Mother Nature was able to continue last week what top elected officials started prior to Christmas. After more than 20 days out of work because of the budget impasse, nearly 300,000 federal workers were slated to return to work last Monday, courtesy of a temporary funding bill that was passed by Congress and signed by President Clinton.
Among those scheduled to return were HCFA and Department of Veterans Affairs employees. VA medical staff have been on the job throughout the budget impasse, working without pay.
But a huge snowstorm, the largest to hit the Eastern seaboard this century by some estimates, closed the entire government for three days, just when the workers were scheduled to return. The end of the snowstorm also coincided with a temporary halt to budget negotiations between the White House and Capitol Hill.
RN and proud.The American Nurses Association, ever vigilant against the incursions of less-trained (but cheaper) unlicensed health workers, has pulled a new weapon out of its quiver.
The ANA is distributing gold and blue pins that say simply "RN." The idea is to make sure patients and other health workers can distinguish the registered nurses from everybody else.
The pin is "to be worn proudly and visibly to let patients know an RN with years of education and clinical preparation is caring for them," a press release says.
The ANA also has a little script it wants nurses to use to introduce themselves (we added the names): "Hello, my name is Betty and I am the registered nurse who will be taking care of you today. I'll be assisted by technicians, whose names are Ed and Steve."
Hey, didn't I see you in New Orleans?Austria in the springtime sounds great, but the Medical Group Management Association has had trouble attracting attendees to its 1996 international conference, May 19-29 in Vienna. So far, 50 people have signed up, just 25% of the attendance target.
The last time the MGMA planned an international conference-in Sydney, Australia, in 1992-it was canceled due to lack of interest. So the MGMA is intensifying its marketing for the Vienna conference and will try to lure physicians from Europe and Asia.
That would bring a new audience for the featured speakers-MGMA Executive Vice President Frederick "Fritz" Wenzel, American Medical Association Executive Vice President James S. Todd., M.D., and consultant Jeff Goldsmith-who all appear regularly at U.S. conventions.
Taking no prisoners.As if being in prison isn't punishment enough, the state of New Hampshire is making sure inmates can't even call in sick for free.
Lining up for sick call to get out of shoveling snow could cost healthy state prison inmates the equivalent of a couple of days' wages.
A new state law requires inmates to pay a share of the cost of medical care, dental and mental healthcare, prescriptions and artificial limbs. And nonemergency doctors' visits will cost inmates $3, about two days' wages for those who earn the average $1.50 daily wage.
"If they don't have insurance, it costs taxpayers $80 to $85 for a doctor's visit," says House Corrections and Criminal Justice Committee Chairwoman Donna Sytek, the bill's sponsor. "I make 27 cents a day (as a state legislator). I make less than the prisoners."
The medical-cost bill also will make inmates responsible for all court fees for filing civil lawsuits and about $47 a day in housing costs. They'll also be billed for damage they cause while in prison or during an escape.
The charges for medical care are intended to deter bogus illnesses, such as the epidemic of bad backs that sweeps through the prison when there's snow to shovel. No one will be denied care if they can't immediately pay, but the visit will be put on a tab to be paid later.
Critics say charging inmates to see a doctor or file civil lawsuits is punishment, not an incentive to make responsible choices. They note there are few restrictions on what assets the state can go after to settle an inmate's debt.
It's always their fault.HMOs' creeping public relations problem has gone from serious to near-ridiculous.
A recent Los Angeles Times index page referred to Columbia/HCA Healthcare Corp.'s entry into California and its possible impact on care for the poor and the uninsured. "HMO Sparks Fears About Loss of Charitable Services," reads the headline. We didn't know Columbia had gone that far down the managed-care road.
Celebrating survival.The National Cancer Survivors Day Foundation will reaffirm its dedication to drawing attention to survivors of the deadly disease and to assisting cancer research.
The organization will offer free guidance and educational materials to organizations celebrating the ninth annual National Cancer Survivors Day June 2. The event, dubbed the world's largest, will promote next year's theme, "A Celebration of Life."
More than 600 communities across America are expected to gather in places such as parks and hospitals for concerts, ball games, art exhibits, parades and contests.
"National Cancer Survivors Day has experienced explosive growth over the past years, thanks to thousands of volunteers, hospitals, support groups and acceptance by the national media," said event Chairman Michael D. Holt.
NCSD emerged in 1987 after cancer survivor Richard Bloch and his wife, Annette, held a cancer survivor rally in Kansas City to promote media attention and public involvement. Since then the event has attracted involvement from organizations such as the American Cancer Society, Battle Creek Health Systems and Duke University Medical and Cancer Centers.