Health care organizations are highly labor-intensive; policies designed to stimulate organizational change are likely to have labor impacts. This paper examines the labor effects of policy change in home health care. Major federal home care policy trends since 1980 have spurred the evolution of the typical home care provider toward greater organizational and market rationality. Greater managerial sophistication has introduced changes in management/labor relations. Survey data from the 1986 DRG Impact Study are used to show how the pressure of cost-containment policies has pushed agencies to cut labor costs by increasing workloads, managerial supervision, and control of the work process. Research on the effects of recent policy change in health care has to date focused primarily on potential client effects. Labor impacts are rarely examined and are poorly understood at the time that policy is made. Findings in this article suggest that these issues deserve greater, more systematic attention, because unanticipated labor impacts may prove to be significant impediments to the realization of intended policy goals.

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