Nonprofit to for-profit conversions by hospitals, health insurers, and health plans.
Conversion of hospitals, health insurers, and health plans from nonprofit to for-profit ownership has become a focus of national debate. The author examines why nonprofit ownership has been dominant in the US health system and assesses the strength of the argument that nonprofits provide community benefits that would be threatened by for-profit conversion. The author concludes that many of the specific community benefits offered by nonprofits, such as care for the poor, could be maintained or replaced by adequate funding of public programs and that quality and fairness in treatment can be better assured through clear standards of care and adequate monitoring systems. As health care becomes increasingly commercialized, the most difficult parts of nonprofits' historic mission to preserve are the community orientation, leadership role, and innovation that nonprofit hospitals and health plans have provided out of their commitment to a community beyond those to whom they sell services. (+info)
Human rights is a US problem, too: the case of women and HIV.
Overall, US AIDS incidence and mortality have shown significant declines since 1996, probably because of new antiviral therapies. For women, however, these benefits have been much less pronounced than for men. At the heart of women's HIV risk is gender-based discrimination, which keeps women, and especially women of color, poor and dependent. Although human rights issues are often linked with AIDS issues abroad, in the US they receive insufficient attention in our response to women's HIV risk. Advocacy from public health professionals is needed to overcome the longstanding paternalistic attitudes of federal agencies toward women and to change the paradigm of women's HIV/AIDS prevention and care. Examples of unjust and punitive social policies that may affect women's HIV risk include the 1996 welfare policy legislation, drug treatment policies for women, and women's access to medical research and technology. The overriding public health response to AIDS consists of behavioral interventions aimed at the individual. But this approach will not successfully address the issues of women with AIDS until efforts are made to eliminate society's unjust and unhealthy laws, policies, and practicles. (+info)
Assessing the effects of welfare reform policies on reproductive and infant health.
OBJECTIVES: The welfare reform law of 1996 marked a historical moment in US policy toward the poor by ending the entitlement to cash assistance, by requiring work, and by establishing time limits. This article examines the potential impact on the health of women and children, the primary recipients of welfare benefits. METHODS: The authors outline the reproductive health outcomes most likely to be sensitive to welfare policies, identify indicators that might be used to assess these outcomes, review empirical evidence, and suggest specific methods and data sources. RESULTS: State welfare requirements could improve health outcomes or deter families from Medicaid and food stamps, as well as income support, thus worsening health outcomes. National and state data may prove useful in detecting these effects; however, new data sources may be required for specific health-related questions. CONCLUSIONS: Assessing the effects of welfare policies on reproductive and infant health is possible, although challenging. Reauthorization of the legislation is required in 2002; it is essential that the consequences for health be included in the next round of public debate. (+info)
Self-reported legal needs of women with or at risk for HIV infection. The Her Study Group.
Women at risk for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection are often poor and members of racial or ethnic minorities. In addition to legal concerns that might be common among persons with similar sociodemographic characteristics, HIV infection adds the potential of possible stigma and discrimination, as well as the prospect of illness and increased mortality. To determine women's perceptions of need for and access to legal services and whether such perceptions are affected by HIV infection, from November 1993 through September 1995 we interviewed 509 women with or at risk for HIV infection by virtue of injection drug use or high-risk sexual behaviors in New York and Baltimore, Maryland. A majority of women, regardless of HIV serostatus, reported current or future needs for legal assistance with government benefits. More than 25% reported needing current or future legal help with housing, debts, arrangements for care of children, a will, and advance directives. Substantial minorities of women reported other legal needs. HIV-positive women were significantly more likely to report anticipated future need for help with paternal custody or visitation, current need in making a will, and anticipated future assistance with advance directives. For most items, a majority of women thought they knew where to receive help. However, among women reporting a current need, only a minority actually were receiving legal assistance. This study suggests that the extent of legal needs among women with or at risk for HIV infection is substantial, and that few receive legal assistance. With few exceptions, at least for women early in the course of illness, HIV infection does not appear to alter the pattern or extent of legal needs. There are dramatic differences, regardless of HIV status, between expectation and reality in women's access to legal services. (+info)
Welfare reform: advocacy and intervention in the health care setting.
Welfare reform has drastically altered the lives of poor families in the US. In its wake, many former recipients are not receiving whatever transitional benefits and other safeguards to which they remain entitled under federal and state laws. Families are losing access to Medicaid and are not receiving the child care assistance or Food Stamps for which they continue to be eligible. Ill-served by stringent time limits and work requirements, lack of child care assistance, and lack of training and educational opportunities for the development of skills that will lead to better jobs, families need help to navigate the complexities of the new welfare system. Boston Medical Center's Department of Pediatrics has instituted a welfare screening project to educate families about their rights under welfare reform and assist them in advocating for themselves and their children. (+info)
Health care, federalism and the new Social Union.
The Social Union framework agreement and the Health Accord provide examples of the close relationship that exists between federalism and the delivery of health care. These recent agreements represent a move from a federal-unilateral style of federalism to a more collaborative model. This shift will potentially affect federal funding for health care, interpretation of the Canada Health Act and the development of new health care initiatives. The primary advantage of the new collaborative model is protection of jurisdictional autonomy. Its primary disadvantages are blurring of accountability and potential for exclusion of the public from decision-making. (+info)
Gender differences in health care access indicators in an urban, low-income community.
OBJECTIVES: This study examined factors associated with gender differences in health insurance coverage and having a usual source of medical care. METHODS: In-person interviews were conducted with a community sample of 695 residents of Central Harlem, New York City. Predictors of the 2 outcome variables and the interaction of key variables with gender were analyzed via logistic regression. RESULTS: No strong patterns emerged to explain gender differentials in having insurance coverage and having a usual provider. However, women employed full time had increased odds of insurance coverage, whereas employment had no similar effect among men. Public assistance evidenced a strong relationship with insurance coverage among both men and women. Socioeconomic factors and health insurance were important independent predictors of having a usual source of health care for men but had little effect among women. CONCLUSIONS: Expanding the availability of both public insurance and affordable private coverage for men living in low-income communities is an important means of reducing gender disparities in access to health care. Public assistance is an important means of enabling access to health care for men as well as women. (+info)
Child hunger in Canada: results of the 1994 National Longitudinal Survey of Children and Youth.
BACKGROUND: In Canada, hunger is believed to be rare. This study examined the prevalence of hunger among Canadian children and the characteristics of, and coping strategies used by, families with children experiencing hunger. METHODS: The data originated from the first wave of data collection for the National Longitudinal Survey of Children and Youth, conducted in 1994, which included 13,439 randomly selected Canadian families with children aged 11 years or less. The respondents were asked about the child's experience of hunger and consequent use of coping strategies. Sociodemographic and other risk factors for families experiencing hunger, use of food assistance programs and other coping strategies were analyzed by means of multiple logistic regression analysis. RESULTS: Hunger was experienced by 1.2% (206) of the families in the survey, representing 57,000 Canadian families. Single-parent families, families relying on social assistance and off-reserve Aboriginal families were overrepresented among those experiencing hunger. Hunger coexisted with the mother's poor health and activity limitation and poor child health. Parents offset the needs of their children by depriving themselves of food. INTERPRETATION: Physicians may wish to use these demographic characteristics to identify and assist families with children potentially at risk for hunger. (+info)