Influence-peddling ain't the game it used to be. The ability to persuade our deficit-minded Congress to cut breaks for special healthcare interests will be severely limited, says Marina Weiss, a Washington lobbyist and former deputy assistant secretary of the Treasury.
Weiss spoke at a healthcare finance presentation by Daiwa Securities America in New York last week.
"The likelihood that any group is going to be exempt with these (proposed budget reduction) numbers is pretty remote," she said.
Asked for her outlook on the indirect medical education adjustment, Weiss replied, "Oh, you guys are in trouble." The IME, long touted as an adjustment for the costs of teaching, is now viewed as a boondoggle ripe for the picking. The future of direct medical education funding is trickier, but New York hospitals have a "secret weapon," she said. Sens. Daniel Patrick Moynihan (D-N.Y.) and Alfonse M. D'Amato (R-N.Y.), longtime supporters of the state's academic medical centers, sit on the Senate Finance Committee, and neither will be pushed aside easily on issues affecting New York, she said.
Newtonian theory.While many observers look at America's healthcare industry and see problems, Newt Gingrich, visionary of the Third Wave, sees.....exports.
In his address via video to the American Medical Association's House of Delegates meeting in Chicago last week, the House speaker said, "American healthcare, American pharmaceuticals, American medical technology" need to be viewed "as an opportunity rather than a problem. Then we will earn more foreign exchange in the area of health than any other sector."
Gingrich expects "to have people all over the planet as they get wealthier saying, `I want the American version of good health."'
At first that seems an unlikely ambition: To induce the people of the world to embrace the most costly, complex and confusing healthcare system anywhere, one that limits care for the poor and endures some of the lowest public health statistics among developed countries.
But the speaker got quickly to his point: "Recently I met with King Hussein of Jordan. The day after he was in Washington he was at the Mayo Clinic for his annual physical. I believe his entourage took up about half of (a local) hotel, thereby providing a substantial increase in the income of the Rochester, Minn., area."
Unfortunately for Newt, his timing wasn't the best. The same week, the mother of one of India's top film stars flew to New York to have a malignant brain tumor removed at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. The doctor operated on the wrong side of her brain.
Gender friendly.Baptist Hospital of Miami has been recognized by the Florida Commission on the Status of Women as having the second-best environment for women employees in the state.
Two other hospitals made the commission's second-annual top 10 list. Bayfront Medical Center, St. Petersburg, placed No. 5, and Av-Med Santa Fe, a Gainesville-based healthcare system, was No. 7.
The Florida commission, which surveyed 120 companies, reviewed a number of areas, including job benefits and percentage of women in management.
For example, Baptist operates an on-site day-care program for pre-schoolers, an after-school program that delivers kids from school to the hospital, a car wash, a dry cleaners and a shoe repair service.
One fact also caught the commission's eye: Of Baptist's 3,339 employees, 76% are women, while 48% of all managers are women.
"By balancing work and family, we have encouraged productivity, recruited and retained the best employees, and reduced companywide absenteeism," the hospital said in a statement about its programs.
Goodbye HCA?Is the HCA fading from view at Columbia/HCA Healthcare Corp.?
Many are asking that question as they see Columbia marketing its hospitals and health systems without the HCA attached to its name.
For example, in central Kentucky, Columbia's five hospitals are billing themselves the "Columbia Healthcare Network." It's nearly the same thing in Nashville, Tenn., the chain's headquarters city, where it has run advertisements calling itself the "Columbia Health System."
Regional marketing directors say it's up to each region whether to use Columbia or Columbia/HCA. However, most agree it's a lot easier to say Columbia than Columbia/HCA.
The company added HCA to its name after it merged with Hospital Corporation of America last year.
Columbia spokeswoman Lindy Richardson said "Columbia" will be the "brand name" for the company, but the corporate name will remain Columbia/HCA.
Salt in the wound. A small public relations firm that was instrumental in forcing a not-for-profit teaching hospital on Long Island to cough up money for municipal services has won a marketing award.
The New York chapter of the Public Relations Society of America gave its 1995 Big Apple award to Jericho, N.Y.-based Information Services. The company, headed by President George Haber, helped the Village of Thomaston on Long Island pressure North Shore University Hospital in nearby Manhasset, N.Y., into making a $150,000 donation to the city rather than face the loss of a property-tax exemption for a medical office building (Jan. 9, p. 25).