening the door between the conscious and the subconscious mind.

“It’s kind of like a sliding glass door and you have to open that door to get into your subconscious mind. But always sitting on top of that door is what we call the critical factor – a hidden observer – so that if I were to take you to a deep state of relaxation and I were to say to you ‘What’s your bank account number?’ or ‘What is your PIN number to your credit card?’ The critical factor says ‘This is wrong’ and you come out of it.”

He says it’s the brain’s safety mechanism and that is why clinical hypnosis is safe. Not only can Nightingale not make you do anything you don’t want to, the brain also resists suggestibility. 

“I may get you raise your hand or touch your nose, but you know you are doing it. It’s a very safe form of treatment. In England we use it a lot. Every psychiatrist is trained to use it. I find that that’s not the case here in the U.S.”

Because the U.K. has socialized medicine, Nightingale says physicians have to be careful about the cost of treatments. The first line of defense for many illnesses is hypnotherapy – depression is first treated with six vouchers to go to the gym once a week, not an antidepressant. There are many illnesses where the first-line treatment is not pharmacological.

If the hypnosis is done correctly, the patient should be able to float in and out of consciousness and at any time be able to get up and walk out the door.

“When we work with smokers, we do put a suggestion in the subconscious mind. In big, bold, red letters we put the word ‘stop.’ When you get the urge to smoke, this word will flash in your mind and as soon as that word flashes into your mind, the craving will go away. There is only 10 percent that you think, feel, see, and do at the conscious level, 90 percent is done at the subconscious level – Kathleen would say 95 percent.”

When working with someone with a profound psychological problem, they may have been experiencing some issues but not know why. Hypnotherapy opens the subconscious mind and brings forward the negative experiences which have manifested into daily complications for the patient. Yet, even with hypnosis the subconscious mind will only bring forward what the person is ready to handle, but this type of therapy can help the client begin to recognize where the issues lie and then begin to work through it.

What hypnotherapy does is treat the issue quickly and for the long term with no side effects.

“Well, there is one. If you come out of hypnosis too quickly, you may experience a bit of dizziness but it goes away quickly.”

Like any kind of therapy, the patient has to find some inner strength to get through the underlying reasons for the feelings. Nightingale can get a person to a certain place where they actually have to deal with the issue. That’s the most difficult part. Some people just can’t deal with the issue and stop therapy. It’s a typical thing to happen, which is why he also uses cognitive behavior therapy, reiki, and a dementia risk assessment as a part of treatment.

Although his Warsaw office recently opened, he is already working with the Office for the Aging, teamed up with the Alzheimer’s Caregivers Partnership, and has joined the Wyoming County Chamber of Commerce.

For more information about Nightingale Hypnosis visit docdan.us, email him at info@docdan.us or call (585) 416-2032.

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Thursday, April 20, 2017 at 3:18 pm
posted by Julia Ferrini in Wyoming County, announcements, health, Warsaw.

Press release:

Four Wyoming County nonprofit organizations in the health services sector were recently awarded a total of just over $250,000 in funding from the William F. Thiel Fund for the 2017 grant cycle. The Thiel Fund grant process prioritizes applications for programs strategically identified in the Wyoming County Health Needs Assessment

Awardees include:

    • Wyoming Community Hospital Foundation -- $107,885;

    • Western New York Rural Area Health Education Center Inc. -- $55,338;

    • Geneseo Migrant Center -- $38,000; and

    • Spectrum Human Services -- $49,000.

Since the Community Foundation For Greater Buffalo originally commissioned the Assessment in 2006, the Thiel Fund has distributed more than $2.5 million in grants to healthcare organizations that serve Wyoming County residents. The Community Foundation updated the Assessment in 2012 and the most recent outcomes indicate that one in three Wyoming County residents have benefited from Thiel funding.

William F. Thiel was a longtime philanthropist in the Wyoming County area. In 1974, he left a significant legacy to the residents of the county through the creation of the William F. Thiel Trust at the Community Foundation. Today, Thiel’s generosity continues to provide financial supports to Wyoming County Community Hospital and other health-related community organizations throughout the county.

The William F. Thiel grants process opens annually in mid-November. For more information on the granting process, visit www.cfgb.org/thiel.

Monday, March 27, 2017 at 4:46 pm
posted by Julia Ferrini in Wyoming County, government, news, health.

This information was provided by the offices of Congressman Chris Collins'and Assemblyman David DiPietro:

Wyoming County has the lowest Medicaid liability in Western New York for fiscal year 2016 – 25.7 percent ($5,321,747) of the property tax levy. Erie County – 82.8 percent ($203,699,556) of the property tax levy – has the highest liability. 

The Collins-Faso amendment would save county governments billions of dollars, Congressman Chris Collins says.

Currently, New York State raises $7 billion from counties to fund its $27 billion Medicaid liability. Of that, $2.3 billion comes from outside of New York City, and would be subject to the amendment. In total, New York spends $60 billion per year on Medicaid. This amount of spending is second in the nation only to California, which is home to almost twice as many people as New York.

