Category Archives: Health.Care

Privatization Is Changing America’s Relationship With Its Physical Stuff

Source: Brian Alexander, The Atlantic, July 12, 2017
 
… As vague as Trump’s pronouncements have been on the matter, it is clear that the general thrust behind the promised building-and-repair push involves using federal dollars as up-front investment to entice private enterprises to provide most of the financing. While Democrats announced their opposition, the general idea of increased privatization of infrastructure has had a bipartisan cast. President Obama supported a plan to create an “infrastructure bank” that would help finance so-called public-private partnerships (known, for their alliteration, as P3s), but that idea fizzled under the glare of Republican opposition. He also floated the idea of selling off the Tennessee Valley Authority. …

Related:

Selling Back To The Public What It Already Owned: ‘Public-Private Partnership’ Shark Bait
Source: Mercedes Schneider, Huffington Post, June 12, 2017
 
Today, I read two articles centered on this idea, both of which concerned Vice President Mike Pence – and one that concerned Pence’s role in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.  One article also included a sprinkling of US secretary of [privatized] education, Betsy DeVos.  A major goal of corporate education reform is to deliver public education to private entities (corporations, or even nonprofits, but don’t think that an entity termed “nonprofit” cannot be a handsome money dispenser for those running the nonprofit and doling out contracts). However, the extreme-right-Republican aim does not end with public education but with delivering the operation of the entire American infrastructure to private entities.  In the end, what this entails is having private corporations front money to state and local governments in order to lease back to the public what the public already owns.

How President Trump Might Carry The Torch Of Privatization
Source: Here & Now, WBUR, May 8, 2017

… Now President Trump is poised to continue privatization and private contracting in all kinds of industries, from education to incarceration. Here & Now’s Jeremy Hobson looks at the history and politics of privatization with Donald Cohen and Shahrzad Habibi of the group In The Public Interest. …

Continue reading

Feds stop requiring bi-weekly Kansas reports on Medicaid

Source: Associated Press, July 12, 2017
 
Federal officials are no longer requiring Kansas to file bi-weekly reports on a large backlog of applicants for the state’s privatized Medicaid program.  The Kansas Department of Health and Environment was notified last week by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid that the state can discontinue the reports it has been sending since early 2006. At the time, Kansas had more than 7,000 backlogged applications that had been pending for more than 45 days for its Medicaid program, called KanCare. …

Related:

Kansas House fails to override Brownback Medicaid expansion veto
Source: Hunter Woodall, Kansas City Star, April 3, 2017
 
The Kansas House failed by a narrow margin Monday to override Gov. Sam Brownback’s veto of a bill that would expand Medicaid to thousands of low-income Kansans.  Lawmakers voted 81-44 to override the governor’s veto, three shy of the total needed to pass the bill without his support.  That effectively ends the Medicaid expansion push in Kansas after it passed out of both chambers with Republican and Democratic support earlier this year. … The legislation vetoed by Brownback would have expanded KanCare, the state’s privatized Medicaid program, to roughly 150,000 people in the state. …

Brownback Vetoes Medicaid Expansion in Kansas
Source: Russell Berman, The Atlantic, March 30, 2017

Governor Sam Brownback of Kansas on Thursday vetoed legislation expanding Medicaid passed with Republican majorities in the state’s House and Senate. Supporters of the bill are likely a few votes shy of the two-thirds majority needed to override Brownback’s veto. The move was expected, since Brownback has opposed expanding Medicaid for years. But the expansion effort could find new life if the governor leaves office before his term ends next year; President Trump is reportedly considering an appointment for Brownback as U.N. ambassador for food agriculture, a posting that would take the one-time presidential candidate from Topeka to Rome. …

Continue reading

Hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars on the table in closed-door Medicaid haggling

Source: Tony Leys, Des Moines Register, July 3, 2017

The three companies running Iowa’s $4 billion Medicaid program contend they need millions more dollars from taxpayers, starting this month — but there’s been no public hint of how much more money the state will have to fork over. Iowa hired the companies last year to manage the state’s Medicaid program, which covers health care for about 600,000 poor or disabled residents. The shift has been intensely controversial, with critics complaining it has led to tangles of red tape for care providers and cuts in services for Medicaid recipients. Supporters, including Gov. Kim Reynolds, say the new system is saving money for the state by leading to more efficient, effective care. …

Related:

Disabled Iowans, fed up with cuts under privatized Medicaid, sue Gov. Reynolds
Source: Tony Leys and Jason Clayworth, Des Moines Register, June 13, 2017
 
Iowa’s roiling controversy over its for-profit Medicaid management spilled into federal court Tuesday when six Iowans with disabilities filed a lawsuit against Gov. Kim Reynolds.  The lawsuit alleges that the state’s chaotic shift to a privately run Medicaid program is depriving thousands of Iowans with disabilities the legal right to live safely outside of care facilities. The suit holds Reynolds and her human services director responsible for the private management companies’ actions. …

