Industry News: Volume 3, Issue 15

Early Intervention is Critical to Saving Sight with Macular Degeneration

Newswise — Northampton, MA – [Feb 4, 2024] – Today, the American Macular Degeneration Foundation (AMDF) and the Thought Leadership & Innovation Foundation (TLI) announce a new strategic partnership aimed at amplifying awareness and understanding of macular degeneration, a leading cause of vision loss in older adults.

Kicking off this collaboration is the release of Living with Macular Degeneration: Patient Stories | Laura Carabello: The Benefits of Early Intervention, a short film produced by AMDF featuring TLI Fellow and AMDF patient advocate Laura Carabello.

“This strategic partnership with TLI unlocks a vast potential to reach millions impacted by macular degeneration,” says Matthew Levine, Director of Grants, Advocacy & Partnerships at AMDF. “TLI’s expertise in thought leadership amplification will strengthen our trusted resources, elevate patient voices, and drive impactful conversations with eye care specialists, researchers, and policymakers.”

Carabello’s story offers a window into daily life with macular degeneration and the experience of anti-VEGF treatments. Diagnosed with wet macular degeneration, Laura credits her awareness of her genetic risk with seeking immediate medical attention upon experiencing symptoms, and thereby retaining much of her vision. Her narrative powerfully underscores the importance of early detection of macular degeneration and adherence to treatment plans.

Macular degeneration, also known as age-related macular degeneration (AMD), affects central vision, color perception, and fine detail clarity, greatly impacting daily living and independence. Aging, family history, smoking, poor diet, obesity, and high blood pressure are key risk factors.

“This partnership embodies a shared commitment to making a tangible difference in the lives of those living with macular degeneration,” says Shawn Murphy, vice president, TLI. “Laura’s story is a powerful testament to the power of early intervention, ongoing care, and the transformative potential of effective treatments.”

Together, AMDF and TLI are poised to illuminate a brighter path for individuals facing macular degeneration. Beginning in February, which is AMD Awareness Month, through ongoing collaborative efforts in awareness campaigns, groundbreaking research initiatives, and patient/provider support, they aim to minimize the impact of this condition and safeguard the precious gift of sight.

About The American Macular Degeneration Foundation

The American Macular Degeneration Foundation ( is a patient-centric foundation that supports potentially game-changing AMD research, education and advocacy in order to improve quality of life and treatment outcomes for all of those affected by AMD.

About TLI

The Thought Leadership & Innovation Foundation (TLI) is a not-for-profit organization that works at the nexus of science, technology and public health, innovating for superior prevention, treatment and outcomes for those facing life-altering medical diagnoses.TLI helps patients across the country and around the world find better healthcare outcomes. Visit and follow us on LinkedIn.

To view the article in its entirety, click here.

Prescription drug costs much higher in U.S. than in other nations, report says

By Doug Cunningham – Feb. 1 (UPI) — A RAND Corporation report released Thursday found that U.S. prescription drug prices are much higher than in other nations.

The report is out on the same day that Medicare sent initial price negotiating offers on 10 drugs for seniors.

According to the study, U.S. drug prices average 2.78 times the prices charged in 33 other countries studied.

To view the article in its entirety, click here.

Sun Life and Virtual Me Partner to Expand Telehealth Services to Include Health Navigation – SAN DIEGO & WELLESLEY, Mass.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Virtual Me announces a new partnership with Sun Life U.S. to expand access to telehealth services through Sun Life Health Navigator. Health Navigator provides health advocacy and care navigation services to help people who have a serious medical condition, or those who need help navigating the complex health care system. This product is for employers of any size with employees who are underinsured with high-deductible plans and those who are uninsured.

“Virtual Me is thrilled to partner with Sun Life, one of the largest providers of employee and government benefits that focuses on managing risk and the overall health and well-being of people,” says Joey Truscelli, CEO, Virtual Me. “Together, we are shaping the ongoing evolution of virtual care beyond the pandemic, signifying a lasting trend that successfully responds to employer and consumer demand for better access to high quality, affordable care that results in improved outcomes.”

Health Navigator’s team of expert Care Advisors and clinicians leverage extensive relationships with leading experts and Centers of Excellence all over the country to help find the best care and treatment options. With the personalized guidance and support of Health Navigator, members have support answering health questions, walking through treatment options, finding a provider, obtaining expert second opinions, and more. All services are focused on getting members increased access to the right care at the right time to improve their overall healthcare experience and outcomes.