The following outlines the FY16 Medicaid liability for NY-27 counties:

    • Niagara: $44,152,519 (59.0% of the property tax levy)

    • Orleans: $8,074,102 (49.8% of the property tax levy)

    • Livingston: $9,064,064 (34.1% of the property tax levy)

    • Ontario: $16,033,295 (30.2% of the property tax levy)

    • Monroe: $175,851,749 (48.6% of the property tax levy)

    • Genesee: $9,403,509 (35% of the property tax levy)

    • NYS Total: $2.3 billion (44.3% of the county property tax levy)

"Governor (Andrew) Cuomo and his sidekick are using doomsday predictions to scare everyday New Yorkers into allowing Albany to continue taxing them to death,” Congressman Chris Collins said. “It's absolutely disgusting the governor would threaten the middle class with a tax increase, while holding a $14 billion taxpayer funded slush fund in his back pocket. As I have said before, if this governor can't find 1.5 percent to save in his budget, I am more than willing to find it for him."

New York spends 44 percent more per Medicaid beneficiary than the national average ($10,426 vs. $7,236), second only to Massachusetts in highest spending per full beneficiary in the nation. Additionally, while the state is home to only 6.5 percent of the national population, it accounts for 11 percent of total Medicaid spending. By passing Medicaid costs onto counties, New York State is not realizing the financial impact of its out-of-control Medicaid policy, causing more spending on the program. 

Collins says, the difference between the governor's proposal and the one introduced by him is that instead of saving hardworking taxpayer money, Cuomo's sole intention in forcing New York City to foot the bill to fund the Medicaid program was to “increase the size of his taxpayer funded slush fund.”

“For this governor to threaten to raise taxes, in the highest-taxed state in the nation, with the biggest burden on small businesses, with families fleeing for greener pastures, is absurd,” Assemblyman David DiPietro said. “We’re about to pass a budget somewhere north of $150 billion. He can’t find money for Medicaid in $150 billion because he simply doesn’t want to. Threatening the taxpayers over an issue he controls to get the attention of Washington is sad, and we deserve better.”  

DiPietro represents the 147th Assembly District, which covers all of Wyoming County and the southern portion of Erie County.

For more information visit: Medicaid Fact Sheet or NYS Medicaid Costs by County

Thursday, March 23, 2017 at 8:21 pm
posted by Julia Ferrini in Wyoming County, health, events, Perry, organ donation.

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Ed Draves had called his wife one day and asked her if he could donate one of his kidneys – thinking he was joking, she promptly replied “yes.”

The following day, Draves asked the same thing of his boss, he did, after all have to find out if his boss would agree to the time off. Again, the question was thought of as a joke and his boss replied “yes.”

“On a trip to Mexico, one of the guys there, Brother Joe, had said, ‘If you really want to pray a great prayer…' ” said Draves during a presentation on live organ donation at the Perry Rotary March meeting.

“Gary had kidney failure and was looking for an organ donor. I felt I had to do something about it. So I thought of Brother Joe’s words…’If you really want to pray a great prayer…’ So I prayed a great prayer and went and got a blood test to see if I could be a match with Gary.”

Just two years ago, Draves donated one of his kidneys to a "brother" in need.

He first found out about Gary through an “open letter” in The Masonic News, a newsletter for the Masonic Lodge Draves belongs to. 

Gary Garippo was suffering from a form of noncancerous kidney disease and was in need of a transplant. After Draves read the letter, he went to get the initial blood test to see if he was a match. 

Draves is a member of Western Star Lodge No 1185 and is on the Grand Lodge of Free And Accepted Masons of New York Blood and Organ Donor committee, partnering with Unyts. 

According to its website, Unyts is a “donor center organ, tissue, eye and blood donation service in the Western New York community." Its vision is to “advance the dynamic Donate Life” message.

Draves ended up being the second-best match for Gary. Another Western New Yorker was the best match. However, as he put it, he did “pray a great prayer.” 

“The woman who was the first match for Gary ended up having to back out. During the testing, it was found that she was prone to kidney stones. I got a call and was asked if I was still willing to donate.”

Draves said yes and soon began a battery of health exams – he had to lose a few pounds – and testing – blood tests, health tests, stress tests, and psychological testing.

“They had to ensure that I would have no regrets if the recipient ended up being a ‘jerk.’ They also had to talk with my wife and daughter to make sure they were supportive of the decision.”

According to United Network for Organ Sharing, in 2015, close to 31,000 organ transplants took place nationally. Approximately 81 percent (24,982) of the transplants involved organs from deceased donors, who can donate multiple organs. The remaining 19 percent (5,986) were made possible by living donors.

However, at one point in the testing, doctors were unsure if Draves was really healthy enough to withstand the surgery.

“Come to find out, I have a heart issue – prolapse mitral valve. Basically, I have a leaky heart.”

While his condition isn’t serious now, annual exams allow the doctors to monitor it. If at any time they notice a change, surgery can be performed before a life-threatening condition arises. However, Draves decided to get a second opinion. And while his condition was confirmed by a cardiologist, he also cleared him for live organ donation.

“I passed all the tests and surgery was scheduled. I went in on a Friday. By Saturday the nurses had me up walking around. By Saturday afternoon I wanted to go home. On Sunday, I went home.

“On Monday, I went with my wife to go get her glasses and I wanted to mall walk, so we did, and then we went to Denny’s for a ‘Grand Slam.' I didn’t take any of the prescribed pain medication, I took Tylenol instead.”

In the United States, Draves says 118,000 people are in need of an organ transplant, of those people, 22 die everyday because there is no organ for them.

“During the time we have been here, one hour and 15 minutes, someone has died.”

And the irony is, prior to Gary’s open letter and Draves's subsequent donation, Draves was not even registered as an organ donor.

As he puts it, organ donating “saves lives and leave a legacy.”

