President Clinton was doing more than just golfing during the first family's vacation on Martha's Vineyard last week.
He was the guest of honor at a fund-raiser for tiny Martha's Vineyard Hospital in Oak Bluffs, Mass. The event, held at the Farm Neck Golf Club in Vineyard Haven, also featured remarks by celebrity journalist Mike Wallace and former HHS Secretary Louis Sullivan, M.D. Rep. William Delahunt (D-Mass.), a hospital advocate in Congress, also attended.
"I spent a lot of my life trying to keep hospitals open that serve small populations," Clinton told the crowd, referring to the exclusive resort island's 14,000 year-round residents, 20% of whom have no health insurance.
Hospital officials didn't return a call for comment, but news reports said the 14-bed facility raised $335,000. It needs every dollar. The facility filed for bankruptcy in 1996 and emerged from Chapter 11 protection last fall after agreeing to pay $3.7 million to its creditors (Oct. 12, 1998, p. 22).
"I'm not sure (philanthropist) George Soros, (former Treasury Secretary) Bob Rubin and (Federal Reserve Chairman) Alan Greenspan together could make this thing pay every month, every year, unless people like you are willing to help keep it open," Clinton said to applause.
Clinton extolled the virtues of the despised Balanced Budget Act of 1997, citing its creation of the Children's Health Insurance Program, but offered no comments on whether hospitals can expect some relief from scheduled Medicare reductions in the law.
Clinton seemed to be inviting other hospitals to seek his aid.
"You know, folks, I've raised a lot of money in my life, and I'm not running for anything," he said. "So I can spend the rest of my life raising money for causes like this, which I like very well."
What goes around comes around. For years healthcare consultants advising hospitals have recommended "downsizing," "right-sizing" and "RIF" (reductions in force), which resulted in thousands of layoffs in hospitals around the country. In late July, 50 industry consultants from international accounting and consulting giant Ernst & Young got a taste of their own medicine.
The company actually laid off 500 of its 8,200 U.S. consultants, with about 10% of those coming from its healthcare consulting practice.
"Although Ernst & Young continues to grow at excellent rates, we still must occasionally fine-tune our staffing mix and levels," says Don Howarth, a partner and company spokesman.
Gender gap at the bar. A study conducted for the 10,000-member American Health Lawyers Association reveals sizable gaps in the salaries of male and female healthcare lawyers.
The survey, conducted by Rockville, Md.-based Association Research, found that women health lawyers, whether working for law firms or the legal staffs of government, academic or health industry offices, were paid less than their male counterparts.
Average total professional income for men ($195,528) was 42% higher than for women ($113,525). Base salaries for men ($115,074) were 27% higher than for women ($84,144).
The study said age and experience accounted for some of the gap: Female respondents were younger and less experienced than males who filled out the survey. But the study said there was a marked difference at every age and experience level.
About 32% of the 1,500 AHLA members who received the survey responded.
Return engagement. Nearly five years ago, Microsoft Corp. was a bit player in the business of supplying heavy-duty operational and database software to healthcare providers. That all changed after Bill Gates gave a major address to computer pros on how his company wanted to improve healthcare's computer systems.
Now Gates, Microsoft's chairman, is making a second visit to the industry, this time in front of the "healthcare users group" he unveiled during his first speech in 1995 to the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society in San Antonio. The users group, not affiliated with Microsoft, nevertheless works closely with the giant software company to adapt Microsoft's computer tools and languages to healthcare.
Gates' Sept. 15 appearance at the users group's annual Windows on Healthcare conference in San Diego makes Outliers wonder whether Microsoft's healthcare action is about to heat up.
Setting the record straight. Outliers would like to make a point of order and correct an error in an item on Republican Sen. James Inhofe of Oklahoma (Aug. 16, p. 48).
The story said Inhofe voted for the 1997 federal Balanced Budget Act, which has been severely criticized by healthcare providers. In fact, the record shows he voted against the measure.
"When the Senate considered the BBA, I argued that the bill added $70 billion in new spending, created additional entitlement programs, called for tax increases and failed to seriously deal with the long-term problems affecting Medicare," the senator wrote in a letter to Outliers.
Quotable. "It was the most exciting week of my life-other than the Tet Offensive."-Rep. Charlie Norwood (R-Ga.), a veteran, comparing his whirlwind negotiations with Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.) to create a managed-care reform bill with a key battle in the Vietnam War in which he fought.