If you're still torn between voting for Al Gore or George W. Bush and you happen to be a patient at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, you can rest a little easier.
As it has since the mid-1970s, the hospital mobilizes a corps of about 20 volunteers during election week to help patients cast absentee ballots.
Patients admitted to the hospital one day before the election will be given the choice of casting a vote as part of the admissions process. Both absentee applications and the ballots are sent to the Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder's office.
"It fits into the mission of the hospital to always offer compassion and caring," says Barbara Colner, director of Cedars' volunteer services department.
The service is apparently appreciated by a large segment of the patient population: According to Colner, 137 patients cast ballots through the hospital program in the 1996 presidential election.
Who you gonna call? Medicare's knocking at your hospital's door demanding repayment of an alleged overpayment, and you don't have a clue how to pay for it or how you'll survive the loss of Medicare income if you don't.
It could be a big problem. But now you can get insurance for it. Fort Lauderdale, Fla.-based Hull & Co., a national broker for New York City-based Fulcrum Insurance, is one of a handful of companies offering healthcare providers protection insurance. The policies cover provider legal expenses while fronting the government the alleged overpayments until a final settlement is resolved. That enables financially pressed providers to stay open and continue to receive Medicare and Medicaid payments in the interim.
Hull & Co. requires proof of financial stability and a billing compliance program to be eligible. Indemnity coverage limits range from $100,000 to $5 million, with copayments between 5% and 20% and deductibles starting at $1,000.
"Hull & Co. pays the Medicare bill right upfront and hopefully gets a complete reversal or a significant reduction in the amount of the demand," says Cynthia Zimmerman, Hull's professional lines account manager.
The policy is available in 47 states. Hull wouldn't reveal the number of clients it has.
Bogus billing. If you get a heating-repair bill from Starr Heating & Cooling, ignore it.
In what officials are calling a common scam, hospitals in at least 16 states--including more than 40 Ohio facilities--have gotten a bogus bill from the fictitious company.
The Ohio Hospital Association credits Anita Bloomfield, a supervisor at 47-bed Bucyrus (Ohio) Community Hospital, with uncovering the scheme and alerting the OHA, which warned Ohio's 175 hospitals by e-mail and fax.
Invoices from the phony Starr, each of which is dated Sept. 12 and lists identical charges of $2,103 in materials and $1,804 in labor, state it has offices in Chicago, Miami, Los Angeles and New York. It doesn't.
"It's a garden variety phony invoicing scheme," says William Mahon, president of the Washington-based National Health Care Anti-Fraud Association. "The presumption is something small and routine sometimes will go through the system and get paid."
New York-based U.S. Postal Inspector Michael Cinque, whose agency is looking for the culprits, agrees. "They want to get something that will slip under the radar." He adds, "In general, we can track them down."
Takes one to know one. Leave it to the surgeons who performed the nation's first hand transplant to appreciate--and promote--the true meaning of a "ghoulish" experience.
After all, surgeons at Jewish Hospital in Louisville, Ky., in February 1999 attached the left hand of a convicted killer to 37-year-old paramedic Matthew Scott.
Now, Jewish Hospital and its affiliated Kleinert, Kutz and Associates Hand Care Center are warning folks about another "ghoulish" experience--the threat of severe injury when kids take knives to pumpkins in the Halloween season.
"Small children should never handle a knife or other object with sharp blades," counsels Steven McCabe, M.D., of Kleinert, Kutz and Associates. "Parents can prevent painful or serious hand injuries by providing alternative decorating activities."
Take out. Hospital food sure has come a long way since the days of Jello and creamed spinach: Some people are now paying to take it home for dinner.
Yale-New Haven (Conn.) Hospital is offering a takeout service called Evening Express that was cooked up especially for its time-pressed employees.
The dinners, available in the hospital's main cafeteria from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, are packaged for easy microwaving at home. Menus are distributed throughout the hospital each day, and orders can be faxed in ahead of time.
"To tell you the truth, it's not a program that is going to make lots of money," says Chris Emerton, assistant director of dining services at the 735-bed hospital. "It's designed for working parents who have kids to pick up and don't have time to cook anymore. It's a nice, well-balanced meal instead of stopping at the Chinese place."
A typical evening's selection might include chicken breast with walnut pesto sauce, turkey with all the trimmings, even 16-inch pizzas baked to order. Side dishes and desserts--no Jello here--are also available. Combo meals including two side dishes are priced at $4.25.
The dinners aren't selling like hotcakes just yet. The cafeteria's been averaging about 30 meals nightly since the program was launched in late September. But Emerton is hopeful business will pick up. "Home meal replacement is the up-and-coming trend in food service."
If you say so.