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Hospitals’ Problematic Use of Volunteer Staff, MT Lawmakers’ Full Health Agenda & More

January 13, 2023 (2 min read)

U.S. Hospital Use of Volunteers May Violate Federal Rules:

Volunteer workers have become an integral part of the labor force at hospitals across the country. According to analysis of federal and other data by Kaiser Health News, hospitals may use over $5 billion worth of free volunteer labor each year.

Some labor experts say using volunteers puts hospitals, especially for-profit ones, at risk of violating federal rules, which dictate that those who perform tasks that significantly benefit for-profit entities are entitled to wages.

“The rules are pretty clear, and yet it happens all the time,” said Marcia McCormick, co-director of the Wefel Center for Employment Law at Saint Louis University. “It’s a confusing state of affairs.” (KAISER HEALTH NEWS, U.S. DEPARTMENT OF LABOR)

Full Health Agenda for MT Lawmakers:

Expanding patient access will be one of the top priorities for Montana lawmakers this session, according to Republican legislative leaders, whose party holds a veto-proof majority. Expanding telehealth is one way they will look to do that, along with letting physicians dispense prescription drugs to their patients.

Lawmakers will also consider increasing reimbursement rates for nursing homes and other health providers. A study commissioned by the state found that reimbursement rates weren’t high enough to cover the cost of care.

Increasing oversight of the way nonprofit hospitals report community benefits will be on the agenda as well.

The time available for debating all those issues may be limited, however, with over a dozen draft requests for bills dealing with abortion also having been filed. (KAISER HEALTH NEWS, MONTANA DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES)

Women Could Be Prosecuted for Medication Abortions in AL:

Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall (R) said last week that women who use abortion medications to end their pregnancies in the state could be prosecuted. That news came a week after the Food and Drug Administration finalized a rule change broadening the availability of such medications. (AL.COM, STAT)

Nurse Strike at Two NYC Hospitals Lasts Only Three Days:

As many as 7,100 nurses employed by two of the largest hospitals in New York City went on strike last week in protest of severe understaffing, according to the New York State Nurses Association. After three days both hospitals, the Montefiore Medical Center and Mount Sinai Hospital, announced they had reached tentative agreements with the union. (CBS NEWS)

U.S. House Passes Abortion Measures:

With their new majority, Republicans in the U.S. House passed a pair of abortion-related measures last week. One was a resolution condemning attacks on anti-abortion facilities, and the other would make doctors who refuse to care for infants born alive after an attempted abortion subject to new penalties. It’s unlikely either measure will be taken up by the Democrat-controlled Senate. (ASSOCIATED PRESS, POLITICO)

— Compiled by KOREY CLARK


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