HealthLeaders Media Community and Rural Hospital Weekly - February 25, 2009
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AHA Seeks 'Shared Responsibility' After Meeting
John Commins, Editor, Community Hospitals
American Hospital Association President Richard J. Umbdenstock told President Obama this week that U.S. hospitals will answer his call for "shared responsibility" to help the nation's fiscal future—as long as everybody else does, too. [Read More]
    
 
February 25, 2009
 
Editor's Picks

Obama says 'day of reckoning has arrived,' targets healthcare reform
I'm sure that presidential addresses to a joint session of Congress have value. But if you follow the news closely, these speeches rarely contain any news. More than anything else, these speeches provide the public with a roadmap of where the administration is headed. President Obama's first such address was pretty much what everyone expected. He said the "day of reckoning has arrived" after an era of greed and instant gratification, and he called on Americans to "take responsibility for our future once more." But, of course, he also vowed that "We will rebuild, we will recover, and the United States of America will emerge stronger than before." The president says the budget he'll unveil tomorrow will reflect "the stark reality of what we've inherited—a trillion dollar deficit, a financial crisis and a costly recession." And he pledged to provide new spending for healthcare, coupled with major—albeit unspecified—reforms in the healthcare system. [Read More]

Wakefield picked to lead HRSA, rural health backers rave!
Mary Wakefield, a nurse who heads the University of North Dakota's Center for Rural Health, has been named director of the Health Resources and Services Administration. I talked to a handful of rural healthcare advocates after the news came out and they couldn't be happier. One supporter called Wakefield one of the most knowledgeable experts on rural healthcare issues in the nation. We'll have more on this story in the coming weeks. [Read More]

Nurses asking where bonus money went
The Des Moines Register reports that Iowa lawmakers are trying to determine if the 34 hospitals that received a total of $3 million in state funds earmarked for RN bonuses actually used that money for its intended purpose. There is some concern that some hospitals may have rolled the money into cost-of-living raises. Iowa Hospital Association President Greg Boattenhamer says that the budget bill approved in 2008 that designated a portion of Medicaid money for nurses' pay didn't specify that the money had to be above normal raises. "It doesn't call for it to be a bonus," Boattenhamer told the Register. [Read More]

Bucking a trend, HMA profits up in 2008, Tenet losses narrow
Not all the hospital news is bad these days. Health Management Associates Inc., the hospital chain that operates 56 hospitals in suburban and rural settings, reports net income of $167.2 million, or 68 cents a share, for 2008, compared to net income of $119.9 million, or 49 cents a share in 2007. Revenue for 2008 was $4.5 billion, up 3.7% from 2007. Fourth quarter revenue was $1.1 billion, a 3.3% increase from the period a year earlier. "We are pleased with the operating improvements we generated in the fourth quarter and believe that we are beginning to experience some initial traction as a result of our renewed focus on emergency room operations, physician recruitment and market development," HMA President and CEO Gary Newsome says. And the Dallas Morning News reports that Tenet Healthcare Corp., the nation's third-largest publicly traded hospital system, reports narrower losses and more patients during the fourth quarter. For the period ending Dec. 31, the Dallas-based company reported a loss of $33 million, or 7 cents per share, compared with a loss of $75 million, or 16 cents per share, a year earlier. Tenet reported revenue of $2.2 billion, up from $2 billion in the previous fourth quarter. However, Tenet's results fell short of predictions from Wall Street analysts, who expected a loss of 2 cents per share for the quarter. [Read More]

Want low-cost, government-backed health insurance? No thanks!
The Washington Post has an interesting piece explaining low enrollments for low-cost, government-sponsored healthcare plans. Post reporter Lori Aratani writes that: "Even when low-cost health coverage is offered, many people fail to take advantage of it. People don't think they need coverage, don't know programs exist or don't have the money to afford even comparatively inexpensive, subsidized programs." In 2006, the Post reports, about 12 million non-elderly uninsured Americans—about one in four—were eligible for existing state or federal health programs but weren't enrolled, according to a recent study by the National Institute for Health Care Management. In all, 45 million people are without health coverage, a number expected to grow as the economy sheds jobs. [Read More]
Leaders Forum

10 Critical Actions to Minimize RAC Recoupment
After CMS announced the Recovery Audit Contractor expansion, most healthcare financial seminars have had sessions on the RAC program. The focus was generally on the RAC appeals, but appeals of overpayment denials were rare in the demonstration project. In RAC Expansion, PPS hospitals' first focus should be on preparation, not appeals, say contributors Bill Phillips, Stephen Forney, and Buddy Elmore. [Read More]
This Week's Headlines

Plan to break up hospitals alarms Prince George's County (MD) Council members
Washington Post ? February 25, 2009
Western Pennsylvania hospital closing skilled care units on July 1
AP/Philadelphia Inquirer ? February 25, 2009
Recession complicates healthcare recruiting
South Florida Sun-Sentinel ? February 23, 2009
Clayton County, GA, hospital fights to recover
Atlanta Journal-Constitution ? February 23, 2009

Webcasts/Audio Conferences

5 Ways to Improve the Patient Experience at Your Hospital (Live)
Solving Your Nurse Shortage: Long-Term Strategies That Work (Live)
Form 990H: Act Now to Protect Your Reputation (On Demand)
ED Overhaul 2009: Five Improvements to Make Today (On Demand)
From HealthLeaders Magazine
Back to Basics
The strategy for surviving the economic downturn? Invest in core strengths, scrutinize staffing and operations, seize partnership opportunities—and get down to work. [Read More]
 
Service Line Management
Essential and Expensive
Patient demand for intensive care services continues to rise—but ICUs cost a ton of money. Here's how some providers are making intensive care worth their financial while. [Read More]
 
Community Call
Discussion Board
What did you think of President Obama's address to Congress?
Audio Feature
Industry Survey 2009: HealthLeaders Round Table: HealthLeaders Media Editors react to the findings of the Industry Survey 2009. [Listen Now]
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