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Straight Talk About Bad Debt
Philip Betbeze, Senior Editor-Finance

I saw an interesting panel discussion at the Healthcare Financial Management Association's Annual National Institute that featured some straight talk from three individuals who are often operating on opposite sides of the healthcare cost debate. This session focused on consumer-directed healthcare and its effects on health plans and hospitals, as well as how banks might help bridge the gap between the two sectors. Unquestionably, consumer-directed healthcare is becoming more prevalent. And there was little disagreement about why: employer cost-shifting. [Read More]
  Oct. 15, 2007

Editor's Picks
GM labor pact calls for push for healthcare reform
More news here about the strange bedfellows that healthcare costs are creating between big business and big labor. Neither wants to pay for the ever-rising cost of healthcare, so as part of the labor deal they negotiated last week, they're teaming up to the tune of $15 million create a research organization to push for healthcare reform. Wonder if research organization is a new term for lobbying group? [Read More]
Medicaid enrollment takes a rare dip
While this may be good news on the healthcare cost inflation front, it may be bad news for the nation's hospitals. The enrollment drop is being attributed partially to a strong economy but also to new documentation checks that require beneficiaries to prove their citizenship or qualified legal immigrant status. Even though Medicaid is seen by hospitals as providing low reimbursement, it's better than no reimbursement at all--which is what hospitals largely get if they provide care to the uninsured. At first I thought the next story was a case of the media misinterpreting government data. But in a good news/bad news scenario, next year is looking grim in terms of Medicaid spending. Just scroll down to the story below. [Read More]
2007 Medicaid spending jumps sharply
After two years of small increases in Medicaid spending, 2007 is shaping up for a big spending increase of 10.7 percent during the year's first six months. It's on pace for the biggest increase since 2001, and should current trends continue, Medicaid will spend a record $330 billion in 2007 as states work on reducing the number of uninsured by enrolling many more people in Medicaid. [Read More]
New Microsoft medical records site must earn consumers' trust
Nice column here by Forbes writer Robert Langreth on the task Microsoft faces as it tries to sell its HealthVault services to consumers as a repository for their health records. It explores the company's past security issues among other hurdles the company must navigate as it tries to be first among a multitude of companies that want to hold consumers' electronic health records. [Read More]
Finance Forum
When a Win in Court Becomes a Loss to the Bottom Line
Parties to disputes all want the same thing: a fair and affordable way to win. When litigation costs exceed the expected recovery, taking a dispute to court becomes economically irrational. Mike Bjellos says arbitration can help shave costs and time associated with a dispute. [Read More]
Finance Headlines
$5 million bandage for Atlanta hospital
Atlanta Journal-Constitution - October 15, 2007
New Chicago children's hospital will cost $1 billion
Chicago Tribune - October 15, 2007
Empire Health plans to sell two Washington hospitals
AP/Seattle Post-Intelligencer - October 15, 2007
Deal over TennCare leaves state $270 million short
The Tennessean - October 15, 2007
Medicare audits show problems in private plans
New York Times - October 15, 2007
Upcoming Events
HealthLeaders Media News - October 15, 2007
From HealthLeaders Magazine
Will There Be Enough Doctors?
HealthLeaders October 2007 With a multitude of baby boom physicians nearing retirement and an aging U.S. population needing ever more care, how bad will the physician shortage really get--and what can you do about it? [Read More]
Money Talk

A look at one hospital's struggles to improve

Fairfield Medical Center, Lancaster, OH

Rating: Baa2
Outlook: Stable
Affected Debt: $55 million
Agency: Moody's Investors Service
Remarks: Four straight years of declining cash flow led to the downgrade from Baa1. Outlook changed from negative to stable, however, as the hospital maintains adequate debt measures and liquidity. [Read More]
Audio Feature

Evanston's Dilemma: Mark Neaman, CEO of Evanston Northwestern Healthcare in Chicago, discusses what a recent Federal Trade Commission ruling means for the health system and its immediate and long-term future.
The Voice for Healthcare Consumers: Regina Herzlinger, The Nancy R. McPherson professor of business administration chair at Harvard Business School, talks about the need to refocus the control of healthcare away from providers and shift it to consumers, and her admiration for a European health system that closely mirrors the vision she has for the United States.
Sponsor HealthLeaders Media Finance

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