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Steward to close Taunton home care division

Chelsea Conaboy, Boston Globe, July 2, 2012 Charles Winokoor of the Taunton Daily Gazette reports that Steward Health Care is eliminating its home care division at Morton Hospital in Taunton, the only such division in the state’s second largest hospital system. Steward spokesman Chris Murphy did not say how many people would be laid off as a result. “As a hospital-based service, Morton Homecare does not have the ability to operate under a community-based model,” Murphy said in a statement to the paper.

Massachusetts officials weigh in on what 'Obamacare' ruling means for state

Gerry Tuoti, Taunton Daily Gazette, June 28, 2012 The Supreme Court’s ruling that President Barack Obama’s national healthcare legislation is not unconstitutional not only has sweeping implications nationally, but also reaffirms the status of the Massachusetts health care law in the eyes of many Bay State officials, analysts and health providers. “We are extremely encouraged by the growth and access to affordable care,” said David Morales, Steward Health Care System’s vice president for public policy and strategic planning. “We think more and more of that’s going to happen through this.” ... Massachusetts

Chafee to allow amended hospital bill to become law

Richard Asinof, Providence Business News, June 15, 2012
 Providence – Governor Lincoln D. Chafee announced Friday afternoon that he would allow the legislation changing the Hospital Conversions Act to become law without his signature. In his statement, Chafee said his primary concerns with the new law is the language relating to judicial review of regulatory agency decisions, and the lack of what he deemed a sufficient waiting period. “However, after meeting with interested parties on both sides of the issue, my concerns have been satisfactorily addressed, and I believe that the good in this important bill outweighs the bad,” Chafee said. ... Chafee

Health Department approves Landmark sale, with conditions

Richard Asinof, Providence Business News, May 23, 2012
 Providence – Landmark Medical Center took a big step toward becoming a for-profit hospital that will be owned by Steward Health Care, renamed the Blackstone Medical Center and incorporated in Delaware. Dr. Michael Fine, the director of the RI Department of Health, issued approval Monday evening for the Hospital Conversions Act application by Steward to purchase Landmark and its sister facility, the Rehabilitation Hospital of Rhode Island. Fine also approved the Change in Effective Control application, which had been approved earlier this month by the state Health Services Council. ... Health

Steward responds to 'red flags' in RI

Hospital chain forecasts profit this fiscal year. Bruce Mohl, CommonWealth, May 3, 2012 A consultant hired by the state of Rhode Island is raising “red flags” about the financial health of Steward Health Care System, but the Boston-based hospital chain says its business plan is on target and the company is expecting to turn a profit this year. Steward, a private, for-profit company bankrolled by the private equity firm Cerberus Capital, has shaken up the Massachusetts health care market by acquiring a string of struggling hospitals. It now is attempting to expand into Rhode Island ... Steward

Nurses Union Will Keep Fighting for Medicare for All

Rose Ann DeMoro, Executive Director, National Nurses United, July 17, 2012 Now that the Supreme Court has upheld the Affordable Care Act, former insurance company executive Wendell Potter’s appeal to single payer advocates to “bury the hatchet,” recently published in The Nation, is both misdirected and shortsighted.

 Potter argues that insurance industry pirates will exploit left critiques of the ACA to subvert implementation of the law. He calls on proponents of more comprehensive reform to forgive and forget, embracing the massive concessions made by the Obama administration and its liberal allies. But there are some gaping holes in this thinking. ... Nurses

Head-in-the-sand 'solution' is killing GOP

Jack Bernard, Des Moines Register, July 16, 2012 We Republicans have ourselves to blame for the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare. Our reaction to the Clinton health reform proposals in the early 1990s was to have conservative think tanks come up with a free competition model based on expansion of private insurance and Medicaid. That idea became Romneycare, which evolved into Obamacare. It is our baby, ugly or not. It is the height of hypocrisy for us now to criticize our own idea unless we have something better to replace it. And, the replacement needs to be comprehensive ... Head-in-the-sand

Targeting Single-Payer Advocates

Liberals Go Dizzy Spinning ObamaCare. Helen Redmond, CounterPunch, July 16, 2012 President Obama’s Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act sucks. It isn’t change in the dysfunctional American health care system that any one should believe in or defend. And yet that is exactly what liberals and  progressives are doing. Led by spin doctors at The Nation, they’re spinning ObamaRomneyCare (ORC), and that’s what it should be called, as if it were a step in the right direction. As if it were the only outcome of the national health care reform debate in 2009. ... Targeting