Draves and his wife live in Orchard Park with their two children. A wine manager with Premier Wine & Spirit in Orchard Park, he is also a volunteer with Unyts, Shriners, Masons, Grand Lodge Youth Committee, Zuleika Grotto (which raises money for dentistry for disabled kids), Windom Elementary Shared Decision Committee, and he's a martial arts instructor.

For more information on becoming an organ donor visit http://www.unyts.org/

Wednesday, March 15, 2017 at 6:30 pm
posted by Julia Ferrini in Wyoming County, announcements, health, Business, WCCH, ECMC, Warsaw.

Wyoming County Community Health System (WCCH) and Erie County Medical Center Corporation (ECMC) have signed an administrative services agreement to strengthen and reposition WCCH for the future. On March 14, the Wyoming County Board of Supervisors accepted the recommendation of WCCH’s Board of Managers and authorized WCCH Chief Executive Officer Donald Eichenauer to sign the agreement.

As WCCH has expanded its services, it has developed relationships with providers from the Buffalo area. Many of those providers are affiliated with ECMC and/or Kaleida Health. These include Dr. Lindsey Clark, Dr. John Karpie and Dr. Paul Mason, all of who provide orthopedic services at WCCH; and Western New York Urology Associates, a Kaleida Heath entity. Clark is a provider through UBMD Physicians Group. Karpie and Mason are providers with Buffalo Orthopedics Group. Additionally, new agreements are currently being finalized through existing agreements with ECMC or Kaleida Health-related providers, which will enhance Ear, Nose and Throat, Allergy and Nephrology Services at WCCH.

“Like most community hospitals, the path to survival in an ever-evolving health care market will be enhanced by relationships with larger facilities that are able to support the community hospital with administrative and provider resources they are not able to obtain independently,” Eichenauer said. “It is WCCH’s objective to take advantage of the opportunities provided by ECMC and its affiliation with Kaleida Health and the University at Buffalo through their mutual partnership in Great Lakes Health System, which will provide better access to a wide range of health care services at WCCH; we will now look at the necessary steps towards a future management agreement with ECMC.”

The Board of WCCH says it was also impressed with ECMC’s experience and knowledge related to the governmental and human resources requirements of WCCH. Both ECMC and WCCH have employees who are represented by the Civil Service Employees Association Inc. (CSEA). Although an independent Public Benefit Corporation since 2004, ECMC is one of the few remaining county-owned hospitals in the state.

“ECMCC is excited with the board’s decision, which will permit ECMC to work closely with WCCH and share best practices and scale that will create cost reductions and efficiencies,” said ECMC President and CEO Thomas J. Quatroche Jr., Ph.D.

“Importantly, through this agreement, we will integrate our health care service teams to identify opportunities to share practices that will enhance and strengthen the delivery of quality health care services to patients across the entire organization.”

As part of the new relationship, ECMC will also be working with WCCH to provide upgraded administrative and financial management resources and support.

“Through a deliberate and careful process over several months, the necessary steps have been taken toward an administrative services agreement with ECMC that will maintain the financial viability of WCCH,” said Board of Supervisors Chairman Douglas Berwanger. “It will preserve quality health care at the hospital well into the future.”

Since October 2012, WCCH has had a previous collaboration agreement with (University of Rochester) UR Medicine, Rochester. WCCH anticipates having a continued positive relationship with UR Medicine and the services and providers it supplies to the hospital.

WCCH is a 62-bed rural, acute-care hospital accredited by The Joint Commission. It is the sole inpatient provider for Wyoming County, which has a population of approximately 43,000. In addition to an Acute Care Hospital, its services include an attached 138-bed Nursing Home, Adult Day Health Care, and an Inpatient Behavioral Health Unit. The hospital has approximately 3,000 inpatient admissions, and 14,000 Emergency Department visits per year.

Its mission is to provide outstanding healthcare services and to have a positive impact on the health of its rural community. For more information visit  www.wcchs.net or its Facebook page.

The ECMC Corporation was established as a New York State Public Benefit Corporation. Since 2004 it has included an advanced academic medical center with 602 inpatient beds, on- and off-campus health centers, more than 30 outpatient specialty care services and Terrace View, a 390-bed, long-term care facility.  

ECMC is Western New York’s only Level 1 Adult Trauma Center, as well as a regional center for burn care, behavioral health services, transplantation, medical oncology and head and neck cancer care, rehabilitation, and a major teaching facility for the University at Buffalo. Most ECMC physicians, dentists and pharmacists are dedicated faculty members of the university and/or members of a private practice plan.

For more information visit ecmc.edu and follow ECMC on social media via Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.

Friday, February 3, 2017 at 3:40 pm
posted by Julia Ferrini in Wyoming County, crime, drugs, children, health, Sen. Gallivan, news.

Press release:

The Senate has recently passed two bills to help save the lives of abused children who may otherwise slip through the cracks of Child Protective Services (CPS). The bills require testing young children for drugs if their guardian is arrested on drug charges, and they restrict high caseloads from jeopardizing the investigation of child abuse or maltreatment.

Bill S137 would require hair follicle testing of an infant or toddler under the age of 3 who is in the vicinity of parent or guardian who is arrested on a drug charge. 

The legislation, known as Kayleigh Mae's Law, is named after a 13-month-old child in Washington County who died in 2015 after being given heroin and cocaine for 10 months after birth. 

For children who are not yet old enough to speak, the hair follicle test would give a new tool for child protective investigations to help determine if a child’s health is at risk from illegal drug exposure.

“The goal of this legislation is to protect the lives of our most vulnerable citizens, our children,” said Sen. Patrick M. Gallivan (R-C-I, Elma). “We must also ensure that the caseworkers charged with the responsibility of keeping children and families safe are not overburdened and unable to perform their jobs effectively.” 

