Regarding your cover story about American Hospital Association lobbyist Mary Beth Savary Taylor holding a fund-raiser for President Bush ("Mixing politics with pleasure," Oct. 6, p. 6), I have a question: What planet are you guys on?
Of course, Savary Taylor should personally help the president. I am delighted she is a pioneer. It helps all of us who represent hospitals in Washington. I would be shocked if she didn't help. I believe you have an incredibly naive attitude.
President and chief executive officer
Broydrick & Associates
I'll bet if Mary Beth Savary Taylor had been fund raising for one of the Democrats running for president you wouldn't have been the least bit upset.
I'll also bet the AHA and other lobbying organizations have people on staff who are involved in fund-raisers for numerous candidates--Democrats and Republicans--and I would bet your staff does too.
President and chief executive officer
Jackson County Memorial Hospital
If I was a member of the AHA I would be upset if its lobbyists weren't working hard to befriend the administration, regardless of who is in power.
Executive vice president
Regarding Christi Sulzbach's resignation as Tenet Healthcare Corp.'s general counsel and chief corporate officer ("Sulzbach to exit Tenet," Sept. 29, p. 4): Whatever she has or has not done, I'd like to point out that she took the initiative to put an end to one of the biggest physician-hospital kickback schemes ever.
In the late 1990s in southeast Florida, Tenet found it had inherited through an acquisition a kickback scheme that had persisted essentially unchallenged for 17 years. Sulzbach's proactive steps to end this practice showed a high degree of knowledge about and respect for federal regulations.
Health Capital Group
In reporting on Premier's May public disclosure of its equity interests, your article "Premier's portfolio" (Sept. 29, p. 20) says that our disclosure shows investments at levels "far more than the hospital alliance has acknowledged ... since last year." Unfortunately, your article could create the erroneous impression that Premier has not been forthcoming during inquiries into group purchasing activities or that it is not following the ethical standards it has already committed to.
Premier previously provided full information about its equity investments to the Senate antitrust subcommittee examining healthcare group purchasing and to HHS' inspector general's office for the audit mentioned in your article. That audit's focus was the reporting of contract administration fees and by its nature related only to those companies that had Premier group purchasing contracts involving such fees, not to any other investments of Premier.
In fall 2002, Premier fully adopted the best ethical standards related to group purchasing recommended by independent business ethicist Kirk Hanson, the only GPO to do so. It agreed not to hold a corporate equity interest in any participating vendor unless the acquisition of the equity interest demonstrably benefits the GPO's members by creating a source of a product or service where there is no other source, or very limited sources. It also agreed that any corporate equity interest in vendors or potential vendors should be fully disclosed to GPO members and the public.
To meet the public disclosure standards, Premier posted all of its equity holdings on its public Web site, premierinc.com. Our disclosure includes all equity interests held by Premier, including vendors of products or services that do not have a group contract and have not submitted a formal bid or offer to contract.
With respect to ethical standards, Premier is doing exactly what it committed to.
Senior vice president of alliance relations and strategic communications
Failure of oversight
Regarding your Oct. 7 Daily Dose item on a Baton Rouge, La., nursing home paying the biggest fine to date for failure of care: The truth is that half of the nation's nursing homes are defrauding the taxpayers by stating they give decent, life-sustaining care.
I found 36 news articles on one recent day concerning neglect, abuse, patients wandering and more Medicare fraud by nursing homes. In 29 of the stories the nursing home operators said something like, "We have the welfare of our patients as our main concern." If that were true we would not continue to read one horror story after another about bad care resulting from lack of supervision or trained staff.
After 23 congressional hearings in the past 25 years on nursing home neglect and abuse, wrongful deaths, false bankruptcies and fraud we still don't criminally prosecute those directly responsible-the owners and top executives of these companies.
Project on Nursing Home Oversight