The employee health care plan prevents them from going to competitors with better financial assistance.
By Wendi C. Thomas, MLK50
MEMPHIS, Tennessee — This year, a Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare housekeeper left her job just three hours into her shift and caught a bus to Shelby County General Sessions Court.
Wearing her black and gray uniform, she had a different kind of appointment with her employer: The hospital was suing her for unpaid medical bills.
An expert in hospital billing practices said that if the hospital is suing a fair number of its own employees, it’s time to look both at the insurance provided to workers and the pay scale.
In 2017, the nonprofit hospital system based in Memphis sued the woman for the cost of hospital stays to treat chronic abdominal pain she experienced before the hospital hired her.
She now owes Methodist more than $23,000, including around $5,800 in attorney’s fees.
It’s surreal, she said, to be sued by the organization that pays her $12.25 an hour. “You know how much you pay me. And the money you’re paying, I can’t live on,” said the housekeeper, who asked that her name not be used for fear that the hospital would fire her for talking to a reporter.
From 2014 through 2018, the hospital system affiliated with the United Methodist Church has filed more than 8,300 lawsuits against patients, including its own workers. After winning judgments, it has sought to garnish the wages of more than 160 Methodist workers and has actually done so in more than 70 instances over that time. …
- A Tennessee Hospital Sues Its Own Employees When They Can’t Pay Their Medical Bills: 5-Minute Audio
The Gap Between The Health Status Of Rich And Poor Americans Is Widening
Health differences between the highest income group and lowest income group increased “really quite dramatically.”
By Susie Neilson
Income inequality in the U.S. has grown over the past several decades. And as the gap between rich and poor yawns, so does the gap in their health, according to a study published in JAMA Network Open Friday.
The study drew from annual health survey data collected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from 1993 to 2017, including around 5.5 million Americans ages 18-64. The researchers focused on two questions from the survey recommended by the CDC as reliable indicators of health: 1. Over the last 30 days, how many healthy days have you had? 2. On a scale of 1 to 5, how would you rate your overall health?
What they found: Across all groups, Americans’ self-reported health has declined since 1993. And race, gender and income play a bigger role in predicting health outcomes now than they did in 1993. Overall, white men in the highest income bracket were the healthiest group.
“And actually, what’s happening to the health of wealthier people is that it’s remaining relatively stagnant, but the health of the lowest income group is declining substantially over time,” says Frederick Zimmerman, the study’s lead author and a professor at the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health.
The researchers looked at differences in health between white and black people and between three income brackets. They assessed the degree to which race, income and gender influenced health outcomes over time, a measure they called “health justice.”
Finally, they calculated the gap between people’s health outcomes and that of the most privileged demographic: high-income white men.
“Results of this analysis suggest that there has been a clear lack of progress on health equity during the past 25 years in the United States,” the researchers write. …
Corporate Health Industry Reps Collaborating To Undermine Medicare For All Efforts
By Lee Fang
The Intercept (5/11/19)
AT A LUXURY RESORT just outside of the nation’s capital last month, around four dozen senior congressional staffers decamped for a weekend of relaxation and discussion at Salamander Resort & Spa. It was an opportunity for Democrats and Republicans to come together and listen to live music from the Trailer Grass Orchestra, sip surprisingly impressive glasses of Virginia wine — and hear from health care lobbyists focused on defeating Medicare for All.
The event was hosted by a group called Center Forward and featured a lecture from industry lobbyists leading the charge on undermining progressive health care proposals. Center Forward was originally known as the Blue Dog Research Forum, a think tank affiliated with the conservative Blue Dog Coalition of House Democrats; the coalition has pressed the caucus to oppose social welfare spending, taxes on the wealthy, and regulations on business.
The organization’s website is filled with bromides about giving “centrist allies the information they need to craft common sense solutions” that paper over an agenda designed to enrich powerful corporations.
Center Forward’s big idea on Medicare Part D, for instance, is to maintain lobbyist-authored provisions of the law that bar the government from bargaining for lower prices for medicine. Such restrictions cost taxpayers and patients as much as $73 billion a year while boosting the profits of drugmakers. Center Forward endorses the idea with a testimonial from Mary Grealy, a lobbyist for a trade group that represents pharmaceutical companies.
The retreat, held the weekend of April 5-7 in Middleburg, Virginia, continued Center Forward’s approach.
Big money interests
The schedule shows that the health care discussion was led by Center Forward board member Liz Greer, a lobbyist at Forbes Tate; the firm manages the Partnership for America’s Health Care Future coalition designed to undermine Medicare-for-All. Paul Kidwell, a lobbyist from the Federation of American Hospitals, and Larry Levitt, from the Kaiser Family Foundation, also spoke. No proponents of Medicare-for-All were included. Kidwell’s trade association is part of the Partnership for America’s Health Care Future group opposing single payer. …