U.S. Rep. Fortney "Pete" Stark (D-Calif.) says he plans to introduce legislation to change the name of the Health Care Financing Administration to the Health Security Administration.
He hastens to add that the legislation is not frivolous. "I'm not doing this just because HCFA is one of the ugliest sounding names in the federal government-sort of a cross between a hiccup and a cough-but to make a point."
Stark's point-and he does have one-is that "proposals to turn Medicare into a kind of defined contribution or voucher program in which seniors will shop for managed-care plans" are misguided. Such proposals would mean rising out-of-pocket costs for seniors and perhaps coverage cutbacks, he says. That will undermine the security and peace of mind of seniors and the disabled, he says.
"Changing the name of HCFA to the Health Security Administration is a small, symbolic step that will help focus our attention on this goal of security and peace of mind," Stark said.
Outliers wonders about the cost of changing HCFA signs, letterhead and other documentation in an age of budget cutting. Is this a frivolous thought?
If we try to build it. . .After delays that included heavy rains and the discovery of ancient Chickasaw Indian remains, officials of North Mississippi Medical Center in Tupelo finally broke ground Dec. 12 on a new $7 million rehabilitation center and physician office building.
The 33,000-square-foot facility moves all the hospital's rehabilitation services into two buildings connected by an atrium.
Site work on the facility began in July but was held up by an archaeological excavation that turned up a Chickasaw village dating to about 1680, including the burial remains of 20 inhabitants.
Mississippi State University led an excavation of the site. With the blessing of the Chickasaw Nation, all artifacts have been removed from the site and the human remains will be reburied in ceremonies next spring.
The official groundbreaking was then scheduled for Nov. 8 but had to be postponed because of rain. Work on the facility, which may eventually be expanded to include an inpatient unit, is now scheduled to be completed late next year.
Deep throat.In an open letter to President Clinton, Morton Cooper addresses one of the critical needs of the administration in the second term: how to cure the presidential throat malady.
Cooper, a voice and speech pathologist and author of Stop Committing Voice Suicide, believes the president is one of the 25% of Americans who misuse their voices by speaking from the "mask" instead of the "deep throat" (no joke potential here, of course). The mask is the area of the nose and lips. To show what he means, Cooper said to try saying "um-hum" quietly, as if in agreement with someone.
If he spoke from the throat, the president could eschew all the medications, juices, voice rest and dietary changes his doctors have prescribed for his chronically hoarse voice. "You, being the voice of the nation, are entitled to a healthy, effective voice," Cooper told the president.
Holiday nip and tuck.The Christmas-New Year's holidays give people extra time and money for plastic surgery, Southern California doctors say.
The money comes from holiday bonuses and Christmas and Hanukkah gifts. And vacations give people time to heal.
The American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery found its members performed 7,140 nose jobs nationwide in the last two weeks of 1993, compared with 3,920 in the average two-week period.
"It's all kinds of stuff: breast implants, liposuctions, eyelids, chemical peels," said Robert Cone, a cosmetic surgeon in Huntington Beach. The December rush is "because people can hide out. Most people are able to take a couple of days off and lay low, if they want, till after New Year's. A lot of people don't want anybody to know it was done," he said.
Money talks.A Service Employees International Union healthcare affiliate can't seem to make up its mind about Catholic Healthcare West. Judging by two separate print campaigns, CHW is either a danger to the community or a healthcare saint.
Last October, Health Care Workers Union Local 250 mass-mailed a grim postcard to residents of Castro Valley, Calif. Called a "Healthcare Alert," it announced that "Catholic Healthcare West invades Eden Township." The town's Eden Hospital Medical Center had recently put itself up for sale, and CHW was one of the bidders. But Local 250 was negotiating a contract with CHW at some other hospitals in San Francisco. The postcard was part of the union's campaign to spread tacks in the road until CHW came to contract terms.
A few weeks later it did, offering Local 250 a contract with a certain amount of layoff protection (Dec. 2, 1996, p. 20). Voila! CHW overnight became a "winner for our community," as a Dec. 12 newspaper ad co-signed by the union announced. The ad advised consumers to support the Catholic bid over those of two competing bidders, Sutter/CHS and Columbia/HCA Healthcare Corp.