LEGAL LEANINGS: Surprise! New Laws Impact Patient Billing

Since last year, certain providers (e.g., anesthesiologists, radiologists, surgeons, etc.) in Michigan have had to navigate Michigan’s Surprise Medical Billing Law (Michigan Act). Starting Jan. 1, 2022, those same providers have also had to comply with the Federal No Surprises Act (Federal Act). Generally, both statutes prevent nonparticipating providers from balance billing patients when the patient’s insurance company pays less than the nonparticipating provider’s usual and customary charge. The Federal Act defines “nonparticipating providers” as those who do not have a contractual relationship with a plan/insurance company.

Although the two statutes largely apply to the same providers, those providers need to pay attention to which law applies and take steps to carefully abide by the rate setting process unique to each. Generally speaking, both laws apply to situations where the patient is not able to control whether their treatment team consists of participating or nonparticipating providers.

Michigan’s Surprise Medical Billing Law

The Michigan Act typically applies to three types of treatment rendered by nonparticipating providers:

(1) Treatment of all emergency patients;
(2) Services to non-emergency patients in participating hospitals where the patient does not have the opportunity to choose a participating provider (or the patient has not been provided with prior disclosure); and
(3) [Read More]


Lansing Lines is presented in cooperation with MIRS, a Lansing-based news and information service.

COVID-19 Surge Likely To Peak In Late Jan.-Early Feb.

The ongoing COVID-19 surge isn’t likely to reach its peak until the end of January or early February, according to coronavirus scenario hubs viewed by Michigan health officials.

Amongst the most cynical predictions for Michigan, COVID-19 hospitalizations could peak at 8,000 – more than a 90% increase from when the state broke the hospitalization record with 4,191 in late November of 2021.

Slide from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services during Jan. 11 media briefing.

While an optimistic forecast shows hospitalizations not experiencing much of an increase – similar to where the state is now – Dr. Natasha Bagdasarian, the state’s chief medical executive, said, “We don’t think that is likely to be reflective of our next few weeks here in Michigan.”

“These are ensemble models utilizing information and scenarios put together from top academic institutions around the country, funded by the (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and very similar to CDC models…they’re showing that we will likely peak between the end of January to early February, and then after that things will start coming down,” Bagdasarian said.

At this morning’s media briefing, Bagdasarian [Read More]


Lansing Lines is presented in cooperation with MIRS, a Lansing-based news and information service.

Schools Should Mandate Mask Wearing When Classes Resume, Doctor Says

Schools should make mask wearing mandatory for students when they return to the classroom next month, Dr. Matthew Sims, director of Infection Prevention Research for Beaumont Health, said Aug. 10 in an online press conference.
“It’s just a danger that there is no reason to take the risk of making this optional,” Sims said.

He was speaking during an online press conference hosted by Beaumont Health.

Dr. Sandy Patel, pediatrician at Beaumont, said the hospital system has been admitting two to three COVID-positive pediatric patients each week for the past few months. Likewise, the system is seeing one to two mothers each week who are testing positive for COVID while preparing to deliver a newborn.

Children under 12 currently are not eligible for COVID vaccinations, they noted. Sims was asked if schools should mandate mask wearing.

“I really believe they should. We have this entire population of people who cannot be protected by the vaccine and they are going to make masking optional in a place where they can’t keep social distancing? Kids, as you know, are much more likely to hug and touch, get together at [Read More]

The Delta Variant Thrives in a State of Political and Public Health Discord

The day after Missouri Gov. Mike Parson finished his bicentennial bus tour to drum up tourism to the state in mid-July, Chicago issued a travel advisory warning about visiting Missouri.

Earlier this summer, as covid-19 case counts began to tick up when the highly transmissible delta variant took hold in the state, the Republican-majority legislature successfully enacted laws limiting public health powers and absolving businesses from covid legal exposure.

