The average cost of an inpatient hospital stay for a patient covered by a Blue Cross and Blue Shield insurance plan rose 2.5% to $5,406 in the fiscal year ended June 30, according to a report released last week by the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. The inpatient admission rate dropped 4.7% to 73 admissions per 1,000 plan enrollees, and the average inpatient length of stay dropped 5.4% to 5.1 days.
The number of annual coronary artery bypass surgeries performed in U.S. hospitals last year fell by less than 1% to 330,800, according to a report released last week by HCIA, a Baltimore-based healthcare information company. HCIA's report echoes other studies that show a slowdown or actual decline in the use of many types of costly medical procedures and technologies (Oct. 3, p. 48). The decline in bypass surgeries is partly attributable to the increased use of cardiac angioplasty procedures to open clogged or blocked heart vessels, HCIA said.
Baxter International said last week that it intends to sell its diagnostics manufacturing business to Boston-based Bain Capital for $448 million. Hospital clients, however, will continue to order and receive the products involved in the same manner for at least five years, Baxter said. The divestiture of the business, which had sales of about $700 million in 1993, is part of the Deerfield, Ill.-based company's ongoing restructuring effort (Nov. 22, 1993, p. 3). Products involved include devices that test for blood-clotting disorders and bacterial infections. Baxter will remain the only distributor of the products for the next five years.
Nearly 50 hospitals are participating in a University of Iowa program unveiled last week to track antibiotic-resistant bacteria. The program initially will focus on bacteria that infect the blood of hospitalized patients. Lederle Laboratories, a unit of Wayne, N.J.-based American Cyanamid Co., is financing the program but did not disclose the amount of its grant. University of Iowa researchers will compare bacteria samples from different hospitals to see if resistant strains are spreading and to determine the most effective treatment. About half of the 2 million infections acquired in hospitals each year involve bacteria that resist some of the drugs that once vanquished them.
OrNda HealthCorp has agreed to buy 184-bed Suburban Medical Center, Paramount, Calif., from Quorum Health Group, Nashville, Tenn., for an undisclosed amount. The transaction, which is expected to close by the end of the month, will add another Los Angeles-area facility to OrNda's 14-hospital network there. Nashville-based OrNda operates 46 hospitals in 15 states.
The Public Health Service's Agency for Health Care Policy and Research has announced $9.7 million in grants to six universities to support demonstration projects in rural healthcare delivery. Agency Administrator Clifton Gaus said much of the grant money will be aimed at promoting development of managed care in rural areas, where economics have hindered the growth of such networks. The universities also will develop information systems to provide data on costs and quality. The agency is giving money to the University of Arizona in Tucson, the University of Oklahoma in Oklahoma City, the University of Southern Maine in Portland, West Virginia University in Morgantown, and to a joint project of the University of Nebraska in Omaha and the University of Iowa in Iowa City.
Steps the government has taken since 1991 have not stopped states from devising schemes to increase federal Medicaid matching funds and revenues, according to a report released by the General Accounting Office. The study looked at three states, Michigan, Texas and Tennessee, for fiscal 1993. The GAO found that the states received "hundreds of millions of dollars" in federal funds from schemes that were not eliminated by recent changes in federal law designed to tighten the Medicaid program. The GAO recommended that further legislation is needed to minimize such schemes.