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After weeks of negotiations, last Thursday the Senate granted $26 billion in aid money to states and school districts to halt layoffs of thousands of government employees, teachers, and emergency and law enforcement workers. A large chunk of these much-needed funds will go toward Medicaid programs in states whose administrators have been struggling to make ends meet (our friends at Aging and Disability in America posted on it last Friday). Another $600 million was allocated in the same bill to strengthening border security in vulnerable southern states. Of these funds $10 billion will go to help teachers who might otherwise be laid off because of cutbacks keep their jobs and $16 million will help states close budget gaps left by rising healthcare costs.
Recently a twenty-four state compact meant to help nurses work in the neediest areas has actually opened the door for nurses being investigated for professional irresponsibility and negligence to elude the consequences of their misconduct and keep working. This ten year old interstate compact allows a nurse with a license obtained in their home state to work in any of the other twenty-three states.
Unfortunately, a new problem has arisen for nurses and those who depend on their care. This year though there aren’t enough nurses out there to care for the sick, there are also many new RNs standing in unemployment lines. How can there be such a huge demand for nurses and simultaneously a crowd of nurses with nowhere to work?
WellPoint, one of the nation’s largest health insurance agencies, sparred off against the drug Boniva, which is marketed by Genentech. In 2009, WellPoint made it more difficult for beneficiaries to use Boniva, which is used to treat osteoporosis, after conducting a study on the drug. Sufferers of osteoporosis are primarily women, who experience weak bones and a greater risk of suffering bone fractures. Post-menopausal women have the highest risk of developing osteoporosis because they lose estrogen, a key element in strengthening bones.
As the health care debate raged onwards in 2009, the number of uninsured American adults rose by 3 million from 2008. Overall, approximately 46.3 million people in this country do not have health insurance covered. In Texas, over one out of every four people was uninsured in 2009, compared to the 15.4 percent nationally.
According to Mike Lillis from THE HILL’S Healthwatch blog, a recent study by the National Council on Aging (NCOA) discovered that few seniors knew about and understood the ins and outs of health care reform. The NCOA distributed a 12 question survey to 636 seniors. No senior got all the survey questions right, indicating the widespread lack of knowledge about reform.
The country’s current health care reforms have underscored the country’s primary care physician deficit. By the time the reforms kick into effect in 2014, the majority of Americans will be insured. In Massachusetts, where all citizens must be enrolled in some health insurance plan, universal insurance has exposed the Commonwealth’s primary care shortage. The dearth of Massachusetts primary care physicians has often made it more difficult for residents to get the care they need. This same fate seems on the horizon for all on a national level.
A coalition of House Democrats is gearing up to propose legislation which revives the public option President Obama had originally hoped to carry through this year’s healthcare overhaul. The legislation House Democrats plan to introduce today would establish a government-administered insurance option available to consumers as part of The Affordable Care Act’s insurance exchanges. The bill, sponsored by Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D-CA), has 125 co-sponsors and is similar to the public option originally passed by the House Education and Labor Committee earlier this year but adjusted to fit within the framework of insurance exchanges which eventually made it into the reform debate’s final product.
This past Friday July 16 at a press conference in Miami Attorney General Eric Holder and Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius announced that over 360 federal agents had raided the homes and offices of Medicare fraudsters accused of stealing over $251 million. Authorities say most of the thirty-six individuals arrested Friday were based in Miami, though other operations shut down in the bust were located in places like New York City, Detroit, Houston, and Baton Rouge. Ninety-four people were indicted in total as a result of the sting. Authorities claim the suspects – which include several doctors and nurses – billed Medicare for unnecessary equipment, HIV treatments, and physical therapy that their patients never received. Hidden surveillance equipment caught clinic owners and doctor’s offices paying patients (and undercover agents) under the table in exchange for use of their Medicare numbers and offering bonus rewards to patients who would recruit others to the scam.