Bravo! Modern Healthcare has once again braved the slings and arrows of many who would prefer that stories on healthcare industry indictments, fraud and other indicators of chronic misbehavior be less visible (Nov. 4, Modern Healthcare Alert on the indictment of Richard Scrushy).
HealthSouth Corp.'s executive greed is only the latest of more than two decades of un-interrupted stories of fraud, screwball mergers and de-mergers, personal gain at the expense of purchasers and consumers, and corruption.
Perhaps it is time for a Health Care Hall of Shame to honor those who have stolen so much from so many. The selection process would require the massive commitment of evaluation resources among hundreds, if not thousands, of qualified prospects.
Indeed, if an objective scorekeeper were keeping tabs on crimes most devastating to Americans, healthcare industry miscreants would be way ahead of the more publicized, hence infamous, Wall Street criminals.
Indeed, the diversity, creativity, scope and systemic nature of healthcare fraud, conflicts of interest and corruption put the Wall Street investment community's limited, garden-variety fraud schemes to shame.
We must ensure that healthcare industry wrongdoers receive their just and well-deserved exposure as the nation's most resourceful and arrogant perpetrators of white-collar crimes.
Chairman and chief executive officer
A wounded system
After reading "Not yet" (Oct. 20, p. 14), about a $470 million settlement reached by Aetna and physicians who claimed to have been shortchanged, I was disgusted.
These huge insurance companies, vicious dogs unleashed by the Hillary Clinton healthcare reform debacle, have systematically raped the American healthcare system, doctors, patients and hospitals for more than a decade, stealing billions of dollars and supplying a bare minimum in return.
The patients cannot be compensated for their lack of care, humiliation and denied procedures, but somehow the physicians should be fully compensated for every nickel that was stolen, cheated and extorted from them.
Cry for our wounded system!
Freeman Cancer Institute
Blues still care
In your Nov. 3 cover story article, "Meet the new WellPoint" (p. 6), Robert McCann, former vice president and associate general counsel of the American Hospital Association, is quoted as saying "Blues plans see themselves as any other insurer and not as a community resource." That's wrong.
As a 33-year veteran in the Blue Cross and Blue Shield system, including serving as a chief executive of a plan and board member of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association for 11 years, I can tell you unequivocally that the vast majority of Blues plans view themselves as an important community asset and engage in a continual search for sustainable, contemporary expressions of their community legacy.
In a pluralistic, competitive market, Blues plans can't be expected to be the sole "insurer of last resort" or to uniquely cross-subsidize elements of the population.
It is not a sustainable strategy. Just because we have had to evolve (as the context in which we operate has changed) doesn't mean we have walked away from our roots. Most of us remain very proud to operate our companies as private, not-for-profits serving the needs of our customers while behaving as an important community resource.
Bill Van Faasen
Chairman, president and CEO
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Massachusetts
New coding system needed
I am dismayed by the resistance of the national Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association to a new healthcare coding system ("Final push," Sept. 29, p. 14).
Sure, ICD-10-CM would cost money to implement, but as we have a healthcare system driven by coding for reimbursement, an updated and improved system is needed. More information about coding and clinical data uses and applications should be provided to the public.
Coding/health information compliance
Catholic Healthcare West
I am just catching up on my professional reading, and came across your Sept. 29 cover story on the 20th anniversary of DRGs ("It was 20 years ago today," p. 6). The article is the best overview I have seen of the key policy issues that drove the creation of the prospective payment system 20 years ago and continue to influence the ongoing tinkering we see today.
I plan to introduce this article as required reading for my health policy students in the future so they will be able to put this dominant approach to healthcare financing into a historical perspective that many of them, unfortunately, lack.
Associate professor (adjunct)
Western Michigan University
We were first
As the person in charge of organizing conferences for the Federation of American Hospitals, I read with interest your recent article about "reverse exhibitions" ("Trading places," Oct. 20, p. 6).
What I said to your reporter-and what was not reflected in my quote-is that the federation's exposition committee plans to discuss the possibility of inviting integrated delivery networks to our annual meeting.
Indeed, the federation has been conducting "reverse exhibitions," albeit with group purchasing organizations, since 1989, well before the concept was adopted by NCI.
Senior vice president
Federation of American Hospitals
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