COLUMBUS, Ohio-Legislation that would make insurers liable for medical treatment decisions has slowed considerably since a coalition of health plans, employers and providers formed to block it, according to one of the coalition's organizers. "I think it's safe to say we won't have passage this year," said Paul Lee, president of Strategic Health Care, a consulting firm in Columbus. The Coalition for Quality Health Care comprises more than 100 groups including the Columbus-based Association of Health Plans and the Ohio Manufacturers' Association. It plans to educate consumers and legislators about managed-care reform legislation passed last year, which institutes an independent review panel for insurance coverage decisions, among other provisions. The law takes effect Oct. 1. Coalition members said the liability bills would drive up healthcare costs dramatically.
KANSAS CITY, Mo.-Midwest Bioethics Center, based in Kansas City, has been named national headquarters for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's project to improve end-of-life care. The foundation has set aside $11.3 million for grants to state and community groups willing to work for policy change and to stimulate community dialogue. The program is called Community-State Partnerships to Improve End-of-Life Care. Myra Christopher, president of Midwest Bioethics, is national program director. Robert Wood Johnson and Midwest Bioethics think the states are in the best position to address the trend toward physician-assisted suicide. The foundation wants to encourage projects that will improve access to palliative care, boost the importance of pain control in the medical curriculum, raise reimbursement for hospice care and establish regulatory guidelines for care of the terminally ill. Grant awards will average $450,000 for implementation, planning or both.
LONDON, Ohio-Madison County Hospital in London has agreed to shift control of its emergency room to Premier Health Care Services of Dayton, Ohio, hospital officials said. Premier Health, which includes 180 doctors, will take over July 1 from the London-based Mersi Corp., hospital Administrator Gary Lehman told the county commissioners late last month. The change will mark the first time in the 87-bed hospital's 36-year history the emergency room will not be operated by local doctors, hospital spokeswoman Anne Slanker said. The local doctors have opposed proposals to affiliate the not-for-profit county hospital with any of Columbus' hospitals. But both the doctors and the hospital say the management change was made for financial reasons, not because of the dispute.