Regional Digest

• House democrats in the Tennessee Legislature have propelled home healthcare and community-based care to the top of their agenda this session, according to a recent Commercial Appeal of Memphis, TN, editorial, reported American Health Line. In response to the state’s ranking as 49th in state funding per resident for such long term care, Gov. Don Sundquist has proposed allocating $10 million to a long term care pilot program. But the pilot "is dwarfed by the $750 million in annual state subsidies to nursing homes," prompting the paper to call for a better balance between institutionalized care and home or community-based care. Further, the paper says that Tennessee expects a $4.8 billion windfall from the national tobacco settlement over the next 25 years, which could fund "other worthwhile uses related to healthcare." The Commercial Appeal also calls for tighter oversight of TennCare amid "disturbing allegations that an external reviewer provided an unjustifiably sunny assessment of TennCare Partners, the troubled state program of mental healthcare."

• Home Care Medical (Milwaukee), one of Wisconsin’s largest providers of home medical and supplies, infusion therapy, and respiratory care, has recently made several staff changes. Kathleen Kuchler, formerly director of managed care, has reduced her status to part-time and assumed the new position of contracts manager. Jeanne Langlois, formerly director of business development, has assumed responsibility for the sales department and is now director of sales and business development. Dean Schmalfelt, formerly manager of client accounts, has been promoted to the newly created position of manager of senior financial analyst. He has been replaced by Tim Brown who assumes the new position of manager of client accounts and corporate compliance. Prior to joining Home Care Medical, Brown was director of patient accounts for All Saints Healthcare System (Racine, WI).

The union representing 12,000 Saskatchewan healthcare workers last week had to go back into negotiations after a one-day, province-wide strike, reported The London Free Press. Negotiators for the Canadian Union of Public Employees and the Saskatchewan Association of Healthcare Organizations are to resume contract talks with the aid of conciliator Terry Stevens. The SAHO says it has been given assurances from the union that there will be no further work stoppages as long as bargaining is continuing.