After nine months of focus groups, employee surveys and operational analyses, the national accounting and consulting firm of Deloitte & Touche has concluded that the American Medical Association needs to get its act together.
In an 11-page report analyzing the Deloitte & Touche results, the AMA concluded that it has something of a multiple-personality problem, being a professional organization, a business entity and a support system for physicians. The report outlined a six-month implementation plan to streamline the association and organize its functions into four major groups, each headed by a new group vice president. The group vice presidents and their groups are M. Roy Schwartz, M.D., scientific, educational and practice standards; Kirk B. Johnson, M.D., health policy advocacy; James W. Coursey, constituency and federation relations and membership; and James F. Rappel, business and management services.
The AMA also came up with a more "personalized" mission statement, emphasizing it remains an individual member organization of physicians but now must reach out to physician groups and academic physicians. "Unlike past changes, this is not just a reorganization," AMA Executive Vice President James Todd, M.D., told AMA staffers in a Sept. 14 memo. "It is a total functional repositioning of the AMA for the future."
Kizer at last?The long-vacant post of chief of Department of Veterans Affairs hospitals should be filled this week. Kenneth Kizer, M.D., now chairman of the community and international health department at the University of California at Davis, would fill the undersecretary for health position. The office has been empty since the February 1993 resignation of James Holsinger Jr., M.D.
If confirmed as expected by the Senate this week, Dr. Kizer would become the first head of the VA hospitals to come from outside the system. Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.), chairman of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, said Dr. Kizer "would bring a much-needed fresh perspective" to guiding the 171 VA medical centers into the 21st century.
Dr. Kizer told the committee that the VA hospitals need to "reorient" themselves into integrated local and regional networks with strong ambulatory and long-term-care elements, offering a "cost-effective, seamless continuum of care."
Veterans groups have criticized the VA for leaving the post open for so long. Earlier this month, Mr. Rockefeller also joined the chorus. "For more than 11/2 years, the VA has lacked any real leadership for its medical programs. It is outrageous that this position has been unfilled since February 1993, and as a result, the pressures and expectations on the new undersecretary will be enormous."
Dr. Kizer also served as director of California's Department of Health Services from 1985 to 1991.
We're stumped. Respected Chicago journalist and talk show host John Callaway made efforts to clear the air on healthcare reform last week at a healthcare forum attended by some of the city's heaviest hitters.
Panel members debated everything from Illinois' Medicaid problems to congressional healthcare reform efforts to quality of patient care. Alan Roman, M.D., president of the Illinois Medical Society, was the most vocal and boisterous, with a litany of sound bites defending physicians. Others at the forum, sponsored by the Chicago law firm of Bell, Boyd & Lloyd, included C.A. Lance Piccolo, Caremark International chief executive officer, and Gary Mecklenburg, president and CEO and Illinois Hospital Association chairman.
Although Outliers had heard most of the sound bites countless times before, Mr. Callaway tried to clear up one of the panel's analogies when talk turned to "managed profiteering" in healthcare. "Is it managed profiteering or profiteering off of their management?" Mr. Callaway asked. The panelists didn't have an answer for that one.
Health nut. Who says healthy eating doesn't pay off? Phil, the health food crusader who gained popularity as co-sponsor of the Nutrition Labeling and Education Act, which went into effect in May, was recently named the fourth annual C. Everett Koop Health Advocacy Award recipient.
A multimillionaire businessman from Omaha, Neb., Mr. Sokolof spent almost $1 million on ads in favor of the food-labeling bill that was later signed by President George Bush. Advertisements strongly criticized U.S. Sen. Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah) in his attempt to block passage of the bill.
After suffering a heart attack in 1966 at the age of 43, Mr. Sokolof made nutrition advocacy his life.
He bought full-page ads in major newspapers telling McDonald's Corp.: "Your hamburgers have too much fat," and "Your french fries are cooked with beef tallow."
The Nebraska Association of Hospitals and Health Systems nominated Mr. Sokolof for the award, which is presented by the American Society for Health Care Marketing and Public Relations. Past winners of the award include Dr. Koop, James and Sarah Brady, and Kenneth Cooper.
Quotable."It's only in the United States where death is viewed as an option."-Gail Wilensky, former HCFA head and now senior fellow at Project HOPE, an international health foundation. Ms. Wilensky spoke on healthcare reform and the spiraling cost of health spending at the Robinson-Humphrey Health Care Conference earlier this month in Nashville, Tenn.
Inside joke.The standard line from Columbia/HCA Healthcare Corp. executives when asked about possible merger/acquisition targets is, "We're talking to everybody."
That prompted one industry insider to comment that hospital administrators now are jokingly asking each other: "Have you gotten your `Dear Occupant' letter from Columbia yet?"
Wait till next year.With the chances of universal coverage gone for this year, there have been many viewpoints on what happened. Leading single-payer advocate Rep. Jim McDermott (D-Wash.) was asked last week when he knew universal coverage was dead.
"I'm a (Chicago) Cubs fan," Mr. McDermott said. "When they throw out the first pitch on opening day, you know the Cubs are not going to win the World Series," he joked.
On a more serious note, Mr. McDermott said he first feared his goal of universal coverage was slipping away when President Clinton said he would accept a plan that reached only 95% of the population.
"When 95% became 100%, that was the day I said, `Uh-oh, this thing is really in trouble.' I knew that I needed the president to grab hold of the rope and not let go. It's like going down a (mountain) face and the guy holding the rope begins to let go. That's when you say, `This is a bad thing I'm into."'
Mr. McDermott said he intends to reintroduce his single-payer bill next year. "I'm in this for the long haul," he said.