Tax-exempt municipal healthcare volume tumbled 63% to $1.9 billion in the first quarter of 1995 from $5.1 billion in the year-ago period, according to Securities Data Co., a Newark, N.J.-based financial information firm. A mere 45 tax-exempt municipal healthcare issues were sold in the January-to-March period of 1995 compared with 145 issues in the first quarter of 1994.
Beverly Enterprises plans to spin off at least 80% of its Pharmacy Corporation of America division to shareholders as a dividend, the company said last week. PCA would then borrow additional funds and distribute them to Beverly, which would use the proceeds to repay company debt and as a dividend. PCA, which will trade on the New York Stock Exchange, is expected to post operating revenues of more than $500 million in fiscal 1995. Fort Smith, Ark.-based Beverly is the nation's largest nursing home chain.
The Medicare Select program would be extended from its 15-state pilot project to all 50 states under a plan passed by the House last week by a vote of 408-14. The program, which expires on June 30, would be extended for five years. It offers seniors lower-cost "Medigap" insurance policies if they agree to enroll in a Medicare managed-care program. About 500,000 Medicare beneficiaries are now enrolled in the program. The Senate is expected to take up the issue later this month.
The Department of Veterans Affairs would lose about $100 million in 1995 funding under a bill the Senate passed by a 99-0 vote last week. Of that, $50 million will come from construction reserve revenues, $30 million from personnel costs and $20 million from medical equipment purchases. The measure also includes nearly $24 million in 1995 spending reductions for minority physician and nurse-training programs. The House passed a version of the bill that did not incorporate the VA or health professions spending cuts but did include nearly $25 million in cuts to rural hospital programs. House and Senate leaders will meet later this month to hash out the differences between the two bills.
VHA has won Samaritan Health System and HealthPartners of Southern Arizona as members. Phoenix-based Samaritan is Arizona's largest not-for-profit healthcare system, operating seven hospitals. HealthPartners is a Tucson-based integrated delivery system comprising Tucson Medical Center, a 75-member physician group practice and HealthPartners, a managed-care organization. Both systems had been members of San Diego-based American Healthcare Systems. Dallas-based VHA is the nation's largest alliance of not-for-profit hospitals, with more than 1,000 members.
Surgical Care Affiliates has formed a new division to manage hospital surgery departments. Up to now, the Nashville, Tenn.-based company has focused on operating its own freestanding ambulatory surgery centers. The new division will market management services to hospitals, HMOs and outpatient surgery centers.
HCFA in May plans to propose changes to its policy governing how physicians are paid for teaching-related services for Medicare patients, an agency official said. Thomas Ault, HCFA's policy development bureau director, said last week the new policy will require that physicians be physically present during key portions of all procedures and services. However, agency officials have not established the terms of "physical presence." HCFA previously has applied that rule only to complex surgeries and procedures.
Federal authorities in Minneapolis last week indicted a pioneering transplant surgeon with illegally marketing an experimental drug that contributed to nine deaths. John Najarian, M.D., and former colleague Richard Condie were charged with marketing and selling antilymphocite globulin, or ALG, while hiding serious adverse reactions to the anti-rejection drug. The federal indictment also accuses Najarian of failing to give patients all information about the drug before they consented to using it. Najarian's lawyer, Peter Thompson, said Najarian will plead innocent. Najarian, 67, was chairman of the University of Minnesota Medical School's department of surgery until 1993. He gained widespread attention in 1982 for saving the life of 11-month-old Jamie Fiske with a daring liver transplant. Condie, 68, was director of the university's program to produce ALG.-Associated Press