Get bosses out of healthcare

Healthcare news this week.

Just a quick news roundup today, since I’m out of town seeing family. And I simply don’t have a Healthcare Take on the Texas abortion law, other than “it’s completely awful and evil.” Lots of other people have written great pieces, so I’m happier to just point you to those. (You can find a list of organizations assisting women seeking abortions for your donations here.) This is the Sick Note Promise: I will never force out hundreds of words of Take when I just don’t have anything to add. That’s the first step on the road to becoming Tom Friedman.

Here’s a picture of Digby, direct from her catsitter (thanks, Larry):

In the news:

In Louisiana, hundreds of nursing home residents were evacuated to a warehouse as Hurricane Ida approached, under awful conditions. Families allege some residents arrived without their medications, and seven residents died. The homes’ owner told a local news outlet that “Normally with 850 people, you’ll have a couple a day, so we did really good with taking care of people.” The Washington Post notes that most of his homes “received the lowest possible rating” by inspectors. Louisiana spends far less on home and community based services, which most people vastly prefer over institutional care, compared to the rest of the country—“a testament to the strength of the state’s nursing home lobby, long a leading source of campaign cash for the state’s politicians.”

In Texas, a rare expansion of Medicaid benefits has gone into effect: New mothers will now be eligible for Medicaid for six months, instead of 60 days. In 2018, Texas had the highest rate of uninsured women of reproductive age; to qualify for Medicaid as a single mother of one child in Texas, outside that six-month period, you must earn less than $103 a month.

The Daily Beast reported that a doctor at an Arkansas jail treated Covid-positive people with ivermectin—and even prescribing it as a “preventative” treatment. In Cincinnati, a judge ruled in favor of a woman seeking to force a hospital to administer ivermectin to her husband, in the ICU and on a ventilator with Covid. Pretty wacky nation we have here.

Friend of Sick Note Philip Rocco writes about the expiration of many pandemic measures—high-profile measures like the eviction moratorium, but also changes like certain states allowing people to self-attest their Medicaid eligibility—and the damage that will do. The pandemic is receding “sociologically,” Phil writes; even though cases are high, it seems it’s hard to convince policymakers that it’s still actually happening, and the same provisions are still needed. The temporary taste we had of a better welfare state is fading, even though it doesn’t have to.

This tweet made me laugh a lot:

Big “No, money down!” energy here.

Covid cost-sharing is coming back—not just for treatment, but for testing, too. As Sarah Kliff at the New York Times writes, more coronavirus testing now falls outside the “medically necessary” category where it’s required to be free. Tests taken for employment purposes don’t have to be covered by insurance, which is very stupid! All along, the workplace has been a major site of exposure, and the workers who are mostly likely to be exposed there are more likely to be lower income (and therefore need that testing to be free in the first place).

You might have heard about the Democrats’ plan to expand Medicare to cover dental benefits, as part of their $3.5 trillion budget bill. Well, if you thought you or your older relatives might finally be getting the care you need, think again: The Washington Post reports that the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services expects it will take between three to five years for the dental benefit to start. Officials cited the need to devise new pricing schemes and vet dentists before they start covering dental treatment. Which sort of makes sense—there’s a lot of scammy bullshit in dentistry, and the prices are of course totally wacko, just like they are in healthcare, and Medicare would then have to fight a whole big battle with the dentists to set reasonable prices for procedures. Turns out that ignoring a huge part of healthcare (yes, teeth are part of the body, actually!) for decades is sort of hard to turn around quickly, I guess.

A survey of rideshare drivers in California, conducted by the union-esque group Rideshare Drivers United, found that just 10 percent of drivers are getting the healthcare stipend that was promised in exchange for the passage of Prop 22, the California law that created separate, second-class labor standards for gig workers. 40 percent couldn’t recall getting a notification about it from their company, or had just never heard of it; 29 percent are on California’s Medicaid program. Workers must spend at least 25 “engaged hours” to qualify—that is, hours actually driving, not time between rides. I’m sure Uber’s white-collar workers only get paid for the hours they’re working at their desks and not the time they’re getting coffee or reading Reddit, right?

Speaking of bullshit from bosses, this was a harrowing story from the human resources department (if true; I don’t know how much Ask A Manager is plagued with fake stories, but it is totally believable):

In the full post, the letter writer adds: “I can’t prove anything for certain, there’s been at least one person whose name has appeared on the file several times and was let go not long after.”

It’s unlikely this sort of thing is common, but possible? Of course it is. Companies do illegal things to their workers all the time, literally every day, because the penalties are usually not high enough to discourage them. Give bosses the keys to your private health information, and some of them are going to use it for bad, discriminatory purposes. It’s like putting a treat in a dog’s mouth and telling him to just carry it across the room without eating it; they just can’t help themselves. This is yet another reason why it’s a very bad plan to have employers providing health insurance. It gives management too much power, and what the fuck does your boss have to do with your health, anyway?

That’s it this week. I truly hope you have Labor Day off, and if you don’t, I hope your boss spills his coffee on himself and locks his keys inside his car. See you next time!