JCAHO offers ER standards
The Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations released for public comment a proposed standard to address emergency department overcrowding. The draft standard calls on hospitals to resolve what the JCAHO calls a growing crisis that puts patients at high risk of treatment delays or inadequate care. Proposed requirements include implementing plans to efficiently move patients through an organization regardless of patient volume; incorporating emergency room overcrowding into performance-improvement activities; using performance indicators to predict and monitor the capacity of areas that receive emergency patients; and planning for the care of patients placed in temporary beds. The deadline for submitting comments is June 2. A JCAHO committee will review comments before taking final action on the ER standard. If approved, the standard would take effect in January 2004.
CMS seeks Medicare increase
The CMS proposed increasing Medicare inpatient hospital payments in 2004 by 3.5%, or the same rate as inflation. At more than 900 pages, the proposed regulation was displayed in the Federal Register for a 60-day comment period that started May 9. Official publication of the proposed rule is set for May 21. For rehabilitation hospitals, the CMS proposed a 3.3% payment update and for skilled-nursing facilities a 2.9% increase. Those two proposed rules will be published in the May 16 Federal Register with a 60-day comment period having started May 8. Congress could mandate different rates before any of the final rules become effective. The CMS also proposed raising the outlier payment threshold to $50,645 from $33,560, a significant change that some lobbyists said would not survive the comment period.
Tenet's Barbakow forgoes bonus
Tenet Healthcare Corp. paid Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Jeffrey Barbakow $727,592 for the last seven months of 2002, but Barbakow received no bonus or stock options during the period, the company said in a securities filing. Santa Barbara, Calif.-based Tenet reported on executive compensation for the seven-month period as part of its switch to a fiscal year beginning Jan. 1 from one beginning June 1. For fiscal 2002, which ended May 31, 2002, Barbakow was paid $1.2 million in salary, a $4.2 million bonus and nearly $250,000 in other compensation and was granted options to buy 1.5 million shares of Tenet stock. Barbakow plans to give up his title as chairman and step down from Tenet's board immediately prior to the company's July 23 annual meeting, although he will remain CEO, the filing said (See related story, p. 8).