Complaints about Iowa’s privatized Medicaid are spiking
Source: Jason Clayworth, Des Moines Register, May 9, 2017
 
Centered largely on allegations of terminated or reduced health services, complaints about Iowa’s privatized Medicaid program have spiked in recent months, according to information presented to state officials Tuesday.  State quarterly reports show grievances and appeals filed with the three companies managing Iowa’s Medicaid program have spiked by almost 270 percent — from 343 to 1,268 — in the latest three-month report published in March. …

Continue reading

Judge rules Tennessee must release outsourcing records about Fall Creek Falls purchase

Source: Associated Press, June 29th, 2017

A judge has ruled in favor of a media group that sued the state of Tennessee to release records about its attempt to outsource services at Fall Creek Falls State Park. The Tennessee Coalition for Open Government says Davidson County Chancellor Bill Young on Tuesday ruled that the state must produce records to City Press Communications LLC, parent company of the Nashville Scene and the Nashville Post, and reporter Cari Wade Gervin. …

Related:

Controversial state plan to outsource college jobs moves forward
Source: Adam Tamburin, The Tennessean, May 26, 2017

Tennessee moved forward with a controversial plan to outsource jobs at public colleges Friday when officials finalized a contract with a corporation that already handles a sizable amount of state business.  Under the contract, JLL — which currently manages about 10 percent of state facilities — will oversee the potential expansion of outsourcing at college campuses, state parks and prisons. It is a pivotal moment for the proposed expansion, which has been in the works for two years. …

Fall Creek Falls state park outsourcing push draws no bidders
Source: Associated Press, May 11, 2017
 
A push by Gov. Bill Haslam’s administration to outsource hospitality services at a Tennessee state park has drawn no bidders. Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation spokeswoman Kim Schofinski says that no one bid on the proposal at Fall Creek Falls State Park, located on the Upper Cumberland Plateau in Van Buren and Bledsoe counties. TDEC planned to award the winning bidder $20 million to raze the park’s inn and build a new one. The Tennessee State Employees Association and park workers opposed it. …

Continue reading

Pottstown, Phoenixville schools eye tax cost of hospital sale

Source: Evan Brandt, The Mercury, June 16, 2017

… The potential sale of Pottstown and Phoenixville hospitals to a nonprofit company is being viewed with foreboding by business officials in school districts that stand to lose millions in property tax revenues. Officials at both Pottstown and Phoenxiville school districts said the respective hospitals in each borough are their largest property taxpayer. And each said that if the sale of the two hospitals — now owned by the Tennessee-based for-profit Community Health Systems — to the nonprofit Reading Health Systems goes through, they stand to lose as much as $900,000 a year or more in tax revenues. …

Related:

CHS agrees to sell 5 more hospitals in Pennsylvania
Source: Dave Barkholz, Modern Healthcare, May 30, 2017

Struggling Community Health Systems has agreed to sell five hospitals in Pennsylvania to the not-for-profit Reading Health System.  The five hospitals are part of the 30 hospitals that Franklin, Tenn.-based CHS has agreed to sell to reduce a $15 billion debt burden. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.  They are169-bed Brandywine Hospital in Coatesville, 148-bed Chestnut Hill Hospital in Philadelphia, 63-bed Jennersville Hospital in West Grove, 151-bed Phoenixville Hospital in Phoenixville and 232-bed Pottstown Memorial Medical Center in Pottstown. …

Paul Ryan Still Talking Up The Idea Of Privatizing Medicare

Source: Tierney Sneed, Talking Points Memo, May 12, 2017

House Speaker Paul Ryan hasn’t let go of his cherished idea of privatizing Medicare and in an interview with a local Wisconsin radio station Friday, suggested that a blueprint for overhauling Medicare would advance in the Budget Committee again this year. … Ryan has released various versions of his so-called “Path to Prosperity” budget blueprint that have included a privatization of Medicare. The general idea he has promoted is turning Medicare into a so-called “premium support” system — i.e. a voucher system — in which seniors would get a set amount of money to shop around for private health care plans. Earlier versions of his proposal would have lead to a phase-out of Medicare altogether. Some experts have argued that even the most recent iteration of his blueprint, which ostensibly leaves some form of traditional Medicare available, would eventually lead to its phase-out as well. … It’s not just Ryan that’s trying to make Medicare privatization happen. Trump’s Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney, a former House member with a reputation as a budget hawk, said last month that it was his “guess is the House will do either that or something similar to that.” …

Related:

Trumpcare Will Be A Gold Rush For Private Contractors
Source: Donald Cohen, Huffington Post, March 16, 2017

