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COLUMN: Tedra Cobb to hold health care roundtables Tuesday
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COLUMN: Tedra Cobb to hold health care roundtables Tuesday

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Congressional candidate Tedra Cobb will host two “listening roundtables” on Tuesday, focusing on health care.

In Glens Falls, the roundtable will be held from 11 a.m. to noon at Crandall Public Library. She will hold a second roundtable that evening in Plattsburgh, from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m., at Koffee Kat, 104 Margaret St.

Cobb will discuss her plans for expanding access to quality health care and lowering the cost of prescription drugs and explain how she would “safeguard” Medicare and Social Security.

She will also listen to the needs of residents in the district during each roundtable.

Among the topics to be discussed will be the prescription drug bill (H.R. 3) that her opponent, incumbent U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-Schuylerville, voted against.

The bill requires the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to negotiate prices for certain drugs. It also set maximum prices for insulin products and at least 25 brand-name drugs that do not have generic competition and that are among the 125 drugs that account for the greatest national spending, according to Congress.gov.

The Elijah E. Cummings Lower Drug Costs Now Act passed 230-192, and was sent to the Senate six weeks ago. The Senate has taken no action, as Stefanik predicted.

“Speaker (Nancy) Pelosi’s partisan legislation, H.R. 3, is a 95% tax on lifesaving cures for Americans that has no chance of passing the Senate and becoming law,” Stefanik wrote on her Facebook page.

The Congressional Budget Office estimates that the bill would save $456 billion.

Stefanik said she is an original co-sponsor of the Lower Costs, More Cures Act, which is a package of 40 provisions to lower out-of-pocket spending, ensure medicines and cures are not heavily taxed, strengthen transparency and accountability and promote competition in the medical community.

Cobb criticized Stefanik for her vote against the bill.

Redo on Medicare plans

A fortuitous storm is offering some Medicare recipients a second chance in February.

In Warren, Saratoga and Essex counties, Medicare recipients can change their Medicare Advantage plans and drug prescription plans for this year. They must make any changes by Feb. 29.

That’s a big deal because usually they can only change their Part C and Part D plans once a year, by Dec. 7.

To pick a plan, recipients should take into consideration the drugs they take or expect to take, as well as other health needs they have. Costs can vary dramatically — a drug that is inexpensive on one plan could be unaffordable on a different plan. Likewise, recipients could end up paying too much if they pay for a plan that offers many inexpensive drugs that they don’t need.

It can take hours of research. Plan details are available on the Medicare website. But the website was updated last year and many people reported problems using it.

“That might have led some people, and agents, to choose the wrong plan for 2020,” said local Medicare plans agent Peter Cormie. “This is a great opportunity for a redo of their 2020 plan choice.”

The opportunity is not available to those in Washington County.

It was offered to residents of a few counties because the Federal Emergency Management Agency declared a weather-related emergency in those counties on Oct. 31.

“Locally, I think some people near (Lake) Sunnyside (in Queensbury) had some more severe damage, but several areas got lots of rain and washed out roads,” Cormie said. “I suppose their thinking is that people might have been preoccupied with repairs and not reviewing their 2020 plan choices.”

Residents who live in the following counties can change their Medicare plans this month. They are: Chautauqua, Chenango, Cortland, Erie, Essex, Fulton, Hamilton, Herkimer, Jefferson, Lewis, Madison, Montgomery, Oneida, Oswego, Otsego, Saratoga, Tioga and Warren.

Expert in childhood cancers joins Albany Med

Dr. Kanyalakshmi “Kanya” Ayyanar, a pediatric neuro-oncologist, has joined Albany Medical Center to run the Melodies Center for Childhood Cancer and Blood Disorders.

Ayyaner has nearly 15 years experience in childhood brain tumors and neurocutaneous disorders.

Previously, she was director of oncology at the Cure 4 The Kids Foundation in Las Vegas.

In Albany, she plans to continue her research on pediatric brain tumors.

She is certified by the American Board of Pediatrics and its sub-Board of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology. She received her medical degree from Madurai Medical College in Tamil Nadu, India. She completed her residency at St. Joseph’s Children’s Hospital in Paterson, N.J., a fellowship in pediatric hematology-oncology at the Children’s Hospital at Montefiore Medical Center in New York City and a fellowship in pediatric neuro-oncology at Boston Children’s Hospital.

She lives in Guilderland with her husband. They have two adult children.

She is now seeing patients at the Melodies Center, 43 New Scotland Ave., Albany. To learn more or to schedule an appointment, call 518-262-5513.

You can reach Kathleen Moore at 742-3247 or kmoore@poststar.com. Follow her on Twitter @ByKathleenMoore or at her blog on www.poststar.com.

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