Access to health care is essential. Plus: sick days, equality, stimulus and unemployment insurance

January 30, 2009 | Alex Stone

Health Care Now: The whole world is in recession. But the United States is the only wealthy country in which the economic catastrophe will also be a health care catastrophe — in which millions of people will lose their health insurance along with their jobs, and therefore lose access to essential care.

Senate passes child health bill: Senate Democrats moved one step closer to handing President Barack Obama an early health care victory Thursday, passing a bill extending government-sponsored health insurance coverage to about 4 million uninsured children.

Report: State has options to widen health care: Washington could save money on health care by implementing an approach that’s already used for public employees, according to a consultant’s report. The report, by Mathematica Research Inc. of Washington, D.C., lists the costs and benefits of four health care reform options.

Sick days for all: Everyone gets sick. But for far too many employees who don’t get paid sick days, losing a day’s pay — or even a job — is as easy as catching a cold. The alternative isn’t much better, as people go to work sick and spread illness to co-workers and the public. That’s why enacting paid sick days as a basic workplace standard is such an important public health reform — and even more so in tough economic times like these.

When Should You Call In Sick?: Hacking. Coughing. Sneezing. Sometimes the workplace sounds less like an office and more like a hospital ward, especially now that we’re at the height of cold and flu season. If you’re not feeling great, do yourself and your co-workers a favor: Call in sick. You’ll likely get better faster and save your employer money.

LTE: Ensure equity in jobs programs: While I understand Gregoire faces difficult choices in attempting to balance the state budget, I would like to recommend an essential criterion that “jobs programs” must meet to be considered fair to our populace: gender equity.

House passes $819-billion stimulus bill: In a strictly party-line vote, lawmakers approve Obama’s plan that expands jobless benefits, cuts taxes and spends on infrastructure, energy and education.

Speaker Chopp wants to boost unemployment checks: House Speaker Frank Chopp wants to tweak a proposal by Gov. Chris Gregoire to temporarily boost unemployment benefits for workers as well as provide a tax cut for business. Gregoire recently proposed taking $400 million from the state’s $4 billion unemployment trust fund, which is running a surplus. Half would go to boost benefits and the other half would aid businesses by reducing the amount of money they pay into the fund. Under her proposal, workers would receive a $45-a-week boost in benefits on average.

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Posted in Health Care, Paid Sick Days, State Economy, Tax and Budget, Work & Family

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