… What the bill would do to Medicaid, the health care program for poor, elderly, and disabled Americans, plays right into the hands of private contractors looking to score big on taxpayer money. By including Medicaid “block grants,” which is a fancy way of saying “cuts,” the bill would force states to slash costs. And when budgets are tight, corporations come calling, claiming they’ll do the work cheaper, better, and faster. But, whether it’s running private prisons or operating water utilities, their claims often ring hollow, especially when it comes to helping those on the margins of society. Just look at what happened to cash assistance for families with children, known as “TANF.” After the program was block granted in 1996, a cottage industry sprung up to squeeze profits from the limited pool of welfare funds. Within five years, over $1.5 billion in taxpayer dollars meant for poor families had gone to contractors like IBM and Lockheed Martin. By 2014, only 26 percent of TANF dollars were going to basic assistance for poor families. … Over 60 percent of nursing home residents and two in five kids in the U.S. rely on the program. It’s also the main public funding source for family planning, like contraceptive counseling and care, and screenings for sexually transmitted infections and cancer.

… The struggle to protect Medicaid, let alone expand it, will only get tougher. On Wednesday, the Senate confirmed Seema Verma, a private health care consultant, to lead the agency in charge of the program. Verma supports block grants and has helped a number of states, including Iowa, privatize their Medicaid programs. Less than a year in, Iowa’s privatized program is spinning into disaster for 600,000 poor, elderly, and disabled Iowans. If Trump wanted somebody who knows the corporate takeover of Medicaid in and out, he certainly found her. While helping Indiana overhaul its program, Verma was also on the payroll of one of the state’s largest Medicaid vendors, Hewlett-Packard. …

Senate confirms Trump’s Medicaid, Medicare pick
Source: The Hill, March 13, 2017
 
The Senate voted to clear Seema Verma to lead the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services under President Trump.  Verma was confirmed in a 55-43 vote Monday evening. She will now be dropped into the fight over how to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act and is expected to play a large role in any attempt to reform either Medicare or Medicaid. … Democrats largely said they opposed Verma’s nomination after trying unsuccessfully to pin her down on a number of policy issues during her confirmation hearing, including if or how she would reform the programs.

Continue reading

Massena Memorial Hospital officials not disclosing affiliation plans

Source: Andy Gardner, North Country Now, April 29, 2017 

Massena Memorial Hospital officials are still not close to publicly naming the health system with which they want to affiliate.  MMH is going through the process of privatizing, which includes picking a bigger system which they will join to some degree.  Although CEO Robert Wolleben late last year said he was hopeful they could name the potential affiliate by February, but on Monday MMH board finance committee chairman Scott Wilson said he can’t commit to them being able give the name by next month. …

Related:

Massena town lawmakers not ready to give details on MMH asset transfer process
Source:Andy Gardner, North Country Now, March 15, 2017
 
Town councilors declined to comment when an official from Massena Memorial Hospital’s CSEA chapter asked for an update on the asset transfer process.  MMH is in the process of going from a town-owned hospital to a private, non-profit entity.  Part of that process involves a valuation of all hospital assets so the town can be compensated.  “Anything we’ve discussed is of a confidential nature. I don’t think we should discuss it,” Councilman Steve O’Shaughnessy replied after local CSEA Vice President Kerrie French asked for an update at the Wednesday town meeting. …

Massena Memorial Hospital narrows field of prospective affiliates; months to go before privatization approval
Source: Andy Gardner, North Country Now, December 20, 2016

Now that the state has given a Certificate of Need, it will take Massena Memorial Hospital another six to eight months before getting IRS approval to privatize, their CEO said Monday. Meanwhile, they have narrowed down to two potential affiliates, he said. … They need to be designated a 501c3 entity and name an affiliate before they can privatize. Last week, MMH received the CoN from the state, allowing them to operate as a private entity. Earlier this year, MMH sent out requests for proposals to 17 larger healthcare systems. They received five that fit what they are looking for and have narrowed that down to two. … MMH started talking about privatization years ago in light of losing millions in operation each year and only remaining financially solvent through government bailouts, most of which covered their yearly state pension payment and left them breaking even. Since Wolleben took the helm, MMH started finishing each month in the black and have done so for nearly two years. …

Continue reading

Texas Lawmakers: Investigate State Contract with Anti-Choice Group

Source: Teddy Wilson, Rewire, March 22, 2017

Eight months after Texas officials gave an anti-choice crusader’s organization a contract to provide low-income people with access to health care, there are questions from lawmakers and advocates about the apparent failure of the organization to deliver those services. Both Republican and Democratic state lawmakers are calling for an investigation into how a contract was awarded to The Heidi Group, an anti-choice organization that has no history of providing health care or similar services, and why taxpayer dollars are being used to promote the anti-choice pseudoscience of so-called “abortion pill reversal.” … The Texas House General Investigating and Ethics Committee will began holding hearings in the coming weeks, and Howard told Rewire that she has talked to members of the committee who indicated there should be questions about women’s health contracts, specifically the one with The Heidi Group. Rep. Sarah Davis (R-West University Place), chairperson of the committee, questioned state officials last week about the Heidi Group contract during a committee hearing. Davis indicated the committee will scrutinize how the Heidi Group contract was awarded, reported the Associated Press.

