HealthLeaders Media Finance - February 19, 2008 | Misery Loves Company View as a Webpage | Subscribe for Free
Misery Loves Company
Philip Betbeze, Senior Editor-Finance

I have always had serious doubts about that saying, but if misery does in fact love company, hospital leaders should take heart. You now have company in what some of you see as a Congressional witch hunt. That's because you have been joined by about 136 colleges and universities as targets of federal probes about whether your institutions deserve their rich tax breaks. In the case of institutions of higher learning, Congress is poking around about how they use their endowment largesse. [Read More]
  Feb. 19, 2008

 
Editor's Picks
NY AG probe creates new pains for UnitedHealth
At the heart of New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo's accusation of fraud against UnitedHealth is the insurer's very profitable Ingenix unit. Ingenix collects cost information from insurers so that UnitedHealth can establish "reasonable and customary" prices for a variety of services and sell aggregated results back to health insurers. Cuomo says consumers were defrauded out of "hundreds of millions" of dollars because fraudulent cost information was deliberately fed into Ingenix's black box. Some 16 other health insurers may also be caught up in Cuomo's net. The crux of his complaint centers around out-of-network charges. [Read More]
Rhode Island's universal health plan puts emphasis on cost as well as access
Rhode Island appears to be learning lessons from Massachusetts' mistakes, but whether the state can do a better job of implementing a universal coverage plan is still up in the air. The plan acknowledges that the state can't afford to insure everyone unless the cost aspect of healthcare is addressed through business taxes. Massachusetts focused on access first and is reaping the problems associated with that approach as cost estimates proved woefully short of the actual costs of insuring all residents. [Read More]
Two hospitals likely to close in two very different markets
Two links here about the same thing. Two troubled hospitals: one that is close to closing and one that is closing. This is a rare enough event in this country to combine these stories in one post. Whether it's good or bad is in the eye of the beholder. Stay with me here. In the world outside healthcare, the closure of an unhealthy competitor often makes another provider (whether it be of guns or butter, to use an economist's example) stronger. In healthcare, that's not always the case. In Los Angeles the closure of chronically troubled Harbor-UCLA Medical Center could improve care in the short term, as self-pay patients who aren't getting seen in the hospital's ER are forced to go elsewhere. In the long term, those nonpaying patients will weaken other providers. The closure of Medical Center at Lancaster (TX) will force patients to go to other hospitals in the Dallas Metro area. [Read More]
Spine treatment costs higher than ever
Good news, I suppose, for those hospital leaders who have invested in spine service lines. What Americans spend to treat spine maladies has grown 65 percent from 1997 to 2005. But then you probably already knew the gist of this statistic through your market research, or you wouldn't have opened your spine center. But the bad news is that despite the $86 billion spent in 2005, patients are no better off health wise, according to the Journal of the American Medical Association, leading many experts to suggest that back treatments, by and large, are either ineffective or overused, or both. [Read More]
New York hospitals reinvent the role of emergency
Despite the New York-centric nature of this article, it's a pretty good look at how hospitals in that region, and indeed, all over the country, are recognizing that the ED is the front door to the rest of the facility. Nonpaying patients use it heavily, but so do the insured. You can bet that those who aren't insured will continue to use the ED no matter what it looks like or what kind of service it provides--they have nowhere else to go. But you can be equally sure that the paying patients are going to avoid your ED--and your hospital--if it offers poor service, long wait times, and an unattractive, uncomfortable atmosphere. [Read More]
Finance Forum
Accounts Receivable Alert: The Significant Impact Potential of New Medicare Payment Reforms
Medicare and Medicaid Services finalized two payment reforms in August 2007, which took effect Oct. 1. These changes could have a significant impact on your organization's accounts receivable and medical records processing. In order to lessen their impact, it is important to understand the nature of the reforms and make appropriate alterations to your internal processes. [Read More]
Finance Headlines
Arbitration a growing trend in healthcare
Philadelphia Inquirer - February 11, 2008
Hospital renovation and construction give Michigan a shot in the arm
Detroit Free Press - February 11, 2008
Two New Jersey cities, two troubled hospitals, two startlingly different results
New York Times - February 11, 2008
Inova's hospital construction on hold until HCA's suit against county settled
Washington Post - February 11, 2008
Upcoming Events
HealthLeaders Media News - February 19, 2008
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From HealthLeaders Magazine
Love Thy Vendor?
HealthLeaders February 2008 Providers and IT suppliers don't get along, right? You can build a partnership of trust with your vendor--and actually get what you pay for. Here's how. [Read More]
Money Talk

A look at one hospital's struggles to improve

Doylestown Hospital, Doylestown, PA

Rating: BBB+
Outlook: Stable
Affected Debt: $66.1 million
Agency: Standard & Poor's
Remarks: Downgraded from A- because of concerns regarding the hospital's light financial profile for the higher rating, exacerbated by new debt issuance that will add $60 million of incremental debt. [Read More]
Audio Feature

Don't Forget the Operations Planning: Sometimes hospital leaders get myopic when they build. They focus on the new and neglect to plan for how the facility will be most efficiently used. Frank Kittredge is a senior principal and national practice leader for the Facility Planning Practice at the Noblis Center for Health Innovation, where he helps develop and implement enterprise strategy, clinical service strategy, facility solutions and stakeholder alignment. Frank and I talked about his focus on ways to bring more robust operational planning into facility planning.
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