Bill S3146 establishes a statewide standard of no more than 15 cases per month per full-time child protective caseworker. The state Office of Children and Family Services recommends a CPS caseload size of 12 active reports per month. However, average caseloads are higher in many counties throughout the state. 

The bills have been sent to the Assembly.

Monday, January 30, 2017 at 7:07 pm
posted by Julia Ferrini in Wyoming County, Warsaw, announcements, health, nursing.

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East Side Nursing & Rehabilitation Center, Warsaw, recently welcomed its new Activities Director, Tiffany Stoffer.  

Stoffer is a Perry High School graduate with a bachelor’s degree in recreation management from SUNY Brockport. She has seven years experience working in nursing home activities. 

She currently lives in Warsaw with her husband and two children. Facility officials say she is “looking forward to bringing new and exciting activities to the residents and their families here at East Side to promote an active and fun-loving atmosphere.”

Thursday, January 26, 2017 at 4:34 pm
posted by Julia Ferrini in Wyoming County, announcements, government, firefighters, health.

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Press release:

Sen. Patrick M. Gallivan, (R-C-I, Elma) says the New York State Senate has passed a measure to help further protect the health of volunteer firefighters. The bill (S1411) expands the benefits available to volunteer firefighters when they contract certain illnesses and cancers as a result of the hazards they encounter during their duties.

“The men and women who serve our communities as volunteer firefighters deserve our support,” Gallivan said. “These brave volunteers protect our homes and businesses and face numerous potential hazards in responding to fires and other emergencies. I am proud to support legislation that expands benefits for firefighters facing health issues related to their selfless service.” 

Overexposure to smoke increases the risk of contracting cancer of the lungs, but may also cause cancer in an individual's esophagus, stomach, blood, intestines, and even the brain. A National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) study suggests firefighters are at higher risk of cancers of the digestive, oral, respiratory, and urinary systems when compared to the general population.

This legislation expands the existing coverage available under the Volunteer Firefighters Benefit Law to include cancer of the digestive, hematological, lymphatic, urinary, prostate, neurological, breast and reproductive systems or melanoma.

The bill has been sent to the Assembly.

Monday, January 16, 2017 at 6:50 pm
posted by Julia Ferrini in Wyoming County, news, health, insurance, medicaid, announcements.

Press release from Congressman Chris Collins (NY-27)​:

Three legislative items to help improve the Medicaid system include: the Prioritizing the Most Vulnerable Americans Act (formerly H.R. 6462), Better Accounting for Medicaid Costs Act of 2017 (formerly H.R. 5021), and the Improving Oversight and Accountability in Medicaid Non-DSH Supplemental Payments Act (formerly H.R. 2151). These bills will lower costs, increase oversight, and give patients better access to Medicaid coverage.

"We need to improve Medicaid in order to expand coverage for those who need it most and lower costs that are increasing at an unsustainable rate," said Congressman Chris Collins (NY-27). "These legislative items will raise accountability standards and ensure Medicaid supports the most vulnerable Americans, which is what it was designed to accomplish."

Prioritizing the Most Vulnerable Americans Act (formerly H.R. 6462) requires the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), in approving Medicaid demonstration projects to:

    • Prioritize projects that have been proven effective in improving care and outcomes with respect to uninsured, Medicaid-eligible, or low-income individuals;

    • Require participating states to make publicly available data regarding the health outcomes for individuals it serves;

    •  Ensure that projects are not duplicative of any federal program or funding opportunity; and

    •  Require participating states to make publicly available an analysis of the degree to which such projects preclude private and charitable sector efforts to improve care and outcomes with respect to uninsured, Medicaid-eligible, or low-income individuals.

Better Accounting for Medicaid Costs Act of 2017 (formerly H.R. 5021) requires CMS to follow regular notice and comment rule making procedures when issuing sub-regulatory guidance that is estimated to cost the federal government over $100 million or states over $50 million.

Improving Oversight and Accountability in Medicaid Non-DSH Supplemental Payments Act (formerly H.R. 2151) requires the secretary of Health and Human Services to:

    • Establish annual reporting requirements for non-DSH supplemental Medicaid payments to providers;

    • Issue guidance to states that identifies permissible methods for calculation of non-DSH supplemental payments; and

    • Establish requirements for state making non-DSH supplemental payments to conduct an annual independent audit of these payments.

Each of these legislative items is cosponsored by members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee's Medicaid Task Force. The Task Force was established during the 114th Congress by former Chairman Fred Upton and is led by Congressman Brett Guthrie. Members of the Task Force were charged with devising ways to strengthen and sustain Medicaid for the nation's most vulnerable citizens.

Friday, January 6, 2017 at 1:49 pm
posted by Julia Ferrini in Wyoming County, health, children, news, lead poisoning, Warsaw.

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While lead’s toxicity was recognized and recorded as early as 2000 BC, it wasn’t until 1914 that lead poisoning was first reported in America.

With the contaminated water found to be flowing into the homes of Flint, Mich., lead poisoning has once again came to the forefront as a major health concern in children.

Recently, the Reuters news agency released a report indicating that 3,000 neighborhoods across the nation seem to have high lead contamination levels. 

However, no neighborhoods in Wyoming County appear to be on that list, according to data available through a New York State website that tracks reports of lead poisoning in children.

In 2012, only five children under age 2 of the 685 in the county who were tested had elevated lead levels detected in their blood samples.