The state health officer post has sat vacant since Dr. Randall Williams resigned suddenly in late April — leaving Missouri without a permanent leader as the covid numbers grew. And Brian Steele, a mayor in the Springfield area, which is at the epicenter of swelling cases, faces a recall vote for his masking mandate that ended in April.

Hospitals in southwestern Missouri are overflowing. As of July 19, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data show Missouri is worst in the nation for covid case rates over the past week, and in the bottom 15 states for vaccinations against the potentially deadly virus. Though cases are not even half of what they were during the winter spike, they continue to rise rapidly, sending a warning to other states with low vaccination rates about the havoc the coronavirus’s [Read More]

Analysis: Necessary or Not, Covid Booster Shots Are Probably on the Horizon

The drugmaker Pfizer recently announced that vaccinated people are likely to need a booster shot to be effectively protected against new variants of covid-19 and that the company would apply for Food and Drug Administration emergency use authorization for the shot. Top government health officials immediately and emphatically announced that the booster isn’t needed right now — and held firm to that position even after Pfizer’s top scientist made his case and shared preliminary data with them last week.

This has led to confusion. Should the nearly 60% of adult Americans who have been fully vaccinated seek out a booster or not? Is the protection that has allowed them to see loved ones and go out to dinner fading?

Ultimately, the question of whether a booster is needed is unlikely to determine the FDA’s decision. If recent history is predictive, booster shots will be here before long. That’s because of the outdated, 60-year-old basic standard the FDA uses to authorize medicines for sale: Is a new drug “safe and effective”?

The FDA, using that standard, will very likely have to authorize Pfizer’s booster for emergency use, as it did the company’s prior covid shot. The booster is likely to be safe — hundreds of millions have [Read More]

ON POINT WITH POs: Community Health Goes Mobile

I’m keeping with my community theme for this column, but this time, I’m taking it to the streets. After years of being a wish-list item, our organization is set to acquire a refurbished mobile clinic, thanks to generous grant assistance from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan.

Mobile health clinics are not a new concept, and there are thousands of them in operation, but I suspect their value was somewhat diminished amid a decade of healthcare news on emerging medical technology, mega health system mergers and Wall Street takeovers of primary care. But again, we see the pandemic forcing us to reconsider how we deliver care, especially to the most vulnerable. Mobile clinics go to the heart of communities that are frequently shut off from convenient and accessible care. They also serve as a direct response to addressing the social determinants of health (SDOH). It was our organization’s immersion into SDOH issues that first piqued my interest in the mobile clinic; it was COVID-19 and the need to vaccinate the largest number of the population as we can, that moved it to the top of the list. (As an aside, I want to thank Dr. Richard Bryce, an osteopathic physician who is the Chief [Read More]

COMPLIANCE CORNER: Group Purchasing Organizations: One Model, Two Safe Harbors

A Group Purchasing Organization (GPO) is a common structure in the healthcare industry. However, running a GPO in compliance with the Anti-Kickback Statute (AKS) involves a complex analysis of two distinct safe harbors under the AKS. A GPO is a negotiating agent that allows its members to leverage their combined buying power to obtain more favorable pricing and terms. Rather than each member negotiating with a given vendor independently, the GPO negotiates and maintains a master purchase agreement with the vendor on behalf of its members which allows the members to make purchases under the master agreement with better terms than the member could negotiate itself. A GPO is similar to other types of buying groups, but is a term of art in the realm of healthcare compliance. At its simplest, the members pay the vendor the discounted price negotiated by the GPO, the vendor pays the GPO an administrative fee, and no funds change hands between the GPO and its members.

