Doctors who haven't repaid medical school loans under the federal Health Education Assistance Loan program are getting incentives to fork over the dough from HHS' inspector general's office. In addition to investigating Medicare and Medicaid fraud, it also helps collect debts from former medical school students. It released the results of its activities for the last six months of the fiscal year ending Sept. 30, a report that included the agency's Top 5 list of deadbeats.
The office squeezed a $303,000 settlement out of a New York dentist, one of 117 agreements reached in the six-month stretch. A Florida osteopath who agreed to pay $186,000 ranked second on the gotcha list, followed by a New Jersey podiatrist at $158,000; a Virginia podiatrist at $123,000; and a Virginia dentist at $120,000.
Your debt load may be heavy, but you really don't want to fool around with these folks. The investigators claimed 303 people were excluded from Medicare, Medicaid and other federal healthcare programs and had their cases referred for nonpayment of debt. Enforcers from the office are empowered to decertify providers from the programs as a last resort.
At least they won't find a horse's head in their bed.
Take the hint. Maybe physicians and other healthcare workers are just slow learners.
In December 1999, Duke University researchers released a study emphasizing the need for healthcare workers to wash their hands to stop the spread of hospital-borne infections.
Apparently, some people haven't quite caught on.
A December 2000 article detailed several studies and reports, including one from the Centers for Disease Control, that say the greatest lapse in hand washing occurred in the intensive care unit--you know, that part of the hospital that houses the sickest patients.
The lame excuses included the inconvenience of walking to the sink to properly lather up. Guess that carries more weight than the 2 million illnesses the CDC says are caused by less-than-sanitary hospital environments.
Maybe it's just a strange way to ensure job security.
Office space. The new year is here, but will it be a happy new year for WebMD Corp.? Analysts don't think so.
The consolidation continues at the Atlanta-based e-health heavyweight. Word was late last month WebMD was shopping for expanded office space for its Envoy claims processing unit while cutting short a five-year deal with DuPont that included the chemical maker sponsoring physician subscription fees to the WebMD portal.
Quoting sources outside the company, the Nashville (Tenn.) Business Journalreported that WebMD hired a real estate agent to handle the in-migration of as many as 300 WebMD employees from other locales and is looking to double the Nashville office space for Envoy. A WebMD spokesperson would not confirm the story but repeated a previous company announcement that it plans to consolidate its 13 data centers collected in a host of mergers, acquisitions and partnerships in the past two years.
Maybe they'll use all the money they saved on rent from the other locales to acquire the expanded space. But given the company's low stock price, maybe WebMD's new landlord ought to sign the company to a short-term lease.
A heartbeat away. While nothing is certain except death and taxes, it's a pretty safe bet that President-elect George W. Bush won't repeat his father's "read my lips" pledge. As for the death part, that's more of a vice presidential responsibility, at least according to a Johns Hopkins University heart specialist.
Cheney, 59, suffered cardiac arrest three prior times, all while representing Wyoming in Congress. He had quadruple-bypass surgery in 1988, and his November angioplasty followed another mild heart attack after the Nov. 7 election.
Simeon Margolis, M.D., writing in the medical Webzine Praxis Post last month, says that Vice President-elect Dick Cheney's coronary arteries "are an accident waiting to happen." He believes that Cheney is in no better condition than before the angioplasty.
While not quite predicting rigor mortis for the new veep, Margolis writes, "I'd be reassured if I knew that Cheney's blood pressure and cholesterol are well controlled, that he is taking heart-protective medications, that he will make a sincere effort to lose weight and that it's not diabetes that caused a heart attack at age 37."
We wonder if the White House staffers will start up an office pool on how long he lasts?