In the People's Republic of Massachusetts, the non profits are getting jittery about the new state health plan. They believe they will have to pay more in costs for their employees signing up for the new insurance plan. The non-profits are planning on having their bottom line affected dramatically by the new law and may have to curtail services and drop employees. Those that now pay a significant proportion of their employees healthcare costs will need to consider dropping their percentage of payments.
UnitedHealth is in the process of accreditation of those that do imaging. They are seeking the help of the American College of Radiology in their quest for lower costs (higher quality). The accreditation will focus on the costly procedures and not the bread and butter of radiology.
An interesting article on the slow demise of unions in the healthcare field was published by the US Bureau of Labor. It showed the actual numbers in the unions grew by 2% but union membership in proportion with the entire healthcare workforce dropped by 0.2%. When all industries are taken into consideration the drop is more dramatic. In the past year union membership has dropped 0.5%.
Two different takes on the same information. The information is the P4P data put out by CMS/Premier for quality improvement by those hospitals getting paid for quality as defined by the study. According to The Advisory Board, there has been major gains in those institutions getting P4P. The top ranked performer was Hackensack University. They received a bonus of $744,000.
In an article and an editorial released the same day in the NEJM, it was noted that the incremental increase in quality for those hospitals that got the bonuses versus those who did not were small and question the benefit of payments. Top
California has a law that all hospitals must be seismic safe by 2030. A report in the LA Times states that almost one-half of the hospitals will not meet the deadline. They are still hoping that the legislators will bale them out and really don't care about the patient safety issues. If they do not meet the deadline the state is supposed to shut the hospital. That is political suicide. It is also political suicide to lessen the requirement and have patients injured or killed in another quake or to use state funds to bail out private hospitals.
Las Vegas' Clark County University Medical Center has fired its CEO after many millions of dollars went missing. The CEO Lacy Thomas is also being investigated criminally. One of alleged charges is the awarding of contracts to friends without bids. Several other members of the administration are on paid administrative leave during the investigation.
Speaking of being fired, Kaiser Permanente Northern California president Mary Ann Thode will leave her position at the end of the year. One might remember Ms. Thode was the one who attempted to stonewall regarding the Kaiser kidney transplant fiasco. All deny the two are related but Kaiser is not a forgiving institution. It also does not like to fire people at this level. It costs too much in legal fees. Severance packages are much cheaper.
California has this slight problem with earthquakes. There is a law that all hospitals must be able to withstand and continue to treat patients by the year 2030. This has led to many million of dollars to date to go into the planning of either retrofitting or putting up new buildings to be in compliance with the law. Now there is a computer program that shows the likelihood of where earthquakes would hit and those hospitals outside those areas may be spending money for nothing. This law is also making hospitals reassess their plans since the cost of building is going up drastically. Several hospital have already closed due to their financial inability to spend money to plan for the re-building. The new issue is now whether the hospitals should be thinking about building the new facilities in the same place or where the population is growing. The Bay area has enough beds but the same is not true in the growing Valley areas.
The corrupt hospital administrators who were in conflict of interest in the HRDI have paid $150,000 to settle the investigation by Connecticut. The group had illegally sold marketing advice to vendors who to business with their own hospitals. The investigation into the vendors will continue. The hospital members will no longer be able to get the free trips or consulting fees.
White Memorial Hospital in Los Angeles had an outbreak of Pseudomonas which came from faulty sterilization of laryngoscope blades. California has just cited the hospital for its faulty sterilization processes. Top
The malpractice climate is changing with less significant raises in premiums. This is true for many in the country, but not all. In South Florida many are still going without insurance. Even though the premiums are not rising at the same rate, they are still at historic highs with some paying 20-40% of their practice income on premiums. The other problem is that the high cost of tail insurance for claims made policies are forcing physicians to stay and not move to other locales. Top
An article in the Kansas City Business Times tells of the declining reimbursements to physicians by the health insurers. A study printed stated that physician reimbursements by Medicare and commercial payors declined in 2006 by 17% as compared to 2002 and 37% below that of 2004. This is leading to physicians dropping certain insurers in the area. Coventry, UnitedHealth and Cigna will be dropped by many of the area's physicians during this year.
One of the worst Medical boards in the Country is again been chastised. The Houston Chronicle has a story about the Texas Medical Board's slowness in processing applications to practice in the state. Currently it takes between three months and one year to get a license to practice in Texas. This makes sense since Texas is ranked among the lowest in the number of physicians per capita. The problem started when the Texas Legislature voted in med mal reforms and the Board in its usual pro active nature didn't do anything to gear up. There is no apology from the Board and nothing they are willing to do without blackmailing the State for more funds.
The anti-physician pro-hospital HCPRO has but on line an excerpt from a book written by their employees stating that economic credentialing should be done hospital by hospital. What they should have said is that this should never be done. Top
DISCLAIMER: Although this article is updated periodically, it reflects the author's point of view at the time of publication. Nothing in this article constitutes legal advice. Readers should consult with their own legal counsel before acting on any of the information presented.