Daily Archives: May 23, 2020

It’s been four years since a Buffalo health-care organization launched a Medicaid pilot program designed to reward physicians and providers for cutting costs and improving care and outcomes.

The Greater Buffalo United Accountable Care Organization (GBUACO) remains the region’s only state-designated accountable care organization (ACO), overseeing care for about 30,000 patients across the region insured by government programs through Fidelis and YourCare Health Plan.

GBUACO, an affiliate of the Greater Buffalo United Accountable Healthcare Network, includes participation by providers at Erie County Medical Center, Kaleida Health, Jericho Road Community Health Center, Greater Buffalo Independent Physicians Association, Dent Neurologic Institute and Western New York Medical Group.

Growth for the program is in the works through additional contracts to take care of more patients while saving more money for the state and the overall health-care system.

Dr. Raul Vazquez is CEO of GBUACO and the Urban Family Practice on Buffalo’s West Side. He talked about the challenges and opportunities of making the funding model work.

What makes the ACO model different? It’s the ability of bringing physicians together, both primary care and specialists, with agencies and organizations so that you’re the glue so patients don’t get lost. You’re helping individuals and doing the right assessment, whether it’s social determinants of health or using our digital platform.

What’s your main focus? It is a value-based model. You’re looking at five buckets of cost: inpatient, ER, ancillary, pharmacy and professional costs. What you’re doing with the dollars is looking at how best to look for areas where there’s waste in the system because the patient isn’t being better managed. And for people with chronic diseases, why aren’t we doing better with quality metrics, while also focusing on the prevention side and wellness?

How are you using incentives to prompt participation? We create incentives for (patients) too. Within that high-risk population, how do we push to get those measures and screenings? They get a check. If they get a mammogram, they get $25; if they get a colonoscopy, it’s $25. If their blood pressure is controlled or whether they’re on preventive meds, all these are checklists. It’s a lot cheaper for us to pay $25 for a test than ending up in an intensive-care unit for $25,000. The patient has to be engaged, and has to be a player in this.

What other tools keep patients and physicians involved and informed?We have three apps: one for Urban Family Practice, one for care coordination for GBUAHN and one for GBUACO. They’re used for information, so if they do the test through the apps, they get their dollars for it. Those apps also push out services, including for Covid-19, so they can fill it out if they have symptoms. We now have 1,300 people on the apps.

What outcomes and results are you seeing? The 2019 data is not here yet, but the 2018 data shows that ER visits were reduced 27% from 2016; patient drug and alcohol abuse dropped 12%; and there was a 12% increase in use of generics. That’s a $780,000 savings on the ER side; and $323,000 for inpatient for one year alone. On the pharma side, by increasing generic use, there was a $1.9 million savings.

How realistic is it to expand those programs and savings to commercially insured individuals? If you can do it with government programs, you can expand to everyone else. My love has always been in the city, doing government programs. Not a lot of doctors want to go into those areas, but with the tools we use, they can be applied to anyone in the system.

As the state’s DSRIP program winds down, could you play a role there too? We’re looking at how accountable-care organizations like GBUACO could play a role for that kind of a program long-term. You’re setting a table to bring a lot of organizations together. That can create a more risk-based value-based model. You see where the economy is. You’re going to have to provide services. The best way to do it is to set up a lot of these organizations on one page, as opposed to everyone doing their own thing.

Are there opportunities to expand GBUACO geographically? Now that we have a better feel for the system, with 250 primary-care providers and our contracts including not just Urban and its IPA but also Kaleida, ECMC, General Physician and Jericho, we’re looking at going to the state. We have good support from Crystal Peoples-Stokes (majority leader, state Assembly) and Tim Kennedy (state senator). We’ve talked to their committees about how does GBUACO expand and GBUAHN expand with it? You need the IT informatics piece and the care coordination too.

By  – Reporter, Buffalo Business First

STERLING, Va. (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump on Saturday went on his first golf outing since the White House declared a national emergency over the coronavirus in March, visiting his club in the Washington suburbs in a purposeful display of normalcy.

On a sunny spring day, Trump’s motorcade took him from the White House to Trump National Golf Club, and he was spotted wearing a white cap and white polo shirt.

It was his first time at a golf property since March 8, when he visited his club in West Palm Beach, Florida

That was the same weekend when he met at his Mar-a-Lago retreat with Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, whose press secretary later tested positive for the virus. Some White House staffers who had been in contact with the press aide went into quarantine afterward but none tested positive.

On March 13, Trump issued a proclamatihere declaring the pandemic a “national emergency.”

The U.S. diagnosed its first cases of the coronavirus in Washington state on Jan. 20. (See a graphic here on the virus’s spread in the U.S.)

Trump is eager to promote the idea that the United States is returning to normal, although the death toll from the coronavirus outbreak continues to rise and is expected to surpass 100,000 in the coming days.

Trump’s coronavirus task force coordinator, Deborah Birx, told a White House briefing on Friday that Americans over this Memorial Day weekend should “be outside, play golf, play tennis with marked balls, go to the beach – but stay six feet apart!”

Reporting By Steve Holland; Editing by Sonya Hepinstall



Robert Quintana Gets Panorama Hispano News Endorsement for New York State Assembly
By: Edwin Martinez

Why endorse political candidates!

Some disagree with our process. They wonder why we decide to endorse. How dare we tell them how they should vote? Some look forward to the endorsement to see if they agree with us and to read our reasons for the endorsement.

Most just want to know what lead us to the decision, who was involved in making it and how thorough was the process?

Panorama Hispano News editorial board takes every endorsement very seriously. We commit a great deal of time to the process, we discuss the merits of each and every candidate and believe it is among the most important things we do each election.

