Kahn returning to HIAA. Charles "Chip" Kahn, a fixture in Washington healthcare circles, will become head of the Health Insurance Association of America, the HIAA confirmed last week. Kahn, 45, is leaving his post with the House Ways and Means health subcommittee to rejoin the Washington-based HIAA, where he worked from 1993 to 1994. Kahn was one of the architects of the HIAA's infamous "Harry and Louise" advertising campaign that helped torpedo the Clinton national healthcare reform plan in 1994. Kahn has served as the health subcommittee's staff director since 1995. Next month Kahn will become the HIAA's chief operating officer for one year, and he then will take over as president. The HIAA's current president, Willis Gradison, 68, is scheduled to retire in January 1999.
Kennedy has new healthcare reform plan. Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) said last week that he will propose a healthcare reform plan next January that will require all employers to either furnish healthcare coverage to their employees or pay into a pool to cover uninsured workers. The influential Democrat, who, along with former Sen. Nancy Kassebaum (R-Kan.), was successful in pushing through a health insurance reform bill last year, also will introduce a "patients' rights" bill based on the "Consumer Bill of Rights" endorsed last month by President Clinton's 34-member quality commission (Nov. 24, p. 8). Clinton said he supports such a proposal, and a Republican version, introduced by Rep. Charlie Norwood (R-Ga.), has 212 co-sponsors in the House.
Medical Quality Commission to shut down. The Medical Quality Commission, based in Seal Beach, Calif., which has accredited 30 medical groups and independent practice associations in the West, will cease operations in March, the group said last week. The 10-year-old commission cited a lack of funding and flat demand for accreditations. Alan R. Zwerner, M.D., the group's president and CEO, said it's ironic that as physicians accept more risk, the market places little value on physician group accreditation.
Cardinal Health's Pyxis in deal with Premier. Pyxis Corp., a subsidiary of Dublin, Ohio-based Cardinal Health, last week signed a three-year dual-source agreement to provide the Premier hospital alliance with automated medication and supply distribution systems. Savings estimates and sales targets were not immediately available. Under terms of the deal, Pyxis will offer San Diego-based Premier's 1,800 members and affiliates flexible financing options to lease or purchase Pyxis units. About 600 Premier members already use Pyxis equipment and services, the company said.
Medical Resources hires new auditor. Medical Resources, a Hackensack N.J.-based chain of outpatient diagnostic imaging centers, last week hired Ernst & Young as an independent auditor after Coopers & Lybrand said it was resigning the account. Coopers & Lybrand bowed out after several longtime managers at Medical Resources resigned in a dispute over fees paid to company Chairman Gary Siegler. Separately, Medical Resources named Peter Powers, former first deputy mayor of New York City, and D. Gordon Strickland, a plastics industry executive, as outside directors on the company board.
Shareholders sue PacifiCare. Shareholders of PacifiCare Health Systems filed a class-action suit against the Cypress, Calif.-based managed-care company last week in U.S. District Court in San Diego. The suit charges that executives misrepresented PacifiCare's business and earnings growth and the success of its February acquisition of FHP International. The suit says executives sold stock at a high of $88.25 per share before it plunged to a low of $48.50 when difficulties integrating FHP were revealed. PacifiCare said it will report a fourth-quarter loss of up to $115 million (Dec. 1, p. 4).