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Health insurers sit pretty at their customers’ expense

It's a good time to be a health insurer. Three of the biggest names in the insurance game reported rock-solid profits last week. Aetna said its third-quarter net income jumped 53% over the same period last year, to $497.6 million. WellPoint, parent of Anthem Blue Cross in California, said its profit rose 1.2% to $739.1 million. Health Net posted a net income of $62.7 million, compared with a loss of $66 million a year earlier. —Los Angeles TImes, 11/09/10 More »

Workers’ health insurance costs for 2011 include higher premiums and co-payments

For millions of Americans who get their health insurance through their job, autumn brings not only falling leaves and cooler breezes, but also difficult choices. That's because it's the time when many employers present workers with their insurance options for the coming year. —Washington Post, 11/08/10 More »

Sick Californians may be forgoing care because health deductible is too high, study says

Three million Californians are enrolled in high-deductible health insurance plans because they can't afford to pay high premiums. But the often excessive out-of-pocket costs could be causing some to delay seeking care, while jeopardizing the financial well-being of others, a new report from the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research has found. —Los Angeles TImes, 10/28/10 More »

Contra Costa nurse dies; El Cerrito man charged with murder in jail attack

A nurse who was attacked by an inmate at the Contra Costa County Jail died of her injuries today, prompting the promise of new legislation that would protect medical workers in jails and medical facilities. El Sobrante resident Cynthia Barraca Palomata, 55, died this morning, three days after she was struck in the head with a table lamp by an El Cerrito man awaiting processing into the jail, authorities said. —Contra Costa Times, 10/26/10 More »

Sparrow nurses allege unsafe staffing situations; patient care at issue at Lansing hospital

Nurses at Sparrow Hospital are alleging in complaints filed with the state that the Lansing facility is understaffed and jeopardizing patient care. Members of the Professional Employees Council of Sparrow Hospital submitted a report Thursday to the Michigan Department of Community Health detailing what it says are hundreds of instances of unsafe staffing situations. —Lansing State Journal, 10/22/10 More »

Nurses make the difference in care

I am a registered nurse working in this community. I am also part of the legislative efforts led by the National Nurses Organizing Committee of Florida. I support the Florida Hospital Patient Protection Act (known as HB 1283/SB 2316 in the 2010 legislative session) and ask that all residents of this community support it too. —Daytona Beach News-Journal, 10/18/10 More »

Critical care

Hundreds of nurses from the UMass Memorial Medical Center system staged a boisterous rally and demonstration in front of the Belmont Street Memorial campus yesterday to protest what they contend are unsafe staffing levels, hospital demands for pay and benefit cuts and the planned closing of a medical-surgical unit at Memorial. —Telegram and Gazette, 10/14/10 More »

U.S., California probe Prime Healthcare

A Southern California hospital chain known for aggressive billing practices and cost-cutting is being investigated by state and federal authorities for an unusually high rate of life-threatening infections among its older patients. —Los Angeles TImes, 10/12/10 More »

Nurses picket EMMC

Off-duty registered nurses covered by the union contract at Eastern Maine Medical Center picketed the hospital Monday. The purpose of the demonstration was "informational," according to Vanessa Sylvester of the Maine State Nurses Association, intended to raise public awareness of ongoing contract negotiations between the nurses and the hospital administration. —Bangor Daily News, 10/10/10 More »

US healthcare ‘to blame’ for poor life expectancy rates

The US healthcare system is to blame for declines in the country's life expectancy ranking, a study suggests. The Columbia University report rejects claims that factors such as obesity have shortened life-spans for Americans relative to other wealthy nations. —BBC, 10/09/10 More »

Health insurers throw support behind Republican candidates

The insurance industry is pouring money into Republican campaign coffers in hopes of scaling back wide-ranging regulations in the new healthcare law, while preserving the mandate that Americans buy coverage. Since January, the nation's five largest insurers and the industry's Washington-based lobbying arm have given three times more money to Republican lawmakers and political action committees than to Democrats. —Los Angeles TImes, 10/04/10 More »

