The facade of togetherness at the President's Advisory Commission on Consumer Protection and Quality in the Health Care Industry is beginning to crack.
The quality commission's first meeting in April was a veritable lovefest, even though it includes a wide variety of members with competing interests.
But as time goes on, a number of fissures have emerged, according to several sources close to the commission. The problems have even spilled over to the public portion of the meetings, with members snapping at each other and questioning the motives of other commissioners.
Many people are upset with the direction the commission is taking. Advocates of managed care and employer interests say the product is becoming too proscriptive, too costly and leans too heavily on mandates. Others say the commission isn't going far enough.
Even outsiders are taking shots at the panel, including Rep. Fortney "Pete" Stark (D-Calif.), the ranking minority member on the House Ways and Means health subcommittee.
Stark says the commission is being shaped by representatives of for-profit managed-care plans "by dominance of personality and presence.
"(The commission) won't do much to protect patients," Stark says.
Healthy minds, lower costs?A new healthcare group is looking at ways to cut employers' healthcare and labor costs by devising a "better way of life" for workers.
Sean Sullivan, who left the National Business Coalition for Health in Washington in August, will head the new group. He debuted its ideas at an HCIA conference held in Chicago last week.
With an annual budget of $1.5 million, the Irving, Texas-based Institute for Health and Productivity Management will attempt to "reorient the healthcare delivery system" by increasing workplace productivity, Sullivan says. The institute will collaborate with providers and employers to test and implement a new set of ideas and methods to reduce worker stress and the resultant lost productivity. The new workplace models will be introduced within three years, he adds.
The not-for-profit group already has about half a dozen financial supporters, including provider systems, health plans and pharmaceutical companies, Sullivan says.
A check to show you care.If you feel as though you haven't given quite enough to the American Hospital Association through your dues payments, the organization is giving you another way to show you care.
A planning committee for the AHA's centennial in 1998 is soliciting donations from members for a celebration of the organization's 100th anniversary.
A letter from Gail Warden, the committee's chairman and president and chief executive officer of Henry Ford Health System in Detroit, invites members of the AHA to make a tax-deductible $25 contribution to a "century fund" to underwrite the celebration. No dues funds will be used, although corporations and other organizations will pony up some money to sponsor events.
"There is much for all of us to be proud of over the past 100 years as we have worked together to shape the healthcare system," the letter says.
The centennial commemoration will include a black-tie dinner at the AHA's annual meeting in Washington in January, an exhibit on 100 years of healthcare history that will travel to meetings across the country and other events to be announced later.
Nice bonus.John P. McConnell's ship has come in.
The chief executive officer of Medic Computer Systems owns more than 1.7 million shares of the healthcare software company he co-founded in 1979. That's according to a Securities and Exchange Commission filing on an agreement to sell the physician practice management information systems company to a British technology company for nearly $1 billion (Sept. 15, p. 20).
The cash offer of $35 per share computes to a cool $61 million. By contrast, his co-founder, Alan W. Winchester, will barely become a millionaire from the deal. Now president of the clinical products division, he holds 38,500 shares worth $1.3 million but also retains 63,500 options.
Other top officers benefiting from the deal include Kenneth Howard, vice president of sales and marketing, with 627,210 shares worth $22 million, and board member Thomas Nelson, with 564,930 shares worth $19.8 million.
Dr. Gourmet.Martin Meursault advises readers of Enjoy!, his new guide to the restaurants of California's Monterey Peninsula, that "these reviews should be considered as guides, not eternal truths." Unremarkable advice, you say, except that Meursault, a restaurant reviewer for the Monterey County Herald, is also a physician. We've come to expect more absolute views from doctors.
"My job is to supply you with helpful and accurate information, not to accost you with my likes and dislikes," says the good doctor.
Meursault is a pen name; the doctor asks that his real name not be revealed. In fact, only a few friends know he's a food critic. Meursault is a town in France "from whence comes some wonderful, wonderful wines," he says.
Hungry readers in Northern California will find his 271-page tome a fair-minded and enthusiastic guide to restaurants in Carmel, Monterey, Pacific Grove, Pebble Beach, Marina and other towns in the area.
Meursault contracted the writing virus while attending an American Medical Association-sponsored medical writing institute when he was a medical student in the 1960s. He was a healthcare columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle in the 1980s.
He's been a physician in the Kaiser Permanente system for 20 years. The experience of working with human beings in life's more difficult conditions comes through in the preface to his book: "Time and money are precious. Most of us work far too hard for our spare time and dollars to waste them on experiences lacking in enjoyment."