Thursday, September 10, 2009

Small doctor practices worry about flu impact:

Wed Sep 9, 2009 8:38pm EDT
By Maggie Fox, Health and Science Editor

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Doctors asked the government on Wednesday to pay them more for giving vaccines and prescribing drugs on the telephone as the flu pandemic hits their communities.

Meanwhile, small bankers said they should get relief from some regulatory requirements during the worst of the pandemic, as they may not have staff to fill out forms and mail out statements.

The H1N1 pandemic is moderate now, and communities and governments have been planning for such a pandemic for years. But doctors, bankers and others told the House Committee on Small Business that they need some regulatory changes to handle it.

They would include better Medicaid payments for giving flu vaccines -- some pediatricians may have to vaccinate some children four times this year -- and looser regulations for backs and credit unions.

A survey released on Wednesday from the Harvard School of Public Health found that while 74 percent of the 1,074 businesses surveyed offer paid sick leave for employees, only 35 percent let workers use that leave to care for family members, and just 21 percent let employees stay home if schools or day-care centers close.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has asked employers to be more flexible about sick leave as H1N1 worsens, actively encouraging sick workers to stay home and waiving the need for a doctor's note to excuse an absence.

But just 12 percent of the businesses surveyed said they had changed such policies since swine flu broke out in March.


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