Tag Archives: Republicans

Medicaid Cuts Will Cause More Nursing Injuries

Today’s post comes from guest author Jon Rehm, from Rehm, Bennett & Moore.

While efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act and cut Medicaid appear to have stalled for now, any successful effort to cut Medicaid will adversely impact workplace safety for nurses and nurse’s aides.

Studies by the National Institutes of Health show that reductions in Medicaid funding leads to less staffing at long term care facilities and that lower staffing leads to more injuries for nursing employees. Since most nurses and nurse’s aides are covered under state-based workers compensation laws the additional costs of work injuries from Medicaid cuts may not be fully accounted for on a federal level.

At least in Nebraska nursing employees have some ways to protect themselves when advocating for safer working conditions even if they do not belong to a union.

Nebraska has a whistleblower law that applies specifically to health care workers, including nurses. The benefit of this act is that it allows employees to recover for damages similar to what they could collect under the Nebraska Fair Employment Practices Act, including front pay and possibly attorney fees, without having to exhaust administrative remedies. Additionally, health care workers would have four years to bring a suit under the health care whistleblowers law, rather than the much shorter and complicated statute of limitations under the Nebraska Fair Employment Practices Act.

Nebraska has a broad general whistleblower law that allows employees to oppose unlawful conduct by their employers. Nebraska law requires that nursing homes to be adequately staffed. Federal law also requires that employers provide a workplace to be free of recognizable hazard. Inadequate staffing would certainly be deemed be a recognizable hazard in a nursing home. The only drawback to Nebraska’s whistleblower law is the short and potentially uncertain statute of limitations.

Nebraska law would also allow nurses reporting inadequate staffing to be protected from retaliation under a public policy claim that also has a four year statute of limitations.

The Affordable Care Act, brought to you by ……… the Republicans!

Many might now welcome a Nixon ticket.

Today’s post comes from guest author Jay Causey, from Causey Law Firm.

     Looking for information in the media that is supportive of the nation’s transition to the Affordable Care Act (ACA), aka “Obamacare?”  At the moment Republican and right wing noise is drowning out much of the lower–decibel cheerleading by the Administration on why this is a good thing.

In 1974, Pres. Richard Nixon proposed what is essentially the 2010 healthcare act – all but the smallest employers would provide medical insurance to their employees or pay a penalty, expansion of Medicaid would insure the poor, and subsidies would be provided to low–income citizens and small employers.

     In a recent op-ed piece, former Secretary of Labor under President Clinton and leading economic expert, now at the University of California, Berkeley, Robert Reich summed up the history of the origin of “Obamacare,” pointing out the irony of the right wing’s fuss over it.

     In 1974, Pres. Richard Nixon proposed what is essentially the 2010 healthcare act – all but the smallest employers would provide medical insurance to their employees or pay a penalty, expansion of Medicaid would insure the poor, and subsidies would be provided to low–income citizens and small employers. While private insurers liked this plan, Democrats favored a system more like Social Security and Medicare, so there was no consensus.

     Fast-forward to 1989, and the right–leaning Heritage Foundation proposed a plan that would mandate all households obtaining adequate insurance. This plan worked its way into several bills introduced by Republicans in 1993, supported by Senators Hatch (R–Utah) and Grassley (R–Iowa), along with subsequent Speaker of the House, Newt Gingrich, all now vocal opponents of the ACA.

     When in 2004 Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney made the original Nixon plan the law in his state, with the same mandate to buy private insurance, he said, “we got the idea of an individual mandate from Newt Gingrich, and he got it from the Heritage Foundation.”

     Health insurance companies, now retooling their policies around the individual mandate, are jubilant about the possibilities of long–term membership growth through the insurance exchanges. These giant corporations have traditionally supported conservative and Republican politics.

     So as Reich notes – – why are Republican spending so much energy trying to sabotage the ACA, and act they designed and about which a huge sector of their patrons are wildly enthusiastic? The answer: it is the singular achievement of the Obama Administration, the head of which is still considered by a large segment of the right to Illegitimately occupy the White House.

     Reich goes on to observe that had the Democrats prevailed on the idea of a system built on the Social Security and Medicare model – – cheaper, simpler, and more widely accepted by the citizenry – – Republicans would nevertheless be making the same noise.

Why The Republicans Should Not Cut Food Stamps

Facts about food stamps. Click on this image to see it full size.

I write about a debate now occurring in Congress in which the GOP is threatening millions of American families, including 200,000 Iowa households.  The debate is over food stamps, now known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (“SNAP”).

To understand the problem, we need only review the survey-report issued by the Department of Agriculture on September 4.  (Alisha Coleman-JensenMark Nord, Anita Singh, “Household Food Security in the United States in 2012”).  The report shows that nearly 49 million Americans lived in “food insecure” households last year.  This means family members lack consistent access to adequate food throughout the year.  In short, 49 million Americans (over 16 times the Iowa population) went hungry for long periods in 2012.  Worse, children were found to be hungry in 10% of all U.S. families with children.  The agency found that hunger rates since the 2007 recession are much higher than before.

Many people have a misunderstanding of this hunger; many think the hungry are the same persons who are homeless.  In fact, in most cases the hungry are persons who work at low-paying jobs or are disabled from work.

The GOP (mostly the House GOP) wants to cut food stamps.  Yet, food stamps have been the centerpiece of our country’s safety net for the poor.  Benefits are adjusted for income.  Recipients can use SNAP benefits only for food, notwithstanding Rep. Steve King’s assertion that he knows food stamps are used for bail and tattoos.  Nearly 48 million Americans now receive food stamps (about 15% of the approximately 314 million Americans), at an annual cost to us of about $80 billion.

No matter what Congress decides, food stamps expenditures will be reduced in November, when a provision in the 2009 stimulus bill expires.  House Republicans, however, propose Continue reading