HealthLeaders Media Community and Rural Hospital Weekly - April 8, 2009
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Plight of 'The Uninsured' Nearly Hits Home
John Commins, Editor, Community Hospitals
Two weeks ago, I was in my backyard when I heard the impact of a crash in my front yard. In what followed, I got an up-close-and-personal tutorial on the incredible complexities hidden in a simple term like "healthcare reform." [Read More]
April 8, 2009
Editor's Picks

Stimulus money hits NJ community health centers
The nation's healthcare facilities may soon be feeling the benefit of President Obama's stimulus package. More than $6.8 million in funding was awarded to community-based health centers in New Jersey as part of the American Reinvestment Recovery Act. The new funding will be used to renovate facilities and offer more primary care to New Jersey families. The Obama administration estimates that this money will save or create hundreds of healthcare jobs in New Jersey and extend services to nearly 60,000 new patients, including nearly 40,000 uninsured New Jerseyans. [Read More]

Georgia trauma centers face service cuts
Sometimes when you read a newspaper story, there's a lot of hyperbole. But this really is a matter of life or death. The Georgia Legislature provided $23 million for Georgia's trauma care hospitals, less than half the money they received last year, and advocates believe that will endanger service at the 15 trauma hospitals in the Peach State. More than 1 million Georgians, particularly in rural North and South Georgia, live more than 50 miles from a trauma center, which puts them beyond the "golden hour" when emergency caregivers have the greatest chance to save someone's life. State researchers say 700 Georgians die annually because of Georgia's spotty trauma coverage. Advocates say the state's trauma care network needs $80 million a year to shore up these hospitals and to expand services to underserved areas. [Read More]

NEJM study looks at costly Medicare readmissions
Here's a synopsis of the New England Journal of Medicine report on readmissions that's been getting a lot of play lately and has fueled the move toward bundled payments that reward good outcomes. The study analyzed Medicare claims data from 2003-2004 and found that nearly 20% of the 11.8 million Medicare beneficiaries who had been discharged from a hospital were rehospitalized within 30 days, and 34% were rehospitalized within 90 days. In addition, 67% of patients who had been discharged with medical conditions and 51% of those who had been discharged after surgical procedures were rehospitalized or died within the first year after discharge. The study estimates that the cost to Medicare for unplanned rehospitalizations in 2004 was $17.4 billion. [Read More]

CMS details Medicare private plan cuts for 2010
We knew this was coming. President Obama has made it clear that he doesn't like higher costs of the Medicare Advantage plans that were the hallmark of his predecessor, President Bush. The Wall Street Journal reports that the federal government made good on its plan to cut 2010 payments for private Medicare plans. The cuts, announced late Monday by CMS, are slightly less severe than the 5% reduction the federal agency signaled in February, but still raise concerns about what has been a critical source of profit growth for many health insurers. Reimbursements to private insurers that administer Medicare Advantage plans would fall by as much as 4% to 4.5% next year. The agency said it would raise the baseline rate for the private plans by 0.81%, slightly more than the 0.5% it proposed in February, though significantly less than the roughly 4% insurers have seen in recent years. But the payment rates also include a 3.41% reduction as a result of a change in how the government uses a reimbursement scale pegged to enrollees' health. [Read More]

Community rallies around Shriners Hospital
I'm not sure what kind of impact community involvement such as this can have, but it can't hurt. Word of the possible closing of the Greenville Shriners Hospital for Children has mobilized the community, with calls for fundraisers, letter-writing campaigns, and even a Facebook page dedicated to keeping the facility open. The hospital is one of six around the country that face closure as the organization deals with financial problems. But patients, their families, local Shriners, and residents say that would be a huge loss for the community and are taking steps to stop it. [Read More]

Healthways founder offers reality check on universal care
Tom Cigarran, founder of Healthways Inc., the nation's largest disease-management company, tells Roll Call that—despite politicians' denials—some sort of healthcare rationing is inevitable and needs to be done rationally and fairly. Cigarran says that health reform should be divided into three parts. First, the government should guarantee that everyone receives "basic" healthcare, including quality primary care, preventive services, and treatment for injury and disease. But second, "quality of life" treatment should be means-tested, with richer people paying more than poorer people for services such as joint replacements, plastic surgery, some drugs, and in vitro fertilization. And third, he says, the country needs to move toward more humane and less expensive "end of life" care, making greater use of hospices instead of "heroic" hospital treatment. [Read More]

Are You Part of a Top Leadership Team?
HealthLeaders Media is gearing up for its fifth year of the Top Leadership Teams in Healthcare program that recognizes the best in senior leadership teamwork at hospitals, health plans, and medical group practices. This year's winners will be honored during HealthLeaders Media '09: The Hospital of the Future Now, an event planned for October 15-16 at The Palmer House in Chicago. If you and your organization have an outstanding teamwork story to share, go to the Top Leadership Teams site to learn more about the six categories, download an entry form, and submit your entry. The deadline to submit is April 30. [Learn More]
Leaders Forum

Physician-Hospital Alignment Isn't Just About Playing Good Defense
When it comes to their position in the marketplace, hospitals often look at physician-hospital alignment as a defensive strategy—as a way not to lose their current referral base and market share. However, not only is physician-hospital alignment an essential strategy to improving market position, it is an imperative in these trying economic times that are impacting hospitals and physician practices alike. [Read More]
This Week's Headlines

Commentary: Why 'quality' care is dangerous
Wall Street Journal? April 8, 2009
More Southern California residents forgo preventive care, providers say
Los Angeles Times? April 8, 2009
Florida representative urges doctors to oppose healthcare reform
Jacksonville Business Journal ? April 8, 2009
Study raises questions about public health plan
AP/Yahoo News ? April 8, 2009
Minnesota-based Fairview Health Services' net loss was $114 million last year
Minneapolis Star Tribune ? April 6, 2009
Jobs scarce, even for nurses
Washington Post ? April 6, 2009

Webcasts/Audio Conferences

Service Lines Strategies Workshop: Cardiovascular Physician Alignment (Live)
Compensation Packages to Recruit and Retain Physicians in Today's Economy (Live)
Marketing Neurosciences: Service Line Strategies for Marketers (Live)
Service Lines Strategies Workshop 2009: Joint Replacement (Live)
From HealthLeaders Magazine
SOS: Public Hospitals
On the brink even during good economic times, public hospitals can take heart from following the example of two that have managed well. [Read More]