Saturday, 26 November 2022

Opinion



This has been a year of disruption. Eight months of restricted activities have all of us longing for normalcy. Giving up treasured holiday traditions has been particularly painful for many.

Despite our fatigue and frustration, we MUST keep the long view in mind this Thanksgiving. Increases in cases have regularly followed holidays that bring extended families and other cross-household groups together.

If that happens again, local healthcare resources will be strained, and Lake County probably will extend well into the Purple Tier of the state’s Blueprint to a Safer Economy and face greater business restrictions for a considerable period, perhaps months.

In-person gatherings across households are not recommended. If you do gather:

– Stay outside, and be vigilant with sanitation if people must go inside to use restrooms.
– No greater than three households.
– Keep it short – two hours or less.

Traveling out of the area, or having out-of-area family and friends come to visit you, is also not a good idea this year.

The State advises a 14-day self-quarantine on return for those traveling out of state, and any non-essential travel carries risk. If you must travel, precautions should be strongly emphasized:

– Masking while indoors;
– Staying away from others when ill;
– Social distancing;
– Proper disinfection.

This is not a normal year. Many people customarily travel to other parts of the state, or out of the country, to see family. Some people travel to other areas for work. We strongly encourage people to think twice before doing so.

Dr. Gary Pace, MD, MPH, is Public Health officer for Lake County, California.

This news analysis was originally published by the Center for Public Integrity, a nonprofit investigative news organization based in Washington, D.C.

“You will not replace us!”

The words chanted in 2017 by tiki torch-wielding white supremacists in Charlottesville, Virginia, get right to the heart of what voter disenfranchisement tactics are all about in the 2020 election.

Non-Hispanic white people are a shrinking percentage of the U.S. population and won’t be a majority within a few decades. They’ve held on to grossly disproportionate political power and wealth through discriminatory tactics that go back hundreds of years. As that power is threatened in 2020 by demographic shifts and backlash to a deeply unpopular president, the effort to rule from the minority for a long time to come has become more desperate and more brazen.

Slow down the mail.

Speed up a Supreme Court appointment.

Shut down polling places in Black communities. Open up more in white ones.

Stop counting people of color in the 2020 Census so they have less representation in Congress and fewer federal dollars invested in their districts.

Just stop counting the actual ballots. (After all, that tactic has worked before.)

And prohibit government agencies and schools from talking about the parts of U.S. history that reveal the track record and rationale behind these tactics.

You will not replace us.

This is the context for “Barriers to the Ballot Box,” an investigation this year by the Center for Public Integrity and Pew Charitable Trusts’ Stateline project into what is preventing people from exercising their rights to vote and equal representation.

We started with the Shelby County v. Holder decision, the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in 2013 that stripped the federal Voting Rights Act of the “preclearance” requirement, which had required states with a history of racist disenfranchisement to get authorization from the federal government before implementing changes to voting laws or rules.

Politics is about turning “your people” out to vote, not necessarily all people, and there’s a long history in both major parties of suppression tactics aimed at staying in power. But in this moment, Republicans’ reliance on disenfranchisement of people of color and dog-whistle rhetoric appealing to white voters’ fears of the country’s shift in demographics is stark.

After Shelby, an immediate tactic employed in states no longer subject to preclearance was closure of polling places in predominantly Black and Latino communities. Texas and Georgia, both previously subject to federal preclearance, led the way.

Texas is ahead of the country as a whole in demographic changes. Non-Hispanic white people are already a minority there, accounting for about 40 percent of the population. But whites represent two-thirds of the state’s congressional delegation and state legislature.

The white Republican men who hold the state’s most powerful offices have used an array of tactics to prevent more people from voting this year.

Changing demographics have turned Georgia into a battleground state where disenfranchisement tactics narrowly prevented a Black woman, Stacey Abrams, from becoming governor two years ago. Republican Brian Kemp, who beat her in that race, was the architect of those tactics as Georgia’s secretary of state. They included polling place closures, depriving election officials in Black communities of resources, and purging Black people from voting lists.

In her book “One Person, No Vote,” historian and Emory University Professor Carol Anderson pierces the narrative that emerged around Donald Trump’s election in 2016. Black voters didn’t decide to stay home in key battleground states simply because Hillary Clinton’s campaign failed to enthuse them.

