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Rough sailing ahead for health care reform, but it’s not our only option

Rough sailing ahead for health care reform, but it’s not our only option

You know another storm is brewing when Washington politicians start looking for somebody else to blame for problems they themselves created. That’s what happened recently at a Senate budget hearing when Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus unloaded on Kathleen Sebelius, President Barack Obama’s health and human services secretary. He berated her for failing to adequately educate the public or competently implement the 2,000-plus page Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare. During the hearing, Baucus worried aloudabout “a huge train wreck coming down” if the Obama administration didn’t clean up its act. Other Democrats soon piled on. —The Bangor Daily News, 06/04/13 More »

This Week In America, June 3, 2013

This Week In America, June 3, 2013

Austerity is a Killer. Estimates put the number of additional suicides at 10,000 and up to a million extra cases of depression across Europe and the U.S. since austerity measures were imposed after the financial collapse of 2008. These findings were highlighted in a new book, The Body Economic: Why Austerity Kills, authored by economist David Stuckler and physician Sanjay Basu, and the subject of an interview on Democracy Now! —Weekly News, 06/03/13 More »

For Medicare, Immigrants Offer Surplus, Study Finds

For Medicare, Immigrants Offer Surplus, Study Finds

Immigrants have contributed billions of dollars more to Medicare in recent years than the program has paid out on their behalf, according to a new study, a pattern that goes against the notion that immigrants are a drain on federal health care spending. The study, led by researchers at Harvard Medical School, measured immigrants’ contributions to the part of Medicare that pays for hospital care, a trust fund that accounts for nearly half of the federal program’s revenue. It found that immigrants generated surpluses totaling $115 billion from 2002 to 2009. In comparison, the American-born population incurred a deficit of $28 billion over the same period. —The New York Times, 05/29/13 More »

Europe Should Embrace a Financial Transaction Tax

Europe Should Embrace a Financial Transaction Tax

Opponents’ arguments are inconsistent and lack proportion, says Avinash Persaud, former senior executive at JPMorgan and UBS, and an executive fellow at London Business School. The banking industry has launched a concerted and broad attack against the plans of 11 European countries to impose a financial transaction tax. Bankers are complaining that the tax will kill growth, rob pensioners, make the European debt crisis worse, impoverish small farmers and more. On examination, the arguments by opponents of the FTT have three defining features. First, they are inconsistent. We are told that the tax will be so completely avoided that no one will pay it. Then we are told that the tax will bring economic and financial ruin. It is hard to have it both ways. —Financial Times, 05/29/13 More »

This Week In America, May 29, 2013

This Week In America, May 29, 2013

Less coverage. Considerable maneuvering is underway, as companies seek to achieve the very minimum contributions to employee health plans under President Obama’s Affordable Care Act. “Benefit advisers and insurance brokers.... are pitching low-benefit plans across the country,” wrote the Wall Street Journal. “Some of the plans wouldn’t cover surgery, X-rays or prenatal care at all. Others will be paired with limited packages to cover additional services, for instance, $100 a day for a hospital visit.” —Weekly News, 05/29/13 More »

California Rideout Nurses to Vote on New Contract on Tuesday

California Rideout Nurses to Vote on New Contract on Tuesday

Registered nurses at Rideout Health Group will vote Tuesday on whether to approve a tentative agreement on a new four-year contract, the association representing the nurses said Friday. The agreement, if finalized, would provide some 400 registered nurses with a 9 percent across-the-board pay increase over the four years of the agreement with an additional 2 percent for longer term registered nurses. —Appeal Democrat, 05/28/13 More »

DPH Issues Finding Declaring Child Psych Unit at Cambridge Health Alliance an Essential Service

DPH Issues Finding Declaring Child Psych Unit at Cambridge Health Alliance an Essential Service

The Department of Public Health has just issued its findings regarding the proposed plan by Cambridge Health Alliance to close its nationally recognized child psychiatric unit for the care of young children with acute mental illness (see the letter attached) The DPH finds that this unit provides an essential service that is “necessary for preserving access and health status in the Cambridge Hospital’s service area, which for the children and adolescents it serves extends throughout Eastern Massachusetts.” —Massachusetts Nurses Association/NNU, 05/24/13 More »

Nurses strike averted after UMass Medical management and nurses reach tentative contract agreement

Nurses strike averted after UMass Medical management and nurses reach tentative contract agreement

WORCESTER - Thursday's nurses' strike at UMass Memorial Medical Center's University Campus was averted and a tentative three-year contract agreement was reached between hospital management and the union representing 1,100 nurses on Wednesday. The agreement was reached after 18 months of negotiations. —The Republican-Massachusetts, 05/23/13 More »

Greater Taunton community voices anger at closing of Morton Hospital’s pediatric unit

Greater Taunton community voices anger at closing of Morton Hospital’s pediatric unit