Wendell Potter, Single-Payer and the Big Lie

The Democrats' Latest Hatchetman. Russell Mokhiber, CounterPunch, July 16, 2012 Single payer, living wage, cutting the military industrial complex. The American people want it. And we can’t get it. Why not? Because good people continue to lie to themselves. The big lie? The Democratic Party is better than the Republican Party. Check out how the big lie tricks good people into doing stupid things. In August 2004, Michael Moore and Bill Maher got down on their knees and urged Ralph Nader not to run against the two corrupt political parties. They feared Ralph would hurt the Democrats. ... Wendell

Medicaid expansion a tough sell to governors of both parties

NC Aizenman & Karen Tumulty, Washington Post, July 12, 2012 While the resistance of Republican governors has dominated the debate over the health-care law following last month’s Supreme Court decision to uphold it, a number of Democratic governors are also quietly voicing concerns about a key provision to expand coverage. At least seven Democratic governors have been noncommittal about their willingness to go along with expanding their states’ Medicaid programs, the chief means by which the law would extend coverage to millions of Americans with incomes below or near the poverty line. ... Medicaid

Freedom Rider: Nixoncare Finally Wins

Margaret Kimberley, Black Agenda Report, July 11, 2012 The euphoria in the Obama camp over their health care victory at the US Supreme Court shows “the Democrats of the 21st century are akin to the Republicans of forty years ago.” Back then, Richard Nixon proposed a health care plan very much resembling – and, in some ways, superior to – Obamacare. When the Obama plan goes into effect in 2014, “there will still be nothing to prevent health insurance companies from manipulating the market place and giving Americans access to inferior coverage with high deductibles.” ... Freedom

The Battle for Healthcare Has Just Begun

Editors, The Nation, July 11, 2012 
If you thought the battle over healthcare reform came to an end when the Supreme Court declared the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate constitutional, think again. The fight is just beginning. On one side the Republican Party and its big money allies aspire to defeat President Obama, take control of Congress and repeal the largest piece of domestic legislation in forty-five years. Mitt Romney’s plan is even more regressive. He’d not only eliminate insurance for the 30 million Americans covered by the ACA; he would change the way the industry is taxed and regulated, turn Medicare into a voucher program and transform Medicaid into a block grant ... The

Healthcare Advocates: Time To Bury the Hatchet

Wendell Potter, The Nation, July 11, 2012 Health insurance executives breathed a sigh of relief when the Supreme Court upheld their favorite part of the Affordable Care Act (the part that is one of the least popular among the rest of us) - the individual mandate. And then, I’m confident, moments after they exhaled, they were on a conference call with their army of lobbyists and PR people to approve a strategy, developed months ago, to gut the provisions that the rest of us do like. These are the parts of the law that require insurers to provide coverage to millions they have long shunned like lepers, and that make the most egregious but profitable industry practices ... Healthcare

Senate vote ensures Taunton State Hospital stays open, for now

Charles Winokoor, Taunton Gazette, July 13, 2012 Boston - Despite threats by Governor Deval Patrick to shut it down for good, Taunton State Hospital will stay open, at least for the foreseeable future, with 45 inpatient beds. The Massachusetts Senate on Thursday voted 39-to-0 to override the governor’s veto of a FY13 budget item by the Legislature to keep the mental-health facility operational with 45 beds. The House previously voted unanimously to override the veto by Patrick - who has vowed to shutter the 169-bed hospital by the end of the year, as a means of saving money and consolidating services. ... Senate

House overrides Taunton State Hospital veto with unanimous vote

Marc Larocque, Taunton Gazette, July 12, 2012 Taunton - The Massachusetts House of Representatives voted unanimously on Wednesday to override Governor Deval Patrick’s veto of a $5.1 million item in the budget for this fiscal year to keep Taunton State Hospital open with 45 beds. The state Senate now has an opportunity to match that override vote in order to reverse Patrick’s veto. Patrick said no to an effort by legislators to keep 45 acute care beds at the hospital, which was a compromise worked out in the Legislature, after he announced plans in January to shut down the facility completely and shift beds to a new facility in Worcester. ... House

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