Remember that popular Medicaid funding-enhancement scheme of a few years ago? The one where states would "tax" hospitals to pile up more cash for HCFA to match?
When the feds cracked down on that little game, hospitals in New Hampshire almost got stuck with continuing to pay an 8% tax on gross patient revenues without getting their "contributions" returned once they produced the matching money-the original rationale for the tax.
It took a creative lobbying presentation by the New Hampshire Hospital Association to reduce a complicated situation to its basics, including cartoons to cut through the complexity. It worked so well that the association won "best of show" at the New England Society for Healthcare Communications 1996 Lamplighter Awards.
The problem, according to the NHHA: Few legislators understood the give-and-take of the original scheme, and the legislators who hatched it were no longer in office. But hospitals had to get the Legislature to act to restore an exemption to the 8% "rooms and meals tax" that had always been in place until it was removed for two years to get more Medicaid-matching power. Gov. Stephen Merrill, strapped for money to finance Medicaid, was pushing to take no action and keep the tax. The cost to the state's 28 acute-care and rehabilitation hospitals: $127 million.
The slide show "Medi$queeze: Who's Holding the Bag?" demonstrates how state, federal and hospital dollars change hands. Conceived on Jan. 20, 1995, it was mobilized for a meeting of the state legislative leadership in early February. Within a week, Merrill had changed his mind and recommended restoring the exemption.
The pugnacious Rep. Fortney "Pete" Stark (D-Calif.) probably has made a lot of enemies in Washington during his 12 terms in the House of Representatives. But it appears he may have made himself an enemy outside the Beltway, too-far outside the Beltway.
Stark told the spring public policy forum of InterHealth and the Volunteer Trustees of Not-For-Profit Hospitals last week that the FBI has informed him he had made "the list"-causing Stark to respond that he knew he'd been put on former President Richard Nixon's "enemies list" years ago.
No, not that list, the FBI agents said. Rather, Stark's name was on a list of names found in the remote Montana cabin inhabited by modern-day Luddite Theodore J. Kaczynski, the government's principal suspect in the Unabomber case.
Stark could offer no explanation for his place on the list. Outliers thinks it appropriate to point out, however, that the FBI's news comes on the heels of Stark's recent submission to the directors of the spooky "X-Files" TV show of a farcical script dealing with the disappearance of uninsured Americans (April 29, p. 156). The "X-Files" portrays two FBI agents in the pursuit of extraterrestrial mysteries. Coincidence? We think not.
Those clusters of smokers huddled outside a hospital's doors aren't all visitors. They're mostly hospital employees and managers.
Mary Kay Henry, healthcare honcho for the Service Employees International Union, said last week between puffs that her favorite smokers are the respiratory therapists she tries to organize. "I say to them, `Don't you people know?"'
Well, some of them do. A researcher at the University of Missouri reports that hospitals have had a salutary effect in discouraging their employees, and people in general, from lighting up.
The hospital industry makes a good study subject because it's the first and only industry with a national smoking ban. Starting Jan. 1, 1994, the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations essentially outlawed smoking in hospitals.
That allowed Professor Daniel R. Longo to compare rates of smoking cessation among hospital employees with those of the rest of the community. In a study published in the April 24 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, he found that hospital workers are farther along the "quitting continuum" than other workers, and more hospital workers have quit. And those who are still smoking are consuming fewer cigarettes.
As "early adopters" of smoking bans, hospitals are not only in a position to improve the health of the 5 million Americans who work there but are constructive role models for other industries that want to change their workers' health habits, Longo wrote.
Chicago Bulls' superstar Michael Jordan, known as much for his off-the-court promotions as his on-court performance, is working for free for the Coalition on Donation, a national, not-for-profit alliance of organizations that educates the public about organ donations.
The campaign represents the first time a celebrity of Jordan's stature has worked on a national organ donation campaign. The coalition includes nearly 100 organizations involved in organ and tissue procurement and transplants.
There is a critical shortage of organs and tissue because next of kin fail to sign consent forms in more than half the cases where someone with organs suitable for transplanting dies. The campaign stresses that potential organ and tissue donors can eliminate confusion about their desire to be a donor by discussing their feelings with their families.
It features Jordan in 30-second TV and radio commercials, billboards, transit advertising and direct mail. The coalition also will distribute printed materials in 14,000 physician offices through a partnership with the American Medical Association.