However, both the administrative fees paid by the vendor to the GPO and the discounts offered to the members potentially implicate the AKS. The AKS prohibits remuneration in return for referrals or for purchasing, leasing, ordering, or arranging [Read More]

LEGAL LEANINGS: A Call Immigration Reform To Address Healthcare Shortages

We owe a tremendous debt to the healthcare worker battalion, who fought, and continues to fight, to save lives globally during this pandemic. It is important to consider that while the COVID-19 pandemic has underscored the severe healthcare worker shortages globally, we are now facing an increasing percentage of burnout departures in the industry. For example, a survey conducted by the International Council of Nurses (ICN) found that, “20 percent of national nurse associations reported an increased rate of nurses leaving the profession in 2020.” The ICN estimated that 13 million nurses could be needed to fill global shortages and replace nurses who leave the profession in the next few years. In a May 11, 2021 article published regarding the global shortage of nurses, the Clinton Health Access Initiative noted that while investing in training capacity is critical for a stronger global workforce, government planning for health emergencies must support and protect health workers while also increasing capacity and strategic placement.

So what failed during the pandemic in the facilitation of entry, visa issuance, and/or work authorization of critical foreign healthcare workers? Below is a list of examples for consideration:

1. For those healthcare workers outside of the U.S. requiring visas, there was [Read More]

IN MY OPINION: Should The Mourning Begin?

EDITOR’S NOTE: The opinions below are those of the author and not, necessarily, Healthcare Michigan, it’s advertisers or staff.

Has our profession of medicine passed the point of no return? Are we simply a round cog forced into a square hole by those who would or must control us? Are physicians employees, commodities or simply subservient to the insurance companies, corporatists and politicians?

Surrendering the profession to what physicians are told to perceive as the populist mandate is not the cure; it is part of the disease.

Equating professionalism to progressive groupthink and equating this then to taking the “high road” has given physicians a great view of their defeat as a profession of independent thinkers focused laser-like on the professional mission handed down for the last 1,500 years.

Cries of “physicians must get with the program,” and not dwell nostalgically on the past is the excuse to condone, actually encourage, deference to the technocrats, bureaucrats and others who consider themselves the bosses. If physicians are serious about not surrendering to those who have taken what should be the most rewarding of all professions and who have created grief, abysmal morale and even depression, this is the time to acknowledge what has taken place and is [Read More]


Lansing Lines is presented in cooperation with MIRS, a Lansing-based news and information service.

How Much Tax Might Be Owed On Vaccine Sweepstakes Awards?

The state July 21 announced two more $50,000 vaccine lottery award winners, as well as the first $1 million prize. But how much is that, really?

While the Michigan Lottery isn’t running the show on the MI Shot to Win sweepstakes, for any Lottery prize awarded over $5,000, the Lottery is forced to withhold 24% in federal taxes and 4.25% in state taxes, according to its website.

So if the MI Shot to Win sweepstakes winners were treated to the same standards, the $1 million prize winner would need to fork over $240,000 to Uncle Sam and $42,500 over to the state Treasury. That equals out to $717,500 in winnings.

The $50,000 winner could conceivably owe $12,000 to the feds and $2,125 to the state. That’s $35,875 net winnings.

But the Lottery website warns that those amounts don’t necessarily satisfy a person’s tax liability and are just estimates. The correct answer would come from the IRS, Treasury or a professional tax expert.

The second round of vaccine sweepstakes winners announced today included the first grand prize offering of $1 million award to Grand Blanc resident LaTonda Anderson.

After [Read More]

Revolutionary Cancer Therapy Could Make Michigan Hub For Treatment

New diagnostic technology known as “molecular imaging” and a new treatment called “molecular targeted radiation therapy” is expected to “revolutionize treatment of cancer,” according to Sen. Winnie Brinks (D-Grand Rapids).

Anthony Chang, founder and CEO of BAMF Health in Grand Rapids, explained the procedure to the House Health Policy Committee recently by showing them a scan of a prostate cancer patient’s body riddled with tumors.

“When we see a patient like this with a hundred tumors in their body, usually this is a death sentence,” Chang said. “We know this type of patient. The only option is chemotherapy with a very strong side effect and eventually they will almost always, almost guaranteed, pass to drug resistance and go to hospice care and die.