Wyoming County Public Health Administrator Laura Paolucci says while lead poisoning in children is not widespread and is preventable, the goal is to have zero elevated cases.

“Health Department personnel work with pediatric and family practice offices to promote testing, as well as providing education to parents & caregivers on sources of lead and how to protect children from being exposed.”

There were two sources of lead for children in America: paint and leaded gasoline. It wasn’t until 1970 that lead was banned in household paint and 1990 when it was banned in gasoline.

With the removal of lead in gasoline, the mean blood lead concentration in children dropped from 13.7 mcg/dL to 3.2 mcg/dL. However, lead paint may still be present in homes built prior to 1978. 

As the home ages, paint chips and dust may get ground into carpeting or onto flooring where children crawl and play.

While painting over the lead paint is the easiest way to remediate lead paint and stop the particles from spreading, it does not eliminate the lead paint. Additionally, children can be exposed to lead paint when they visit a friend or relative’s home, or if their parents or caregivers work in an environment where lead is present and it attaches to their clothing or shoes.

“Children are most often exposed by ingesting or inhaling dust, paint or soil that contains lead,” Paolucci said. “Children under the age of 2 are tested with a simple finger stick. If the results are elevated – 10 mcg/dL or greater – a venipuncture (blood draw) is performed to confirm the level.”

Health officials say children should be tested at age 1 and 2, or more frequently if there are risk factors present, and the test can be conducted in the office of a primary care physician.

The amount of lead is counted by micrograms per deciliter, abbreviated to mcg/dL.

Of the five children with elevated lead levels, three were between 10-15 mcg/dL and two were at 15 or more.

Paolucci says children are most often exposed to lead by ingesting or inhaling dust, paint or soil that contains lead. If caught early enough, an abdominal x-ray can detect ingested lead.

“There is no acceptable level of lead in the body. The actionable level is 10 mcg/dL; that is the point at which a case is opened and follow-up initiated.”

Lead poisoning affects the brain, and can cause lower IQ levels, behavioral problems, ADHD, hearing impairments and balance issues, Paolucci says. It can also cause developmental delays, including speech.  

“Problems can continue into adulthood. At sustained high levels, lead poisoning can affect many organ systems, including kidneys, blood, endocrine, gastrointestinal, cardiovascular and skeletal. At very high levels, lead can cause brain swelling, seizures, coma and in rare cases, death.”

In 2007, New York State began a primary prevention initiative (the Pilot) to reduce the number of children affected by lead poisoning. Eight counties in New York –  Albany, Erie, Monroe, Onondage, Oneida, Orange, Westchester counties and NYC – collectively accounted for 79 percent of all known cases of lead poisoning in 2005 of children 6 years old and younger.

While lead poisoning typically affects children, it can also be present in adults. However, the sources of exposure are usually different – either occupational or from construction/renovation projects or hobby exposure.  

“Pregnant women with high lead levels can pass this on to the unborn child. These women should be risk assessed with each pregnancy.”

Health officials say symptoms of lead poisoning, which include developmental delays, behavioral issues and lowered IQ do not show up right away. In some cases they may take years for them to become apparent and diagnosed, which is why routine testing at ages 1 and 2 is so important.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016 at 10:48 am

Sen. Patrick M. Gallivan (R-C- I, Elma) says measures to help New Yorkers battling heroin and opioid addiction, ensure access to benefits that help veterans and infants, protect consumers, and increase government transparency are among the new laws that take effect in January. 

Other changes being enacted in the New Year include several road safety measures, new and extended tax cuts, and measures to increase breast cancer screenings and organ donation registration.

“This important legislation will benefit consumers, assist our veterans, support New York’s farmers and better protect public health and safety,” Gallivan said. “Changes in New York tax law will also benefit small business and make it easier for families to save for college.”

Protecting public health

Tackling heroin and opioid addiction: Most of the provisions of the legislation passed to address the state’s ongoing heroin and opioid abuse crisis took effect when signed into law in June. However, several important provisions of the laws will become effective with health insurance policies and contracts issued, renewed, modified, altered or amended on or after Jan. 1, including:

    • S8139 – Ending prior insurance authorization for immediate access to inpatient treatment services; co-sponsored by Gallivan;

    • S8137  – Using consistent criteria to determine the medical necessity of treatments; co-sponsored by Gallivan;

    • S8137 – Authorizing emergency substance use disorder medication coverage by requiring insurance coverage, without prior authorization, for an emergency five-day supply of medications for treating a substance use disorder when emergency conditions exist;

    • S8137 – Expanding access to naloxone/opioid reversal medication coverage by requiring insurance coverage for the overdose reversal medication, whether it is prescribed to a person who is addicted to opioids or their family member covered under the same insurance plan;

  • Improving infant coverage under Child Health Plus (CHP): S6421A – A new law updates the state’s Public Health Law to ensure that newborns are covered retroactively under the CHP program. Newborns were not eligible under the previous requirements of CHP for periods lasting up to 30 days after enrollment. Starting in January, newborns will be covered going back to the first day of their birth month;
  • Encouraging New Yorkers to Become Organ Donors: S6952A – Starting Jan. 1, New Yorkers will be offered an additional opportunity to document their decision to enroll as an organ and tissue donor. All applicants for health insurance offered through the state health benefit exchange will be provided space during the application process to register for the Donate Life Registry for organ, eye, and tissue donations;
  • Promoting Breast Cancer Screening: S8093 – To further encourage and ensure access to regular screening and early detection, a new law allows New York City public employees to take up to four hours of excused leave per year for breast cancer screening. This will give them the same opportunity to get screened as public employees in the rest of the state. 

