The General Accounting Office has reached an agreement with Rep. Fortney "Pete" Stark (D-Calif.) over the specifics of the agency's upcoming investigation of the sale of not-for-profit hospitals to for-profit chains. Stark, a vocal critic of such acquisitions, requested the study in July, but just this week agreed to the study's parameters with GAO officials. The study will focus on the not-for-profit foundations that often are left over after a for-profit chain buys a not-for-profit hospital, said Sarah Jaggar, a GAO public health official. Such foundations typically receive the proceeds of the sale and are charged with dispensing the money for the public good. The GAO study will examine whether such monies are being used appropriately, she said. The investigation's findings may be publicly available by summer.
New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani and the city's public hospital system late last week filed suit against 10 major tobacco companies and trade associations to recover money spent treating Medi-caid beneficiaries and uninsured patients with lung cancer and other tobacco-related diseases. The complaint, filed in state Supreme Court in New York, also seeks reimbursement for tobacco-related costs of health services provided to city employees. Citing a Columbia University study, Giuliani said New York spends $300 million annually on health costs attributable to tobacco.
HCFA formally outlined for more than 100 representatives of Medicare managed-care plans its intent to require them to report quality and performance data from the Health Plan Employer Data and Information Set beginning next year. HCFA plans to require Medicare risk contractors to report findings based on HEDIS 3.0 measures. The agency also told the health plan representatives it will conduct a uniform patient-satisfaction survey of Medicare managed-care enrollees next spring.
Premier has signed a $1 billion food-service distribution contract-which it believes to be the largest such agreement in healthcare-with Alliant Foodservice. Deerfield, Ill.-based Alliant will be the only Premier-contracted food-service distributor through 2001. Alliant, a $4.5 billion company that was formerly part of Kraft Foodservice, already has 25% to 30% of the Premier business. Premier is an alliance of about 1,800 hospitals.