“Republican legislatures and governors systematically blocked African Americans, Hispanics, and Asian Americans from the polls,” Anderson wrote. “Pushed by both the impending demographic collapse of the Republican Party, whose overwhelmingly white constituency is becoming an ever smaller share of the electorate, and the GOP’s extremist inability to craft policies that speak to an increasingly diverse nation, the Republicans opted to disenfranchise rather than reform.”

In 2008, Barack Obama won Indiana, a bastion of Republican control, on the strength of turnout by people of color in Indianapolis. In response, the state closed early voting centers there and opened more in predominantly white communities.

Twenty states adopted new restrictions on the right to vote following the election of our first Black president. And free from the preclearance check of the Voting Rights Act, states began closing polling places in predominantly Black and Latino communities.

Public Integrity and Stateline journalists spent a year and filed more than 1,200 public records requests compiling nationwide data on polling place locations in 2012, pre-Shelby, through 2020 so local journalists, researchers and academics can track the impact of closures.

We used historic voter files in states such as Louisiana and South Carolina to determine the average extra distance that Black voters have to travel to vote and where voters are subjected to long lines and wait times.

Beyond polling place closures, 2020 voter suppression tactics are modern-day cousins of the white supremacist measures taken to keep Black people from voting in the Jim Crow era.

Then, poll taxes were used to keep Black and low-income people from having a say in elections.

Today, Republican officials in Florida are requiring people convicted of a felony to pay all associated court fines and fees before their voting rights will be restored. Like so many Jim Crow tactics, it was a back door cancellation of rights that had been extended to predominantly people of color — in this case, by the people of Florida through a statewide referendum.

Then, literacy tests were used to keep Black people from voting. The real point was to build so much subjectivity into the standards by which passing the test was judged that local election officials could prevent whomever they wanted from voting.

Today, overly complicated requirements for casting absentee ballots build that subjectivity into the process. Your vote might not count because a local official decides that your signature doesn’t match, or you forgot to place your ballot inside an additional security envelope when you sent it in. Some states are allowing voters the chance to correct errors if there’s time before Election Day, while others (again, Texas) have ruled that local officials have no obligation to even notify voters that their ballot was rejected.

Then, segregationists used a McCarthyist fear of communism around every corner to fight organizers registering Black people to vote. Today, almost every measure that disenfranchises Black, Latino and Native American citizens is based on a false narrative that voter fraud is a widespread problem or threat.

“These claims of widespread fraud are nothing more than old wine in new bottles,” Max Feldman wrote for the Brennan Center in May. “President Trump and his allies have long claimed, without evidence, that different aspects of our elections are infected with voter fraud. Before mail voting, they pushed similar false narratives about noncitizen voting, voter impersonation, and double voting in order to enact laws that reduce turnout and discredit adverse election results.”

Some tactics that date back to the era before the Voting Rights Act was adopted in 1965 haven’t changed at all.

Taking voting rights away from people convicted of felonies started as a way to specifically target Black men, paired with efforts to aggressively arrest them. Today, some form of felony disenfranchisement is the law in every state except Maine, Vermont and Washington, D.C., and as of 2016 it prevented more than 6 million adults from voting. That’s up from about 1 million in 1976 and a little over 3 million in 1996. Black people are affected at a rate more than four times greater than white people.

In the 1960s, civil rights activists with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee faced jail time for registering Black people to vote, and all kinds of intimidation and violence. In 2020, it’s illegal in Arizona and some other states to help people cast absentee ballots. In Tennessee, you can be convicted of a felony and lose your right to vote by protesting for voting rights. And across the country, local election officials are worried that protesters and aggressive “poll watchers,” egged on by Trump, will show up at the polls on Election Day and intimidate voters.

It wasn’t until 2006, starting in Indiana, that the requirement that citizens present government-issued photo identification at the polls before they’re allowed to vote became a popular disenfranchisement tactic, pushed in copycat legislation across numerous states largely controlled by Republican legislatures.

The stated rationale for such laws is the threat of voters being impersonated by people looking to commit election fraud — an all-but-nonexistent problem. A 2014 analysis by Justin Levitt of Loyola Law School in Los Angeles found 31 cases of that happening in the entire country since 2000, out of more than 1 billion ballots cast.

New tactics in the Trump era include voter suppression via misinformation, intimidation and psychological warfare, micro-targeted via Facebook and YouTube.

