Viewpoints: Protecting Home Health Workers; Minn. Plans Cuts In Health Safety Net
McClatchy: Home Care Workers Should Get Standard Labor Protections
President Obama is proposing an adjustment to laws governing working conditions for approximately 2 million workers whose job is helping elderly and disabled people with such basic tasks as eating, caring for their wounds and doing physical therapy. Under the Obama proposal, these workers would have to be paid at least a minimum wage and overtime, bringing them under the aegis of the Fair Labor Standards Act. Some Republicans are opposed to the measure, complaining that it will be expensive (government programs pay for much of home care) and may hurt the people it is intended to help (Starita Smith, 1/4).
Minneapolis Star Tribune: A Medical Safety Net Cut By Lawmakers Is In Critical Condition
[The Minnesota Department of Human Services] sent out a letter on Nov. 29 informing about 2,300 [Emergency Medical Assistance] enrollees and thousands of providers that 2012 payments will cover only emergency-room visits and hospital in-patient services, with few exceptions. Among jettisoned programs: dialysis, chemotherapy, prescription drugs, dental services and mental health services, the kind of care that keeps people out of emergency rooms. The issue is a hot potato because most of those affected are "non-citizens." … If I can't convince you that it's immoral to withhold chemotherapy or mental health services from anybody in our community, how about this: It's not smart business (Gail Rosenblum, 1/4).
Journal of the American Medical Association: Where Are The Health Care Cost Savings?
Deficit pressures are making cost control inevitable. It will only be successful if physicians stop looking to others to find solutions and focus on approaches that improve the care for patients with chronic illnesses (Dr. Ezekiel J. Emanuel, 1/4).
Journal of the American Medical Association: Withholds to Slow Medicare Spending
Consensus has emerged on the need to slow Medicare spending growth, but there is no agreement on how best to do so. ... The objective [of a "withhold" approach to cutting costs] is to achieve just as much savings while allowing motivated hospitals, physicians, and others who deliver Medicare services a way to recover the cuts and thus maintain, or even increase, their incomes. The idea is to return the withheld money — with interest — if cost growth in the health care region, or within the hospital or physician network, is less than expected. In the absence of such savings, Medicare keeps the money. Either way, Medicare saves (Jonathan S. Skinner, Dr. James N. Weinstein, and Dr. Elliott S. Fisher, 1/4).