Despite the withdrawal of Rep. Jim Cooper (D-Tenn.), the so-called "mainstream coalition"-the name given to the attempted melding of the healthcare reform plans of Mr. Cooper and Sen. John Chafee (R-R.I.)-is moving forward.
The negotiations are of interest because if the two sides were to reach an agreement, they would represent a formidable, bipartisan force in both the House and Senate. Not to mention the White House.
After an on-again, off-again courtship lasting months, Mr. Cooper recently said he no longer would be able to continue negotiating, citing the difficulty of organizing all of his House co-sponsors.
Sen. John Breaux (D-La.), the sponsor of a plan similar to Mr. Cooper's in the Senate, now takes over at the bargaining table.
According to one Senate Republican aide, the two sides are making progress and may start working on compromise legislation as early as this week. The key issues are an employer mandate, limits on tax deductibility for health insurance and whether health alliances would be mandatory or voluntary, the aide said.
Empty seat.You can tell there's a lot of change going on in the investor-owned hospital sector from watching one barometer-the American Hospital Association's board.
Only one hospital executive from the investor-owned industry sits on that 25-member board, and that seat will turn over again soon.
Jack Bovender Jr., executive vice president and chief operating officer of Hospital Corporation of America, intends to resign that seat in tandem with his resignation from Columbia/HCA Healthcare Corp. His announcement to resign from Columbia/HCA came after the two hospital chains merged last month. Mr. Bovender, 48, will stay on the with Columbia/HCA for a month or two during the transition period, he said. He said he plans to retire from healthcare and pursue personal interests.
Mr. Bovender announced his decision to resign his AHA board seat last week. In addition, he will resign his post on the Federation of American Healthcare Systems board of governors. That group represents the investor-owned industry.
Mr. Bovender had been on AHA's board since January 1993 when he took over for the deposed George Atkins. Mr. Atkins left after he was fired from Louisville, Ky.-based Humana for alleged violation of company policy. Mr. Atkins, who headed Humana's lobbying and public affairs division, had been accused of authorizing a consulting job for a state legislator.
Richard Wade, AHA's senior vice president for communications, said it's up to the board to select an interim appointment to finish Mr. Bovender's term, which expires in two years.
Comparison shopping. Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas has trained its surgeons to select operating room supplies the same way most people do their grocery shopping-they compare prices.
Just letting physicians know that one type of surgical gloves cost 35 cents while another brand costs $5.67 can make a big difference, Baylor managers found out.
"We've done about 400 more patient cases this year, and our cost per case is between 3% and 5% less than the previous year," said Carolyn Brown, administrative director of surgical services for the 954-bed hospital. The bottom line is a $500,000 annual savings for the hospital.
To deliver the cost information to surgeons, Baylor employees designed large, colorful posters for the operating rooms, showing the difference in costs among various products.
Baylor may expand the pricing information strategy to its six affiliate hospitals.
Losing momentum? The folks in Southern California are generally ahead of the curve when it comes to pursuing new health delivery and financing techniques. Maybe they're more prescient in sensing trends than the rest of us. If that's so, it's bad news for healthcare reformers.
Only 18% of the participants at a healthcare conference in Southern California last month predicted that major reform legislation will be accomplished in 1994. Some 64% of the attendees polled predict that Congress will not enact major healthcare reform legislation until 1995 or 1996. The 1994 Health Care Forecast conference, sponsored by the healthcare program in the graduate school of management at the University of California, Irvine, drew survey responses from 135 executives representing providers, insurers and employers.
The poll was issued after several business groups expressed opposition to parts of the Clinton reform plan and just days before key congressional Democrats ripped the plan's proposed health alliances, vowing to pursue their own version of reform.
Back to school.After more than 18 years in a variety of positions at the American College of Healthcare Executives-most recently as a regional director-James Drury has joined the staff at the J.L. Kellogg Graduate School of Management at Northwestern University.
As assistant director of the Health Services Management Program, Mr. Drury, 49, will be returning to familiar territory-establishing executive development programs. His years at the ACHE included stints as education director and assistant education director.
Mr. Drury's new responsibilities also will involve alumni relations, including assisting in organizing the school's annual MacEachern Symposium. The keynote speaker at this year's program, set for May 13, is HCFA Administrator Bruce Vladeck.
Quotable."It was so shocking, some of us thought it must have been a papal directive."
-Former Massachusetts Sen. Paul Tsongas commenting on the 1992 merger of two Catholic hospitals in Lowell, Mass., at a speech before the Dallas/Fort Worth Hospital Council last month. The former Democratic presidential candidate's comments came in response to a question about whether the government might try to curb the hospital industry's headlong rush into consolidation. Mr. Tsongas said he didn't think so. Comparing it to the banking industry, he said, "It's tough, but that's the world we're living in."