Modern Healthcare - - LATE NEWS -

The Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion is try­ing to re­duce le­gal bar­ri­ers to co­or­di­nat­ing care and giv­ing pa­tients prod­ucts and ser­vices they need to im­prove their health, such as trans­porta­tion to med­i­cal ap­point­ments and blood-pres­sure cuffs. In a pro­posed rule is­sued last week by HHS’ Of­fice of In­spec­tor Gen­eral, the agency pro­posed ad­di­tional safe har­bors from pro­hi­bi­tions on pro­vid­ing in­cen­tives to pa­tients en­rolled in gov­ern­ment health pro­grams to seek treat­ment. It also so­licited in­put from providers on how it can re­lax rules against re­duc­ing or lim­it­ing ser­vices in or­der to en­cour­age ef­fi­cient med­i­cal care.

Health­care added 22,600 jobs last month as the na­tion’s un­em­ploy­ment rate fell to a low not seen since the early months of the Great Re­ces­sion. Over­all health­care em­ploy­ment in Septem­ber reached 14.8 mil­lion jobs, ac­cord­ing to the lat­est data from the U.S. Bureau of La­bor Statis­tics. The fig­ures are sea­son­ally ad­justed and pre­lim­i­nary for the past two months. The econ­omy added 248,000 jobs last month and the un­em­ploy­ment rate dipped to 5.9%, the first time it has fallen be­low 6% since Au­gust 2008. Hos­pi­tals hired steadily through the re­ces­sion, though re­cent hir­ing trends show hos­pi­tal hir­ing has cooled, while am­bu­la­tory-care em­ploy­ment has ac­cel­er­ated.

Two im­mi­grant groups filed com­plaints al­leg­ing HHS dis­crim­i­nated against fed­eral ex­change en­rollees who aren’t pro­fi­cient in English or Span­ish. The com­plaints, filed with the agency’s Of­fice for Civil Rights, al­lege that the fed­eral gov­ern­ment’s ac­tions vi­o­late the rights of in­di­vid­u­als born in for­eign coun­tries. Last month, HHS an­nounced that 115,000 in­di­vid­u­als who had failed to re­solve prob­lems with their ap­pli­ca­tions re­lated to im­mi­gra­tion sta­tus would see their plans can­celed at the end of Septem­ber. Asian-Americans faced lan­guage and other bar­ri­ers in ex­change en­roll­ment. But let­ters no­ti­fy­ing in­di­vid­u­als about the prob­lems were sent only in English and Span­ish; some im­mi­grants un­der­stood nei­ther.

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