HealthLeaders Media Finance - January 14, 2008 | Readers Write. View as a Webpage | Subscribe for Free
Readers Write.
Philip Betbeze, Senior Editor-Finance

As I mentioned in my column last week, the federal government increasingly seems unable to help our foundering economy as it spends stupidly (ethanol, anyone?) and continues to borrow against our future. But as the stock market continues to depress and as our Federal Reserve and government seemingly run out of bullets to stimulate an economy that may have finally lost its way, it's encouraging to hear from readers about their opinions on the situation. [Read More]
  January 14, 2008

Editor's Picks
Physician-owned hospitals faulted on emergency care
Hospital trade groups, from the American Hospital Association to the for-profit mouthpiece the Federation of American Hospitals, have been screaming, figuratively, about the dangers of physician-owned hospitals for years. Now they have some serious ammunition for their fight as a new report suggests that 55 percent of such hospitals had "emergency" departments that featured but one bed and 34 percent call 911 when they have issues stabilizing a patient. That's illegal, by the way. So it's another case of one bad apple spoiling the whole barrel. Or in this case, more than a few bad apples. Of course, given the sheer number of these facilities that have proliferated over the past dozen years or so, one has to wonder whether any legislation limiting their future construction will amount to shutting the barn door after the horse has already escaped. Had enough of tired analogies? Then read this. [Read More]
HCA chief enjoying the private life
Great Q&A with HCA chief Jack Bovender about the different kinds of stresses he's facing with the recently private hospital company here in my hometown. Of course, he was more than happy to speak with the Wall Street Journal but less inclined to speak with yours truly for this story I wrote back in July. Richard Bracken's no chopped liver though. Well, enough of the sour grapes on my part. It is the Wall Street Journal, after all. Turns out meeting short-term goals and flying all over the country meeting with the heads of mutual funds is a big stressor for a public company CEO, but so is managing the $28 million in debt that turned his attention away from such things. My take: Bovender's done this kind of thing successfully before, and given the upheavals in the debt markets since the transaction closed, the company's timing is impeccable--as usual. [Read More]
Glenn Beck: Put the 'care' back in healthcare
When you're in pain, all the marble flooring, plasma televisions and hotel-like concierge services offered by many modern hospitals don't mean squat, according to this piece. I put this story in this newsletter not because it focuses on the personal struggles of a well-known news person, but because CNN commentator Glenn Beck has some interesting things to say about the priorities of hospitals from a patient's perspective. Hospital leaders should listen carefully, because despite Beck's admitted prejudices, his story is an account of a patient's perceptions of his care and his idea that healthcare's misplaced spending priorities contributed to his suffering. [Read More]
Atlanta safety net hospital in financial crisis
We've been following this story from a distance for a while now. Grady Hospital's struggles, some self-inflicted and mostly caused by the stark realities of funding a major hospital on Medicare and Medicaid, are intricately examined in this long New York Times piece. Grady's problems are a microcosm of the pending disaster facing public hospitals in this country, which make up 2 percent of the hospitals but provide 25 percent of the uncompensated care. Put simply, the cost of caring for the uninsured has skyrocketed while public funding has stagnated. Meanwhile, more bad news for Grady follows in Finance Headlines below. [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
Commission refuses Atlanta hospital millions in funding
Atlanta Journal-Constitution - January 10, 2008
Medicare auditors zap Boca Raton hospital
Palm Beach Post - January 9, 2008
Maui hospital gets $130 million in private loans
Pacific Business News - January 10, 2008
Drug spending raises U.S. healthcare tab
AP/Yahoo! - January 8, 2008
Wisconsin hospitals running leaner, study finds
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel - January 7, 2008
Florida doctors want to charge more for copies of medical records
Orlando Sentinel - January 7, 2008
Upcoming Events
HealthLeaders Media News - January 14, 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

Doctors Community Hospital, Lanham, MD

Rating: Baa2
Outlook: Stable
Affected Debt: $80 million
Agency: Moody's Investors Service
Remarks: Rating lowered from Baa1 with a negative outlook primarily because of a 74 percent increase in debt to support capital spending plans, though hospital has a track record of good operating performance. [Read More]
Audio Feature

A Lucrative Partnership At one point just a few years ago, MemorialCare Health System was spending between $50 and $60 million annually on registry and travel nurses. Meanwhile, a local university was preparing to reduce by half the number of slots available for nursing students because of state budget cuts. Here, MemorialCare CEO Barry Arbuckle speaks on the financial strategy panel at HealthLeaders' Top Leadership Teams event about a nursing program his system developed in conjunction with that university. The program has helped MemorialCare save large expenditures in registry and travel nursing costs.
Sponsor HealthLeaders Media Finance

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