“But this new technology called molecular targeted radiation therapy allows us to efficiently deliver a lethal radiation dose to every single tumor we find in the patient’s body without causing any side effect or major side effect. So we can achieve complete remission over here,” he said.

Already under construction is the Doug Meijer Medical Innovation Building in Grand Rapids where BAMF will use the new techniques to treat cancer patients.

It is scheduled to open in February 2022, if it can get a certificate of need [Read More]

Labor Department Issues Emergency Rules to Protect Health Care Workers From COVID

Labor Department officials on June 10 announced a temporary emergency standard to protect health care workers, saying they face “grave danger” in the workplace from the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

The new standard would require employers to remove workers who have COVID-19 from the workplace, notify workers of COVID exposure at work and strengthen requirements for employers to report worker deaths or hospitalizations to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

“These are the workers who continue to go into work day in and day out to take care of us, to save our lives,” said Jim Frederick, acting assistant secretary of Labor for occupational safety and health. “And we must make sure we do everything in our power to return the favor to protect them.”

The new rules are set to take effect immediately after publication in the Federal Register and are expected to affect about 10.3 million health care workers nationwide.

The government’s statement of reasons for the new rules cites the work of KHN and The Guardian in tallying more than 3,600 health care worker COVID deaths through April 8. Journalists documented far more deaths than the limited count by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which through May tallied 1,611 deaths on case-reporting forms [Read More]

On Point With POs: Visioning The Future: It’s Time To Address Public Health Crises

My mind keeps going to the word community when I reflect on the past year and a half. Initially, as the pandemic broke out, many of us were in a community of one, two or three, confined to our homes for all but the most essential trips. Then, for those in the healthcare community, there was a call to action, an immediate need to get our own acts together from a public health perspective to treat those afflicted with COVID-19, those who had pressing medical needs not related to the pandemic, and others whose emotional well-being was overwhelmed by the stress the virus added to already fragile lives. Ultimately, we figured it out; with virtual care, drive- through clinics, and in-person care, as necessary. (Indulge me here for a shout out to our organization’s Master of Public Health team members, who provided much of the direction for the pop-up clinics.)

The pandemic is not over in the United States, but it’s easing. Perhaps we can all take a bit of credit for that, whatever our roles – even if just to follow the recommended health guidelines out of concern for ourselves, our families, and our neighbors. For most, especially as we head into summer, [Read More]

COMPLIANCE CORNER: Disciplinary Action Against Providers Decreases During Pandemic

Wachler & Associates, P.C

Disciplinary actions against healthcare providers have decreased significantly during the past year according to figures provided by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. This development may be evidence of a general easing of heavy-handed enforcement in state licensing disciplinary proceedings and hospital professional review actions based on technical violations during the Covid-19 pandemic and the result of an increased appreciation for providers serving on the front lines of the crises.

Prior to the outbreak of COVID-19, the United States was already facing a shortage of healthcare providers. A report by the Association of American Medical Colleges projected a shortage of between 46,900 and 121,900 physicians by 2032. Moreover, the healthcare system will also likely face a shortage of tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of other healthcare providers such as nurse practitioners and registered nurses.

The outbreak of COVID-19 has stretched the staffing resources of the healthcare system to unprecedented levels. Adding to the demand for already scarce providers, hospitals have scrambled to find additional frontline workers like emergency medicine physicians and nurses. During this period of mounting shortage, disciplinary actions against physicians have dropped significantly according to figures published by the U.S. Department of [Read More]

LEGAL LEANINGS: Update to the ALJ Backlog for Medicare Appeals

Dickinson Wright

For the majority of the 2010s, the Medicare appeals process had become extremely backlogged. The Office of Medicare Hearings and Appeals (“OMHA”) is in charge of administering the Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) hearing program for appeals arising from Medicare claims and disputes. Pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1395ff(d)(1)(A), an ALJ is statutorily required to provide an appellant a hearing within ninety (90) days of the hearing being requested. However, due to a large backlog of appeals, appellants would end up waiting three (3) to five (5) years for that hearing. This caused much concern because disputed payments were being recouped from providers and suppliers during that waiting period, yet they were being deprived of defending themselves in a timely matter. Having Medicare payments recouped for 90 days is often not detrimental for provider and supplier businesses. However, being recouped for 3 to 5 years can have a significantly detrimental impact to provider and supplier businesses.

