Health Reform

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Mikulski Denounces Blunt Health Care Amendment

Senator Mikulski has called the amendment "politics masquerading as morality." Laura L Thornton, Chevy Chase Patch, March 1, 2012 Women's reproductive health would be compromised if an amendment to the Senate transportation bill allowing employers to deny health coverage for services they morally object to passes, a group of senators and health care professionals said Wednesday. Just one day before the Senate votes on the amendment, Senators Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), Patty Murray (D-WA), Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Tom Harkin (D-IO), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) ... Mikulski

Association of Hospital Spending Intensity With Mortality and Readmission Rates in Ontario Hospitals

Therese A. Stukel, Elliott S. Fisher, David A. Alter, Astrid Guttmann, Dennis T. Ko, Kinwah Fung, Walter P. Wodchis, Nancy N. Baxter, Craig C. Earle, Douglas S. Lee, JAMA, March 14, 2012 Context: The extent to which better spending produces higher-quality care and better patient outcomes in a universal health care system with selective access to medical technology is unknown. ... Conclusion: Among Ontario hospitals, higher spending intensity was associated with lower mortality, readmissions and cardiac event rates. ... Association

Feds release health overhaul blueprint for states

Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar, Associated Press, March 12, 2012 Washington - Tackling a huge logistical challenge, the Obama administration Monday released an ambitious blueprint for states to match up uninsured Americans with coverage that's right for them under the health care overhaul law. The long-awaited regulation, released as the Supreme Court prepares to hear a challenge to the law, stresses state and federal flexibility. Starting January 1, 2014, new health insurance markets called exchanges must be up and running in every state, the linchpin of a plan to eventually provide coverage to most of the nation's 50 million uninsured. ... Feds

The Real Cure for "Obamacare": Medicare for All

Rose Ann DeMoro, National Nurses United, March 2, 2012 With the approaching Supreme Court showdown on the President Obama’s 2010 health care law (the Affordable Care Act, modeled on Mitt Romney’s law [sic] in Massachusetts), the US healthcare system remains a dysfunctional mess, as nurses bear witness to every day. In late March, the Court will devote six hours over three days to oral arguments on the legal challenges to the law – the most time the Court has given a case in 56 years – accompanied by a possible record 100 “friend of the court” briefs, Kaiser Health News reported February 16. ... The

I Dreamed About My Cancer Docs Last Night

Donna Smith, Mike & Friends Blog, March 2, 2012 My sleep was restless last night except for the snippets of scenes where I was being tended to by my cancer doctors from some time ago. In those dreams they cared for my body and comforted my fears as we worked together to overcome my illness. Of course time had changed things a bit and their offices were interwoven with the sweet things only dreams can infuse, but it sure was nice to revisit a time in my medical life when the system was even a little less broken than it is today. Don’t get me wrong, the bills were crushing then and some of the barriers daunting ... I

Medicare Seen as Battleground Issue in Congressional Races

Robert Pear, New York Times, January 27, 2012 Washington - A Republican plan to remake Medicare, set forth in a budget blueprint devised by Representative Paul D. Ryan, has largely faded from public view. But it is about to come back in a big way as Democrats try to win control of the House by battering Republicans over Medicare in Congressional races around the country. House Republicans voted overwhelmingly last year for the “Ryan budget,” which would give Medicare beneficiaries a fixed amount of money to buy coverage from competing private health plans. Democrats are using the Medicare issue to attack Republicans ... Medicare

Will Health Care Costs Destroy the Economy?

Tim Wu, Slate, January 26, 2012 An escape fire is a swath of grassland intentionally ignited to protect humans from an oncoming blaze. Escape Fire: The Fight to Rescue American Healthcare, which premiered at Sundance this week, argues that we need to do something equally drastic if we are to save the economy from the health care system. While everyone knows health care is broken, the filmmakers go further, portraying health care itself as an out of control system, one which, if left unfixed, will burn until it consumes everything in its path. Several elements, as the film demonstrates, make health care costs grow uncontrollably. ... Will

