Source: By Bill Engle, Palladium Item (IN), April 9, 2006
……. The state of Indiana’s Family and Social Services Agency plans to privatize the 116-year-old state hospital in Richmond this summer and that prospect has left many of the hospital’s 615 employees in a vacuum of worry and wonder. …… Employees don’t know if they will have jobs beyond the 12 months promised in the guidelines for the privatization, or localization as state officials prefer to call it. They don’t know what will happen with their health care, their pension, their future. …… Dennis Rosebrough, FSSA communications director, said the plan is for a local non-profit organization to assume management of the hospital. The hospital will remain in the ownership of the state of Indiana and this local group will take over management. …… Dave Warrick, executive director of American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, said around 225 state hospital workers were AFSCME members until Gov. Mitch Daniels decertified the collective bargaining rights for about 25,000 state workers Jan. 1, 2005. Warrick said about 100 state hospital workers have dropped out of AFSCME since then. He says that his union’s past history with privatization has “not been good.”
Source: By Gilbert M. Gaul, Washington Post, Friday, March 10, 2006
Private contractors hired by Medicare to improve quality and investigate complaints have failed to promote patients’ rights, and face conflicts of interest that may lead them to favor doctors and hospitals over beneficiaries, a federal advisory group reported yesterday. The Institute of Medicine, which is the government’s key consultant on health care policy, concluded that while Quality Improvement Organizations play an important role in health care, responsibility for investigating patient complaints should be removed from them and shifted to other organizations.
Source: By DIANE LEVICK, Hartford Courant, March 10 2006
CIGNA HealthCare confirmed Thursday that it will lay off another 65 employees in Bloomfield and 26 in Chattanooga, Tenn., in May and June as it sends the work to the Philippines through vendor Accenture. The latest job cuts come on top of 109 – 56 of them in Bloomfield – that the health insurer disclosed in January in its ongoing efforts to trim expenses. That work was earmarked for Accenture, too.
Source: News Eagle Point (OR), Feb 15, 2006
PORTLAND, Oregon – With a $15 million billing backlog, low morale and collections far below industry standards, OHSU’s Patient Billing Services Department had a dilemma. Faced with having their work outsourced and their jobs eliminated, employees rallied behind their manager, partnering with union representatives and their employer to bid for the work. The end result was a unique insourcing effort that now, two years later, is an unequivocal success. ….. Union members and leaders have taken a more involved role in the department after establishing a policy-making coalition of union leaders and staff, and PBS employees. AFSCME contributed $10,000 to cross train workers and hired a facilitator to help with team building and morale. Leaders set quantifiable benchmarks and employees are rewarded with monthly bonuses when the whole unit meets the benchmarks. OHSU is so pleased with the outcome that it has approached the union about making similar changes in other departments. (UB)
Source: By Joe Follick, The Ledger (FL), Wednesday, February 15, 2006
TALLAHASSEE — A controversial pharmaceutical company is losing its job of supplying prescription drugs to Department of Corrections inmates in South Florida. The company, Tallahassee-based TYA Pharmaceuticals, was chosen to dispense prescription drugs to inmates in DOC Region IV, which includes 18 counties. Prison Health Services, a Tennessee-based company that has received a DOC contract to supply health care needs for inmates in that region, selected TYA for the job. ….. The Florida Auditor General has criticized TYA’s contracts with the Department of Corrections for the splitting and repackaging of pills. The audits found myriad problems of lax oversight and accounting. After lawmakers criticized the two no-bid contracts the Department of Corrections gave to TYA, the agency is considering an end to the outsourcing of pill splitting and repackaging.
Source: Andria Simmons, Gwinnett Daily Post (GA), 01/20/2006
LAWRENCEVILLE — Gwinnett County officials have consistently stood behind the company they purchase Taser stun guns from and the county’s contracted medical provider for the jail in the face of civil lawsuits. That is, until this week. It appears Gwinnett is trying to distance itself from both companies, according to a cross claim filed this week in U.S. District Court in Atlanta. The cross claim was filed against Taser International and Prison Health Services in the wrongful death lawsuit of a former county inmate, Frederick Jerome Williams. The county now says one or both of those companies — not Gwinnett — should have to pay if monetary damages are awarded in the Williams case, especially if the judge finds Williams died because of improper medical care or Tasers.
Related article from the Atlanta Journal Constitution: Medical provider may lose contract / Sheriff mulls firing firm in wake of inmate’s death
Source: MARTIN DeAGOSTINO, South BendTribune (IN), December 13. 2005 6:59AM
A government-employees union has asked a judge to block the state from turning over management and operations of a troubled Fort Wayne health care facility to private operators. The lawsuit, filed in Allen Superior Court, says the state failed to solicit proposals before signing the contract with Liberty of Indiana Corp., a division of Pennsylvania-based Liberty Healthcare Corp. “The law is clear,” said David Warrick, executive director of Council 62 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. “The state has to bid this work before it can award millions of taxpayer dollars to a private company. The reason for this law is to ensure that the state is promoting competition and working to get the best deal it can for taxpayers.”
Source: MARC CAPUTO, Miami Herald (FL), Dec 9, 2005
From people with AIDS and diabetes to children and the seriously disabled, most of Broward County’s poorest and most fragile residents will be subjects of a nationally watched experiment to reshape Medicaid, after the Florida Legislature voted Thursday to turn over some control of the program to private companies. …… The plan, starting in Broward and Duval counties in July, puts the state on a five-year course to enroll nearly all of its Medicaid recipients into HMO-like managed-care companies. The firms will have unprecedented say in defining benefits that the government now decides.
Source: Tom Wyatt, Post-Tribune (IN), Dec. 8, 2005
…… Privatization is just one of several options town leaders will ponder in an effort to get Merrillville EMS out of a $250,000 hole created after functioning in the red for a number of years. But just the idea of privatization has put Merrillville paramedics on edge. If the town outsourced its EMS, the 12 full-time paramedics, as well as office staff, would be out of jobs. Part-time paramedics would have to find work elsewhere. Town officials, though, say they don’t want that to happen. Amid all the hubbub over privatization, they insist it is a last resort.
Source: KEVIN FREKING, ASSOCIATED PRESS, Thursday, December 1, 2005
Two weeks after being sued, the government said Thursday it put in place more safeguards to ensure that poor older people can fill their drug prescriptions on Jan. 1. In recent weeks, the government automatically has enrolled about 6 million people in private plans that will offer a new drug benefit under Medicare. The people in this category are called dual eligibles because they qualify for both Medicare and Medicaid. Even if the government misses enrolling just 1 percent of them, that means about 60,000 people potentially would have no prescription drug coverage come the new year. To address that, federal officials said the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has contracted with two companies. When a customer enters a store, pharmacists will check with one contractor – Z-Tech Corp. of Rockville, Md. – to determine the customer’s eligibility for drug coverage. The pharmacists can bill a second contractor, Wellpoint Inc. of Indianapolis, which will enlist the customer in one of its drug plans.