Due to the backlog, a slew of litigation ensued. The most common claim was one for a temporary restraining order (“TRO”) and preliminary injunction against the Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”), ordering them to stay recoupments until the ALJ hearing occurred. Providers and suppliers would [Read More]


Lansing Lines is presented in cooperation with MIRS, a Lansing-based news and information service.

Providers For Injured Auto Wreck Victims Shutting Down; Berman Drops Bill
The president of a West Michigan-based home health care provider said he’s personally aware of nine Michigan facilities that will close their doors for good as of July 2 in reaction to the 2019 auto insurance law designed to cut rates for drivers.

Frantic families are calling Kris Skogen, president of AdvisaCare, and his team about availability at his facilities for their catastrophically injured loved one after they received a 30-day notice from their current provider that they’ll be ending service.

“It’s a real thing. It’s a mess out here,” he said.

The comments come a day after Rep. Ryan Berman (R-Commerce Twp.) introduced HB 4992 to change reimbursement rates for providers based on regional market averages as calculated by the Michigan Department of Insurance and Financial Services.

The current law mandates providers charge auto insurers 55% of what they’re currently charging for care for those injured in auto insurance. The other option is to charge 200% of what Medicare would charge.

The problem, Skogen said, is Medicare doesn’t cover hourly home care, a service provided in Michigan due to the coverage through its unique lifetime [Read More]

‘Comprehensive’ Tracker Shows MI At 54% Vaccinated

It turns out Michigan is a lot closer to hitting the first milestone of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s Vacc to Normal plan than what the state data had been indicating.

The state released a Vacc to Normal tracker tonight that shows 54% of Michiganders have initiated their vaccinations. When the state hits 55%, Whitmer said in-person work would again be allowed for all sectors of business after two weeks have passed.

The state said its usual dashboard, which as of May 7 shows 51.5% had begun vaccinations, “slightly undercounts the true number of doses” given to Michigan residents.

The new tracker includes Michigan residents who were vaccinated out-of-state as well as in-state to get at a more “comprehensive” look at the state’s inoculation rate.

The newest tracker, based on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data, includes Michiganders vaccinated by providers not currently reporting to the state’s usual dashboard, such as Veterans Affairs, Department of Defense, Bureau of Prisons, and most out-of-state providers.

The inclusion of out-of-state data in the Vacc to Normal campaign comes after several GOP lawmakers representing border counties asked the governor to do just that.

Whitmer had predicted April 29 the state could reach the 55% mark by May 7. At the time, the percentage of those [Read More]

COVID Testing Has Become A Financial Windfall

Pamela Valfer needed multiple COVID tests after repeatedly visiting the hospital last fall to see her mother, who was being treated for cancer. Beds there were filling with COVID patients. Valfer heard the tests would be free.

So, she was surprised when the testing company billed her insurer $250 for each swab. She feared she might receive a bill herself. And that amount is toward the low end of what some hospitals and doctors have collected.

Hospitals are charging up to $650 for a simple, molecular COVID test that costs $50 or less to run, according to Medicare claims analyzed for KHN by Hospital Pricing Specialists. Charges by large health systems range from $20 to $1,419 per test, a new national survey by KFF shows. And some free-standing emergency rooms are charging more than $1,000 per test.

Authorities were saying “get tested, no one’s going to be charged, and it turns out that’s not true,” said Valfer, a professor of visual arts who lives in Pasadena, California. “Now on the back end it’s being passed onto the consumer” through high charges to insurers, she said. The insurance company passes on its higher costs to consumers in higher premiums.