Ahead of the 2016 presidential election, with the help of Facebook’s algorithms and demographic targeting capabilities, Russia strategically stoked “racial discord” in the U.S. to help elect Trump.

The goal in targeting Black voters was not to convince them to support Trump — a hopeless cause, in many cases — but to discourage them from voting at all. A Senate Intelligence Committee report found that no category of voters was targeted more by the Russian effort in 2016 than Black Americans.

Trump’s own campaign, according to a report by the UK’s Channel 4 and the Miami Herald, profiled Black voters with a label of “deterrence” and targeted them with online advertising aimed at destroying their faith in and motivation for voting altogether.

The story of disenfranchisement in 2020 is also one of deliberate inaction in the face of extenuating circumstances.

In March, when in-person voting seemed risky due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Trump said that he was against federal funding to expand voting by mail. Why? Because, he said, it would increase overall turnout to the point where “no Republican would ever be elected again.”

Republican officials at the federal and state level have rejected requests for funding that would help local officials overcome a shortage of poll workers, expand polling places to accommodate proper social distancing and purchase personal protective equipment. Movie star and former Republican California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and others have stepped up to fund these things in some communities at greatest risk for disenfranchisement, but even that has been opposed by some state officials.

Another theme of our Barriers to the Ballot Box project is that disenfranchisement still takes place in all 50 states. It’s not just a Deep South problem or a uniquely Republican tactic.

In New York City, long lines at early voting centers led Democratic Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to criticize the way the election has been administered in an area that had been subject to preclearance rules. Ocasio-Cortez overcame a powerful party machine to win election two years ago.

Republicans in New Hampshire tried to effectively stop college students not originally from New Hampshire from voting. In Rhode Island, a state dominated by Democrats, one of the strictest photo ID laws in the country requires that a driver’s license not be more than six months out of date, a rule that has not been waived even though the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles has mostly been shut down since March because of the pandemic.

In Connecticut, also dominated by Democrats, a ban on early voting and other restrictions that disproportionately affect Black and Latino voters are written into the state constitution. It’s hard not to wonder how equal access to the electoral process would have shaped policy in a state whose housing and schools are deeply segregated and that has one of the largest wealth gaps in the country.

As states have grappled with these issues in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Trump campaign and Republicans across the country have engaged in a coordinated legal effort to oppose expansion of vote by mail in particular.

And as with the Jim Crow era, backflips in legal philosophy are possible when the goal is white supremacy. If a Republican state has placed new restrictions on voting, or is refusing to make accommodations due to COVID-19, the claim is states’ rights, with wide leeway for local control. But four Supreme Court justices wanted to block Pennsylvania from making decisions about how its election would run this fall.

That’s why it ultimately matters not what the Constitution says (a Constitution that doesn’t explicitly guarantee a right to vote) if there’s a majority on the Supreme Court willing to twist its interpretation or rule from an alternative set of facts. Nor do rules and norms matter if there is a president and Senate willing to break or change them, and a judiciary they’ve appointed coming up with the legal justification.

How will this play out in the 2020 election?

If early turnout is an indication, especially in states that have actively tried to make it more difficult to vote, disenfranchisement may have prompted a backlash, even in the face of long lines and a global pandemic.

Whether it will be enough to upend this power dynamic, and what can be accomplished in the face of a Supreme Court poised to further erode the Voting Rights Act, is a question central to confronting inequality in America.

Matt DeRienzo is editor-in-chief of the Center for Public Integrity.

The Lake County Democratic Party has endorsed six candidates running for local offices: Jessica Pyska for Board of Supervisors in District 5, David Claffey for Clearlake City Council, Michael Green for Lakeport City Council, Natalie Higley and Gilbert Rangel for Kelseyville Unified School District Board, and Zabdy Neria for Konocti Unified School District Board.

The endorsement process is a rigorous one, according to the party's Elections Chair Sissa Harris. It involves each prospective candidate completing a questionnaire that asks how they would approach solving issues critical to our community. It also involves interviews conducted (via Zoom, this year) by the entire Elections Committee with each candidate. "I am grateful for the patience and hard work of everyone involved," said Harris.

Board of Supervisors candidate for District 5 Jessica Pyska was endorsed by the Lake County Democratic Party before her primary in March, where she attained the majority of votes cast, but not enough to win outright and therefore is now in a runoff on the November ballot.

