Outliers hears the House Ways and Means Committee reform bill includes six conditions healthcare organizations would have to satisfy to qualify for tax-exempt status. The most significant condition would require hospitals, "to the extent of the organization's financial ability," to provide services beyond emergency room treatment to patients regardless of their ability to pay.
AHA lobbyists say they have been assured that the language will be clarified later to apply only to medically necessary services.
If the community-benefits standard rules are opened up, for-profit hospitals may also seek their own changes. Federation of American Health Systems Executive Director Michael Bromberg last week said he intended to ask Congress to give for-profit hospitals a tax credit for providing the same services not-for-profit hospitals would offer to keep their tax-exempt status.
"We provide the same services, I don't see why we can't get some kind of tax credit," Mr. Bromberg said.
Ben's heirs.Workers at Pennsylvania Hospital, founded by Benjamin Franklin 243 years ago, have learned a penny saved can equal more than a penny earned. It can equal a trip to Monte Carlo.
The nation's first hospital, home to the Health Care Hall of Fame, asked doctors, nurses, secretaries, accountants, managers, engineers and pharmacy workers to find ways to trim costs without cutting staff or compromising quality.
Nearly 2,000 of the Philadelphia hospital's employees joined the competition, splitting into 269 teams that suggested innovations to save up to $7 million annually, or 5% of non-labor costs. In return for their inventive suggestions, workers have collected exercise equipment, fine china, bedroom furniture, refrigerators and clothing.
"We had a lot of small ideas that amounted to a big savings," said Joan Farone, a secretary who led a Monte Carlo-bound team. Ms. Farone's idea to save $600 a year by replacing a purchase order form was among the 342 proposals-out of 1,074-that administrators approved.
Louis Caliri, a materials manager, submitted the top cost-cutting idea. The hospital is expected to save more than $417,000 annually with his suggestion to sell back its inventory of knee and hip implants to distributors and order the parts as needed.
The trip and other gifts will amount to 35% to 40% of the overall savings the first year, according to Chuck Crane of Maritz Performance Improvement Co., which ran the Pennsylvania Hospital program.
New trust.A recent birthday party may help ensure the "financial stability" of Saint Mary of Nazareth Hospital Center in Chicago. The hospital used a centennial celebration to launch a newly created Sister Stella Louise Endowment Trust Fund while honoring the 285-bed acute-care hospital's founding in 1894. More than $220,000 was raised for the foundation, named after Sister Stella Louise Slomka, who has been president and chief executive officer of Saint Mary since 1959. The money was raised through a $150-per-person ticket donation, proceeds from a raffle and sales of a 75-page program book. Executives said they haven't decided yet how to use the endowment.
One's a crowd.Two organizations are sponsoring a healthcare reform conference in Houston this week that they've billed as "the most important healthcare conference ever held in the Southwest."
The sponsors-the Texas Business Group on Health and the Houston-based American Productivity and Quality Center-have scheduled 80 workshops to illustrate how reform is already under way on the local level.
They're expecting more than 1,000 industry attendees, but one audience they really want to attract is lawmakers. So, invitations were sent to 1,284 state and federal legislators in Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas, Oklahoma and New Mexico.
As of early last week, just one had signed up. For the record, he is Arkansas State Rep. Larry R. Mitchell.
Just to show that they're serious, the sponsors pledge to track who attends and who skips out, which looks like a pretty easy job.
A byte of the Big Apple?John Sculley, the high-profile executive who once headed Apple Computer, has signed on as a part-time marketing consultant with Eastman Kodak Co. Mr. Sculley, now a New York-based consultant, will spend 25% of his time crafting a hard-hitting marketing strategy for Kodak. The Rochester, N.Y.-based company is divesting a number of divisions so it has more money to feed its core imaging businesses. Kodak stressed Mr. Sculley's record as a technology marketing genius as the key to his hiring.
Mr. Sculley left Apple last year to join Spectrum Information Technologies. He left that company four months later amid a flurry of lawsuits, all dropped.
You're it.The American Medical Association and its chief antagonist, Chicago Sun-Times reporter Howard Wolinsky, engaged in a game of one-upmanship during the AMA's annual meeting last month in Chicago. Mr. Wolinsky recently published a book that accuses the AMA of being more interested in supporting physicians' economic interests than those of their patients.
On the first day of the AMA meeting, Monday, June 13, Mr. Wolinsky held a book-signing party at a nearby Chicago bookstore for The Serpent on the Staff: The Unhealthy Politics of the American Medical Association, which he co-authored with Sun-Times reporter Tom Brune.
The next day, gossip columnists from the Chicago Tribune reported that AMA staffers were "intrigued" because the jacket of Mr. Wolinsky's new book didn't mention that he had worked for the AMA for 10 years.
On Wednesday, the AMA press office issued its usual packet of newspaper clippings of coverage of the previous day's AMA meeting news. Surprise! The first page of the packet reprinted the gossip column item.
A week later, the column ran a correction, noting that Mr. Wolinsky worked for the AMA for just one year. By that time, though, the AMA meeting was a memory.