Support for veterans

    • Hire-A-Vet tax credit: The 2016-17 budget extended the tax credit from Jan. 1 to Jan. 1, 2019. The period of eligible employment for qualified veterans is also extended from Jan. 1, 2016 to Jan. 1, 2018. 

The credit is provided to any business that hires a veteran, on a full-time basis for at least one year, returning home from military service. It is equal to 10 percent of wages paid, with a maximum of $5,000 per veteran. The credit increases to 15 percent of wages if the veteran is also disabled, with a maximum of $15,000 per disabled veteran.

    • S7983B – Ensuring veterans receive the benefits to which they’re entitled: Legislation was enacted to require local Social Services districts and not-for-profit agencies that receive state funding to ask as to whether a person, or any member of his or her family, has served in the U.S. military, when applying for Social Services. If so, they would be provided with contract information for the New York State Division of Veterans’ Affairs in order to ensure that the individual is receiving all of the benefits to which he or she is entitled. 

Support for farmers

Farm Workforce Retention tax credit: The 2016-17 budget included provisions to allow eligible farm employers to claim a refundable tax credit for each farm employee that is employed for 500 or more hours each year for tax years beginning on Jan. 1. The credit is equal to $250 per employee in 2017.

Increasing government transparency

Board of Regents meetings: S6503 – A new law that took effect Dec. 8, requires the Board of Regents to give notice of the time, place, and agenda of all public meetings of the Board and any committee, subcommittee, task force or other subgroup seven days before a scheduled meeting. This will allow the stakeholders on several educational issues the appropriate time to respond and discuss the issues. Additionally, it would encourage more involvement from the public and would foster an improved dialogue between both the Board of Regents and other stakeholders in education. 

Reforming the regulatory process: Two new laws taking effect Jan. 1 help make the state’s regulation process more transparent:

    • S7097 requires a proposed or revised rule or another regulatory document’s full text to be posted on the applicable state agency’s website. No web posting is currently required for a revised rule – even if the text has been extensively revised – or for regulatory impact statements, job impact statements, or flexibility analyses for small businesses, local governments, or rural areas; and

    • S7098 requires the full text of every emergency rule to be readily available to the public, either through publication in the State Register or posting on the applicable state agency’s website. It is particularly important for regulated parties and the public to obtain timely access to rules that require immediate adoption through an emergency rulemaking process.

Consumer protections and assistance

New insurance rate reductions for homeowners: A new law enacted as part of the 2016-17 budget allows homeowners to receive a rate reduction for fire insurance, homeowners’ insurance, or property/casual premiums for residential property. The law applies if the owner completes a homeowner course in natural disaster preparedness, home safety, and loss prevention.

Fish labeling accuracy: S6842B – A new law requires that any fish sold as “white tuna” must be from an albacore tuna, long fin tuna, or from a tuna species. Beginning on Jan. 7, oilfish or escolar will no longer be permitted to be labeled as “white tuna.” 

Consumer notification about auto repairs paid by insurance companies: S5639A – A new law that takes effect Jan. 17 requires insurance companies to include a disclosure in repair estimates that informs insured motorists of the right to have their vehicle repaired in a shop of their choice. 

Consumer notification about real estate transactions: S7248 – A new law promotes consumer protection by requiring real estate licensees to, upon the licensee’s initial renewal, have two hours of instruction particularly relating to the law of agency. Thereafter, such license renewal would require at least one hour of instruction in the law of agency, providing real estate professionals with continuing education to help ensure a full understanding by the consumer of the roles agency relationships play in real estate transactions. 

Preventing “zombie” homes: S8159 – Part Q of this law takes effect Dec. 20 and requires certain banks that originate or own mortgages to secure and maintain one- to four-family residential properties which are deemed to be vacant and abandoned. This part requires the Department of Financial Services to maintain a statewide vacant and abandoned property registry for the tracking of such properties. This part also requires banks to provide to homeowners a clear notice of a homeowners’ rights during the foreclosure process. 

Improving road safety:

Move-Over Law expansion: S7938 – Starting Jan. 17, the Move-Over Law includes more types of emergency vehicles. The law requires motorists to slow down and move over when passing authorized emergency vehicles pulled over on the side of the road. To increase safety, the law now includes any vehicle displaying a blue or green light, such as volunteer firefighters and volunteer ambulance workers involved in roadside emergency operations. 

Window tint compliance: S6034A – Starting Jan. 1, the state will require vehicles’ window tint to be examined during a yearly New York State safety inspection. If the glass on a vehicle is tinted beyond 30 percent of light transmittance, then that vehicle would not pass the inspection. The window tint would have to be removed or altered for the vehicle to pass. The new law is a more proactive approach intended to protect law enforcement and other drivers, as darkly tinted windows hinder their ability to see inside the vehicle. 

Tax changes

Business tax cut: In 2014, the Senate succeeded in overhauling and simplifying the State Corporate Franchise Tax, which incorporated banks into the new combined code. As part of that reform, the capital base calculation rate for manufacturers will be reduced to 0.085 percent, and other corporate franchise tax payers will be reduced to 0.1 percent starting Jan. 1.

Clean heating fuel tax credit: The 2016-17 budget extended the Clean Heating Fuel Tax Credit from Jan. 1 until Jan. 1, 2020. It also requires that beginning in 2017, to qualify for the credit, each gallon of clean heating fuel must be at least 6 percent biodiesel. The credit is equal to $0.01 per percent of biodiesel mixed into home heating oil, not to exceed $0.20 per gallon.

