February 15, 2005 News





I always like to lead with the recent dirt on Drew/King.  They are so bad they keep this section of the Recent News afloat all by themselves.  On one day Navigant Consulting, the consultants hired by the County under pressure from the feds, issued their report stating that the hospital should immediately be transferred to a separate advisory entity and out of the greedy political hands of the LA County Board of supervisors.  The report went on to state that the trauma service should remain closed until July 2006 at the earliest.  The report also states the hospital's outpatient program is as bad as its inpatient care.  The Navigant report for which they are being paid over $13 million along with running the day to day hospital operations has over 1000 recommendations and about 300 are deemed urgent.  The Supervisor whose District encompasses the hospital still refuses to take any responsibility for its poor condition.  She instead blames the Department of Heath.  Anybody but her.  The Director of the County health program supports the Navigant solution.  He is a lot more on the ball than the supervisor.  Another of the County Board states that the new board would not have any power to fix the problems and only be another layer of bureaucrats.  Not so!  The advisory board will have as much power as is given to them by the County board.

The day following the report, the Joint commission finally did its job and removed their seal of approval from the hospital.  This means that the private insurers will stop paying for the patients and the feds may soon follow suit.  It is also possible that the organization that controls graduate education may remove even more residency programs from the unaccredited hospital.  The hospital may be forced to close, not a big deal medically since it so bad but a big deal politically.  The hospital hopes to regain its accreditation in under a year. Unlikely with the Board of Supes continuing to stick their noses where it doesn't belong.

The feds have stated that unless the hospital passes a specified inspection of its psych program and the use of TASERS, they will cut off $200 million a year.  The hospital will still get emergency funding but that is not enough to keep the hospital open.

The next day the County Board of Supes decided to approve the 66 person advisory board of volunteers of specialists who will report directly to the Board, bypassing the department of health.  the head of the Department of Health has no problem with this.  The Department of Health will continue to do the purchasing contracts and have the power to hire and fire.  The new board would recommend to the County Board compliance issues, patient care, malpractice claims, spending and revenue.

Now the County Board is relooking at The Camden Group.  The Board hired this consulting group in 2003 to help straighten out the nursing mess at the hospital.  The Navigant report stated that the problems that the Camden Group was supposed to fix for $1 Million were still present.  The Board wants an explanation from the Camden Group.

Good Samaritan Hospital in Palm Beach, Florida is shutting down its cardiac rehab program for monetary reasons.  This has happened to other hospitals who are finding the program is a loss leader when it comes to Medicare. Medicare pays up to $32 per session and this includes the cost of the medical professional who is on site.  It has been shown that cardiac rehab saves lives post cardiac procedures.  

The New Albany Hospital in Ohio, a specialty orthopedic and neurologic hospital, has been purchased wholly by the physicians.  They, for an undisclosed price, bought out their partner in the building of the hospital, Surgical alliance.  The surgical Alliance company will now get out of the physician owned hospital business.  they were sued over management fees by the New Albany physicians.  This sale closes the book on that suit. 

What's the truth?  The California Department of health has just announced the rate of compliance with the poorly thought out nursing ratio law is about 35%.  The Hospital Association states the percentage is about 10%.  the California Nurses Union states the compliance with the current one nurse for every six patients in med/surg floors is 80%.    Top


The South Carolina board of Medical Examiners wants to toughen the standards for physicians.  The physicians think they have gone too far.  The Board wants criminal checks on all those they are investigating but these would not be mandatory nor would something automatically disqualify a physician, the Board also wants to disclose complaints and unproven allegations with the details of the unsubstantiated allegations, fines of up to $25,000, protection of the identity of whistleblowers and the most damning is that only final actions of the Board could be appealed to the Administrative Law Judge. 

In Connecticut, the new governor has proposed a new solution to the malpractice problem in the state.  It is basically the same bill as was vetoed last year by the previous Governor.  It does not include caps at this time.  it does include that prior to filing of a suit there must be someone of the same specialty to state there was malpractice, that all settlements with physicians be told to the jury, that there be periodic payments of all awards over $200,000.  If these things do not bring down premiums by 15% in three years then caps will be back on the table.   The insurance companies will also need permission from the Department of Insurance for any rate hike of over 10%.  

Missouri is going to attempt again to pass a med mal reform bill.  The legislature has passed one for the past two years but it was vetoed by the Democratic governor.  there is now a republican is the Governorship and there is again hope for a bill to include caps and a fund that physicians pay into that pays some of the verdicts.      Top


Two California legislators have lost their mind.  They have proposed that it is mandated that every citizen of the state have health insurance with at least a $5000 deductible.  If passed all the businesses that currently provide some health insurance will immediately stop.  Along with this is a cap on how much business can deduct from their state income taxes for the health care benefits they provide (none if the bill passes).  Fortunately, there are very few, if any people, that agree with the proposal.  

The Peoples Republic of Massachusetts has a newspaper that fits its political thinking.  The Boston Globe recently had an editorial blasting the VA program for wanting to put a fee on veterans with non service connected disability who only want to use the VA for cheaper drugs.  I have never understood why someone who was veteran, like me, is entitled to free medical care for diabetes that doesn't develop until 40 years after their service.  It is a waste of tax payer money unless one believes in the entitlement mentality, as this socialistic state does.  When one looks at who the Senators are from this state, it is apparent they believe in more taxes and more social programs with more forever entitlement.   I continue to wonder why this nation needs a separate medical system when we have a decent one in place.  It would save the country untold billions if we got rid of the VA system and allowed those who have served this country free care at any hospital and by any physician and meds from any pharmacy via Medicare.  

Health Net has agreed to pay Tenet $28.5 million for under payments since November 2004.  This is on top of the fine to the state of $250,000  and the additional $7 million they have to pay the emergency room physicians for not paying them when a patient went to a out of contract hospital.  It could not have happened to a nicer bunch of people.     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.