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News — Nationwide

Nurses Top Honesty and Ethics List for 11th Year

Nurses continue to outrank other professions in Gallup's annual Honesty and Ethics survey. Eighty-one percent of Americans say nurses have "very high" or "high" honesty and ethical standards, a significantly greater percentage than for the next-highest-rated professions, military officers and pharmacists. Americans rate car salespeople, lobbyists, and members of Congress as having the lowest honesty and ethics, with the last two getting a majority of "low" or "very low" ratings. —Gallup, 12/03/10 More »

Nurses union becomes potent political force

Politicians and political strategists looking ahead to the next election cycle are taking notice of an increasingly potent political force on the state and national scene - one that's overwhelmingly female and dressed in scrubs. The Oakland-based California Nurses Association has made its mark by delivering some powerful political punches with a combination of entertaining theater and savvy strategizing. —San Francisco Chronicle, 11/24/10 More »

Growing National Nurses United union steps up strikes in aggressive new strategy

The nurses at the Washington Hospital Center were all set to wear red scrubs - the union color - on Monday in preparation for a strike the day before Thanksgiving. But those scrubs can be put away, at least for now, because the union canceled the one-day strike, and management put controversial pay cuts on hold, as both sides are to resume talks after the holiday —Washington Post, 11/20/10 More »

Insurers Gave U.S. Chamber $86 Million Used to Oppose Obama’s Health Law

Health insurers last year gave the U.S. Chamber of Commerce $86.2 million that was used to oppose the health-care overhaul law, according to tax records and people familiar with the donation. The insurance lobby, whose members include Minnetonka, Minnesota-based UnitedHealth Group Inc. and Cigna Corp. of Philadelphia, gave the money to the Chamber in 2009 as Democrats increased criticism of the industry, according to a person who requested anonymity because laws don't require identifying funding sources. —Bloomberg News, 11/17/10 More »

Trumka on Social Security: Don’t Raise Retirement Age

Among the many skeptics President Obama will have to win over to enact recommendations outlined by leaders of his bipartisan deficit reduction commission: one of the Democratic Party's key allies, AFL-CIO President Rich Trumka. Trumka was visiting National Journal as commission co-chairs Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson were unveiling their ideas Wednesday. —National Journal, 11/11/10 More »

More Americans opt for high-deductible health insurance plans

Rising costs lead to a nearly threefold increase in the number of workers covered by the policies since 2006. Health experts worry about consumers who forgo preventive care. Looking to save money in a weak economy, Americans increasingly are turning to health insurance plans with low premiums and high deductibles - prompting doctors and health experts to worry that consumers may be skipping routine care that could head off serious ailments. —Los Angeles TImes, 11/09/10 More »

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 »

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 »

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 »

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 »

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 »

Executives at health insurance giants cash in as firms plan fee hikes

The top executives at the nation's five largest for-profit health insurance companies pulled in nearly $200 million in compensation last year — while their businesses prepared to hit ratepayers with double-digit premium increases, according to a new analysis conducted by healthcare activists. —Los Angeles TImes, 08/11/10 More »

Nurses fear even more ER assaults as programs cut

Emergency room nurse Erin Riley suffered bruises, scratches and a chipped tooth last year from trying to pull the clamped jaws of a psychotic patient off the hand of a doctor at a suburban Cleveland hospital. A second assault just months later was even more upsetting: She had just finished cutting the shirt off a drunken patient and was helping him into his hospital gown when he groped her. —Associated Press, 08/10/10 More »

New health law may bring pricier premiums

Employers and consumers sorting through their health insurance options may see a bump in their rates next year to account for the potential impact of some of the early elements of the federal health overhaul law, according to some health experts. Jeff Sher, an independent health insurance agent and consultant in San Francisco, said he's anticipating employee coverage at mid-size companies to go up 13 percent to 15 percent. "Then we're supposed to tack on several percentage points for health reform," he said. —San Francisco Chronicle, 08/09/10 More »

America Goes Dark

The lights are going out all over America — literally. Colorado Springs has made headlines with its desperate attempt to save money by turning off a third of its streetlights, but similar things are either happening or being contemplated across the nation, from Philadelphia to Fresno. —New York Times, 08/08/10 More »

In Superman’s Hometown, a Labor Dispute Over Health

Union workers at the plant have been picketing since being locked out in June, when negotiations over a new contract stalled. The dispute involves disagreements over pensions and health benefits. The memorial is a fitting backdrop for the contentious labor dispute that has shaken Metropolis — the self-proclaimed hometown of Superman, which sits on the Ohio River at the southern edge of Illinois. Many workers believe that the plant contributed to their fellow employees’ illnesses, which is a central reason the union is refusing to accept the plant operator’s plan to reduce pensions for newly hired workers and health benefits for retirees. —New York Times, 08/08/10 More »

Workers’ compensation decisions too often favor employers

It has been 25 years since I wrote my first column about workers' compensation in Mississippi, and as I sit down to write about it again I keep coming up with French expressions like "déja vu" and "plus a change, plus c'est la même chose" ("the more things change, the more they stay the same"). —Hattiesburg American, 08/08/10 More »

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