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A landmark court decision gives hope to people with mental illness in Mississippi, who are caught up in a dysfunctional mental health system, and their families.

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A provision under the Affordable Care Act allows Medicare to penalize hospitals for high readmission rates within 30 days of discharge, particularly among patients with heart attacks, heart failure or pneumonia. So hospitals near and far have begun various initiatives.

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Dr. Washington Burns is executive director of Prescott-Joseph Center for Community Enhancement, a nonprofit center for community services, education, culture and development in West Oakland. The corporation was organized in 1995 in the Prescott district, an economically deprived and undeveloped community in West Oakland. It evolved out of the conceptual scheme for the adaptive re-use of the former Saint Joseph's Convent. The center offers an immunization and preventive health clinic as well as a senior wellness program.

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Dean Shortell is an expert on organized health delivery systems in the United States. He has done extensive research on institutional incentives for improving quality of care and health outcomes, particularly when related to the management of patients with chronic illness. He can also discuss the impact of budget cuts on the delivery of healthcare services, including community services.

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Debra Cherry is excutive vice president of the Alzheimer's Association's California Southland Chapter, where she oversees program development, strategic planning and public policy efforts on behalf of people with dementia and their families. Cherry holds a Ph.D. in a clinical psychology from USC and completed her post-doctoral training in geriatric psychology at UCLA. She has served on the board of directors of the American Society on Aging (ASA) and as the chairperson of the national conferences of ASA and of the Alzheimer's Association.

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