HHS' inspector general's office is expected to propose by the end of the year a new healthcare fraud enforcement program under which healthcare providers voluntarily could report themselves to the agency in exchange for more lenient penalties. The program, known as voluntary disclosure, would apply to healthcare businesses such as hospitals, group practices and drug companies rather than individual providers, such as physicians.
As many as 3,000 healthcare workers may be laid off from New York City's public hospital system under a plan to reduce a $356 million budget gap. Bruce Siegel, M.D., president of the $3.5 billion New York City Health and Hospitals Corp., was expected to present the plan to the board of directors late last week. He also was expected to propose eliminating excess beds from the corporation's 11 acute-care and five long-term hospitals.
Kaiser Permanente has selected Columbia/HCA Healthcare Corp. to provide inpatient care to its 125,000 Dallas-area enrollees under a new five-year, $200 million contract that takes effect Jan. 1. The HMO company had been using four hospitals in the area (Aug. 15, p. 12). Louisville, Ky.-based Columbia/HCA will provide care to Kaiser enrollees through an 11-hospital network in the Dallas area. In another Columbia/HCA development, the Orlando (Fla.) Sentinel last week reported that Columbia/HCA Chairman Thomas Frist said the company is considering a move to either Tampa, Fla.; Orlando; or Dallas. In the story, he noted Kentucky's "anti-business attitude." A Columbia/HCA spokeswoman said Mr. Frist's comments were taken out of context and that the company intends to stay in Louisville.
Carroll County Memorial Hospitalin Carrollton, Mo., has signed an exclusive affiliation agreement with Health Midwest. The 40-bed hospital, located 75 miles northeast of Kansas City, Mo., won't affiliate with any other health system, a Health Midwest spokesman said. Health Midwest operates 10 acute-care hospitals with 1,856 staffed beds in Kansas and Missouri. Under the agreement, it will open its group purchasing program and managed-care plans to Carroll County Memorial. It also will help the hospital plan educational programs and recruit physicians. Carroll County Memorial earned $943,000 on total revenues of $3.4 million in 1993, according to HCIA, a Baltimore-based healthcare information company.
Coram Healthcare Corp. has completed its purchase of HMSS, a Houston-based home infusion concern, from Newport Beach, Calif.-based Secomerica. Terms of the cash purchase weren't released. HMSS provides intravenous nutrition, chemotherapy, pain management and other infusion therapy systems through 20 branch offices in the Southwest. Coram is the nation's second-largest home infusion company. Its new headquarters will be located in Boulder, Colo.
Industry groups, businesses and lobbyists affected by healthcare reform gave more than $46 million in campaign contributions to congressional candidates in the first 19 months of the 1994 election cycle, the watchdog group Citizen Action said. The group's report found that contributions from political action committees representing physicians and other health professionals rose to $6.1 million from $4.5 million, compared with the previous election cycle. Sen. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) and Rep. Fortney "Pete" Stark (D-Calif.), chairman of the House Ways and Means health subcommittee, were the largest recipients from those PACs. Contributions from the insurance industry and large donors employed by the industry rose to $9 million from $7.6 million. The American Medical Association PAC, with about $1.4 million in campaign donations, was the biggest healthcare industry contributor; the American Hospital Association was fourth, with about $635,000 in donations.
The U.S. Supreme Court has scheduled oral arguments in the HHS vs. Guernsey Memorial Hospital Medicare reimbursement case for Oct. 31. The high court will decide whether Medicare must pay hospitals for its share of hospitals' debt-refinancing costs immediately or over the life of the refinanced debt. At stake is an estimated $100 million in Medicare payments to hospitals nationwide (Aug. 8, p. 28).