Incoming HHS Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell, confirmed by the Senate last Thursday, faces critical issues related to implementation of the federal healthcare law
and a narrow window to prepare for the 2015 open enrollment period. She should quickly decide on her top priorities for the agency, said Michael Leavitt, a former Utah governor who served as HHS secretary under President George W. Bush. She then must focus on accomplishing those tasks and avoid distractions given the limited time she’ll be at the helm prior to the inauguration of a new president in early 2017, he said. Burwell won confirmation on a bipartisan 78-17 vote.
Steady hiring in healthcare added 33,600 jobs last month,
an increase of 0.2%, as ambulatory-care employment swelled by 23,100, a monthly gain that easily exceeds average monthly job growth for the sector. Hospitals saw hiring continue to rebound after shedding jobs last winter. Healthcare’s continued job growth added 218,700 jobs during the 12 months that ended in May, for growth of 2%, and brought the sector’s total employment to 14.7 million. Across the economy, employers added 217,000 jobs in May, which Ian Shepherdson, chief economist of Pantheon Macroeconomics, welcomed as a “solid report.” The preliminary May hiring figures mark the fourth month in a row that employment growth exceeded 200,000 jobs, he noted.
The National Nurses United organization has launched a campaign against a perceived invader: algorithms and clinical-decision-support software.
The union charges that the software is costing nurses jobs, and, just as importantly, their autonomy. Deborah Burger, one of the co-presidents of the union—and a nurse with Kaiser Permanente— said in an interview that the software feels “presumptuous” and that, in her experience, it mandates care that doctors and nurses don’t often feel comfortable countermanding. Burger and the union’s position on clinical-decision-support software targets a key point for regulators.