HealthLeaders Media Finance - April 6, 2009 | To Bundle or Not to Bundle? View as a Webpage | Subscribe for Free
To Bundle or Not to Bundle?
Philip Betbeze, Senior Editor-Finance

That's not the question, at least according to an admittedly unscientific survey of CEOs and CFOs I've talked with over the past few weeks—ever since President Obama made so-called "bundled" payments a centerpiece of his work-in-progress healthcare reform effort. Why this tortured reference to Shakespeare's Hamlet? Well, because the question has largely been answered. At least many of your peers think so. [Read More]

  April 6, 2009

Editor's Picks
Subsidized healthcare costs Massachusetts $794 million
A recent report shows that Massachusetts has been paying an increasing portion of healthcare bills for employees (and their families) who work for large companies—the Bay State's cost in the last fiscal year jumped 24.6% to $793.7 million. While the state's 2006 health initiative has extended coverage to thousands of Massachusetts residents, many employers are still relying on state-subsidized programs to provide health benefits to their workers, according to the report. The number of employees and their dependents covered under state healthcare programs increased 12% between 2007 and 2008. Legislation requiring employers to contribute more is being supported by Health Care for All, although the proposal has been criticized by the Associated Industries of Massachusetts, the state's largest business trade group. [Read More]
Study: Many on Medicare return to the hospital
With better follow-up care, many hospital readmissions could be avoided, according to a study published recently in the New England Journal of Medicine. The study notes that the nation spends billions of dollars a year just on patients' return visits to the hospital. As many as one-fifth of all Medicare patients are readmitted within a month of being discharged, the study found, while at least one-third are rehospitalized within three months. The Obama administration, in its effort to provide healthcare for more Americans, has cited hospital readmissions as a source of potential cost-cutting—the president's budget calls for $26 billion in savings from readmissions over the next 10 years. [Read More]
Obama healthcare critic brings a past and a wallet
Richard Scott, former CEO of Columbia/HCA Healthcare (now HCA), and a healthcare entrepreneur with deep pockets, is mounting an attack on key parts of the work-in-progress healthcare reform proposal of President Obama. His critics contend the problem is his credibility. What, he thought he could blast the president's attempts at health reform without people looking into his ouster at Columbia/HCA amid the biggest healthcare fraud scandal in history? Though Scott wasn't personally implicated, many are using his ouster under pressure from the hospital chain against him. The story quotes Richard J. Kirsch, the national campaign manager for Health Care for America Now, saying, "We cannot have a better first person to attack healthcare reform than someone who ran a company that ripped off the government of hundreds of millions of dollars." Ouch. The gloves are off before Scott has even come out of his corner. It remains to be seen whether he'll even enter the fight to answer any questions about his own past and the reason he's willing to spend $5 million of his own money on this campaign, because besides the ads his group is running, he's not talking—so far. [Read More]
Emory uses worker ideas to cut $30 million instead of jobs
Emory Healthcare, like many hospitals jolted by an "economic hurricane," has borrowed a page from a few other major hospitals that have gone through the exercise of asking their employees to help them save costs under the idea that without substantial cuts, layoffs were the only other option. Seems like there's a lot of this going around lately. It works though. Emory was able to save $30 million through the exercise. [Read More]
For Geisinger, less is more
I guess it's only news when the Washington Post reports it, but Geisinger's surgical guarantee program has been around for a while now. As I wrote a couple years back, the program is innovative, doesn't kill the hospital's profitability, and most importantly, improves the quality of care. And it also dovetails nicely with the Obama administration's interest in bundling healthcare payments and moving away from the fee-for-service model that Medicare currently uses. [Read More]
Finance Forum
Beware of Unauthorized Officials in Executing a Federal Healthcare Contract
Most people don't take the time to read all the way through any kind of commercial contract—all that fine print and paragraph after paragraph of legal jargon seems to be written by and for lawyers. A federal healthcare contract isn't much different. However, once you receive an award from a government agency, it is important that your organization reads and is familiar with the entire contract, including provisions incorporated by reference—otherwise, unauthorized officials might try to take advantage of you. [Read More]
Finance Headlines
Minnesota's Fairview Health Services implements wage freeze
Minneapolis Star-Tribune - April 2, 2009
Hospital of Central Connecticut seeks affiliation with Hartford Hospital
Hartford Courant - April 2, 2009
Clergy seek federal money to help rescue Nashville's Metro General
The Tennessean - April 2, 2009
Doctors are opting out of Medicare
New York Times - April 1, 2009
CMS acts to cut costs of Medicare Advantage plans
Wall Street Journal - March 31, 2009
Bankrupt Pennsylvania hospital seeks cash to reopen
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette - March 29, 2009
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From HealthLeaders Magazine
SOS: Public Hospitals
HealthLeaders August 2008 On the brink even during good economic times, many public hospitals are operating in technical insolvency amid a painful recession. But they can take heart from following the example of two that have managed well. [Read More]
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A changing female demographic has created new opportunities for hospitals to grow the women's health service line into much more than just labor and delivery. [Read More]
Money Talk

Catholic Health East, Newtown Square, PA
Rating: A1
Outlook: Negative
Affected Debt: $1.2 billion
Agency: Moody's Investors Service
Remarks: Outlook revised from stable to reflect a downturn in financial performance in the 2008 fiscal year and a decline in liquidity.
[Read More]
Audio Feature

Finance Leaders Survey: John Winfrey, CFO at DCH Health System in Tuscaloosa, AL, offers insights on the HealthLeaders Media Industry Survey 2009, discussing the top drivers of healthcare costs and the financial implications of possible healthcare reform plans. [Listen Now]

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