Systems mull Ill. tertiary services. As a prelude to a possible merger or joint operating agreement, three hospital systems serving southern Illinois are considering working together to bring tertiary-care services, such as neurosurgery, to their service area. The systems are SSM Health Care System of St. Louis, which operates 152-bed Good Samaritan Regional Health Center in Mount Vernon, Ill.; Felician Health Care of Chicago, which operates 276-bed St. Mary's Hospital in Centralia, Ill.; and Southern Illinois Healthcare, a six-hospital system based in Carbondale. Good Samaritan and St. Mary's already are linked by a year-old JOA. Discussions among the three systems will take place through July.
Universal reports earnings increase. Universal Health Services reported a 39% rise in net income to $21.5 million, or 65 cents per share, for the first quarter ended March 31, from $15.5 million, or 54 cents per share, in the year-ago quarter. Revenues rose 28% to $340.2 million. The company said earnings were affected by a $1 million charge to reduce the carrying value of a medical office building it plans to sell. King of Prussia, Pa.-based Universal, with 40 acute-care and specialty hospitals, is the nation's third-largest hospital management company.
AAHC chief's term extended to 2001. Roger Bulger, M.D., 63, will continue as president and chief executive officer of the Association of Academic Health Centers at least through June 2001. Bulger, formerly president of University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, has headed the Washington-based association for nine years. His second term was set to expire next June, but the board extended it for another three years.
REIT seeks to become landlord. Meditrust, the nation's largest healthcare real estate investment trust, is vying to become an owner and landlord of healthcare facilities. The Needham, Mass.-based REIT last week announced a "reverse merger" into Arcadia, Calif.-based Santa Anita Cos. Santa Anita is one of four companies in the country still allowed to "pair" its REIT and operating company shares and trade them as a single stock. The deal, valued at $383 million, or $31 per Santa Anita share, will enable Meditrust to own and operate medical facilities.
GOP bill would add child coverage. Senate Republicans unveiled legislation to expand healthcare coverage for children by more than doubling a maternal and child health block-grant program. The bill would provide $3.8 billion over five years to states to cover about 3.2 million children not eligible for Medicaid and whose family income is between 100% and 200% of the federal poverty level. GOP leaders said the bill would expand coverage without supplanting private health insurance.
Immigrant health measure introduced. Medicaid benefits would be preserved for elderly and disabled immigrants who were receiving benefits before President Clinton signed welfare reform legislation last August, under a bill introduced in the Senate. The legislation also would allow elderly and disabled political refugees who were in the country before enactment of the law to remain eligible for Medicaid benefits, even if they aren't already receiving benefits. About 434,000 elderly and disabled immigrants may lose benefits because of the welfare reform law.
Senate OKs assisted-suicide ban. On a 99-0 vote, the Senate passed legislation banning the use of Medicare, Medicaid or any other federal revenues for assisted-suicide services. The Senate action followed by a week a vote by the House to pass the same legislation. The Senate did not amend the legislation, clearing the way for it to be sent to the White House for President Clinton's signature. Clinton has expressed opposition to assisted suicide but hasn't said whether he would sign the bill.