Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “Let us keep the issues where they are. The issue is injustice. The issue is the refusal of Memphis to be fair and honest in its dealings with its public servants, who happen to be sanitation workers. Now, we’ve got to keep attention on that.” Yes. Let’s keep our attention on the members of SEIU Healthcare 1199NW and especially the nurses who are fighting for our very lives.
This past summer, Hahnemann University Hospital—a teaching site for Drexel University College of Medicine in Philadelphia—closed their doors. When Hahnemann closed, its’ residents were essentially “orphaned,” losing their jobs overnight. Residency refers to the post-graduate training period following medical school graduation compulsory for a physician to be licensed to practice medicine. After “matching” to an open residency position at a given teaching hospital, resident training begins across the entire nation on July 1st every year once a contract is signed with the employing organization.
According to data from the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), hospital care in Kitsap County is 40% more expensive than in the surrounding communities. In documents filed as part of the lawsuit, a former physician president at TDC summed up the affiliation with CHI best: “You can now get your outpatient care in a complex, relatively unsafe, and vastly more expensive location.”
First, the Balanced Budget Act of 1997 capped the number of residency slots in teaching hospitals which were eligible for Medicare payments. This mistake has facilitated a shortage of primary care physicians across the country. A larger supply of primary care physicians is associated with a lower mortality rate. In fact, adding 10 primary care physicians per 100 000 population increases life expectancy by nearly two months, whereas the same increase in specialty physicians only improves life expectancy by 19 days.
Health care inflation continues to exceed the base inflation rate. Health insurer CEO compensation has ballooned out of control –in 2017, Cigna CEO David Cordani took home $43.9 million, Humana CEO Bruce Broussard made $34.2 million, and Aetna CEO Mark Bertolini earned nearly $59 million. That’s approximately $162,000 per day.
For the first time in a decade, the number of uninsured children in the United States increased in 2018. Apple Health seemed like the quintessential success story because it expanded Medicaid coverage for children — in Kitsap County alone, the number enrolled grew from 9,000 to over 21,000 in the last 10 years. However, Medicaid reimbursement also decreased by more than 35 percent, after a federal provision that kept Medicaid payments on par with Medicare expired in 2015. Some states set aside funding to maintain rates equal to those of Medicare, but Washington was not one of them.
The opioid crisis has grown exponentially – ravaging communities and taking an estimated 64,000 lives each year – escalating into a public health epidemic. In response to the increased availability of synthetic opioids like oxycodone and fentanyl, the Surgeon General called for expanded access to the opioid overdose antidote, naloxone, by using the slogan: Be Prepared. Get Naloxone. Save a life.
Recently, a jury in Oklahoma City ordered insurance giant Aetna to pay $25 million to the family of Orrana Cunningham, an Aetna customer who died of cancer after the company refused to cover radiation therapy. “The jury ruled that Aetna recklessly disregarded its duty to deal fairly and in good faith with Cunningham,” according to a Nov. 10 article by the Associated Press.
The patient was on the state Medicaid insurance and required a so-called prior authorization, or PA, for Ciprofloxacin. Consisting of additional paperwork that physicians are required to fill out before pharmacists can fill prescriptions for certain drugs, PAs boil down to yet another cost-cutting measure implemented by insurers to stand between patients and certain costly drugs.
Prior Authorizations: Who is Responsible for the Death of a Patient when Insurers Practice Medicine?
In July, 2009, the family of Massachusetts teenager Yarushka Rivera went to their local Walgreens to pick up Topomax, an anti-seizure drug that had been keeping her epilepsy in check for years. Rivera had insurance coverage through MassHealth, the state’s Medicaid insurance program for low-income children, and never ran into obstacles obtaining this life-saving medication.