The Marshfield (Wis.) Clinic and the Wisconsin Blues have kissed and made up.
That may seem strange to those who witnessed the bloody legal dispute between the companies from 1995 to 1997. Blue Cross and Blue Shield United of Wisconsin claimed that the clinic and its HMO, Security Health Plan, kept the Blues and its HMO, Compcare, from successfully competing for business in the state by undercutting prices.
U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb in Madison, Wis., ruled against the Blues in April 1997, saying there was not enough evidence for a jury to "make a reasonable determination" that the plan had suffered any damages.
Last week Marshfield signed an agreement with the insurer making its 580 physicians in 39 clinics in central, western and northern Wisconsin part of the Blues network. Marshfield will provide services to 500,000 Blues enrollees and 200,000 Compcare enrollees.
The new contract has nothing to do with the lawsuit, says Blues spokesman Tom Luljak. Meanwhile, Marshfield President William Hocking says the agreement shows that the lawsuit is water under the bridge.
The heat goes on at AMA. Predictably, editors of medical journals worldwide rallied to defend editorial autonomy following the Jan. 15 firing of George Lundberg, M.D., as editor of the Journal of the American Medical Association.
But what must have stung AMA leadership more was a revolt within the association's own ranks.
Twenty-six editors and 16 editorial board members of the journal, along with 10 editors of the AMA Archives journals, signed a one-page editorial condemning the decision to dismiss Lundberg and reaffirming the journal's editorial objectives. Those objectives include informing readers about "nonclinical" aspects of medicine, including political ones.
Lundberg was axed over his decision to publish a survey of college students regarding their opinion of whether oral sex constituted "having sex."
The editorial appears in the Feb. 3 issue of JAMA.
The AMA said in a statement that it was "especially pleased" with the editorial, and a "primary charge" of the committee seeking Lundberg's replacement would be to safeguard JAMA's independence.
In his own prepared statement, Lundberg said he was "grateful for the continuing strong and courageous support of the JAMA editorial staff and board on behalf of the century-old editorial integrity" of JAMA and the journals.
Meanwhile, Lundberg moved to a new office at the downtown Chicago campus of Northwestern University, where he was given the title "visiting scholar." The 65-year-old Lundberg says he is weighing all options, "including litigation."
Golf, but no cigar. There was a big change at last week's Phoenix Open golf tournament: You couldn't take in the bogies with a stogie.
The Arizona Department of Health Services cut a $39,000 deal with tournament organizers to bar cigar vendors from the Professional Golf Association event. They were replaced by kiosks and banners promoting a smoke-free life.
Department spokesman Brad Christensen says the move was prompted by a growing concern of health advocates: Golf and cigars have become synonymous.
"There were golfers galavanting on the course last year with cigars, and it was promoting a message that smoking them was a key to the good life," Christensen says. "I can guarantee you that if you've ever been in the spectator area surrounded by a bunch of cigar smokers, it's not."
Studies have linked cigars with oral, esophageal and lung cancer, and demonstrated that secondhand smoke from cigars is more lethal than that from cigarettes, Christensen says.
Bugged off. How strong is the millennium bug? Strong enough to uproot the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society's 2000 annual convention from its time-honored slot in late February.
Next year's HIMSS conference in Dallas won't take place until April (this year's is taking place as scheduled, Feb. 21-25 in Atlanta), says John Page, the Chicago-based association's executive director. Taking into consideration the core membership of computer analysts, programmers and other information systems professionals, "there was a specific expectation that our folks needed to get through the first quarter of 2000," Page says.
With management of Y2K-related computer problems peaking in December and January, most computer pros aren't going to be thinking about registering for continuing education, he says.
Not for the faint-hearted. Just in time for Valentine's Day gift-giving, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette is offering reprints of its six-part series "Anatomy of a Bankruptcy"-the saga of Allegheny Health, Education and Research Foundation's rise and now infamous belly-flop.
At a mere $12.74 (including shipping and handling), the reprint is an inexpensive way to relieve the monotony of all those roses and chocolates the special healthcare executive in your life probably takes for granted.
Sure, AHERF's slide into Chapter 11 stung scads of creditors and left thousands of employees shellshocked. But imagine the pulse-quickening effect on your loved one as he or she tiptoes through the mystery of AHERF's debacle.
Sporting international intrigue, like an offshore insurance subsidiary in the Cayman Islands and alleged wrongdoing by the hometown Brahmins, this page-turner will grip even the most jaded healthcare professional. And did we mention the snazzy logo? For more information call the Post-Gazette at 412-263-1741 or visit the newspaper's World Wide Web site at www.post-gazette.com/pgstore/aherf.asp.