Making It Easier to Save For College: S6942 – Taxpayers can elect to contribute all or a portion of a personal income tax refund to a 529 college savings account starting Jan. 1. Under existing law, individuals wishing to invest funds into a New York State 529 College Savings Program can deposit funds via electronic bank transfer, check, payroll deduction if available, or by a rollover from another college savings account. Allowing taxpayers to directly deposit a minimum of $25 from their income tax refunds into such accounts will increase opportunities for taxpayers to invest in existing savings plans and help defray the ever increasing costs associated with higher education. 

Permanent Extension of the Non-Custodial Parent Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC): The Non- Custodial Parent EITC was set to expire Dec. 31 but this year’s budget extended it permanently. In order to qualify for this refundable credit, the non-custodial parent must: be over the age of 18, have a court order to make child support payments, and be current on those child support payments. In addition, the enhanced EITC is only authorized for noncustodial parents who meet the income threshold for a single taxpayer with no children.

Extension of the Tax Credit for Companies Who Provide Transportation to Individuals with Disabilities: This year’s budget extended the credit for companies who provide transportation to individuals with disabilities from Jan. 1 until Jan. 1, 2022. The credit is equal to the incremental cost to upgrade or purchase a taxicab or livery vehicle that is handicap accessible, up to $10,000 per vehicle.

Tax Return Due Date Changes: The state budget conformed New York State tax filing dates for corporations and partnerships to federal tax law, which was recently amended. The corporate tax return deadline will be moved from Mar. 15 to Apr. 15 and the partnership information statement deadline will be moved from Apr. 15 to Mar. 15. These provisions take effect for taxable years beginning on or after Jan. 1.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016 at 6:23 pm
posted by Julia Ferrini in Wyoming County, health, government, announcements.

Press release:

Congressman Chris Collins (NY-27) recently hailed the passage of the 21st Century Cures Act, landmark medical innovation legislation that will directly benefit the lives of Western New Yorkers.

The legislation includes $6.3 billion to help accelerate the discovery, development and delivery of new cures and treatments. Additionally, it provides new funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

As a member of the Energy and Commerce Committee and the Health Subcommittee, Collins was able to play a direct role in the creation of the legislation. He weighed in on key elements of the bill, including the inclusion of measures to fight the opioid crisis and helped to secure additional funding for the NIH. The NIH will help fund research at places like Roswell Park Cancer Institute, Buffalo.

"This bipartisan legislation incentivizes innovation to defeat disease, and most importantly gets cures to the patients who need them most," Collins said. "The 21st Century Cures Act provides the health care industry with the ability to help the thousands of Western New Yorkers impacted by deadly diseases by creating the lifesaving cures those patients need."

Collins specifically authored the following provisions included in the legislation:

    • Section 3021, which encourages the broader application of innovative clinical trial designs, including the use of Bayesian statistics and adaptive trials, to enhance and accelerate effective clinical trials. These changes to the way the FDA approves clinical trial designs will help unleash new, groundbreaking therapies by allowing researchers to efficiently change their trials to meet the individual responses of their participants.

    • Section 3071 will expedite and improve the drug approval process by increasing the number of senior biomedical researchers the FDA is allowed to hire and also making the salary of those individuals more competitive with private industry. This will help ensure that our best and brightest scientists will remain with the FDA to review and approve drug applications, and get cures to patients more quickly.

    • Section 9023, in collaboration with Congressman Joe Courtney, which allows child and adolescent psychiatrists to participate in the National Health Service Corps Loan Repayment Program. This will incentivize these subspecialists to begin their practices in underserved areas, like those in rural Western New York.

    • Section 5006, in collaboration with Congressman Paul Tonko, which includes the House-passed Medicaid DOC Act, which requires states operating a fee-for-service or primary care case-management system of Medicaid to publish an online directory of those physicians who have billed Medicaid in the past year and whether those physicians are accepting new patients.

"I am proud to have had a role in crafting this landmark legislation," Collins said. "Ensuring medical innovators have the funding and ability to do their jobs is crucial to helping the millions of Americans struggling with incurable diseases. This legislation has the ability to change people's lives, and I could not be more excited about its passage."

The 21st Century Cures Act will:

    • Provide $1 billion in grants to states to address the opioid crisis;

    • Addresses the country's mental health crisis and help the one out of five adult Americans suffering from mental illness and substance abuse disorders receive the care they need;

    • Provide $4.8 billion to National Institutes of Health, including: $1.4 billion for President Barack Obama's Precision Medicine Initiative to drive research into the genetic, lifestyle and environmental variations of disease; $1.8 billion for Vice President Joe Biden's Cancer Moonshot to speed research; and $1.6 billion for the BRAIN initiative to improve our understanding of diseases like Alzheimer's and speed diagnosis and treatment;

    • Help bring drugs and devices to market more quickly and at less cost by making needed reforms to the FDA, including: expedited review for breakthrough devices; increased patient involvement in the drug approval process; a streamlined review process for combination products that are both a drug and device; and freedom from red tape for software like Fitbit or calorie-counting apps; and

    • Provide $500 million to the Food and Drug Administration.

The legislation will now move to the Senate, where it will need to pass before heading to Obama's desk to be signed into law. It's expected to be brought to the Senate for a vote before the end of the year.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016 at 4:36 pm
posted by Julia Ferrini in Wyoming County, health, healthcare, insurance, Business.