Ms. Pyska has deep experience in two areas of priority for Lake County – fire resilience and economic development. She is a founding member of the Cobb Area Council and recently received a $200,000 economic development grant that is being strategically invested.

She serves on several county-level committees and attends every meeting of the Board of Supervisors. To help feed the community during the current crisis, she raised almost $8,000 and three tons of food. She started two garden giveaway programs and continues to support local businesses during the Covid crisis.

Ms. Pyska has also been endorsed by Assemblymember Cecilia Aguiar-Curry as well as State Senator Mike McGuire.

Clearlake City Council candidate David Claffey is a member of the Clearlake Marketing Committee and serves on the board of directors for the Highlands Senior Center. He is currently a business content strategist for ServiceNow. He brings youth, creativity and enthusiasm to the role that city government can play in improving housing, tourism and business in the city of Clearlake.

Lakeport City Council candidate Michael Green has served the city of Lakeport on the Planning Commission for three years. Planning and zoning issues have given him a good understanding of the many and complex issues facing the city. Twenty years of Mr. Green's career was spent in journalism writing about local news. He also ran two businesses.

Mr. Green brings a balanced approach to city government, understanding the needs of residents and the business community. He appreciates that Lakeport has many strengths, from the great people who live in the city to the many recreational things to do in the area, and a city staff that has very good working relationships. Mr. Green seeks to improve the city's stock of affordable housing and looks for ways to safely increase jobs in the COVID-19 era.

Kelseyville Unified School District Board candidate Natalie Higley is new to running for office, but is not new to politics, serving as an AD4 delegate to the California Democratic Party. Ms. Higley is running for the school board because of her interest in delivering a quality education safely to school children. As a single parent, she believes that she understands how challenging educational delivery can be for both school districts and parents in these challenging times.

Ms. Higley is herself a product of the Kelseyville Unified School District, and is grateful to the many teachers and classified staff who supported her educational journey. Ms. Higley has been active in the revitalization of the school garden project, an example of a successful school and community partnership, and one way parents can engage with their children's learning. Ms. Higley is currently the political director for the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Local 551.

Kelseyville Unified School District Board candidate Gilbert Rangel has 20 years of experience working in the government and nonprofit sectors, focused on programming in the areas of youth development, education and migrant communities. Currently, Mr. Rangel serves as the director for the Lake County AmeriCorps program which is focused on empowering youth to become successful in their education. Mr. Rangel's vision for the Kelseyville Unified School District is for all stakeholders to work “Together Towards Progress” so that every student has equal access and opportunity to a meaningful education.

Konocti Unified School District school board candidate Zabdy Neria is an alumni of Lower Lake High School, and is now acquiring her master's in social work. She is a children's mental health specialist, provides therapy, and advocates for the youth of this county. Ms. Neria has dedicated her life to serving the most vulnerable populations in a variety of roles. She believes in the power of community and that "together we can achieve anything."

"We have truly outstanding candidates," said Lake County Democratic Party chair Deb Baumann. "Lake County is fortunate that such thoughtful, committed people are stepping up to the plate to run for office."

For more information about the Democratic Party in Lake County visit www.lakecountydemocrats.org or www.facebook.com/LakeCountyDemocrats.

Contact the Democratic Party of Lake County at 707-533-4885 or by email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

The members of the Lake County Democratic Party Central Committee of Lake County, California, are Deb Baumann, Larry Bean, Mary Borjon, Susan Cameron, Virginia Cerenio, Doug Harris, Sissa Harris, Ceva Giumelli, Tom Jordan, Chloe Karl, Ellen Karnowski, Cathy McCarthy, John Sheehy, Stephanie Pahwa, Dave Rogers, Justine Schneider and Trish VanDenBerghe.

Prior to the Valley fire in 2015, I had made a conscious decision to not seek a fifth term on the Board of Supervisors.

That all changed on Sept. 12 of that year when our county was thrown into a disaster like it had never seen before, and hopefully, will never see again.

After consulting with family, friends and an excellent candidate that had planned to run to replace my seat, we agreed that I would seek reelection in order to maintain some consistency in the immediate and future recovery.

We all worked hard to do the best we could, having never gone through this kind of event, at every level.

Last year, I decided once more, that I would retire from the board at the end of my term. I knew of a few candidates that might be willing to step in with new energy and ideas and I was excited about that prospect.

