With health insurers seemingly friendless in Washington these days, it shouldn't be surprising they would turn to someone they can trust when naming their "person of the year."
The National Association of Health Underwriters recently gave Willis Gradison its Harold R. Gordon Award for his recent efforts to beat down any reforms of the health insurance system. Gradison, president of the Health Insurance Association of America and a former U.S. representative from Ohio, has as his credo that the federal government's role should not be to regulate and dictate, but rather to lead by example and give the private sector incentives to act responsibly, the NAHU says.
The group also recapped what it called Gradison's finest hour, when he was the general who mapped out the successful campaign to smash President Clinton's healthcare reform plan. The organization says Gradison saved insurers from a proposal that "threatened to virtually eliminate the private health insurance market. He has been the strongest voice for the free enterprise health insurance system in America," the NAHU says.
When PR isn't such a good idea.
It turns out the Florida woman who gave birth during a live broadcast on the Internet was wanted for writing bad checks, and she turned herself in to law enforcement officials last week.
Sara Elizabeth Oliver, 40, was booked into the Orange County jail on misdemeanor charges dating to 1991, says Jim Solomons, a spokesman for the Orange County sheriff's office in Orlando. Oliver, who uses the alias Elizabeth, posted bail of $9,237 and was released the same day, he says. No trial date was set.
"If you're a wanted person, showing your face on the Internet is not a great way to preserve your anonymity," Solomons says.
It's estimated that more than 1 million people saw the broadcast of the birth of her son, Sean.
As you might recall, Oliver's highly publicized delivery was carried live June 16 on the World Wide Web site of America's Health Network, an Orlando-based cable TV network partly financed by two former head honchos at Columbia/HCA Healthcare Corp., Richard Scott and David Vandewater.
The National Enquirer broke the story about Oliver's checkered past in its most recent issue.
AHN didn't know about the woman's background before it broadcast the birth at the Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children and Women, part of 807-bed Orlando Regional Medical Center.
Uwe's new allies.
No one is happier with the American Medical Association's decision to advocate a move toward individually purchased healthcare coverage than Princeton economist Uwe Reinhardt.
Not long ago the healthcare pundit presented a paper attacking employer-based financing, only to be trashed by numerous policy wonks, he says.
"I've thundered against this system for so long," Reinhardt says. Except for a few conservative economists, "I was always alone, tinkering in the wind. It's amazing to finally get allies."
The drink debate.
Nothing draws physicians' ire like HCFA's Medicare documentation guidelines, except perhaps the American Medical Association's new coupon policy for drinks.
The AMA eliminated open bars at its annual House of Delegates meeting, held last month at the Hyatt Regency Chicago. Delegates had to buy coupons that could be exchanged for drinks.
The goal was to save money for state associations, which host parties to drum up support for their favorite candidates. According to House Speaker Richard Corlin, M.D., delegates under the free-for-all system would take only a sip or two, put the drink down, and go to the next party.
Delegates complained, but the new policy was a budget success. The beverage tab of $39,634 was paid for by individuals vs. a 1997 bill of $92,713 picked up by state associations.
Outliers is confident that the savings will be directed to fight government and private-sector interference in the physician-patient relationship.
Move over, Elvis.
In a philatelic goodbye kiss to the 20th century, the U.S. Postal Service will issue a series of commemorative stamps, picked by popular vote, to mark each decade.
Stamps for the 1970s will be on the postal ballot in September, and some of medical technology's greatest imaging hits -- computed tomography, diagnostic ultrasound and magnetic resonance imaging -- will be vying for the space at the upper right corner of your envelopes. But winning that kind of recognition won't be easy for the radiology workhorses. Other contenders in the science and technology category include VCRs, jumbo jets and NASA's Pioneer 10 space probe. Thankfully, mood rings will not be in the running, a postal service spokeswoman confirms.
During September techies can vote for the diagnostic imaging breakthroughs at their local post offices or on the Internet at http: stampvote.msn.com. All told, there will be 30 stamp choices across five categories. About half the entries will make the grade and will appear in a post office near you in 1999.
"It's no coincidence that the highest incidence of heart attacks and strokes occurs on Mondays. People hate their work so much that they're waiting till Monday to die." -- Author and motivational speaker Lance Secretan, making the keynote address at last week's Healthcare Financial Management Association's annual institute in Nashville.
"This has been a wonderful two weeks for me personally. I really haven't had quite so much fun since my last interrogation in Hanoi." -- Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), an ex-prisoner of war, on watching the Senate defeat a tobacco bill he authored and the Supreme Court strike down the line-item veto law he sponsored.
"I count on it being the last job I ever have." -- E. Ratcliffe "Andy" Anderson Jr., M.D., on his recent appointment as chief executive of the American Medical Association.