When Congress returns to work in 1995 it will have "a long way to go just to get back to where we started (after the election in 1992)" on healthcare reform, Democratic pollster and Clinton administration strategist Celinda Lake told the American Public Health Association last week. Because of the public's misgivings about healthcare reform, Ms. Lake said the only type of incremental plan that might have a chance of passage in 1995 would be one that expanded coverage to children. "There isn't the political will to take on cost control at any level," making it impossible to finance a larger package of reforms, Ms. Lake said.
Fewer Americans see a need for healthcare reform since President Clinton's reform plan was unveiled and defeated, a Gallup Organization poll shows. Last year, of 800 people asked whether the current system was in need of reform as it was being discussed by Mr. Clinton and Congress, 60% strongly agreed and 5% strongly disagreed. A similar poll in October showed 44% strongly agreeing with the need for reform and 14% strongly disagreeing. Consumers also became more satisfied with their own coverage. The survey was conducted for the Alliance for Healthcare Strategy and Marketing in Chicago.
Ingalls Health System of Harvey, Ill., which operates Ingalls Memorial Hospital, signed a letter of intent last week to become the eighth affiliate of the Chicago area's Northwestern Healthcare Network. Ingalls, a not-for-profit, nondenominational provider, operates 518 beds and extensive outpatient facilities in the south suburbs. Ingalls will retain its governing board and management as well as have representation on network committees and boards. The network, which added three hospitals this year, will have more than 3,800 affiliated physicians, operate 2,958 beds and admit more than 125,000 patients annually.
United HealthCare Corp.'s net income for the third quarter ended Sept. 30 rose 47% to $80 million, or 46 cents per share, compared with $55 million, or 32 cents per share, during the year-ago period. Revenues climbed 20% to $957 million. For the nine months, the Minnetonka, Minn.-based company's net income soared more than 900% to $1.6 billion, or $9.01 per share, compared with a net income of $152 million, or 89 cents per share, in the year-ago period. Revenues rose 22% to $2.8 billion. The surge in net income is attributed to a $1.3 billion extraordinary item recorded from the sale of United subsidiary Diversified Pharmaceutical Services earlier this year. United provides healthcare services to more than 3 million people through 20 managed-care plans nationwide.
Quorum Health Group, a Nashville, Tenn.-based hospital management firm, reported a 161% increase in profits to $11.4 million, or 23 cents per share, for the first quarter ended Sept. 30, compared with $4.4 million, or 12 cents per share, in the year-ago period. Revenues were up 113% to $193.1 million. Quorum owns 11 hospitals, up from four in the year-ago period. It also manages 256 hospitals.
Indianapolis-based drugmaker Eli Lilly & Co. accepted several limits on its control of pharmacy benefit manager PCS Health System in a consent agreement reached last week with the Federal Trade Commission. The FTC has been examining Lilly's proposed $4 billion acquisition of PCS, a subsidiary of San Francisco-based McKesson Corp., for antitrust violations, such as keeping competitors from gaining access to the same markets (Oct. 24, p. 8). The agreement requires PCS to include on its formulary any drug approved by a pharmacy and therapeutics committee. The majority of the committee members must have no affiliation with PCS or Lilly. In addition, the agreement bars sharing proprietary information from competing drug manufacturers, such as prices. FTC commissioners voted 2-1 in favor of the proposed agreement. It's subject to a 60-day public comment period.