HealthLeaders Media Finance - August 31, 2009 | Meet the Only AAA-Rated Hospital in the Country View as a Webpage | Subscribe for Free
Meet the Only AAA-Rated Hospital in the Country
Michelle Ponte, Senior Editor-Finance

Okay, there was some deception in that headline. Parkland Health & Hospital System in Dallas is indeed the only AAA-rated hospital in the country, according to CFO John Dragovits, but he says the hospital owes much of this designation to the underlying credit worthiness and credit standing of Dallas County, as well as to the hospitals' strong operating performance. [Read More]

  August 31, 2009

Editor's Picks
Can healthcare reform become reality without Sen. Kennedy?
With the "Lion of the Senate" gone, Capitol Hill is already abuzz of what is to become of the latest healthcare reform efforts. Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-MA), who died Tuesday, has been a healthcare reform crusader since he was elected to the Senate in 1962. His push for reform began in 1970 when he introduced the first universal healthcare bill, a cause that he took up again during the Clinton Administration. More recently, he worked with Republicans to create the Children's Health Insurance Program, among other pieces of legislation. With partisan squabbles heating up in the Senate in recent months, it is evident that Kennedy's leadership will be truly missed as legislators seek to pass healthcare reform before the end of the year. [Read More]
Latest CBO estimates show need to tackle rising healthcare costs
Congressional Budget Office cost reports usually spell bad news and the most recent report is no different. It finds that the federal budget deficit for 2009 will total $1.6 trillion, which, at 11.2% of the gross domestic product, will be the highest since World War II. Meanwhile, the triple threat gets worse: Spending for Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid is expected to rise rapidly over the next 10 years, outpacing the growth of GDP. By 2019, spending for the three programs is projected to reach nearly 12% of GDP. The solution is a pretty obvious one: Slow the rate of healthcare cost growth, says Peter Orszag, White House Office of Management and Budget Director. [Read More]
Healthcare costs expected to rise 10.5% in next 12 months
Employers can expect healthcare costs to rise by an average of 10.5% in the next 12 months, finds an Aon Consulting survey of more than 60 healthcare insurers. Prescription drug costs are also seeing hefty increases at 9.3%. Still, both health plan and drug costs are slightly less than last year. The only way to bring down double-digit growth, says CMO Paul Berger, MD, is to focus even more on wellness and health promotion initiatives. [Read More]
Finance Forum
Private Payer Class Action Lawsuits
Over the past five years, a series of settlements in class action suits brought by physicians against the nation's major managed care companies have led to insurers discontinuing practices that systematically denied physicians' reimbursement for services rendered to patients. Despite the success of the settlement agreements in changing the behavior of managed care companies, Ed Gaines, vice president and chief compliance officer for MMP, warns that physicians must not let down their guard, particularly as the settlement agreements expire. [Read More]
Finance Headlines
Covenant Medical Center Pays $4.5M to Settle Stark Law Violations
John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media - August 27, 2009
Seniors' Healthcare Costs Soar, Even With Inflation Adjustment
Cheryl Clark, for HealthLeaders Media - August 27, 2009
Two Rural Hospitals Say Money Doesn't Matter in Pay for Performance Success
Cheryl Clark, for HealthLeaders Media - August 26, 2009
First Approved Issues for RAC Review in Region B Posted
Andrea Kraynak, for HealthLeaders Media - August 26, 2009
Millions May Be Overspent on Purchases Based on Physician Preference
Janice Simmons, for HealthLeaders Media - August 26, 2009
WellStar, Aetna reach agreement
Atlanta Journal Constitution - August 26, 2009
Five Steps to Improve Your Hospital's H1N1 Readiness
Scott Wallask, for HealthLeaders Media - August 25, 2009
Going Low Tech Might Reduce Costly Hospital Admissions in Chronic Heart Failure
Cheryl Clark, for HealthLeaders Media - August 24, 2009
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From HealthLeaders Magazine
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]
Money Talk

A look at one hospital's struggles to improve

The Reading Hospital and Medical Center, West Reading, PA
Rating: Aa3
Outlook: Negative
Affected Debt: $137.4 million
Agency: Moody's Investors Service
Remarks: Outlook revised from stable due to poor financial results in the first nine months of fiscal 2009 and the expectation that the hospital will come in short of break even for the entire year.
[Read More]
Audio Feature

Making the Business Case for Electronic Swipe Cards: With new national standards paving the way for broad deployment of electronic swipe cards, insurers are doing a massive rollout. Dr. Leonard Wilkerson, UnitedHealthcare's chief medical officer for the Central Region, says the insurer has rolled out 20 million cards to members this year and estimates the technology could save hospitals and physicians more than $1 billion a year. [Listen Now]
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