Not-for-profit healthcare systems, post-acute providers and independent practice associations will be granted a seat on the "negotiated rulemaking" panel to develop financial solvency regulations for provider-sponsored organizations that contract directly with Medicare. Under a HCFA rule made public on Friday, a seat was granted to a coalition of Premier and the Catholic Health Association; one to a coalition of the National Independent Practice Association Coalition and the IPA Association of America; and one to a coalition of the American Association of Homes and Services for the Aging, American Health Care Association, the National Association for Home Care, and the Home Health Services and Staffing Association. They will join a number of hospital, physician, health plan and consumer groups that already have been named to seats on the 14-member rulemaking group.
It's unlikely the White House will support a change in the hospital transfer policy that was enacted as part of the balanced-budget law, said Chris Jennings, Clinton administration healthcare adviser, late last week. The American Hospital Association has vowed to make changing the provision its No. 1 priority. Under the newly enacted demonstration program, Medicare reimbursements for 10 unspecified DRGs would be reduced when a Medicare patient is transferred from a hospital to almost any post-acute-care facility before the patient reached the average length of stay. Overturning the new policy would cost Medicare about $1.3 billion over five years.
White House healthcare adviser Chris Jennings disclosed last week that the Clinton administration may propose a program to expand health insurance to cover early retirees as part of its fiscal 1999 budget. In a speech early last week, President Clinton revived the idea, which was first included as part of the administration's healthcare reform bill in 1993. Jennings also said the administration is considering several options, including allowing early retirees to buy into Medicare early too, though such a program likely would require federal subsidies.
Outsourcing giants Marriott International, Washington, and Sodexho Alliance, Paris, on Friday confirmed reports they have discussed a "potential combination" of their food-service and facilities management businesses in North America. Both companies said in a statement that "it was too early to comment on the results of their discussions." However, the firms said they are interested in maximizing the value of their businesses for their stakeholders and customers.
Coopers & Lybrand International, New York, and Price Waterhouse, London, said late last week they plan to merge their global operations, creating the world's largest accounting firm. The combined organization would have $13 billion in annual revenues and 135,000 employees. The deal is subject to approval by government regulators and the firms' partners and is expected to be completed early next year. Coopers' national healthcare practice employs 1,000 consultants. Price Waterhouse operates a healthcare practice that serves integrated delivery networks, hospitals, group practices, insurance companies and others.
Humana said late last week it's selling its only hospital to Jewish Hospital HealthCare Services, Louisville, Ky. Jewish has operated 174-bed Lexington (Ky.) Hospital under a management contract since March 1995. Terms of the sale weren't disclosed. Gregory Wolf, Humana's president and chief operating officer, said the sale is consistent with the Louisville-based company's plan to divest nonstrategic assets so it can focus on managed-care products. The sale is expected to be completed in 30 to 45 days.
Tentatively calling themselves the National Compliance Consortium, 10 healthcare organizations on Friday proposed that medical groups make six commitments regarding compliance with healthcare rules and regulations. They included systemwide compliance programs and compliance officers (See related story, p. 2). Involved with the consortium are: Mayo Clinic, HealthSystem Minnesota, Scott & White Clinic, Virginia Mason Medical Center, Permanente Medical Group and Henry Ford Medical Group. The group also includes Fallon Clinic, Catholic Health Initiatives, Alton Ochsner Medical Foundation and Catholic Health Care West Medical Foundation.