HealthLeaders Media Finance - January 7, 2008 | Welcome to 2008! We're in Debt Up to Our Eyeballs! View as a Webpage | Subscribe for Free
Welcome to 2008! We're in Debt Up to Our Eyeballs!
Philip Betbeze, Senior Editor-Finance

I was minding my own business, digging out of the lethargy, weight gain and e-mails that accompany a very rare full week off from work to celebrate the holidays. While I was catching up on the news I missed, I ran across this comforting story with the headline: "$45 trillion gap seen in U.S. benefits." That means the U.S. government is promising $45 trillion more than it can deliver, based on the government's projected revenue stream over the next 75 years. Most of that shortfall comes from promised Medicare and Social Security benefits. [Read More]
  Jan. 7, 2008

Editor's Picks
Auto workers' VEBA assumptions may be overly optimistic
Were you like me? Did you think the automakers' healthcare deals with the United Auto Workers were reached a little too easily? Looks like we might have been right to figure that a bunch of people were going to be unhappy later, but maybe we thought it wouldn't be this soon. You had to figure that one side would be unhappy once all the wonks weighed in and figured out which side was getting a good deal and which side was getting screwed. Turns out that the voluntary employees' beneficiary association won't have nearly enough money to last 80 years, many experts are saying. Still, I don't know what the union can do except strike again, and since this VEBA doesn't cover current workers, only retirees, that's not going to happen. [Read More]
Penalties to rise for shunning insurance in Massachusetts
Penalties for Massachusetts residents who choose to go without insurance but who can afford it may quadruple in 2008, the second year of the program. Perhaps surprisingly, both camps seem happy with the way Massachusetts' "universal" health insurance program balances concerns of both camps. Estimates show that more than 290,000 people in the state have signed up for insurance since the mandate went into effect last July. [Read More]
Hospital billing never ends
I usually don't tout other people's columns in this space, but this one's pretty darn good. If you run a hospital's finances and don't understand how it feels to sit on the patient side of the payment fence, you're bound to fail. Not to spoil the ending, but I was ready for another hospital bill nightmare story. This columnist's experience wasn't neat and tidy, but was somewhat different. [Read More]
Former UnitedHealth CEO's settlement uncertain
Well, it ain't over till it's over with UnitedHealth's former leader. In an unexpected development, a U.S. district judge is reviewing a proposed $420 million deal between William McGuire, the former CEO of UnitedHealth Group, and the company, that would solve a contentious issue over McGuire's compensation. The proposed settlement would require McGuire, who resigned after being implicated in a stock options backdating scandal, to surrender some $420 million in options, allowing him to retain $874 million. [Read More]
Finance Forum
Before Hiring a Revenue Cycle Firm
Imagine you are on a plane, seated in row 13F, and everything is going smoothly until the pilot makes an unexpected announcement. "Good afternoon, folks," he says. "We've reached our cruising altitude of 31,000 feet, but we have a situation. There's a problem with the wing, but not to worry. The passenger in 13F is going to take care of everything." Now imagine the plane as a metaphor for the revenue cycle. Guess who the passenger in 13F is? [Read More]
Finance Headlines
Little profit for hospitals in New York
Business First of Albany - January 3, 2008
Gastric surgery puts patients, doctors at odds with insurers
Orlando Sentinel - January 2, 2008
Colorado AG backs hospital sale despite church conflict
The Denver Post - December 31, 2007
UPMC takes over Pittsburgh hospital
Philadelphia Inquirer - January 2, 2008
Upcoming Events
HealthLeaders Media News - January 7, 2008
From HealthLeaders Magazine
The New Rainmakers
HealthLeaders December 2007 Think nurse staffing is just a necessary cost to be absorbed? Nurses have a bigger hand in profitability than you think. [Read More]
Money Talk

A look at one hospital's struggles to improve

Elliott Hospital, Manchester, NH

Rating: A-
Outlook: Negative
Affected Debt: $50.8 million
Agency: Standard & Poor's
Remarks: Hospital experienced a decline in operating performance in 2006 and 2007. Management plans to add up to $82 million in additional debt in the next year led to outlook revision from stable. [Read More]
Audio Feature

Top Leadership Teams '07: Brad King, CFO at Oregon Health & Science University, talks about how the hospital portion of the university, at that time considered a "financial anchor," faced potential closure 15 years ago and an unlevel competitive playing field with insurers.
Sponsor HealthLeaders Media Finance

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