A day after the Institute of Medicine said increasing racial diversity in healthcare is in the nation's "compelling interest," Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) promised to introduce legislation to address both disparities in care and in representation in the industry. The IOM report-arguing that diversity is associated with better access to care for minorities, among other benefits-explored strategies to reduce barriers to increasing diversity. Meanwhile, Frist released a summary of legislation he said he would introduce this week. He outlined five areas of focus: uniform measures of healthcare quality; grants for improving access to care and education; a greater role for HHS' Office of Minority Health; funding to increase the number of minority providers and foster cultural sensitivity in the profession; and research on the sources of disparities.
Idaho hospital targets five docs
A hospital in Idaho Falls, Idaho, revoked the privileges of five doctors associated with a nearby physician-owned rival. The board of 280-bed Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center, an HCA hospital, excluded the physicians for violating a 16-month-old policy, hospital spokeswoman Amy Stevens said. The five were excluded after the hospital analyzed blind data from all 187 physicians with privileges, Stevens said. The physicians are associated with 20-bed Mountain View Hospital, a 2-year-old, physician-owned facility in Idaho Falls that recently received certification from the CMS as a general acute-care hospital. The physicians are looking at their legal options, said Dennis Tolman, Mountain View's chief executive officer. In a Jan. 30 letter to the community, Eastern Idaho's board said it had made the "hard decision" to revoke the physicians' privileges "because they chose to compete in a way that broke our privileging rules, and in a way that can't be reconciled with what's best for the community."
Symbion launches IPO
Surgery center chain Symbion, Nashville, said it expects to raise a net amount of $97.2 million from an initial public offering and will use the money to repay debt and pay shareholders. The company, which operates 39 surgery centers in 19 states, first filed for an IPO in May 2002 but withdrew the application in April 2003, citing market conditions. Its shares will trade on the NASDAQ stock exchange under the symbol "SMBI." Some 7.2 million shares are being offered at an initial price of $15 per share.