By then many folks had been involved in the recovery effort of this and several other disasters and the pool was full of highly qualified and motivated people that could easily take the reins.

First I would like to thank Bill Kearney for jumping into the race for no other reason than his love of Lake County. Bill could have easily chosen to enjoy his new-found retirement but he chose to be a voice for a hardworking group that shares that love of Lake County. I am grateful for people like Bill and Dana Kearney.

Most importantly I wish to congratulate and offer my support to Jessica Pyska, our newly elected District 5 supervisor.

Jessica has shown a commitment to our community that makes me proud to know her and, know that Lake County is in the very capable hands of someone that will work hard for all of the right reasons.

For those of you that supported candidate Pyska, please don’t stop there. She will need your support more than ever in the upcoming months and years.

For those of you that possibly did not show support for Supervisor-elect Pyska, I ask you to please give her the chance that she deserves in doing the job that she is about to embark upon.

She has all of the qualifications needed to represent all of us, not the least of which is that she has a good heart and she wants nothing less than the best for Lake County.

Rob Brown is the retiring District 5 supervisor for the Lake County Board of Supervisors. He lives in Kelseyville, California.

Kelseyville Unified School District Superintendent Dave McQueen. Courtesy photo.

KELSEYVILLE, Calif. – The longer this pandemic goes on, the harder it is.

It feels like we were asked to run a 100-meter dash; then halfway through the race, it got changed to a marathon, and now we’re all running out of energy.

I get it. I’m tired, too.

The thing is, we’ve got to keep going – all of us together. I know it takes extra effort to do things that used to feel easy, but we can’t give up.

We’ve got to do what we can to stay safe and keep our loved ones safe, and that means wearing masks, staying socially distanced, and if you have coronavirus symptoms, staying away from other people as much as possible.

When it comes to bringing students back into the classroom, we have to choose between the lesser of two evils: 1. Putting children at risk at school (potentially exposing them to a deadly virus) or 2. Putting children at risk at home (potentially exposing them to mental health problems resulting from a lack of socialization).

I’m also thinking about the community at large. Bringing students back into the classroom will almost certainly increase the number of COVID cases. Although children who get the virus may not get seriously ill, those they come in contact with may not be able to fight off the disease. We have a lot of students in Kelseyville who live in close quarters with family members older than 55 and some who are medically fragile.

On the other hand, the impacts of long-term distance learning on our students and the limitations it places on their families is only getting worse. Even the best distance learning isn’t as good as in-person instruction.

Friends of mine mentioned that their local mechanic is trying to fix cars for a living while his second grader sits against a wall in his shop with a Chromebook on his lap trying to download his assignment.

People are making sacrifices all over our community – and not all parents have the luxury of bringing their children to work with them. Some parents are at home with young children, and if they can’t work from home, that causes financial and emotional strain.

Because this pandemic is affecting people differently, Kelseyville Unified is going to let parents make the decision about whether their child should return to school. We’ll start calling parents in November to see whether they want to continue with distance learning or to have their child back on campus part-time, and we’ll structure our classes accordingly.

When students do come back to in-person learning, our schools will maintain strict safety measures that include COVID health screenings, face coverings, and physical barriers like plexiglass desk separators. If students do not adhere to these safety measures, they’ll be sent home and moved to full distance learning.

Eventually, when there’s a vaccine and the spread of the virus is minimal, we’ll return to normal (in-person instruction every day without COVID-19 safety measures). But until then, we have to keep people as safe as possible.

To determine the spread of COVID, the state has created a color-coded tracker with four tiers: purple, red, orange and yellow. A county can only move from one tier to another after three weeks.

Tier 1 is purple. It is the most dangerous because COVID-19 is considered widespread. This means there’s been an average of more than seven new cases per 100,000 people per day for the last seven days and/or an average positivity rate for COVID-19 testing of more than 8 percent for the last seven days. Without a special waiver, we cannot bring students into the classroom when we’re in the purple tier.

Tier 2 is red, and the spread of COVID-19 is considered substantial. This means we’ve had an average of between four and seven new cases per 100,000 people per day for the last seven days and/or an average positivity rate for COVID-19 testing of 5-8 percent for the last seven days. With safety measures, we can bring small groups (cohorts) of students on campus in line with county and state guidelines (no more than 16 in a classroom at a time).

