News Roundup August 21st, 2020
In this week’s news ridesharing behemoths Uber and Lyft made announcements that their company and ride-sharing operations may shut down in California as they determine how to reclassify tens of thousands of drivers as employees. Last week, a California judge ruled that a state law that went into effect this year must be applied to all Uber and Lyft drivers classifying them as employees rather than freelancers. Assembly bill 5 or AB5, a law that took into effect January 1st of this year, entitles workers who are “classified as employees to greater labor protections, such as minimum wage laws, sick leave, unemployment and workers’ compensation benefits, which do not apply to independent contractors. Concerns over employee misclassification, especially in the gig economy, drove support for the bill, but it remains divisive.” 
This sets the stage for a wider application of gig economy workers across different industries other than ridesharing and transportation. Home health care agencies will have to stay abreast of changes to their industries especially with regards to clinicians and freelancers. Possible outcomes could be that independent contractors will have to follow stricter guidelines to maintain freelancer status or inevitably be reassigned as employees for their respective agencies.
In other news this week, in Ft Wayne Indiana, home health care firms are having difficulties staffing in times of pandemic.
WPTA News reports:
“Restaurants and hotels are examples of businesses struggling to find enough customers during the global pandemic. But many home health care firms are urgently searching for enough workers to meet client needs.
[Senior Helpers] is trying to hire 50 new in-home caregivers across Indiana, including slots they’re filling locally. [they are] currently training three new personal care aides who mostly go into people’s homes, often assisting family members in caring for older relatives, the disabled, or the chronically ill.”
The University of Michigan’s news outlet Michigan Medicine reports some new reports of telehealth use among the elderly population signaling increasing adoption of telehealth services by providers.
“One in four older Americans had a virtual medical visit in the first three months of the COVID-19 pandemic, most of them by video, a new telehealth poll finds. That’s much higher than the 4% of people over 50 who said they had ever had a virtual visit with a doctor in a similar poll taken in 2019.
Comfort levels with telehealth, also called telemedicine, have also increased.”
Additionally, the Associated Press reports that more people are receiving home healthcare thanks to the expansion of telehealth programs.
“Across the U.S., “hospital at home” programs are taking off amid the pandemic, thanks to communications technology, portable medical equipment and teams of doctors, nurses, X-ray techs and paramedics. That’s reducing strains on medical centers and easing patients’ fears.
The programs represent a small slice of the roughly 35 million U.S. hospitalizations each year, but they are growing fast with boosts from Medicare and private health insurers.”