JACKSON, Miss.-The state Legislature has approved one of three major provisions of Gov. Kirk Fordice's health reform bill, although not the provision that Mississippi providers wanted the most. Mr. Fordice signed the measure last week. Hospitals and physicians wanted legislators to approve tort reform and a health education program for school children. Instead, legislators approved the establishment of a Mississippi Health Finance Authority. The authority is charged with developing a proposal to provide a basic package of healthcare benefits to state employees, school workers, local government employees, Medicaid recipients and the uninsured. Any recommendations the authority makes, however, must be adopted by the Legislature. Sam, president of the Mississippi Hospital Association, said the MHA hadn't taken a position on the authority. "We have some concerns about it and will monitor its recommendations," Mr. Cameron said. Tort reform would have included a $250,000 cap on non-economic damages in medical malpractice lawsuits and a rule requiring expert witnesses to be physicians licensed in Mississippi. The health education provision would have included hiring a nurse to serve each school district by 1996.
NASHVILLE, Tenn.-Nine hospitals in central Tennessee have formed a new 3,000-bed network to pursue joint business opportunities and share resources. A nine-member board will govern the Nashville-based Middle Tennessee Network, although each hospital will retain its own corporate independence and governance structure. Each member hospital will appoint one director to the board. Jim Word, senior vice president at Baptist Hospital in Nashville, will serve as the network's president. In addition to Baptist, the other hospital participants in the network are Bedford County Hospital in Shelbyville, Clarksville Memorial Hospital in Clarksville, Cookeville General Hospital in Cookeville, Cumberland Medical Center in Crossville, Maury Regional Hospital in Columbia, Tennessee Christian Medical Center in Madison and Portland, Sumner Regional Medical Center in Gallatin, and Williamson Medical Center in Franklin. Mr. Word said the network may seek an exemption from state antitrust scrutiny under Tennessee's new hospital cooperation act. The law exempts collaborative hospital activities from antitrust liability if they meet certain goals, such as reducing costs or improving quality.