Tier 3 is orange, and the spread of COVID-19 is considered moderate. This means we’ve had an average of between one and four new cases per 100,000 people per day for the last seven days and/or an average positivity rate for COVID-19 testing of 2-5 percent for the last seven days. With safety measures that might be slightly less restrictive, we can bring students back in cohorts.

Tier 4 is yellow, and the spread of COVID-19 is considered minimal. This means we’ve had an average of fewer than one new case per 100,000 people per day for the last seven days and/or an average positivity rate for COVID-19 testing of less than 2 percent for the last seven days. This is when we can return to normal.

As of late October, Lake County was in the red tier with numbers that were sending us toward the purple tier. We probably won’t hit orange until early next year, which means we’ll be in either distance learning or a combination of in-person and distance learning (also called the hybrid model) for some time.

For now, we remain in full distance learning. I understand it isn’t as good as in-person learning, but it’s better than having people we love get really sick or die. In case you don’t know, it’s pretty impressive the way teachers and students have adjusted.

Of course, some people are struggling more than others, but a lot of teachers and students are doing amazing work virtually.

I’ve said this before, but I’ll say it again. Parents, please keep asking your school for what you need, and we’ll do everything we can to provide it. Of course, we have some limitations, but we also have a lot of resources to help.

At Kelseyville Unified, we continue to provide free meals for all Kelseyville students, as well as access to technology that includes hotspots, wifi via school parking lots, and Chromebooks, plus school-sponsored technical support via This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

For more information, visit our website at www.kvusd.org.

Dave McQueen is the superintendent of Kelseyville Unified School District.

Seema Verma, administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. Courtesy photo.

Each year, more than 250,000 women in the United States learn that they have breast cancer, and more than 20,000 find out they have ovarian cancer.

While most of these cancers happen randomly, about 5 to 10 percent are hereditary, meaning they are caused by genetic changes (called mutations) which are passed down in families.

Unfortunately, women with these inherited cancers have few treatment options.

That’s why the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) recently extended Medicare coverage to laboratory diagnostic tests using next-generation sequencing (NGS) for patients with inherited breast or ovarian cancer.

NGS testing gives a more complete profile of cancer cells than is possible with current tests and may help identify proven, targeted treatments.

NGS tests provide the most comprehensive genetic analysis of a patient’s cancer because they can simultaneously detect multiple types of genetic alterations. CMS first began covering laboratory diagnostic tests using NGS in March 2018 for Medicare patients with advanced cancer that met specific criteria. With CMS’ recent coverage decision, more Medicare patients will have access to NGS to assist in managing other types of inherited cancers to reduce mortality and improve health outcomes.

Innovative technologies are transforming American medicine, and CMS is closely monitoring the rapid development of new tests and tools for diagnosing cancer. We want to do everything we can to support women’s health and help patients get the care they need.

In addition to providing access to this testing for women, Medicare also covers testing for prostate cancer.

All men are at risk for prostate cancer. Out of every 100 American men, about 13 will get prostate cancer during their lifetimes, and two or three men will die from it.

The most common risk factor is age. The older a man is, the greater his chance of getting prostate cancer.

Some men are at increased risk for prostate cancer. You’re at increased risk for getting or dying from prostate cancer if you’re African-American or have a family history of prostate cancer.

Medicare Part B covers digital rectal exams and prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood tests once every 12 months for men over 50 (beginning the day after your 50th birthday).

Beneficiaries pay 20 percent of the Medicare-approved amount for a yearly digital rectal exam and for physician services related to the exam. The Part B deductible ($198 in 2020) applies. In a hospital outpatient setting, there’s also a copayment.

Beneficiaries pay nothing for a yearly PSA blood test. If you get the test from a doctor who doesn’t accept Medicare payment, you may have to pay an additional fee for the doctor’s services, but not for the test itself.

In 2018, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force made the following recommendations about prostate cancer screening:

Men who are 55 to 69 years old should make individual decisions about being screened for prostate cancer with a PSA test.

Before making a decision, men should talk to their doctor about the benefits and harms of screening for prostate cancer, including the benefits and harms of other tests and treatment.
Men who are 70 years old or older should not be screened for prostate cancer routinely.

September is National Prostate Cancer Awareness Month, and October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Please take a moment to familiarize yourself with the many preventive screening services that Medicare offers for cancer and other diseases, at https://www.medicare.gov/coverage/preventive-screening-services.

Seema Verma is the administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

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