HealthLeaders Media Community and Rural Hospital Weekly - March 4, 2009 View as a Webpage | Subscribe for Free

New HRSA Chief Brings Nurse's Perspective
John Commins, Editor, Community Hospitals
Newly appointed Health Resources Services Administration Administrator Mary Wakefield says her background as a registered nurse will be as valuable to her new job as her years of experience and expertise in the healthcare policy arena. [Read More]
    
 
March 4, 2009
 
Editor's Picks

DeParle named White House 'Health Czar'
Most people outside of Byzantine world of government healthcare policy have never heard of Nancy-Ann DeParle, and that's probably OK with her. But she was unveiled to the nation this week as the woman who will lead President Obama's sweeping efforts to reform healthcare as director of the White House Office of Health Reform. Last week, Obama picked Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius to lead HHS, which makes me wonder if the two jobs might overlap and create a turf war. Tom Daschle, the former Senate majority leader, was supposed to take both jobs before he forgot to pay about $128,000 in taxes. Questions have been raised about DeParle's connections with monied special interests that may try to derail the reforms. I think it's a good pick. DeParle is a wonk's wonk who has extensive experience running massive government bureaucracies. She may have avoided the spotlight before but those days in the shadows are over, now that healthcare is emerging, front and center, as one of the most important issues facing the nation. [Read More]

Last-minute health workers' conscience rule to be voided
Thank God! This was a cheap political stunt carried out in the shadows in the closing days of the Bush administration. Frankly, it was despicable. The Bushies had to know that President Obama upon taking office would immediately overturn this ruling on such an emotionally charged issue. Which begs the question, why did they do it? [Read More]

High salaries for nonprofit execs piques Senate scrutiny
We all knew this was coming, even if the economy hadn't tanked. But now that we are in the worst economic times since the Great Depression, and with the bottom still not in sight, we can expect to see a lot of inquiries into the salaries and other benefits of executives, public and private. Nonprofit hospital presidents earned nearly $500,000 a year on average in salary and other benefits, according to a recent IRS survey of 485 hospitals, and a smaller group more closely reviewed by the IRS had an average salary of $1.4 million. Sen. Charles Grassley of Iowa, the top Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, says such salaries may be too high and that the hospitals' boards of directors are not taking full responsibility for approving them. Grassley said he hopes to introduce legislation, possibly as part of a sweeping healthcare overhaul later this year, that would put more pressure on boards to keep salaries in check. [Read More]

Baucus to unveil healthcare plan by June
Here's more evidence that the momentum may be gathering for substantial healthcare reform, and not all of it is coming from President Obama. Democratic Sen. Max Baucus of Montana, the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee and one of the most influential voices in Washington on healthcare, has promised to introduce comprehensive healthcare legislation in June. He says that he planned to introduce a bipartisan bill with Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R., Iowa) that would adopt a mix of public and private solutions and that he hoped 70 senators would approve it. [Read More]

Doctors battle ugly Internet reviews
The San Francisco Chronicle is reporting that some doctors have started fighting back against ugly Internet reviews by asking patients to abide by what are effectively gag orders that bar them from posting negative comments online. Physicians are taking action as online ratings services such as Yelp and Angie's List grow in popularity and expand their reviews beyond restaurants and plumbers to include medical care, joining dedicated Web sites such as RateMDs.com. I hate to give you the bad news, docs, but you are trying to beat back the ocean with a mop. This isn't going to happen. The technology is out there, it's cheap and readily accessible and there is little you can do about it. It's been my experience that people will use these forums as a resource, but not a Bible. If you're a lousy doctor, maybe you deserve to get panned. If the review is unfair, most people can figure that out too. It's like what my doctor tells me about my aching joints; I just have to learn to live with it. Besides, with the nation in the grip of an acute physician shortage, where else are they going to go? [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

Sebelius's political skills, experience win plaudits
Washington Post ? March 2, 2009
Obama's health plan, ambitious in any economy, is tougher in this one
New York Times ? March 2, 2009
Pittsburgh hospital retains Hollywood PR firm
AP/Philadelphia Inquirer ? March 2, 2009
Adding up Obama's plan to save $300 billion in Medicare, Medicaid
Wall Street Journal Health Blog ? March 2, 2009
Healthcare reform: Let the games begin!
Sg2 ? February 27, 2009
Half of nation's hospitals running losses
Los Angeles Times ? March 2, 2009
Hospital opens in Stafford County, VA
Washington Post ? March 2, 2009
Madison, GA, hospital plans $35 million site
Atlanta Journal-Constitution ? March 2, 2009
CEO of Smyrna, TN-based StoneCrest Medical Center steps down
The Tennessean ? March 2, 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]