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A Bungled Budget
Rick Johnson, Senior Editor

Don't let the wails of disapproval fool you; healthcare groups were not caught off guard by President Bush's budget proposal that would slash some $560 billion from Medicare over the next decade. But seeing trouble on the way doesn't always help. Last fall at the annual MGMA conference I talked with William Jessee, MD, about the continual decline in reimbursement. With so many private payers piggybacking their rates on these dwindling Medicare rates and some 47 million uninsured, the financial outlook for medical groups appears bleak. [Read More]
  February 7, 2008

 
Editor's Picks
The impact of immigrant physicians
This Washington Post article highlights efforts by a Maryland hospital to breach language and cultural barriers that often prevent immigrants from receiving proper medical care. The hospital is enlisting immigrant physicians to treat foreign-born patients, as well as teach them basics about U.S. healthcare (when to go for checkups, how to interact with physicians, etc.). As immigration rises and areas begin to experience physician shortages, international medical graduates will play an increasingly important role in the healthcare system. [Read More]
Online house calls click with doctors
Now that Aetna Inc., the nation's largest health insurer, and Cigna Corp. have agreed to reimburse physicians for online consultations, many physicians are looking ahead for ways to connect with patients via e-mail and Webcams, according to this Los Angeles Times report. Given the 20 percent increase in doctor visits in the last five years, online consultations for follow-ups or minor cases may improve efficiency and help physicians meet the growing healthcare demand. [Read More]
Physician numbers at odds in Maryland
A Maryland task force examining physician supply and reimbursement rates is struggling to make sense of conflicting numbers it's receiving from hospitals and insurers. Initial studies suggested Maryland could expect a physician shortage within five years, but estimates on the number of full-time physicians in the state range from 10,000 to 16,500. The task force is considering loan relief and other financial incentives to attract physicians to the state, but first it has to figure out how many physicians it has and needs. [Read More]
Three strikes rule drives away physicians
A 2004 voter-approved amendment to Florida's constitution that revokes a physician's medical license after three malpractice judgments is causing some neurosurgeons to scale back their practices or leave the state, according to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. The law was "designed to weed out bad doctors," but it's made some physicians reluctant to take the risk of providing call coverage. [Read More]
Business Rx
Conduct Market Research for Marketing Success
Many practices don't know their markets as well as they should. To successfully market a medical group practice it is crucial to know the characteristics of your practice's service area to assess your strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities. [Read More]
Physician News
Docs oppose Aetna plan on colonoscopies
AP/Yahoo News - February 7, 2008
Give doctors and patients privacy
Seattle Post-Intelligencer - February 7, 2008
Patient tower in Nebraska helps draw new physicians
The Grand Island Independent - February 7, 2008
Political ads featuring U of L doctors draw fire
Louisville Courier-Journal - February 7, 2008

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From HealthLeaders Magazine
Why Is The ED Such A Pain?
HealthLeaders January 2008 The emergency department has a culture all its own with a unique set of challenges to match. It's also your hospital's window to the community. So you'd better make it work. [Read More]
PhysicianLeaders Forum

Tackling the Challenge of Physician-Hospital Relations (Part II): It sometimes seems that conflict is the fastest-growing product line in contemporary healthcare. In this two-part series, we provide a step-by-step approach to help medical staff leaders improve physician-hospital relations. [Read More]
Audio Feature

A Rough Reimbursement Outlook: Considering that President Bush is taking the scalpel to Medicare again, I figured this week I'd post an audio I recorded with MGMA President William Jessee, MD, last fall. In this conversation, Jessee talks about how his members are dealing with the continual decline in reimbursement at a time with practice costs are so high.
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Resources From HealthLeaders Media

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