As the pandemic enters its second [Read More]

ON POINT WITH POs: Vaccination Pop-up Clinics Bring Community-Sensitive COVID Response

Many readers know I’m an avowed foodie. Pre-COVID, I was always game to try the newest restaurant and have long been a devoted fan of Detroit’s eclectic food scene. Tell me about a pop-up restaurant and I’m first in line. The latter concept has appropriately grown during the pandemic, as leading chefs seek safe yet fun ways to feed and entertain their followers–while eking out a living for themselves and their workers in the process.

So for me, the idea of pop-up vaccination clinics may have been preordained. As a CDC approved vaccination distributor, our team, either directly or through partner relationships, has vaccinated 3,000 people as of this writing with either the Moderna, Pfizer or J&J vaccine. While we started out (and continue) vaccinating in traditional settings, as well as drive throughs in physician office parking lots, we quickly branched out to pop-up clinics that targeted the need to increase vaccination rates among Greater Detroit’s Asian community. Meeting at cultural centers and houses of worship, we have conducted pop-up clinics for the Filipino, Korean, Chinese, Hmong, Thai and Vietnamese communities.

As a Polish immigrant who came to the United States as an infant with my parents, I am bi-lingual and bi-cultural and have always [Read More]

COMPLIANCE CORNER: Recent Michigan Law Bars Surprise Medical Billing

On Oct. 22, 2020, the Michigan Legislature enacted Enrolled House Bills 4459 and 4460 to protect consumers from surprise medical billing. The legislation creates limitations on out-of-network provider payments, requires providers to afford certain disclosures to patients regarding the costs of services and, overall, protects patients from excessive balance medical billing. Balance billing occurs when a healthcare provider first submits a claim to a patient’s insurer, and subsequently bills the patient for the outstanding balance that the patient’s insurance company did not cover.

To prevent surprise balance billing, House Bill 4460, now Public Act No. 235, requires out-of-network providers administering care to non-emergency patients to make the following disclosures to the patient:

• That the patient’s health insurance may not cover all services the out-of-network provider is scheduled to provide;
• A good faith estimated cost of services to be provided to the patient; and
• That the patient may ask the services to be performed by an in-network provider.

These disclosures must be provided in a written format with at least 12-point font. MCL § 333.24509 provides sample language that providers may use for their disclosures. An out-of-network provider must also obtain the patient’s signature on its disclosure form. This disclosure must be provided [Read More]

LEGAL LEANINGS: DOJ Increases Focus On COVID 19 Fraud

In March 2020, Congress passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which provided $2.2 trillion in economic relief. The Act was designed to quickly get money to millions of Americans suffering from the pandemic. Unfortunately, this relief provided ample opportunity for fraud. As the COVID pandemic begins to ease, the Department of Justice’s efforts to prosecute this COVID-19 fraud is intensifying. To date, the Department has charged nearly 500 defendants with criminal offenses for attempted fraud in excess of $550 million. The focus of the prosecutions have been schemes targeting the Paycheck Protection Program, Economic Injury Disaster Loan program, Unemployment Insurance programs, and relief funds for health care providers.

Anticipating that fraudsters would attempt to profit from the pandemic, the Department created multiple initiatives to combat theft. According to Attorney General Merrick Garland, “[t]he Department of Justice has lead an historic enforcement initiative to detect and disrupt COVID-19 related fraud.” This initiative includes, among other law enforcement techniques, using data analysis capabilities to identify potential areas of fraud. To date, the Department has focused on a handful of key programs:

• Paycheck Protection Program. Over 120 people have been charged nationwide for PPP fraud, including business owners who have inflated payroll [Read More]

In My Opinion: Social Justice

At a recent meeting of the Wayne County Medical Society Editorial Board it was mentioned that today’s Wayne State University medical students have a greater interest in the idea of “social justice.” I initially assumed this was a positive change for the profession. But later I became unsure why this might be the case. Without a clear definition of “social justice” it is impossible to conclude whether this should be understood as something new, something positive or even possibly negative. This then raises the questions of how this unclear and undefined concept might apply to healthcare and its present and future physicians. Further, if “social justice” has not existed the question is why. Are we left then to conclude that “social injustice” is what has been culturally dominant?

