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News — Nationwide

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 »

Sullenberger Urges Hospitals to Adopt Aviation Culture of Safety

Hospital leaders attending the American Hospital Association's Leadership Summit in San Diego Thursday got a stern lecture from Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger, who advised them they should adopt the safety culture of the aviation industry. They must stop thinking of accidents “as inevitable and start thinking about them as unimaginable," he said. “We in aviation have learned a lot, and we’re anxious to share it with you.” —HealthLeaders Media, 07/23/10 More »

Rose Ann DeMoro Wants Hospitals to Scream

This past April, Rose Ann DeMoro—a former supermarket cashier from St. Louis—looked at billionaire California gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman and had an idea. DeMoro found a Los Angeles drama teacher, dressed her in a crown and faux ermine, and sent her out to tail Whitman across the state. Joined by tuxedoed bodyguards named "Goldman" and "Sachs," "Queen Meg" now spends her days taunting Whitman up close. "The new corporate aristocracy, they're used to unilateral control, no democracy," says DeMoro. "The script just wrote itself." —Business Week, 07/22/10 More »

California Governor’s Race: Meg Whitman vs. the Nurses Union

In her gubernatorial campaign, California billionaire Meg Whitman fancies herself a turnaround artist, not unlike CEOs who take on failing companies and put them in the black. In her analysis of why the nation's most populous state and the world's 12th largest economy has a chronically dysfunctional government, one villain stands out: public-employee unions. —Time, 07/20/10 More »

Nurses unionize to improve patient care

America's nurses are on the march — literally and figuratively. Consider just two recent developments: In Minnesota, 12,000 nurses from 14 hospitals walked off the job for a day last month, the largest such action in U.S. history, in a bid to improve staffing levels and to secure standardized nurse-patient ratios. In Texas, almost 2,000 nurses at five hospitals voted to form unions in a two-week period ending in June. This was particularly notable because Texas has the third largest number of RNs in the country — after California and New York — but previously only one private hospital in Texas was organized. —Washington Times, 07/12/10 More »

Union chief makes nurses a political force

Rose Ann DeMoro, a former supermarket cashier from the suburbs of St. Louis who has risen to become one of America’s most powerful labor leaders, recalls that her tough but saintly mother had two maxims. One: “Keep reaching.” Two: “If someone hits you, and you don’t hit ’em back, you’re going to get it when you get home.” DeMoro, executive director of the 86,000 member California Nurses Association and the 155,000-member National Nurses United, says she has faithfully lived by the first — and never had to worry much about the second. —San Francisco Chronicle, 07/11/10 More »

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