The ferryboat captains—members of the Marine Engineers' Beneficial Association (MEBA)—who operate San Francisco’s commuter ferries between Sausalito, Larkspur and the city are holding a one-day unfair labor practice strike today. The action follows another round of negotiations with the Golden Gate Bridge District that failed to reach a settlement.
Everybody knows about exorbitant hospital prices, but data compiled by National Nurses United (NNU) shows that many hospitals, especially the for-profit ones, are price gouging their patients. Many for-profit hospitals, according to NNU, actually charge patients more than 10 times what it costs to provide care.
In 2012, MedStar Washington (D.C.) Hospital Center—where some 1,850 registered nurses and members of National Nurses United (NNU) work—unilaterally instituted sweeping reductions and changes in the nurses’ health benefits.
A federal judge last week upheld an arbitrator's ruling that MedStar acted unlawfully and must reimburse the nurses for any increased costs they paid and roll back the reductions and changes.
Cost-sharing, which is mistakenly embraced as a reform tool by some health care economists, will neither make care more affordable nor improve public health, says an important new report from the Economic Policy Institute (EPI).
This is the fundamental fact of American health care: We pay much, much more than other countries do for the exact same things. For a detailed explanation of why, see this article. But this post isn’t about the why. It’s about the prices and the graphs.
As previously reported, the Mine Workers (UMWA) union has been saying that Patriot Coal was specifically designed to fail so that former parent company Peabody Energy Corp. could eliminate health care costs associated with former workers in their mines. Patriot was originally spun off of Peabody and was started with much of Peabody's obligations to its retired workers, but very little of Peabody's assets. UMWA argued that Patriot was using bankruptcy to get out of living up to those obligations. Now Patriot filed a motion with the bankruptcy court to create a Voluntary Employee Beneficiary Association (VEBA) to replace the existing retiree health care system. According to UMWA, the VEBA would cover only a fraction of the obligations owed to retired workers and their families.
While many Republicans balked at passing $60 billion in relief for Hurricane Sandy cleanup (they eventually passed a little higher than $50 billion), TIME’s Steven Brill wrote that the United States spends nearly that much in health care costs each week.
The president opened last week's State of the Union address, calling for "modest" changes to contain Medicare costs. One of the president's primary audiences, Congress, faces a series of deadlines in the coming months, including automatic spending cuts on March 1, expiration of the federal budget patch on March 27 and the impending debt ceiling this summer. Any one of these deadlines may force decisions about Medicare's future.