The American Hospital Association is fighting price controls with two new ads airing on 37 television stations in 10 markets nationwide. The $200,000 campaign asks viewers to call a particular congressional representative to register opposition to price controls. The ads are part of the organization's recently announced grass-roots campaign to promote its views on healthcare reform (March 7, p. 2).
A new coalition claiming to represent 340,000 small businesses last week said it would back a healthcare reform plan that included an employer mandate, a position that put the group squarely at odds with the National Federation of Independent Businesses and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The Small Business Coalition, spearheaded by the National Association of Retail Druggists, hasn't specified the type of employer mandate it would support, but the group is "comfortable with the notion of small business participating in the financing of healthcare reform," said Todd Dankmyer, a spokesman for NARD.
The vacancy rate for registered nurse positions at the nation's hospitals dropped to 5.3% in 1992 from 8.1% in 1991, according to a report released last week by the American Hospital Association. The report confirms other information from hospitals that the nursing shortage crisis that plagued hospitals in the late 1980s is over. According to AHA figures, the shortage peaked in 1989, when 12.7% of staff nurse positions at hospitals were vacant.
A federal judge in Tampa, Fla., has scheduled a hearing for this week to consider a preliminary injunction requested by the Federal Trade Commission to block 602-bed Lee Memorial Hospital's planned purchase of 201-bed Cape Coral Hospital. The hospitals are located in the Fort Myers, Fla., area. On April 28, U.S. District Judge Henry Lee Adams Jr. issued a temporary restraining order to prevent the hospitals from merging until a ruling is made on the preliminary injunction.
Eastman Kodak Co. said it will sell its Sterling Winthrop drug business and other ventures not related to imaging. Combined, the businesses' annual revenues equal about $3.7 billion. The move will give the Rochester, N.Y.-based company money to invest in its core film business. Kodak will retain its X-ray film and its diagnostic imaging businesses.
National Health Laboratories said last week that it will acquire a smaller laboratory chain, Nashville, Tenn.-based Allied Clinical Laboratories, for $193 million, or $23 per share. Together, the two companies operate 27 regional laboratories and record nearly $923 million in annual revenues. If a merger is completed, the size of the resulting company would near that of industry leaders Corning and SmithKline Clinical Laboratories, each of which top $1 billion in annual sales. Meanwhile, Corning last week said that it would buy a private, Baltimore-based laboratory company for 4.5 million shares of Corning stock, or about $140 million. The laboratory, Maryland Medical, has annual sales of about $100 million.
Two large group purchasing organizations, AmeriNet and SupportHealth, said last week that they've signed a letter of intent to merge. St. Louis-based AmeriNet represents more than 2,800 healthcare facilities nationwide, and its members bought more than $2 billion in goods and services through its programs in 1993. Birmingham, Ala.-based SupportHealth, a partnership of the state hospital associations of Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas, represents more than 600 hospitals and has annual purchases of about $300 million.
The General Accounting Office has warned that the Clinton healthcare reform plan, which would open up the Department of Veterans Affairs health system to all veterans, could add billions of dollars to the cost of running the VA system. Problems in setting accurate premiums for VA care could lead to improper denial of needed services or cutbacks in the availability of services such as long-term psychiatric care, the GAO found.