A subcommittee of the House Education and Labor Committee met yesterday with a group of invited speakers to weigh the pros and cons of several strategies on the table for reforming the health care system.
One speaker stressed that guaranteeing coverage for all Americans would create a larger pool of risk across which costs can be spread more efficiently, whereas smaller pools of risk leave individuals and small businesses with more expensive coverage. Since 2000, it was said goverment statistics show, employees’ health insurance premiums have doubled, increasing at a rate more than six times faster than wage increases.
Representative John Kline (R-Minn.) stressed, however, that 160 million Americans get their insurance from employers and whatever reforms made “must build on what works in [the existing] structure.”
Another speaker denounced the so-called “play or pay” approach, which would give employers the option of either providing insurance to employees or paying someone else, such as the state government, to do so.
“Such an approach could “result in a net reduction in employer sponsored coverage by leading some companies to pay rather than play. This would lower the level of active employer engagement and their important role as innovative and demanding purchasers of health care services.”
Representative Robert E. Andrews (D-NJ), chairman of the subcommittee hosting the hearing, commented afterward that a range of strategy recommendations had been proposed but discussion of how to pay for them had been “incomplete.”
To read more about the hearing, go here.
The Women’s Rights division of Human Rights Watch released a report last month – and held a rountable discussion today – on the poor standard of women’s health care in immigration detention centers. The report is based on interviews conducted with 48 detainees and visits to nine detention centers in Florida, Texas, and Arizona.
Immigration detention is the fastest growing form of incarceration in the country. Last year, more thatn 300,000 people were held in immigration custody, of which 10 percent were women. By international standards, the level of medical care provided to detainees must be equivalent to that available to the general population. However, immigration detention policy is largely limited to emergency care and it is women who especially suffer from insufficient routine care.
Researchers point to lack of oversight and accountability of the facilities. Many of the women are not properly informed of the available services and know little of the rights they have to access to medical care in this country. Researchers recommended a “detainee handbook” be devised and handed out to all those taken into custody so that they are made familiar with facility procedures and available services.
Some women also reported difficulty reporting their medical needs to the medicual unit within the facility, and/or gaining access to a doctor once they had reported the need.
Testimony provided to Human Rights Watch suggests that the relationship of security personnel to the individuals in their custody may seriously undermine access to health care. In the most benign instances, some women said that they did not feel comfortable sharing private health information with the individuals with whom they interacted day in and day out. In other cases women alleged mistreatment by security staff in the course of requesting medical care or being transported for treatment.
The report discusses language barriers, neglect of mental health needs, insufficien routine gynecologolical care, utter lack of prenatal care, lack of access to abortion, and other issues that severely compromise the standard of care available to women in immigration custody. Read more on these issues and see how the report uses international and domestic legal standards to outline these women’s right to care and define what a basic standard of care might look like.