While much of the nation will see increases to their premiums upwards to 25 percent, New Yorkers will see varying rate adjustments. However, along with insurance rate increases, people are also seeing tax credit increases, as long as their income and household size has remained consistent. Inividuals can make up to $47,520 year and receive a tax credit, which would be deducted from your monthly premium.

“When the Affordable Healthcare Act was developed, states had a choice to develop its own Marketplace,” said Wyoming County Health Department Director of Nursing Cathy Murdie. “New York has its own Marketplace. The overall increase in the federal Marketplace has not had the same impact to states that have their own markets.”

Five different insurance carriers offer more than 20 different plans to residents of Wyoming County: Independent Health, MVP, BlueCross BlueSheild/HealthNow, Fidelis and Univera/Excellus. Also available is ChildHealth Plus, which offers Fidelis Care and UnitedHealthcare as its carrier options. Additionally, in Jan. 2015 the state began to offer the Essential Plan to its residents. While there is an income eligibility requirement, Essential Plan is for those who are between 19 and 64 years old, and not eligible for Medicaid, Child Health Plus or employer coverage. 

Increases for Wyoming County 2017 averages around: 

    • 0.6 percent  for MVP;

    • less than 10 percent for Fidelis (lower cost compared to most health plans);

    • 19 percent for Independent Health. However, the Independent Health premium went down last year, so the 19 percent increase is actually spread over two years;

    • Blue Cross/Blue Shield about 7 percent; and 

    • Univera has no real change, an average of about 7 percent. 

Those individuals and families that are eligible for tax credits based on income and household size would have an offset to premium increases.

According to its website, the Wyoming County Health Department's mission is “to ensure the optimal health of the community through promotion of physical and mental health and prevention of disease, injury and disability through ongoing dedication to excellence and values in the provision of community based services.” 

Part of those services includes helping residents complete applications and select the insurance that best meets their need, without bias, through the New York State Health Plan Marketplace. Open enrollment began Nov. 1 for new enrollees, and Nov. 16 for current policy holders, and runs through Jan. 31. To ensure coverage begins Jan. 1, you must enroll by Dec. 15. Qualified healthcare plans run from Jan. 1 through Dec. 31.

The marketplace not only has options for Medicaid, but other plans from several different insurance carriers. Plans generally start around $306 per month and can go up to $785 per month, depending on the type of coverage you pick. Typically, the lower the premium, the higher the deduction. 

There are about 7,000 Wyoming County residents, from infants to 65 years old (generally the age of Medicare eligibility), enrolled in the state’s marketplace. Officials say more residents are insured now than at any other time.
“Health insurance is important and the marketplace its just how we get there,” Murdie said. “While practicing healthy practices is important, without insurance, one catastrophic event can be held over your head for life. Additionally, some of our clients are on medications that cost over $1,000 per month and it is so important they have insurance to help with those costs.

“The Health Department tries to help people navigate the system, it’s a service to help the people in the county. We are seeing more people get the care they need, which in turn should show more healthy people.” 

Not all insurance products are available in all counties/regions – Wyoming County is in Region 2. The different regions across the state have different insurance options, with different associated costs. Health Plans must apply to the New York State Department of Financial Services for annual approval of their respective rate increases for the upcoming year – based on enrollees and actuarial claims experience from the prior period. Local investments in prevention programs – diet, exercise, smoking cessation, cancer screenings etcetera – make Wyoming County residents healthier and in turn, can contribute to lowering the cost of health insurance.

Wyoming County currently has 3,092 residents enrolled in Medicaid, 529 in Child Health Plus, 535 in the Essential Plan, and 677 enrolled in qualified healthcare plans, totaling 4,833 of its approximately 44,000 residents enrolled through the state’s Marketplace.

By way of comparison, Genesee and Erie counties are as follows: 4,120/62,224 are enrolled in Medicaid, 654/6,676 in Child Health Plus, 657/8,708 in the Essential Plan, and 720/9,458 in qualified healthcare plans. Total enrollment through the state’s Marketplace is: 6,151 of approximately 59,454 Genesee County residents, and 87,066 of approximately 920,000 Erie County residents. 

In 2013 in Wyoming County, those who were uninsured was greater than or equal to 7 percent and less than or equal to 10 percent, by 2015 those who were uninsured dropped to less than seven percent.

While walk-ins clients are welcome, officials encourage scheduling an appointment with the Health Department, the Office of the Aging, or Community Action of Wyoming County for assistance in finding the best policy for your needs or help filling out the forms. 

Wednesday, November 16, 2016 at 11:59 am
posted by Julia Ferrini in Wyoming County, announcements, Warsaw, healthcare, health.

Oak Orchard Health (OOH) recently welcomed Dr. Maria Adams to its medical center located at 81 S. Main St., Warsaw. 

Adams comes to OOH from the University Of Illinois College Of Medicine and Children’s Hospital. She is board certified with the American Board of Pediatrics and a member of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

“We are excited to bring a pediatrician of Dr. Adams’ caliber on board,” said OOH CEO Jim Cummings. “Dr. Adams is a great fit with our clinical team, and will be a strong health resource for the community.”

Adams is accepting new pediatric patients from birth to 18 years old. Appointments can be made by calling the OOH Warsaw practice, at (585) 228‐1195.

Oak Orchard Health is a recognized patient‐centered medical home and Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) located in Brockport, Albion, Lyndonville, Hornell and Warsaw. Its core values of excellence, collaboration, compassion, and innovation, support its mission to cultivate health and wellness by providing engaged and innovative medical, dental, and vision care for the community.

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