KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Colorado: Rural Health Care Gets Boost From Service Corps Program

In other workforce news, a new law is working its way through the California Senate that would require background checks and "elementary care instruction" for all workers who help out in seniors' homes.

Health Policy Solutions (Colorado): Rural Health Care Gets Boost From Innovative State/Federal Program
Before he started medical school, Peter Marshall pictured himself as a surgeon. ... Then one day while Marshall was studying at the University of Missouri-Columbia School of Medicine, he attended a lecture by a family medicine doctor who worked in a rural area. ... Fast forward eight years, and that's exactly what Dr. Marshall is doing in Pagosa Springs. He landed there at least in part because of the Colorado Health Service Corps, which places health care professionals in medically underserved communities and provides tax-free loan repayment plans as part of the compensation (Carman, 4/13).

California Healthline: New Senior Home Worker Law: Protection Or Intrusion?
A vast workforce in California has gone unregulated and unmonitored - and that could be a danger to the seniors they are supposed to help. That's the gist of a new law passed this week by the Senate Committee on Health. SB 411 by Curren Price (D-Inglewood), the Home Care Service Act of 2011, would require background checks and elementary care instruction for all workers who help out in seniors' homes (Gorn, 41/5).

Meanwhile, Marketwatch reports on health care advocates and the work they do on behalf of patients.

MarketWatch: Private Health Care Advocated Offer Other Options
They help resolve medical-billing problems, fight insurance-coverage denials, aid in complex medical decision-making and find the right specialist or hospital for a particular condition. Some even accompany patients to doctors' offices and other care settings. Health care advocates can work intensively during a medical crisis or sporadically if a client's needs are more episodic. They're different from the advocates most hospitals employ directly, who offer patients more limited assistance only during a hospital stay. What they don't do: give medical advice, make diagnoses, write prescriptions or address medical malpractice issues. Many health-care advocates are small businesses that charge individuals a flat fee, an hourly rate or take a percentage of whatever money is recovered. But some perform the work for free or on a sliding scale or reserve a portion of their workload for such cases (Gerencher, 4/18). 

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