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Insurers Try to Deflect Blame toward Doctors
Elyas Bakhtiari, Managing Editor

After struggling to control the healthcare reform debate this summer, the Obama administration recently ratcheted up rhetoric against health insurance companies, hoping to make its narrative more compelling by adding a villain to rally against. But insurers aren't quietly submitting to the new role. Knowing they can't successfully fight back aggressively against the president, they are now instead trying to divert the blame and anger to someone else: Physicians. [Read More]
  August 13, 2009

Editor's Picks
AMA defends end-of-life discussions
Doctors aren't currently reimbursed for discussing end-of-life issues with patients, and many physicians, including the AMA, welcome the provision in the House healthcare bill (erroneously referred to as "death panels" by some healthcare reform opponents) that would begin compensating them for counseling patients. Cecil Wilson, the AMA's president-elect, described the opposition to the provision as "one of the more egregious examples of mischaracterization that I have seen . . . We were delighted to see this in the legislation." [Read More]
Surgeons fire back at Obama
The American College of Surgeons is criticizing President Obama's comments this week about the financial incentives that might encourage a surgeon to amputate a diabetic's foot. He claimed the reimbursement is $30,000-$50,000, but the ACS points out that Medicare pays $740-$1,140 for the procedure. While Obama does seem to understand the big-picture financial incentives in healthcare, using specific clinical examples may not be the best approach, because he keeps getting the details wrong. He seems aware of the controversy, and prefaced his comments with, "Nothing against surgeons. I don't want to be getting a bunch of letters from surgeons now. I'm not dissing surgeons here." [Read More]
Three alternatives to achieve tort reform
Cheryl Clark wrote an excellent article about alternatives to a nationwide cap on malpractice awards, which realistically have virtually zero chance of passing in the near future. The first alternative, medical courts, have been getting some attention for a while now. "Disclosure and offer" demonstrations allow patients and physicians to settle matters outside of a courtroom. Some doctors prefer creating safe harbors, which would protect physicians who adhere to care standards from lawsuits. All of these are viable options and are more likely to reduce lawsuits than a nationwide cap on awards. [Read More]
Survey highlights physicians' financial struggles
I mentioned this survey briefly in today's column, but it's worth digging into a little deeper. The MGMA survey found that medical groups' top three challenges are: dealing with costs outpacing revenues, maintaining compensation levels as reimbursement declines, and adopting electronic health records. It's no surprise that the list is dominated by financial concerns. The survey also found that because of the recession about one-third of medical groups are postponing capital expenditures, cutting budgets, implementing hiring freezes, seeing more uninsured patients, and struggling with other financial aspects of practice management. [Read More]
Business Rx
Recruiting the Right Physicians
There are several dimensions to consider when evaluating whether a potential physician recruit will be a good fit for the hospital or the community. [Read More]
Physician News
Do hospitalists improve the quality of care?
Wall Street Journal Health Blog - August 11, 2009
MRSA Cases Drop After Facilities Agree to Self Report
Sarah Kearns, for HealthLeaders Media - August 10, 2009
Expanding preventive care may add to costs, CBO says
Washington Post - August 10, 2009
Chicago retail clinic to be staffed by doctors instead of nurse practitioners
Chicago Tribune - August 13, 2009

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Hang On
HealthLeaders August 2009
Get ready for the failure of the HIT stimulus dream, episode of care contracting, the end of easy credit, and a public plan. [Read More]
Service Line Management
Making Wellness Work
Wellness and weight loss programs aren't major revenue generators, but healthcare reformers know they cannot effectively control costs without focusing more on prevention. [Read More]
PhysicianLeaders Forum

A Massachusetts Physician Offers a View of Healthcare Reform: Mario Motta, MD, president of the Massachusetts Medical Society, offers thoughts on national healthcare reform based on his experience with the Massachusetts model. [Read More]
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Picking the Right Cancer Program: Suzanne Borgos, a senior consultant with Health Strategies & Solutions, discusses ROI components to consider when picking a tumor-site-specific program for an oncology service line. Hear more at the Service Lines Strategies Virtual Workshop. [Listen Now]
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Resources From HealthLeaders Media

Improve patient satisfaction, CAHPS scores, and quality with the strategies and tools in Physician Entrepreneurs: The Quality Patient Experience.
Learn how to harness the power of a large organization, either by expanding the practice or partnering with hospitals, private investors, or other physician groups, with Physician Entrepreneurs: Strength in Numbers.
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