Proving once again that politics makes strange bedfellows, the Health Insurance Association of America, which has fought healthcare reforms, has joined forces with consumer group Families USA to sponsor a conference promoting healthcare coverage for the uninsured.
The irony is not lost on the leadership of either group. At a joint press conference with Families USA Executive Director Ron Pollack last week, HIAA President Chip Kahn pointed to other unlikely pairings: "Nixon went to China; Timothy Leary and G. Gordon Liddy toured together on the speaking circuit."
Kahn noted similarities between himself and Families USA Executive Director Ron Pollack, including their strong beliefs and forceful rhetoric. Their most notable similarity? "The most dangerous place to be is between either of us and a television camera," Kahn said.
Not to be outdone, Pollack said he is willing to work with anyone, and he made a sly reference to the HIAA's campaign against the Clinton healthcare reform plan and a current campaign against inclusion of prescription drugs in the Medicare benefit package: "We welcome everyone in this struggle: Harry and Louise, and even Flo."
Pushing medical marijuana. California is going to pot-again.
Last week Gov. Gray Davis signed into law legislation that would allot $3 million over the next three years to University of California researchers to study the medical efficacy of marijuana in treating AIDS, glaucoma, seizures and other conditions.
The legislation, sponsored by a coalition of Democratic lawmakers, is intended to bolster Proposition 215, a 1996 state ballot initiative approved by voters that allows physicians to prescribe marijuana. Threats by the federal government to prosecute physicians and revoke their prescription-writing privileges have kept California doctors from actually prescribing any pot.
Although the new law is effective immediately, there's a catch-the university system's board of regents must vote to approve research, and a university system spokesman said a vote has yet to be scheduled. There is at least one yes vote: The governor is a regent.
A breather at the beach. There's nothing like a relaxing weekend at the beach to calm the nerves of expectant parents.
Franklin Square Hospital Center in Baltimore is offering a "Lamaze weekend getaway" where moms-and-pops-to-be can learn breathing techniques for childbirth against a backdrop of soothing surf and soaring seagulls.
For $295 per couple, parents get a two-night stay at Dunes Manor Hotel in Ocean City, Md., a coastal resort town.
The price includes an oceanfront room, two breakfasts, lunch and afternoon tea with cookies. Each room has a balcony, a color TV, a refrigerator and a microwave.
Instructors from 243-bed Franklin Square, 176-bed Harbor Hospital Center and 378-bed Union Memorial Hospital will conduct the classes. Columbia, Md.-based MedStar Health owns the three Baltimore hospitals.
Who needs a stuffy hospital classroom, anyway?
Department of the obvious. In a press release hyping the American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine (or A4M, as they like to call themselves) and its Dec. 11-13 Anti-Aging Conference and Exposition at the Tropicana Hotel in Las Vegas, an excited publicist quotes A4M President Ronald Klatz, M.D.:
"Doctors are starting to feel the pressure of the anti-aging movement. Doctors are seeing patients who fall into the category of baby boomers. These patients are concerned that they will age prematurely and spend the golden years of their lives pretty much the way their parents did: with degenerative diseases, lack of energy, lack of sexual prowess and poor appearance."
The academy members "are all dedicated to the belief that the process of physical aging in humans can be slowed, stopped or even reversed through existing medical and scientific inventions," Klatz says.
Outliers guesses this is supposed to be news.
Move over, Richard Dawson. Officials from Vanderbilt University's medical school and Vanderbilt University Medical Center faced off for charity recently in a rendition of the old "Family Feud" game show.
Vanderbilt set up the contest to stimulate interest in its community giving drive, which hopes to raise $700,000 for the United Way and other local charities. Last year, Vanderbilt raised $691,000 in employee donations.
Like "Family Feud," the show rewarded contestants who could name one of the top five responses to survey questions, such as "What is the best way for the faculty and staff to learn about the community giving campaign?" and "Name one of the top five ways that a department coordinator can communicate the campaign message."
On the team for the medical school was Colleen Conway-Welch, dean of the nursing school, who in March completed her service on the National Bipartisan Commission on the Future of Medicare. Leading the charge for the hospital team was Mark Penkhus, the facility's chief executive officer. Harry Jacobsen, M.D., vice chancellor for health affairs at the school, emceed the game, which ended in a tie.
You are very interested in outcomes. Employees at 334-bed South Miami (Fla.) Hospital will compete to collect fortune cookies in anticipation of the hospital's Feb. 7, 2000, inspection by the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations.
"For Joint Commission visits, you try any gimmick to draw attention and educate your staff," says Wayne Brackin, South Miami's chief executive officer, who adds that the cookies will be distributed beginning in October. "We hope the fortune cookies get their interest and they have fun."
Instead of "Your future appears bright!" staffers can find the answers to 14 questions like: "What is a Code Red?" "Code Blue?" "Code Green?" "What's the theory behind smoke compartmentalization?" and "When will the Joint Commission visit?" Prizes will go to employees who wind up with all 14 answers.