An award ceremony thrown last month by Illinois teaching hospitals for House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dan Rostenkowski (D-Ill.) hit an emotional note that brought wet eyes and a choked-up speech from the veteran lawmaker.
Mr. Rostenkowski, who is being investigated for his involvement in the House post office scandal, was given a plaque for his service to teaching hospitals, which are deeply concerned about the Clinton administration's proposal to cut Medicare's indirect medical education adjustment from the current 7.7% to 5.65% in fiscal 1996 and 3% in fiscal 1997.
"In the past, I have resisted changes in the Medicare reimbursement system," Mr. Rostenkowski told two dozen teaching hospital executives at a breakfast at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago. "These battles will continue, my friends."
Mr. Rostenkowski was quite emotional at what is likely the most politically challenging time of his career. The breakfast also came just before new allegations arose that his office paid part-time employees-many of them tenants in buildings his family owns-who didn't do a lick of work for him.
Leo Henikoff, M.D., president and chief executive officer of Rush-Presbyterian-St. Luke's Medical Center in Chicago, said he hoped Mr. Rostenkowski's constituents realized how much he had done for the nation's healthcare system.
Mr. Rostenkowski said he'd fight on for his teaching hospital friends, but told MODERN HEALTHCARE he couldn't predict what the IME adjustment will look like as healthcare reform bills make their way through Congress. "I'm not going to make any predictions-I just can't," Mr. Rostenkowski said.
Outliers, unafraid to look into its crystal ball, sees that if there's an indictment, it could cost him his congressional grip, and it wouldn't be just the chairman but top teaching hospital executives and the administration with the watery eyes.
From Christmases past.Some 300 former employees of shuttered Southwest Detroit Hospital received a belated Christmas present last month. Hospital trustee William Anderson, D.O., distributed a total of $595,000 in back wages to the former workers, said Arnie Schafer, the hospital's Birmingham, Ala., attorney. The 256-bed hospital closed in December 1991, four months after filing for Chapter 11 reorganization.
"We have cash," Mr. Schafer said. Some of that cash comes courtesy of Total Health Care, the Detroit-based HMO that bought LifeChoice Quality Health Plan from Southwest in November for $5.7 million.
Dr. Anderson wanted to pay the employees last Christmas but didn't have the money, Mr. Schafer said. All parties in the Chapter 11 case agreed to the payment.-Crain News Service
Service gurus.Where does the federal government look to improve customer service and quality? Hospitals.
At least that was the case last month when officials of SunHealth Alliance, Charlotte, N.C., and Intermountain Health Care, Salt Lake City, made presentations at a federal conference on "reinventing government."
About 450 federal employees attended the conference sponsored by the Federal Quality Institute and the National Performance Review. The NPR is a 200-person team created last year by Vice President Al Gore to improve and streamline government operations.
Donald McCall, SunHealth's senior vice president of consulting services, spoke about how to develop a customer-based service organization, and Michael Patrick, SunHealth's director of benchmarking services, described how organization-wide quality can be obtained by studying successful practices used by other companies and industries.
Intermountain's representative was Matthew Weed, assistant vice president of strategic planning and research, who talked about how the system has been able to use customer service plans to increase patient satisfaction and measurably improve clinical and service quality.
Other panelists included representatives from Westinghouse, Disney, Federal Express, Xerox, Kodak, Ritz-Carlton hotels and Saturn.
Baby pictures.The future has arrived for parents wanting to show off their newborns to relatives in distant locations.
Thanks to a deal with AT&T, more than 150 hospitals are making video telephones available in their maternity wards for the cost of a long-distance phone call.
The hospitals received the AT&T VideoPhones free through their alliance, Voluntary Hospitals of America.
As part of the alliance's volume purchasing contract with AT&T, the company gave the Irving, Texas-based group as many as 200 free videophones, said Mike Hasselle, VHA's telecommunications product manager. The videophones-which AT&T markets as the world's first color and motion video telephone-retail for $999 each.
Now, hospitals like Richardson (Texas) Medical Center are marketing the videophone as an addition to their maternity services. "Enabling distant relatives to both see and hear the new baby and proud parents immediately was one more way to enhance that experience," said Steve Schaumburg, the hospital's marketing director.
Callers pay only the cost of a long-distance telephone call. To receive the call, however, relatives must rent a videophone at an AT&T Phone Center store at a cost of $15 for in-store use. They can take the videophone home for 24 hours for $30. Or, if there's not a phone store in the area, AT&T will overnight a videophone to the receiving party's home.
service in its infancy.