New York hospitals are losing two of their most influential friends on Capitol Hill, and both friends sit on the powerful Senate Finance Committee.
Voters ousted three-term Republican Alfonse D'Amato Nov. 3, electing his Democratic challenger, Rep. Charles Schumer, instead. Days later, Daniel Patrick Moynihan, the state's senior senator and a Democrat, decided not to seek re-election in 2000.
"Both Sen. D'Amato and Sen. Moynihan have been a tremendous force . . . in protecting hospitals, and particularly hospitals that are involved in teaching and those that have a mission of healthcare for the poor," says Kenneth Raske, president of the Greater New York Hospital Association.
D'Amato and Moynihan are best remembered for going to bat for New York hospitals in jeopardy of losing $2.6 billion in federal Medicaid funding last year. President Clinton struck the pork-barrel provision from the budget, only to have it restored by a federal judge. The U.S. Supreme Court later outlawed the presidential line-item veto.
Moynihan will stick around two more years and, despite his lame-duck status, is expected to remain an influential force. But the impending loss of Brooklyn-born D'Amato weighs heavily on New York because of power he wielded, says Daniel Sisto, president of the Healthcare Association of New York State.
Both the HANYS and the GNYHA have begun wooing Sen.-elect Schumer, who, like D'Amato, has proved a fierce advocate for hospitals on Medicare and Medicaid issues. In 1994, Schumer pulled strings with then-White House Chief of Staff Leon Panetta to soften the blow of proposed reductions in Medicare spending. Says Sisto, "It's like trading in one bulldog for another."
Cyber attacks. Companies' alleging that crank e-mails come from former employees seems to be a trend. A week after news that HealthSouth Corp. Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Richard Scrushy sued a former low-level employee over such an allegation comes word from a group purchasing company about a similar event.
Chatsworth, Calif.-based COHR has named former Chief Operating Officer Sanford Morford as the author of some nasty missives about the company posted on Yahoo! Morford vehemently denies the charge, saying he has moved on with his life after being dismissed in June following an unsuccessful attempt to lead a takeover of the company. He is now president of Genesis Technology Partners, a San Dimas, Calif., start-up firm that competes with COHR for medical equipment servicing contracts.
COHR has already endured restated earnings, a flagging stock price and an investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission. It would not reveal the nature of the Internet postings.
Amy Metz, a COHR spokeswoman, says such messages are usually ignored, but "the person posting these messages was posing as a (current company) executive, and we needed to tell people this was not the case."
COHR's attorneys jumped through a lot of hoops to identify the author of the messages, going as far as to subpoena Yahoo's business records and take depositions, including Morford's. The postings were eventually traced to an e-mail address that belongs to Morford, according to a company statement. Metz says COHR's attorneys were still pondering their legal options.
"It's ridiculous the amount of time they've expended on this," says Morford. "People have come to recognize no value or worth for the messages put on this board, particularly clients of both of our companies."
Spiritual providers. A number of hospitals have embraced holistic medicine, establishing centers that treat a patient's body, mind and spirit.
Moses Cone Health System in Greensboro, N.C., is putting its own twist on the movement, bringing medicine to six local churches, all major Christian denominations.
Moses Cone, which is not religion-affiliated, will provide each congregation with a nurse to offer health assessments, organize health educational activities, provide screenings and serve as a counselor for churchgoers. The nurse will also be part of that church's ministerial staff.
Some nurses may visit shut-ins or church members in the hospital, but they are not expected to be hands-on practitioners, Moses Cone officials say.
Grants totaling $500,000 from Wesley Long Community Health Foundation and the Duke Endowment are funding the program, a joint venture with Moses Cone's chaplaincy and nursing departments. If the program is successful, more churches may participate.
Quotable. "You can't look at Allegheny (Health, Education and Research Foundation) and say it's evidence of a failed integrated delivery system. It never was integrated."-John Cochrane, editor of the Integrated Healthcare Report and associate director of the Integrated Healthcare Symposium, speaking at the National Congress on the Future of Medical Practice and Practice Management in Nashville last month.