FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla.--Florida's HMOs lost $175.8 million last year, their worst annual deficit ever and about $31 million more than expected. The health plans were last profitable in aggregate in 1996, when they made $42.2 million. Last year's loss was almost triple the HMOs' worst previous performance, when they lost $64 million in 1997. The figures were released by the state late last month.
CHARLOTTE, N.C.--The Duke Endowment, one of the nation's largest private foundations and a benefactor of not-for-profit healthcare organizations, has elected Erskine Bowles as one of its trustees. Bowles, who was President Clinton's White House chief of staff from November 1996 to November 1998, is managing director and general partner of Carousel Capital, a Charlotte-based merchant bank he co-founded. He also is a general partner with New York private equity firm Forstmann Little. Bowles held a variety of positions in the Clinton administration, including assistant to the president and deputy chief of staff. The Duke Endowment in 1999 approved more than $83 million in grants, including $4.6 million to 878-bed Duke University Medical Center in Durham, N.C.
COLUMBIA, S.C.--Hospitals are responsible for the actions of doctors, even if those doctors are not employees, the state Supreme Court has ruled. On June 5, the court unanimously said hospitals can be sued for medical errors made by doctors who are independent contractors. In the opinion, Associate Justice John Waller Jr. wrote that the court's decision applies to any doctor who "reasonably appears to be a hospital employee." The ruling could affect hospitals that use independent doctors, said lawyer J. Edward Bell III, whose clients sued 239-bed Tuomey Regional Medical Center in Sumter, S.C., for alleged medical errors that contributed to the death of one man and resulted in injuries to another. The lawsuit said Tuomey's contract emergency-room doctors from Coastal Physician Services made the errors. In both cases, the plaintiffs claimed they didn't know the doctors were not hospital employees. Lawyers for Tuomey could not be reached for comment.
WASHINGTON--Mayor Anthony Williams has removed four members from the board of Public Benefit Corp., a quasi-independent agency that runs 250-bed District of Columbia General Hospital and community clinics. Williams has appointed five new members, including one to fill a vacancy. The agency has lost $90 million during the past three years, and a consultant recently recommended firing the agency's top management and laying off 300 of its 2,000 employees.
NORTH LITTLE ROCK, Ark.--Once signs and stationery have been printed, Baptist Memorial Medical Center will officially get its new name. The 200-bed hospital will become Baptist Health Medical Center, North Little Rock, reflecting the name of its parent system, Little Rock-based Baptist Health. Russ Harrington, president of five-hospital Baptist Health, said the system board decided last year to incorporate the system name into all its hospitals. It didn't modify the North Little Rock facility's title earlier because it wanted to keep changes to a minimum as the hospital relocated. Baptist Health also runs hospitals in the Arkansas cities of Arkadelphia, Heber Springs and Little Rock. In addition, it has a rehabilitation institute in Little Rock.
ANNAPOLIS, Md.--A team of trial and consumer rights attorneys has filed class-action lawsuits against five HMOs that operate in Maryland, alleging that the HMOs improperly double-billed some members. The complaints, filed in Maryland State Court, name as defendants Aetna U.S. Healthcare, CareFirst Blue Cross and Blue Shield, Kaiser Foundation Health Plan, MD-Individual Practice Association and Prudential Health Care Plan.