HealthLeaders Media Finance - June 23, 2008 | Not-So-Fair Competition? View as a Webpage | Subscribe for Free
Not-So-Fair Competition?
Philip Betbeze, Senior Editor-Finance

Some hospitals and systems undoubtedly will suffer from any action that reduces their reimbursement or allows more competition in such a highly regulated industry. When any such action is threatened, the bleating from special interest groups begins—never mind the big picture. [Read More]
  June 23, 2008

Editor's Picks
Want an efficient hospital? Ask 'why' 1 million times
All right, you got me. This is not a "finance" story in the strictest sense of the word, but when SSM Health Care opens the $236 million St. Clare Health Center next spring, the hospital operator will save millions in efficiencies they'll gain with patient and practitioner efficiencies. They developed a novel idea by allowing employees to suggest better designs by creating a $110,000 full-scale mock-up patient room that will be the blueprint for rooms in the new hospital. The pilot unit mimics conditions at the new hospital to allow financial forecasts of substantial savings the system will achieve when the new hospital opens. In a related development, SSM has cut COOs and other VPs to the tune of about 75 jobs, so I would guess their CFOs might have a little more on their plate now anyway. [Read More]
Policymakers' interest in healthcare intensifies
You know it's time for another run at healthcare reform when a bunch of Washington think tanks start to staff up. And when Fed chief Ben Bernanke takes time off from bailing out the financial sector to deliver a speech on healthcare costs, all the ingredients are there for politicians to begin to wrangle with healthcare reform on a scale that hasn't been seen since nothing came out of the last tussle on Capitol Hill in the Clinton administration. Bernanke, during the Senate's daylong healthcare "summit" last week, quoted famous economist Herbert Stein in saying that healthcare's rising share of GDP can't go on forever, but he's seen little sign of it slowing yet. I know a couple of hospital CFOs who think healthcare's share of GDP can go much higher than today's dizzying levels. Will this effort be much ado about nothing again? [Read More]
Moving away from fixed income without boosting risk
We have an interesting commentary here from Bob Schulz, whom I interviewed for my HealthLeaders magazine cover story that ran back in March. Schulz runs three venture capital funds at Health Enterprise Partners for his clients, which include a number of hospital systems. His commentary focuses on the changing asset allocations for a number of hospitals from bonds to so-called alternative investments over the past two years. The shift, according to a few surveys, has been significant and has paid off handsomely. [Read More]
Health REITS strong despite tightening credit
Despite tightening credit standards for individual projects, healthcare real estate investment trusts are getting big revolving lines of credit from lenders because their balance sheets are strong. That's translating into big spending on medical office buildings and senior housing projects, among others. [Read More]
Man gets prison time for $100 million health fraud
Thomas Lutz, who ran Health Visions Corp., a company that swindled almost $100 million from the military's TriCare program over six years, got five years in federal prison for his misdeeds. The company owned and operated hospitals and clinics in the Philippines and billed TriCare on behalf of other healthcare providers serving military retirees living in that country. Five years seems pretty light for this guy, but the judge apparently didn't have much choice, since he pleaded guilty. [Read More]
Have a Great Fourth of July!
From all of us at HealthLeaders Media, have a happy and safe Fourth of July holiday. HealthLeaders Media Finance will not publish next week, but will be back July 7.
Finance Forum
Marketing: Not On Your Radar, But It Should Be
In other industries, marketing and finance work in tandem. Not so in healthcare—especially in hospitals, says HealthLeaders Media contributor Anthony Cirillo. When Apple cut the price of its iPhone, the departments of marketing and finance were behind it. The price cut was meant to drive sales while meeting a revenue target. Financial leaders need to understand that they, in many ways, affect marketing and public relations, and the CFO needs to be open to making the first approach. [Read More]
Finance Headlines
Health costs set to double inflation rate in 2008
Yahoo! News - June 17, 2008
Cleveland medical center begins hunt for low-cost model that maintains care
Cleveland Plain Dealer - June 17, 2008
Hospitals join in Botox bonanza
St. Petersburg Times - June 17, 2008
Clarian Health Partners, Bloomington (IN) Hospital to merge
Indianapolis Star - June 18, 2008
Second New Jersey budget more generous to hospitals
Philadelphia Inquirer - June 18, 2008
Slidell (LA) Hospital's regrouping will slice off up to 35 jobs
New Orleans Times-Picayune - June 19, 2008
CMS: Third year of value-based purchasing demonstration shows substantial improvement
Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services - June 18, 2008
Upcoming Events
HealthLeaders Media News - June 23, 2008
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From HealthLeaders Magazine
Weaning Your Hospital Off of Medicare
HealthLeaders June 2008 A flood of baby boomers, reimbursement cuts, and increasingly ineffective cost-shifting solutions. How can your hospital maintain its level of service and its margin? It's time to get creative. [Read More]
Money Talk

A look at one hospital's struggles to improve

Rush University Medical Center,

Rating: A3
Outlook: Positive
Affected Debt: $101.2 million
Agency: Moody's Investors Service
Remarks: Outlook upgraded from stable to reflect expectations of continued favorable operating performance compared with the organization's debt and capital spending plans.
[Read More]
Audio Feature

From TLT: A Broad Spectrum: Rick Breon and Mike Freed, CEO and CFO, respectively, of Spectrum Health in Grand Rapids, MI, were on the finance panel at HealthLeaders Media's Top Leadership Teams event last fall. In addition to hospitals, Spectrum also owns a 500,000-member health plan, which, as Freed and Breon explain, is useful in helping hold down healthcare prices in their region, keeping it attractive for business investment in the area. The 2008 Top Leadership Teams event is scheduled for Oct. 15-16, 2008 in Chicago. [Listen Now]