The American Hospital Association reports that a record number of hospitals closed in 1988, forced to shut their doors because of inadequate Medicare and Medicaid payments. After Modern Healthcare exposes errors in the AHA's closure statistics, Rep. Fortney "Pete" Stark (D-Calif.) accuses the AHA of "cooking" its closure numbers to lobby for increased Medicare and Medicaid funding.
The National Labor Relations Board makes union organizing at hospitals easier by recognizing eight distinct collective bargaining units at hospitals rather than the traditional three general units.
The Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations launches an ambitious project to create the country's largest database on medical practice patterns.
Congress passes legislation barring physicians from referring Medicare patients to clinical laboratories in which they have a financial interest.
The Senate confirms Louis Sullivan, M.D., as the new HHS secretary. Sullivan nominates Gail Wilensky, vice president of health affairs at Project Hope, as the new HCFA administrator.
James Sammons, M.D., announces his resignation as executive vice president of the American Medical Association, following disclosure of two internal financial scandals at the AMA.
BY THE NUMBERS
HMO enrollees spent 50% fewer days in the hospital than other insured patients but saw their physicians 44% more often, says a report from InterStudy, an Excelsior, Minn.-based managed-care research firm.
At least 40% of the nation's hospitals will close before the year 2000, according to a report from the National Association for Hospital Development, Falls Church, Va.
Quality measures. Coordinated by the American Hospital Association, 12 competing hospital systems fund a $1.5 million common system to measure and improve the quality of patient care in hospitals.
HMOs. More than 70% of HMOs surveyed say they expect to make a profit in 1989, according to a report from InterStudy.
COVER STORY June 30, 1989
After battling sagging profits since the mid-1980s, some for-profit hospital chains believe they've found a turnaround strategy that works.
They're selling a stake in their hospitals to the medical staffs, which are responsible for at least 70% of admissions. The chains are betting that once physicians are owners, they'll be more likely to admit patients and maximize the use of hospital resources.
Bryan Marsal, chief executive officer of Dallas-based Republic Health Corp., recently likened the effect of physician ownership on a hospital's viability to "Lazarus coming back from the dead."
"The backlash is building (against Medicare's catastrophic illness coverage). But I'd be surprised if Congress started tinkering with a major piece of legislation. They'll just have to live with the fallout."
-Jack Meyer, president of New Directions for Policy, a Washington-based policy development firm