KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Payment Practices Investigated; Texas Docs Team With Hospitals On Payment Reform

The New York Times: The Obama administration is investigating widespread practices that don't pay nurses and other employees at hospitals and nursing homes properly for overtime they work. "Hospitals around the country have paid millions of dollars in back wages to settle claims by the government and their employees. And many more hospitals are fighting class-action lawsuits that raise the same issues." Settlements have been reached in St. Louis, Boston and California. "The Labor Department has hired 250 new wage-and-hour investigators, representing a staff increase of one-third. The government wants to make sure workers get 'every penny they earn,' said Kenneth Stripling, a Labor Department official leading enforcement efforts in Birmingham, Ala. In New York, the department said, fewer than 36 percent of health care employers investigated by its Albany office were in compliance with the federal wage-and-hour law" (Pear, 8/9).

In the meantime, doctors and hospitals are teaming in Texas to push for payment reform, The Texas Tribune reports. "Across Texas, hospital systems are scooping up physician groups and solo practitioners, scrambling to create the kinds of coordinated medical teams that federal health care reform puts a premium on. … But some health care providers say the gold rush-style push is too much, too soon. They say physician groups are cashing in their chips for fear of being left behind and that hospitals are going on doctor spending sprees without knowing how - or even whether - these new medical teams will work." Some worry it could be the end of private practice, but doctors are teaming with only other doctors to stay competitive (Ramshaw, 8/9).

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