MONTGOMERY, Ala.-Charles E. Nabors, administrator of Bryan W. Whitfield Memorial Hospital in Demopolis, was elected chairman of the Alabama Hospital Association. Mr. Nabors replaced James H. Ford Jr., president of DCH Regional Medical Center, Tuscaloosa. Robert L. Smith, president of Decatur (Ala.) General Hospital, was chosen chairman-elect for 1995.
CHARLESTON, W.Va.-West Virginia Gov. Gaston Caperton and state legislative leaders have appointed a new 10-member task force to study healthcare issues in West Virginia and make recommendations on how to reform the delivery system there. The task force is the third such group put together in West Virginia in as many years, and healthcare reform legislation has failed in both 1993 and earlier this year (April 4, p. 32). "The governor and legislative leaders agreed to kill a healthcare bill near the end of the 1994 session because it had been changed so dramatically by special-interest groups," the governor's office said in a statement announcing the new task force. The group will include five state senators and five state delegates. The most recent reform bill that died would have created a five-member healthcare authority or board charged with drafting a universal access plan by 1995.
FRANKFORT, Ky.-State officials say recent cuts in payments from the state's Medicaid program will save the state millions of dollars, but providers say fewer of their colleagues will be willing to treat poor patients. Human Resources Secretary Masten Childers II said the cuts, which took effect June 1, will save the state $4 million during the next year. The reductions are part of a plan to cut $140 million from the state's Medicaid budget. Lawmakers sought the cuts, and Gov. Brereton
Jones wants to use the savings to add low-income Kentuckians to the Medicaid program. Mr. Childers said the new rates simply put Kentucky in line with what other states pay. For example, Kentucky optometrists have been receiving $35 for initial eye exams, compared with $18.64 in Ohio and $26 in Tennessee. With the new rate, Kentucky optometrists will be paid $31.50, Mr. Childers said. Optometrists, who received $8.9 million in payments last year, will see their payments cut by $1.8 million. Officials also are considering cutting physicians' payments by $50 million, Mr. Childers said. The cabinet has not finished calculating the new rates for physicians, but Mr. Childers said as much as 20% could be cut from current payments. Physicians received about $250 million from Medicaid last year. The proposed cuts in physician payments will make it harder for poor people to obtain healthcare, said Ardis Hoven, M.D., president of the Kentucky Medical Association. Doctors "are not going to be able to afford to take care of them" and will either drop out of the program or limit the number of Medicaid recipients they see, Dr. Hoven said.-Associated Press