Concerted effort to silence RNs

Assemblyman Curt Hagman's attack on registered nurses and our professional voice, the California Nurses Association, in a recent point of view (Sept. 23), and the bill he has sponsored to dictate what nurses are able to learn to better advocate for our patients, symbolize what is at stake for California patients and nurses in the November election. —Inland Valley Daily Bulletin, 10/03/10 More »

Nurses push for nurse-to-patient ratios

Nurses want minimum nurse-to-patient ratios to improve the quality and safety of patient care in NSW. Brett Holmes, general secretary of the NSW Nurses Association (NSWNA), on Monday said the reform had the backing of both public hospital and community healthcare nurses. —Sydney Morning Herald, 09/20/10 More »

Aetna gets OK to hike rates on individual health policies in California

The increase will average 19% and will take effect Oct. 1 along with double-digit hikes by Anthem Blue Cross, Blue Shield of California and Health Net that also had been reviewed by the Department of Insurance. More than 1 million Californians will see their health insurance premiums rise Oct. 1 now that regulators have wrapped up their review of a plan by Aetna Inc. to raise rates an average of 19% for 65,000 individual policyholders. —Los Angeles TImes, 09/17/10 More »

What They Could Be Saying to the Joe Miller Republicans

Republican candidates from coast to coast are fond of branding their opponents the Nancy Pelosi Democrats. Maybe it's time to talk about the Joe Miller Republicans. Miller is the Sarah Palin-backed Republican candidate for U.S. Senate from Alaska who toppled incumbent Republican Lisa Murkowski because she was not conservative enough. Miller gained notoriety, in part, by proposing elimination of two of the most popular reforms in U.S. history, Social Security and Medicare, and calling unemployment insurance "unconstitutional". —Huffington Post, 09/07/10 More »

Wall Street sees a reliable partner in Whitman

Republican gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman was leading a triumphant rally at the state GOP convention last month when she announced that New Yorkers were excited about the California governor's race. At a fundraiser she held in New York, Whitman said she met with people who "have suffered the financial reforms that are going to crimp our ability to raise capital, and they want California to turn the corner." —Sacramento Bee, 09/07/10 More »

California regulators seek up to $9.9 billion in fines from PacifiCare

California regulators are seeking fines of up to $9.9 billion from health insurer PacifiCare over allegations that it repeatedly mismanaged medical claims, lost thousands of patient documents, failed to pay doctors what they were owed and ignored calls to fix the problems. —Los Angeles TImes, 09/07/10 More »

Sen. Bernie Sanders says “Hands off Social Security”

By Sen. Bernie Sanders: The White House deficit commission is reportedly considering deep benefit cuts for Social Security, including a steep rise in the retirement age. We cannot let that happen. The deficit and our $13 trillion national debt are serious problems that must be addressed. But we can — and must — address them without punishing America’s workers, senior citizens, the disabled, widows and orphans. —Politico, 09/01/10 More »

Will ‘Progressives’ Let Middle Class Burn to Prove Their Point?

When Anthem Blue Cross announced its controversial premium increases in California recently, the insurer claimed, "a carrier must be able to receive actuarially sound rates." So it is remarkable that "progressive" San Francisco State Senator Mark Leno, a single payer health care advocate, recently introduced eleventh hour legislation codifying Anthem Blue Cross's "actuarially sound" defense of premium increases in law. —Huffington Post, 08/31/10 More »

VA nurses protest work conditions

Fed up with what they say are forced 16-hour shifts and inadequate staffing, some registered nurses at the Charlie Norwood VA Medical Center are planning an informational picket Sept. 8. Augusta VA Director Rebecca J. Wiley said the facility has added RNs and is trying to work with them on staffing levels —The Augusta Chronicle, 08/31/10 More »

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