The House Ways and Means Committee has taken the first tentative step toward resolving some healthcare groups' complaints about the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission.
MedPAC, as it is known, was mandated by the Balanced Budget Act of 1997 as a merger of the former Prospective Payment Advisory Commission and the Physician Payment Review Commission. Under the budget act, the General Accounting Office was to appoint the commission's 15 members, who should represent all aspects of healthcare delivery.
After the appointments were announced last year, however, rural providers and osteopaths cried foul, saying they were not represented.
Without saying who should be appointed, the Ways and Means Committee recently approved legislation that would add-you guessed it-two new members.
As the committee voted on the legislation, Rep. Jim Nussle (R-Iowa) said he hoped a rural representative would get one of the seats. Rep. Phil English (R-Pa.) chimed in on behalf of the osteopaths.
Defining moments. President Clinton's penchant for parsing words seems to have trickled down to the lower levels of his administration.
Last week's public airing of Clinton's grand jury testimony showed his apparent interest in etymology as he pondered the various potential meanings of words the rest of us take at face value, such as "sex" and even "is."
The next day, Kenneth Kizer, M.D., the head of the Department of Veterans Affairs healthcare system, was called before the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee to testify about the quality of care in the system.
During the questioning, committee member Tim Hutchinson (R-Ark.) asked how many hospitals the VA had closed during Kizer's four-year tenure.
"How do you define a hospital?" Kizer responded, apparently not in jest but generating chuckles from the audience.
Profitable work.For the fifth consecutive year, the highest-paid top executive at any not-for-profit organization in the U.S. is John Rowe, M.D., president of Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York.
He was paid $1,163,875 plus $216,250 in benefits in 1997, according to a survey by the Chronicle of Philanthropy, a biweekly newspaper covering not-for-profit organizations.
The Chronicle surveyed 230 of the largest charities, foundations, hospitals and universities. The median salary for chief executives was $209,914.
Rowe, however, was not the highest-paid person in the survey or in healthcare. That honor fell to Wayne Isom, M.D., chairman of the department of cardiothoracic surgery at Cornell University in New York. He made $1.7 million in 1997.
Shared Horizon. There must be a dearth of pithy names that convey reach and vision. When Blue Cross and Blue Shield of New Jersey sought a new corporate moniker, it came up with Horizon Healthcare.
Join the crowd, other healthcare officials might say.
In Milwaukee, Horizon Healthcare is a five-hospital system that has used the brand in contracting with local payers since 1989. Sister Renee Rose, the system's president and CEO, isn't particularly worried about sharing the appellation. But if New Jersey's Horizon begins marketing in Wisconsin, "we will have some difficulties," she acknowledges.
Blues President William Marino says his company has no plans to move into that market.
In Lewisville, Texas, Horizon confusion has plagued Horizon Health Corp. for years. The manager of mental health benefits, including programs at five New Jersey hospitals, was incorporated 17 years ago. The company often was confused with the former Horizon/CMS Healthcare Corp., which has since been renamed through acquisitions.
Ode to parasites. Healthcare and poetry aren't a likely match. Yet Outliers finds itself enthralled by a newly published tome of medical-related verse.
Who would have thought such things as magnetic resonance imaging, open-heart surgery and the Ebola virus could inspire such lyricism?
It's all in Uncharted Lines, a compilation of 120 poems from the Journal of the American Medical Association, which has been publishing medical verse for more than 10 years.
A poem called "Hospital Gown" portrays the mundane garment as a "closet comedian whose neckline hangs a lopsided grin."
"Transplant" describes a "bay of blood in the empty chest, the fast sun sucked like a coin into the pocket of a thief."
And in "Ode to a Parasite," a nurse laments: "Have you bicycle pumps, air compressors? You inflate me like a dirigible."
Good news and bad news. Talk about bad timing. In a Sept. 18 announcement, Humana touted the fact that two of its publications for senior citizens have captured educational awards from the Mature Market Resource Center, a Libertyville, Ill.-based national clearinghouse for businesses that target the over-65 crowd. Humana's Good Health Calendar and Active Outlook magazine took home 1998 trophies-gold and bronze, respectively-from the resource center, which evaluated more than 1,100 advertising and marketing entries.
Complicating things was the inconvenient detail that just three days earlier Louisville, Ky.-based Humana said it plans to yank its Medicare risk HMO from the Sarasota and Treasure Coast markets in Florida, joining a recent flood of managed-care organizations that have jilted some of their senior customers by pulling up stakes in selected markets.