Catholic Healthcare West becomes Dignity Health

Andrew S. Ross, San Francisco Chronicle, January 25, 2012 You may have noticed in Tuesday's Chronicle three large display ads on separate pages headlined "Dignity is." It's "something you are born with," one ad says. "Taking care of your body, mind and spirit," says another. And in the last one: "60,000 people committed to delivering superior care." Those 60,000 people used to work for San Francisco-based Catholic Healthcare West, but as of Tuesday are employed by Dignity Health. The new name is just one of the changes occurring at the not-for-profit hospital chain, the fifth largest in the country ... Catholic

To grow, Catholic hospital system pares religious ties

Jordan Rau, Kaiser Health News, January 24, 2012 Catholic Healthcare West, one of the nation's largest hospital systems, is ending its governing board's affiliation with the Catholic Church and changing its name, two steps intended to help the system expand throughout the states in which it operates - California, Arizona and Nevada - and beyond. The changes, which executives announced Tuesday, underscore the unique challenges facing Catholic hospitals in the marketplace, where there are tremendous financial pressures for hospitals to merge or form formal alliances with other health care providers in order to survive and thrive. ... To

Why Did Single-Payer Health Care Fail in California?

Lenny Potash, Labor Notes, February 17, 2012 Though it’s passed the legislature twice before, a bill to establish a single-payer universal health insurance system in California failed in the state senate in January. Not surprisingly, the bill received no Republican votes, but it fell just two votes short of passage when two Democrats voted no and four Democrats failed to vote, despite intense lobbying efforts by community and some labor health care activists. ... Why

National Strategy Conference – January 28 & 29, 2012

Join Us in Houston! You are invited to join Healthcare-NOW! activists from around the country to plan our strategy to win guaranteed single-payer national health insurance. By learning and sharing with one another we can build on the tremendous successes of the last year and develop the plan to push Congress to implement single-payer national health insurance now. ... National

Highmark looks to expand hospital and physician ownership

The Pittsburgh-based insurer, in a dispute with the area's largest hospital system, wants to occupy what it calls the "provider space." Emily Berry, American Medical News, December 26, 2011 Faced with a future where its home region's largest health system could be outside of its network, Pittsburgh-based Highmark plans to buy and affiliate with more hospitals and physician practices. Highmark's June announcement that it would purchase West Penn Allegheny Health System established its first large-scale foray in the clinical side of the health care business. It also contributed to the deterioration of contract negotiations with the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center ... Highmark

When Medicare Isn't Medicare

Wendell Potter, The Center for Public Integrity, December 26, 2011 Let’s say you have a Ford and decide to replace everything under the hood with Hyundai parts, including the engine and transmission. Could you still honestly market your car as a Ford? That question gets at the heart of the controversy over who is being more forthright about GOP Representative Paul Ryan’s plan to “save” Medicare, Republicans or Democrats. If you overhaul the Medicare system like you did your Ford and tell the public it’s still Medicare, are you doing so honestly? ... When

Uniting Occupy and Labor Over Health Care

Shamus Cooke, Common Dreams, December 25, 2011 Politicians are attacking Medicare and Medicaid on all sides - Democrats and Republicans alike. Obama's national health care bill will slash hundreds of billions from Medicare over the next decade, an act supported by so-called "progressive" Democrats. Soon after this "victory" Obama created the Super Committee to balance the budget, which included automatic  "triggers" - if no decision was reached - that are now slated to cut $600 billion more from Medicare. 

On a state-by-state basis, Medicaid - a program that provides health care to the poor - is being cut in virtually every state ... Uniting

Mentally ill flood ER as states cut services

Julie Steenhuysen & Jilian Mincer, Reuters, December 24, 2011 Chicago/New York - On a recent shift at a Chicago emergency department, Dr. William Sullivan treated a newly homeless patient who was threatening to kill himself. "He had been homeless for about two weeks. He hadn't showered or eaten a lot. He asked if we had a meal tray," said Sullivan, a physician at the University of Illinois Medical Center at Chicago and a past president of the Illinois College of Emergency Physicians. Sullivan said the man kept repeating that he wanted to kill himself. "It seemed almost as if he was interested in being admitted." ... Mentally

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