“I am excited that Sun Life Health Navigator will now be available through Virtual Me’s suite of telehealth solutions,” said Jennifer Collier, president, Health and Risk Solutions, Sun Life U.S. “By working together, we will be able to fill the gap in access to health care, especially for the uninsured and underinsured, who can greatly benefit from our health advocacy and care navigation services.”

Virtual Me provides stand-alone tailored telehealth solutions for groups, families, and individuals, providing significant cost-savings for care, reduced time off from work and greater productivity. Utilizing board-certified physicians, these services include:

  • Unlimited urgent care telehealth
  • Unlimited virtual primary care
  • Mental health appointments
  • Discounts on prescriptions

Truscelli adds, “This solution is simply the most cost-effective option for improved access to care, including telehealth and care navigation.”

To learn more about Sun Life’s Health Navigator product available through Virtual Me, or any of the other telehealth solutions, visit

About Sun Life
Sun Life U.S. is one of the largest providers of employee and government benefits, helping more than 50 million Americans access the healthcare and coverage they need. Through employers, industry partners and government programs, Sun Life U.S. offers a portfolio of benefits and services, including dental, vision, disability, absence management, life, supplemental health, medical stop-loss insurance, and healthcare navigation. Sun Life employs nearly 8,300 people in the U.S., including associates in our partner dental practices and affiliated companies in asset management. Group insurance policies are issued by Sun Life Assurance Company of Canada (Wellesley Hills, Mass.), except in New York, where policies are issued by Sun Life and Health Insurance Company (U.S.) (Lansing, Mich.). For more information visit our website and newsroom.

About Virtual Me
Virtual Me™ provides a suite of telehealth services delivering quality health care directly to patients in need. Virtual Me members enjoy nationwide access to high-quality, convenient medical care via phone or videoconference, 24/7/365. Episodic Medical Care, Virtual Primary Care, Mental Health, Health Advocacy, Discount Lab Pricing, and Discount Prescriptions. With treatment for some of the most common chronic conditions, with unlimited visits and no consult fees; schedule annual wellness checks; avoid Urgent Care and other high-cost venues for routine healthcare; access care from U.S.-trained and board-certified physicians, with at least ten years’ experience practicing medicine. Visit

To view the original press release, click here.

Health care industry fights back against crackdowns on health data tracking

By Katie Palmer – Wherever you go on the internet, trackers follow. These ubiquitous bits of code, invisibly embedded in most websites, are powerful tools that can reveal the pages you visit, the buttons you click, and the forms you fill to help advertisers tail and target you across the web.

But put those trackers on a health care website, and they have the potential to leak sensitive medical information — a risk that, in the last year, has driven the Department of Health and Human Services and the Federal Trade Commission to crack down on trackers in the websites of hospitals, telehealth companies, and more.

To view the article in its entirety, click here.

Health care leaders seek regulation, transparency for AI in health industry

By Lydia McFarlane – Health care sector leaders urged Congress to pass regulations on the use of artificial intelligence (AI) in the industry based on experiences facing issues in the AI programming such as implicit bias and patient privacy. 

Wednesday’s hearing on the use of AI in health care comes after tools such as ChatGPT made waves in the health care space.

Witnesses expressed concern about implicit bias in AI used in health care that could potentially discriminate against patients based on demographics.

To view the article in its entirety, click here.

Payers up against slight decline in 2025 Medicare Advantage payments

By Noah Tong – Medicare Advantage (MA) payments are set to decrease yet again in 2025 as the feds phase in significant changes to risk adjustment.

As those overhauls begin to take effect, benchmark payments are set to decline by about 0.2% on average, according to the latest advance notice released by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS).

Despite this, the feds said Wednesday that payments to MA plans are expected to increase by 3.7% in 2025, a $16 billion increase over 2024.

To view the article in its entirety, click here.

Healthy Living Builds ‘Cognitive Reserve’ in Brain That May Prevent Dementia

By Ernie Mundell HealthDay Reporter – New research suggests healthy lifestyles can help stave off dementia, perhaps by building a resilient ‘cognitive reserve’ in the aging brain.

The study was based on the brain autopsies on 586 people who lived to an average age of almost 91. Researchers compared each person’s lifestyle and end-of-life mental skills to their neurological signs of dementia, such as brain protein plaques or changes in brain blood flow.

To view the article in its entirety, click here.