Minnesota has pulled back from its goal of providing universal healthcare coverage to state residents by 1997. Last week, legislators passed a bill that says universal coverage has been achieved when less than 4% of the population is uninsured. The state now aims to achieve that goal by January 2000. Passage of the bill was slowed by debates over restricting coverage of abortions under the MinnesotaCare program and expanding the program to more single individuals (May 15, p. 4). Under a compromise, lawmakers made a slight expansion of MinnesotaCare optional instead of mandatory. The MinnesotaCare program won't cover elective abortions under the bill, except in cases of rape or incest. Legislators, however, rejected a provision that would require victims to report rapes within 48 hours. MinnesotaCare was designed three years ago to provide affordable health insurance.
American Transitional Hospitals said last week it plans to open four more transitional hospitals over the next several months, all of which will be separately licensed Medicare facilities located within acute-care hospitals. The facilities will be developed within Deaconess Hospital, Oklahoma City; Park Medical Center, Columbus, Ohio; Centennial Medical Center, Nashville, Tenn.; and a soon-to-be-named hospital in Memphis, Tenn. Terms of the agreements weren't released. As a result, Franklin, Tenn.-based ATH will operate 20 transitional hospitals nationwide. The company's "hospital-within-a-hospital" network treats subacute-care and other medically complex patients for more than 25 days on average.
The Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations has released a listing of all mental healthcare organizations that are accredited with commendation, the highest rank. The 196 organizations represent about 17% of the more than 1,100 accredited by the JCAHO under its program for mental, chemical dependency and mental retardation/developmental disabilities services. The rank of commendation was established in 1991, and the JCAHO has been releasing lists of commended organizations by accreditation category since July 1994.
Baxter International will sell its industrial-supply business to West Chester, Pa.-based VWR Corp. for about $400 million in cash. Last year, the Baxter business distributed $450 million in laboratory products, such as beakers and test tubes, to industry, government, research and educational institutions. A separate division, which Baxter retained, provides services to clinical laboratories. The sale by the Deerfield, Ill.-based company reflects its efforts to concentrate resources on promising areas, such as cardiovascular technology. In other news, Corning Clinical Laboratories agreed to buy $200 million in Baxter-distributed laboratory products over five years.
In its first civil suit against a hospital administrator for failing to report a physician disciplinary action, the Medical Board of California fined the former chief executive officer of 56-bed South Valley Hospital in Gilroy $10,000. In 1991, Bryan Ballard suspended practice privileges of two former hospital anesthesiologists for erratic behavior indicating possible drug abuse, but he made no report to the medical board as required by law. "These are not isolated cases," said Dixon Arnett, the board's executive director. "Hospital attorneys are providing, and administrators all too eagerly accepting, advice" not to report disciplinary actions against doctors, thus endangering patients, Arnett said. Ballard told MODERN HEALTHCARE he disagrees with the medical board's conclusions and will challenge them because of the "ambiguities of the.....reporting requirement" of the California Business and Professions Code.
Atlanta-based First Physician Care has acquired two Florida medical groups: Palm Beach Medical Group, a 16-physician multispecialty group that includes eight primary-care doctors, and Family Physicians of Tampa, a practice of two primary-care physicians. Financial information was not disclosed. First Physician Care, a practice management company, has acquired the practices of more than 50 physicians in South Florida, the Tampa/St. Petersburg area, and Atlanta since its founding in 1993. The company covers more than 145,000 individuals, including 50,000 capitated HMO enrollees.