Scully defends survey process
* CMS Administrator Tom Scully told Rep. Billy Tauzin (R-La.) last week that the agency's development of a patient satisfaction survey has been on the level, despite accusations suggesting otherwise by the Gallup Organization. After concerns were raised in Congress, Tauzin asked Scully and Carolyn Clancy, director of HHS' Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, to describe the project in detail and discuss potential conflicts of interest. The CMS is developing the patient satisfaction survey for a Medicare regulation it plans to issue later this year that would require hospitals to administer the survey and publicize results. In a lawsuit filed earlier this month, Gallup accused Scully of favoring National Research Corp. and intimidating a Gallup executive (See editorial, p. 22).
ANA: Smallpox bill falls short
* Despite expanded benefits, provider groups expressed some disappointment in the smallpox compensation bill headed to President Bush for signature after passing the Senate earlier this month. The bill would authorize up to $50,000 in annual compensation, with no lifetime caps, for participants in the federal government's smallpox-vaccination campaign who are permanently injured by the vaccination. In a written statement, American Nurses Association President Barbara Blakeney said lawmakers should have provided funding for education, prescreening and surveillance of healthcare workers who receive the vaccine.
Stark seeks lower copayments
* Rep. Pete Stark (D-Calif.) earlier this month introduced a bill that would reduce copayments for Medicare beneficiaries treated in hospital outpatient settings. With copayments for outpatient services as high as 55% for some beneficiaries, Stark said, action must be taken to ensure no one pays more than a 20% copayment. "This bill will reduce the inequitable costs that Medicare participants must pay for their healthcare," Stark said.