… The Heidi Group was awarded a $1.6 million contract to provide family planning services through HTWP; the former Planned Parenthood clinic site in Bryan was included in Everett’s proposal.The Heidi Group had never before provided health care services, and has focused predominantly on supporting anti-choice crisis pregnancy centers. … The Heidi Group also appears to be funneling taxpayer dollars to fake clinics. … Eight months after the The Heidi Group was awarded the contract, the organization is “quietly sputtering” and has “little to show,” according to a report by the Associated Press. …

Souki: Hospital subsidies will return to budget

Colleen Uechi, Maui News, March 29, 2017

State lawmakers said Tuesday that funds for the future operation of three Maui County hospitals under Kaiser Permanente likely will be returned to the budget, after the House Finance Committee removed it earlier this month, concerning hospital officials. House Speaker Joe Souki of Maui said Tuesday that “there’s a general agreement between both sides” that funding for the hospitals would be restored in conference budget talks. … But the transition stalled due to a United Public Workers lawsuit claiming that the public-private partnership impaired a contract between the state and the union. By the time both parties had reached a settlement, Kaiser and the state had decided to push the transition date to July 1 of this year.

Related:

Interim HHSC Maui Region chief named
Source: Maui News, September 24, 2016

Longtime Maui Memorial Medical Center Dr. Barry Shitamoto has been selected as interim chief executive officer of Hawaii Health Systems Corp.’s Maui Region, effective Nov. 1, according to an announcement. Shitamoto will replace Wesley Lo, current Maui Region chief executive office, who announced earlier this month that he would leave Oct. 31 to take over as chief executive officer at Hale Makua Health Services. … Last year, lawmakers passed a measure to privatize Maui Region hospitals. And, in January, the governor signed a deal to transfer hospital operations to Kaiser Permanente. The transfer was supposed to take effect July 1, but it has been blocked by hospital worker unions. Kaiser has said it plans to take over hospital operations July 1, a year later than the original transfer date. The current changeover date is a day after the expiration of labor contracts with the United Public Workers union and Hawaii Government Employees Association. The UPW has 536 blue-collar employees at Maui Region hospitals, and the HGEA represents 900 white-collar employees, including nurses and supervisors. …

Senators ask governor to address uncertainty with Maui hospital privatization
Source: Mileka Lincoln, Hawaii News Now, September 21, 2016

Four state senators are calling on the governor to address ongoing uncertainty at Maui Memorial Medical Center, which is being privatized. It’s a situation they say has life or death consequences if it isn’t resolved soon. … The lawmakers want Ige to reconvene a special session to address unresolved concerns regarding severance packages and retirement benefits for the public hospital workers affected by the transfer to Kaiser Permanente. In August, Gov. David Ige announced he and the union representing more than 500 Maui County hospital workers had reached a settlement over the transfer, but lawmakers say they have yet to see a signed deal. They say speculation about what might happen is impacting the hospital workforce and jeopardizing medical services. … State Sen. J. Kalani English, whose district includes east and Upcountry Maui, says the Legislature stands ready to assist the governor with this complicated transition — they just need to be called back into a special session. He says lawmakers are willing to consider emergency funding if the hold-up is money. If it’s a policy issue, he says they’re willing to examine changes that may need to happen. One issue that’s come up, for example, is sick leave. Officials say an estimated 25 percent of the Maui hospital work force has been calling in sick daily. …

Continue reading

Governor agrees to direct-care worker raises

Source: Ben Gocker, Adirondack Daily Enterprise, March 30, 2017

Gov. Andrew Cuomo surpassed the state Legislature Tuesday in offering pay raises to people who work with those with disabilities. Cuomo’s $55 million goes beyond $45 million proposed by both the state Senate and Assembly. Cuomo had not included any increases for these workers in his initial state budget in January. The size of the increase will be worked out in ongoing budget negotiations between the two legislative chambers and the governor. The additional funds would help direct-support professionals who work for nonprofit organizations that contract with the state, such as the Adirondack Arc and Citizen Advocates, but not workers for state agencies such as the Office for People with Developmental Disabilities, who tend to have better pay and benefits. … #bFair2DirectCare, a statewide coalition of advocates for New Yorkers with developmental disabilities, their families and their direct care providers, has been fighting for better pay for these private-sector workers. … Most of the funding Adirondack Arc receives comes from Medicaid, and CEO Sadie Spada said consistent cuts to Medicaid affect her organization’s ability to pay workers what they deserve. …