We believe strongly that Panorama Hispano’s opinion helps and lead the community. We believe we help start discussions, spur people to take action and help move the community forward, whether you agree or disagree.

We don’t expect nor do we want every person to agree with our endorsements. The endorsements are made to create community discussions, to get people talking, to get heated debates started and to help voters make decisions based on the issues and not the commercials. An election should be much more than a popularity contest.

Why we endorse Robert Quintana

Robert Quintana is a former Buffalo police officer who served in various roles for 24 years within the department ranging from School Resource Officer to serving as a Community Police Officer. In 1994, Robert Quintana became a nationwide ambassador for the United Way, appearing in television commercials with Buffalo Bills’ Thurman Thomas and crossing the country to share his story on how his life was impacted thanks to the United Way.

It was after these years of community service that Robert decided to run for the Niagara District seat on the Buffalo City Council. He was successfully elected and served two full terms on the council devoting himself to advocating for better opportunities, and a better future for the residents of his district and the city. While serving on the Common Council Robert also served as the chairman on the council committees of Legislation, Crime, and Reorganization while also serving as a member on various other committees.

We need an Assemblyman who does not only know our community but whom also has experience in governing, effecting positive legislation, dealing with difficult budgets, and who doesn’t need on the job training. Above all else we need somebody just like you representing us in Albany. I promise that I will never give up and I will always stand tall on behalf of the people of Western New York.

I will work tirelessly to fight against the injustices facing our children with our deteriorating education system, I with fight against the injustices that our seniors face of being left behind by ensuring they have a seat at the table, and I will fight vigorously for our vulnerable communities across the 149th Assembly District. That is precisely why I am running to be YOUR next assemblyman in the Democratic Primary on June 23rd. Together we can and will deliver the long overdue change that Western New York needs, however I cannot do it alone. I would be honored to receive your support, vote, and to represent you in the New York State Assembly.

Why we did not endorse Jon Rivera

The Rivera family has a long history in local politics and Jon Rivera has been a constant in his father’s affair and that of local Political Party Machine, which has been corrupt and has not served the need of the citizens of the city, County or state. As many know David Rivera has been the Vice-Chairman of the Local Party Machine for many years. Through out the years Rivera’s campaign chairman has been convicted criminal and former State Senator Marc Panepinto, who first run into problems with the law in 2001, when he plead guilty for criminal possession of forge instruments for falsifying elections petitions. In 2016 Panepinto plead guilty to public corruption, which lead to his resignation to the State Senate and investigations into other public corruption cases involving him accepting donations of donors who had cases before his wife a State Supreme Court Justice. Likewise, many questions have been asked about the gentrification of Rivera’s district while at the same time accepting donation from the developers who are gentrifying his district to the demise of his voters.

Jon Rivera has long history of betraying the community. In 2011, redistricting of the Common Council, County and State legislative seats that ensured that the Latino community would not be able to cultivate political influence in Western New York for decades.

Rivera sat idly by while then Council President David Franzcyk (D-Fillmore) and Councilman Darius Pridgen (D-Ellicott) conspired to draw themselves egregiously construed districts. In an apparent and self-dealing move, they deeply harmed the Latino community by dividing its core neighborhood into three separate Council districts, and thereby muting any influence that it hoped to cultivate.

In the same year, the West Side’s Latino community was divided between two separate County Legislative districts and into three towns in the Assembly district.

Franzcyk was first elected in 1986. Haplessly, he watched his Broadway-Fillmore neighborhood decay into ruins of its former self. In an egregious attempt to redraw white voters into the district, he needed to splice through the Latino community to get to Allentown, where Franzcyk sees his political future.

So he found a natural ally in Pridgen, whose waterfront townhouse is located, seemingly, worlds away from the East Side neighborhoods that he represents and pastors. He needed to maintain a black constituency but didn’t want to give up his waterfront views.

The Latino community and the Westside got shafted in a deal that stole a black Council district from the east side so that an entrenched old machine style politician could play the type of divisive racial politics that this city has long needed to shed.

All the while, Rivera didn’t stand up or even slow down the process. He compliantly sat back and watched his colleagues dice up his community’s ability to cultivate real political influence for another decade. While his son Jon diced up the County and State districts.

At the time, advocates had been promoting a “West District” that would have encompassed the entirety of the West Side, from Forest to South Elmwood. That would have allowed the Latino community to develop a base of sustained political influence. It would have had real influence in terms of representation and facilitating the economic integration of the community.

The Latino community has become increasingly disenchanted with the Rivera’s.

Rivera has refused to articulate the public health concerns of the largely Latino neighborhood located downwind of the Peace Bridge’s customs plaza. While, at the same time, jeopardized the jobs of Latino’s in city hall who lost their jobs because he wanted to stick with the Party Machine.

Residents have long complained of a childhood asthma epidemic, and alarmingly elevated rates of cancer, respiratory illness, stroke, and neurological disorders — which have been linked to diesel carcinogens that emirate from the customs plaza.

They say Rivera acted “like a puppet” and treated residents very disrespectfully, as he was largely dismissive of and condescending towards their concerns.

“How can we support a Rivera who sands against his own constituents?” asks one critic. “His willingness to sell out his community at every turn is pause for us all.”

The Rivera’s only serve the Political Party Machine and a host of corrupt politician who have lined their pockets at the cost of the community. Rivera has been a fulltime Pentecostal Pastor with a church on Richmond Ave, Almost, his entire career. How do you serve as a full time pastor and a full time City Majority Leader? How do you serve so many masters?



In the end Jon Rivera lack the experience of government having never served in a position of authority, he only takes orders from Marc Panepinto and the party machine. We need someone in office who will have the interest of the community first! Electing Jon Rivera would be only mean, that Marc Panepinto and the Party Machine will run things.

Therefore, we support Robert Quintana for Assembly.



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