The Medicare Part A deductible for a beneficiary's first day in a hospital will increase to $716 in 1995, up $20 from this year, HCFA announced last week. Beneficiaries who exceed the 60-day limit for hospital stays under Medicare will pay $179 a day for days 61-90, an increase of $5 from 1994. The monthly Medicare Part B premium will increase 12.2% in 1995 to $46.10, HCFA also said.
Sen. Robert Kerrey (D-Neb.), chairman of Congress' Bipartisan Commission on Entitlement and Tax Reform, last week reaffirmed the panel's intent to recommend restraining Medicare expenses as a way of keeping the federal deficit from growing. Mr. Kerrey also said the recommendations would be introduced as a legislative package for Congress to consider next year. The commission will debate its final recommendations Dec. 9 and 14.
Columbia/HCA Healthcare Corp.'s acquisition of Healthtrust is being secured by a $100 million penalty that Healthtrust would have to pay if it takes another offer. The termination fee was listed in the merger agreement filed last week as part of Healthtrust's year-end financial report to the Securities and Exchange Commission. Mergers usually have such fees. In the case of the American Medical International/National Medical Enterprises merger, the "break-up" fee is $75 million (See related stories, p. 2 and p. 6). However, that $3.3 billion deal is valued at a couple of billion dollars less than Louisville, Ky.-based Columbia/HCA's $5.6 billion acquisition of Nashville, Tenn.-based Healthtrust.
National Medical Enterprises said it completed the sale of 10 additional psychiatric hospitals in six states to Charter Medical Corp., Atlanta, for $37 million. In March, Charter agreed to buy 47 psychiatric hospitals from the Santa Monica, Calif.-based chain. Because of the Federal Trade Commission's antitrust concerns, Charter wasn't allowed to buy six of the hospitals. A seventh facility wasn't sold because of "a consent issue with the property landlord," NME said. NME is seeking buyers for the other facilities.
Health Net has sued a Palm Gardens, Fla.-based insurance rating service for libel, slander and other charges after the service gave the HMO a low rating. The suit comes as government and industry groups have begun to issue "report cards" intended to help consumers compare HMOs. On a scale from A to F, Weiss Ratings gave the Woodland Hills, Calif.-based HMO a "D-" because it claims the HMO is in "a vulnerable financial state," according to the suit, which was filed in Los Angeles Superior Court. Health Net contended that it provided Weiss with documentation showing that the rating was flawed and unfair and based on outdated information. Weiss spokeswoman Sue Ann Bailey defended the rating, saying the company was compared with other HMOs using the same financial indicators. Health Net's suit seeks to halt publication of the rating and also seeks actual and punitive damages.
The American Hospital Association continued to prune its work force last month with selective trims in its Chicago, Washington and regional offices. In all, 20 jobs were eliminated, including the assistant director posts in each of the AHA's nine regional offices. Ten staff positions in Chicago and one lobbyist spot in Washington also were eliminated. Eight of the 20 posts were vacant, and two people whose jobs were eliminated were appointed to newly created positions. In total, 10 people lost their jobs.
A federal judge ruled late last week that the Clinton administration was guilty of misconduct in its 18-month battle with a conservative physicians group that's challenging the legality of the proceedings of the White House Health Care Task Force. U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth in Washington said the administration inappropriately resisted turning over certain task-force documents to the group, the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons. However, Judge Lamberth didn't disclose what sanctions would be leveled against the White House.