In the annals of healthcare-related legislative acronyms, we've had OBRA, COBRA, TEFRA, HIPAA, BBA and finally, this year, RACER. We've even had bills that sounded vaguely like people's names, such as MERFA, which sounds a bit like "Murphy." But Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and ranking Republican Charles Grassley (Iowa) finally took the cake last week by dubbing their Medicare regulatory relief bill MARCIA.
Standing for the Medicare Appeals, Regulatory and Contracting Improvements Act of 2001, MARCIA was the first bill name that has made our sides ache with laughter as the press release announcing its introduction entered the Outliers electronic mailbox. Visions of the Brady Bunch entered our heads, swimming with the possibilities for new legislative acronyms drawn from the various members of the Brady clan:
* GREG, for the Geographic Reclassification Education Guarantee Act, to help those rural healthcare executives who don't know how to get the higher payments received by their urban brethren.
* PETER, for the PET Equity and Relief Act, allowing Medicare to reimburse providers for positron emission tomography imaging in a wider variety of diagnoses.
* JAN, for the Joint Action on Nursing Act, a multiagency effort to increase the number of nurses working in hospitals.
Even if nobody takes these suggestions, Baucus and Grassley have set a new standard in the world of acronym creation.
Music for the soul. Anyone who has daydreamed about how nice it might be to go through life accompanied by the heart-tugging tunes of a viola player would appreciate a new pilot program at UPMC Health System, Pittsburgh. Penny Anderson, a violist with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, performs in patient rooms from 9: 30 to 11: 30 every Monday morning in the transitional-care and rehabilitation units at UPMC Montefiore, part of 796-bed UPMC Presbyterian.
Anderson, who volunteers her time, works in conjunction with music therapist Aimee Kufman. Her job is to identify a hymn, Irish jig, ballad-whatever-that might touch a chord deep inside a patient and play it as the patient runs through an exercise or treatment with Kufman.
"If you can get a person to sing something or participate in music in a way that is meaningful to them, you can help them," she says. "It's kind of astounding in a short period of time how effective that can be."
A breast cancer survivor who endured three surgeries and four rounds of chemotherapy, Anderson says she volunteered her talents to UPMC after realizing how "hugely helpful" music was for her during her illness.
Center of power. In healthcare circles, Nashville is known for being home of the for-profits. HCA is the biggest by far, and overall, the area boasts 220 multistate, national or international healthcare companies, 21 of them publicly traded, according to the Nashville Health Care Council.
But why not add a not-for-profit heavy hitter? That question was raised at a recent news conference to announce the acquisition of four-hospital Baptist Hospital System by another Nashville not-for-profit, Saint Thomas Health Services. Like Saint Thomas, the new, still-unnamed hospital system would be sponsored by Ascension Health, a 54-hospital Roman Catholic system based in St. Louis. During a question-and-answer session, an attendee asked Doug French, president and CEO of Ascension, if he would consider moving the system's headquarters to Nashville.
French noted his own Nashville connection, having worked eight years at Saint Thomas, but he said that moving the headquarters would disrupt the lives of the 200 Ascension employees in St. Louis.
"While I personally would love to be in Nashville-I don't know if Tom (Beeman, president and CEO of Saint Thomas) would like that," French said, prompting hearty laughs from the audience, "We're going to stay in St. Louis."
Congrats Yale-New Haven! The U.S. Department of Labor recently honored seven organizations for their commitment to recruiting and promoting minorities with the Exemplary Voluntary Effort Award. And although the healthcare industry represents about 13% of the economy, 722-bed Yale-New Haven Hospital is only the second healthcare provider ever to receive the EVE award, which since 1983 has recognized organizations that encourage cultural diversity.
"We value the diversity of our team as well as the diversity of the patients we serve, and strive to create an environment that rewards personal contribution and enables each individual to achieve his or her full potential," Joseph Zaccagnino, president and CEO of Yale-New Haven, said in a written statement.
The Labor Department cited the Connecticut facility's employee assistance program, which provides support for employees coping with acute home- or work-related problems; its dedicated employee relations department; and its "Consulting Pairs" program, which helps employees resolve conflicts, as reasons for deserving the award.