The concept of justice has been credibly debated for eons by philosophers and thinkers such as Aristotle, Plato, Thomas Aquinas, and David Hume as it might relate to politics, economics and religion. To conclude in a general sense, a biblical sense and specifically as it relates to our Constitutional Republic, justice is equal treatment for all individuals by law. Clearly, “social justice” is not the same as “justice.” If this was the case, the term [Read More]


Lansing Lines is presented in cooperation with MIRS, a Lansing-based news and information service.

Shirkey Shows His Work On COVID Immunity Calculations
Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey (R-Clarklake) explained his calculation that Michigan residents are already at 70% immunity to COVID, if you’re counting “broad-based community immunity” rather than just shots in arms, in an interview with WRFH radio this week.

The state reports that more than 660,000 Michiganders have had the disease and recovered.

“We are greater than 50% of eligible adults (who) have at least received one shot and then — based on studies from Yale, Stanford, Columbia, Harvard, they all have done their own independent studies suggesting that states’ numbers who have recorded cases are anywhere from two to six times underreported, ” Shirkey told Scot Bertram of Radio Free Hillsdale May 6.

Shirkey continued: “So let’s just use the multiple of two and half. Michigan has over two million people who have had the virus and recovered. They have developed their own natural immunity so it seems to me it would be a sum, the addition of those have received shots plus those who have recovered that have naturally acquired immunity. That number in Michigan is already at 70%.”

A University of Texas study also concluded [Read More]

12 Months of Trauma: More Than 3,600 US Health Workers Died in COVID’s First Year

More than 3,600 U.S. healthcare workers perished in the first year of the pandemic, according to “Lost on the Frontline,” a 12-month investigation by The Guardian and KHN to track such deaths.

Lost on the Frontline is the most complete accounting of U.S. healthcare worker deaths. The federal government has not comprehensively tracked this data. But calls are mounting for the Biden administration to undertake a count as the KHN/Guardian project comes to a close.

The project, which tracked who died and why, provides a window into the workings — and failings — of the U.S. health system during the COVID-19 pandemic. One key finding: Two-thirds of deceased healthcare workers for whom the project has data identified as people of color, revealing the deep inequities tied to race, ethnicity and economic status in America’s healthcare workforce. Lower-paid workers who handled everyday patient care, including nurses, support staff and nursing home employees, were far more likely to die in the pandemic than physicians were.

The yearlong series of investigative reports found that many of these deaths could have been prevented. Widespread shortages of masks and other personal protective gear, a lack of COVID testing, weak contact tracing, inconsistent mask guidance by politicians, missteps by [Read More]

Analysis: More COVID Outbreaks Have Followed Easing Of COVID Restrictions

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s administration has eased numerous COVID-related restrictions on business sectors and other activities the past two months, and in many cases, the outbreaks for the corresponding sector increased since then, according to a MIRS review of weekly outbreak data reported to the state.
The outbreak categories that encompass restaurants and bars, some youth sports, retail, exercise facilities, indoor community exposures and social gatherings have all increased by various amounts since restrictions eased on those respective industries or functions.

That doesn’t include outbreaks tied to K-12 school settings, which were given the goal but not the mandate by Whitmer to resume some in-person learning by March 1. Almost all districts in the state were expected to begin some in-person instruction by that date, and school outbreaks have been steadily increasing since then.

The COVID outbreak data published by the state each week come with a number of caveats, including that the data may not capture every case outbreak in a certain setting.

Also, outbreaks associated with certain places may not mean the virus was transmitted there directly. For instance, school groups have insisted COVID outbreaks at schools aren’t happening in the classrooms directly.

It’s been established that COVID data trends in Michigan are on the rise in general, as [Read More]

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