So HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson and HCFA Administrator Thomas Scully want to put a friendlier face on HCFA by, among other things, giving it a new name. The pair took suggestions from HCFA employees recently, promising the winner a free lunch with Scully no less, but they didn't ask Outliers.
Well, even though they didn't ask, we have some suggestions, and if we win, we won't even demand the lunch. Among them:
* To appeal to its beneficiaries: the Office of Longevity Development, or OLD.
* To appeal to the younger people footing the bill: Eminem, for Medicare and Medicaid.
* To appeal to providers: Medical Enterprise Funding for the Indigent, Retired, Sickly and Terminal, or MEFIRST.
* To properly describe it, at least in the view of many providers: Central Healthcare Accounting Office Support, or CHAOS.
* To meet the goals of Thompson and Scully: Your Warm-Hearted Government Friends Who Pay Medical Bills.
As for the Medicare and Medicaid Agency, or MAMA, as Thompson has suggested, it may be in history's dustbin. Says Scully: "We did some polling, and it turns out that 99.9% of women think that's insulting."
Don't look now but someone's making money on the Web. The Internet is only beginning to be tapped for its ability to transform healthcare-automated reimbursements, Web-based doctor visits and online disease-management programs are just a few of the promises. But one prominent hospital, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York, is using the Web in another way entirely-to bring in cash.
And Outliers isn't talking about accelerated payments made possible by claims swooshing through cyberspace. It's actually much simpler: Sloan-Kettering is using the Internet to accept charitable donations.
In November 2000, Sloan- Kettering added the ability to process credit card transactions to its Web site, enabling visitors to contribute money without writing a check or leaving their homes. Since that time, the 437-bed cancer hospital has brought in some $7,000 per month from www.mskcc.org.
"We're thrilled," says Avice Meehan, Sloan-Kettering's vice president of public affairs. The Internet, she says, "is about access and making things convenient."
Although its income from the Web site is a tiny fraction of the $123 million in charitable contributions Sloan-Kettering raised last year, officials there are jazzed about the results. For example, some visitors to the site who prefer not to share their credit card numbers with the Web have followed up by calling the development office about sending a donation. "Some gifts that have resulted that way are of a substantial nature," Meehan says.
Outliers applauds Sloan-Kettering's ingenuity. With so many of the dot-coms in ashes, the prestigious cancer hospital is proving that the Web actually can make someone some money.
No ewes isn't always good news. Membership in the male-only hospital secret society the LAMBS will continue to be limited to rams only, according to a vote taken at an annual April meeting during the American Hospital Association convention in Washington.
The LAMBS (Lay Administrators Mutual Benefit Society) is a secret society of hospital CEOs formed in 1953 after nonphysician hospital administrators were excluded from a physician hospital administrators organization, the Medical Superintendents Club (Oct. 16, 2000, p. 88). The organization meets only once each year at a luncheon held during the AHA's national conference, where LAMBS members elect a new TIGER (The Illustrious Grand Exalted Ram); a "Wool Gatherer," or secretary; and a "Good Shepherd," whose sole function is to keep track of which members have passed away. The menu at the annual meeting? Lamb chops, of course.
In the past, the good ole' boys group has unsuccessfully attempted to admit women. In 1998, Stuart Wesbury, then the organization's unpaid chief executive, or TIGER, convened a meeting to change its membership policy to include women. It was finally put to a membership ballot in July 2000. Of the 142 members voting, 72 supported maintaining the males-only admission policy, with 70 seeking to join the modern world.
"The margin was small, but twice as big as the Supreme Court margin that made George W. president!" concluded a membership letter obtained by Modern Healthcare.
Since the vote hardly constituted a mandate, a group of women hospital executives was recruited last year and given the title Advisory Committee of Exceptional Woman Executives, or the EWE Committee. The group offered a plan for female membership during the LAMBS' April meeting, but the rams again decided to exclude the ewes 32-28.