TAUNTON—State health officials were in town Tuesday to hear arguments for and against Morton Hospital's plan to close its 13-bed pediatric unit. The Department of Public Health held the hearing, which took place at the Taunton Public Library, as part of a state review of the hospital's proposal. —TauntonGazette.com, 05/22/13 More »

Study finds jump in ER-related admissions

Study finds jump in ER-related admissions

Efforts to shift patients to lower-cost healthcare settings appear to flounder as the emergency department continues to play a larger role in where and how care is delivered. —Modern Healthcare, 05/21/13 More »

Talks collapse; UMass nurses to strike - Replacements start Thursday

Talks collapse; UMass nurses to strike - Replacements start Thursday

WORCESTER — The nurses’ strike is on. Union officials representing 1,100 nurses at UMass Memorial Medical Center — University Campus and hospital management spent four hours negotiating Monday afternoon but failed to reach a deal. —Massachusetts Nurses Association, 05/21/13 More »

Hearing Set in Dispute Between Barstow Hospital, Nurses

Hearing Set in Dispute Between Barstow Hospital, Nurses

A dispute between newly unionized nurses and Barstow Community Hospital will be heard by an administrative law judge next month in Los Angeles. The National Labor Relations Board has filed a complaint against the hospital. The hearing will take place June 17. The Registered Nurses at Barstow Community Hospital group voted to join the California Nursing Association-National Nurses United union in May 2012 and began negotiating their first contract with the hospital in July. —San Bernardino Sun, 05/21/13 More »

Fallbrook Hospital May Be Forced to Negotiate with Nurses

Fallbrook Hospital May Be Forced to Negotiate with Nurses

Fallbrook Hospital may be forced to return to contract negotiations with its registered nurses. The National Labor Relations Board is set to go to federal court June 5 to request a rare federal injunction to force the hospital to comply with federal labor law. Last May, Fallbrook RNs voted to join the California Nurses Association/National Nurses United. After initial meetings to discuss a collective bargaining contract, hospital officials walked away from talks. —San Diego Union Tribune, 05/21/13 More »

Sutter Health’s Alta Bates fined for health, safety violations

Sutter Health’s Alta Bates fined for health, safety violations

State regulators have slapped Sutter Health's Alta Bates hospital in Oakland with potential fines totaling $142,970 for six health and safety violations related to failure to properly isolate patients with airborne diseases such as tuberculosis. Two violations were determined to be “serious” and “willful,” carrying a proposed penalty of $70,000 each. —Sacramento Business Journal, 05/21/13 More »

Cedars-Sinai stands out for steep pricing

Cedars-Sinai stands out for steep pricing

When Medicare disclosed average charges from thousands of U.S. hospitals for 100 common procedures last week, only one hospital was near the top in every category: Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. Be it a cardiac stent, a hip replacement or a pacemaker, Cedars-Sinai's list prices for these routine treatments ranked among the top 5% in the country. —L.A. Times, 05/20/13 More »

Marin General Hospital nurses warn that new computer system is causing errors, call for time out

Marin General Hospital nurses warn that new computer system is causing errors, call for time out

Nurses at Marin General Hospital have asked administrators to put implementation of a new computerized physician order entry system on hold until glitches can be worked out and more training provided to nurses and doctors who use it. —Marin Independent Journal, 05/15/13 More »

Billing charges that hospitals say are meaningless stir controversy

Billing charges that hospitals say are meaningless stir controversy

Hospitals in Ventura County used billing charges in 2011 that exceeded their actual costs by a range of 339 to 598 percent, according to data from the California Nurses Association. —Pharmacy Choice. First appeared in Ventura County Star, CA, 05/15/13 More »

UMass Memorial sets one-day strike

UMass Memorial sets one-day strike

If the strike plans go through, it would be the largest nurses strike in the state’s history, according to the Massachusetts Nurses Association/National Nurses United. The strike would see more than 2,000 nurses walk off the job to protest cuts in nursing and support staff in the past two years, which they insist will greatly affect patient care. —Examiner.com, 05/15/13 More »

California Governor Jerry Brown Honors Nurses on Nurses Week

California Governor Jerry Brown Honors Nurses on Nurses Week

Registered nurses form the backbone of an advanced health care system. They spend notoriously long shifts at hard labor, under great risk of work-related injury or disease, while maintaining professional and technical standards as a matter of life and death. Even under these conditions, nurses are also the heart and soul of our hospitals and clinics, providing a human touch and support for the emotional needs of the patients. It's most fitting that we honor their enormous efforts and vital contributions to our collective well-being. —Governor Jerry Brown, 05/10/13 More »

San Leandro city leaders support hospital charity care bill

San Leandro city leaders support hospital charity care bill

A bill aimed at increasing accountability and charity care provided by California's nonprofit hospitals has gained the support of the City Council. —Inside Bay Area, 05/08/13 More »

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