I couldn't agree more with your editorial on drug prices ("It's time to look at Rx pricing," March 15, p. 18). Forget the re-importation issue. Get some USA drug czar to crack down on the prices the drugmakers charge here and at the same time control their price increases. We should also make some noise about those companies that are threatening the Canadian pharmacies with not shipping them drugs if they continue sending drugs to the U.S.
The CMS should implement some type of closed or restricted formulary and then you'll see PhRMA come running to the table with some competitive prices. Until we all stand together-managed care, the public, the CMS, physicians and local communities-the drugmakers will still be pounding their chests and keeping the wolves away from their doors.
Vice president of pharmacy
Oxford Health Plans
Fanning the flames
By printing Rich Egan's rather simplistic letter to the editor ("... ER docs are to blame ...," Feb. 23, p. 26) laying the blame for nationwide ER overcrowding problem on the ER physicians, you have unfortunately given credibility to a viewpoint that is simply inflammatory and polarizing and moves us no closer to solving a complex problem. I would much rather read letters that actually contribute to the discussion instead of launching disparaging remarks aimed at entire classes of professionals.
Medical director of emergency services
Lovelace Sandia Health Systems
Commentary offers hope
When I read Richard Henault's commentary titled "Race matters" (March 1, p. 34), I was so moved by the hope it brings. He hit the nail right on the head.
Being an African-American with a master's degree in healthcare services administration who hasn't had success finding a job in the healthcare field, I highly applaud the move taken by the American College of Healthcare Executives in collaboration with other organizations to help minorities enter the health management field.
When I graduated in 2000 with a master's degree in healthcare administration, I was so eager to put to use the knowledge and skills acquired during my graduate studies. But more than a year after I set out in my quest for a job in the healthcare administration field, I realized how frustrating it could be trying to get some kind of management job in the healthcare sector being of minority origin.
In addition to that, all the positions advertised required years of experience. I had just graduated but had experience in another area (teaching) and four years of military service in the Army as a medic. I wanted somebody to hire me and give me the opportunity to prove my worth. I even tried getting low-paying office jobs in healthcare settings, hoping to work my way up on the management ladder through hard work, and demonstrated efficiency and effectiveness, but I was always turned down on grounds that I was overqualified. I quickly realized that healthcare management was like a clique, almost impossible to belong to unless you were an insider. But how does one get "inside"?
Disappointed, I reverted to my undergraduate degree in foreign languages and was able to get a job teaching in a high school. Although I enjoy teaching, I would have very much liked to utilize my graduate degree and fulfill my dreams of being a health executive. The ACHE is taking a step in the right direction.
Aspiring healthcare management executive
Lost in translation
The story "Tough love for doc investors" (March 8, p. 10) reminds me once again that 40 years after immigrating into this country, I still suffer from language problems.
The story reports that physicians who have invested in specialty hospitals that compete head on with general hospitals at which they enjoy "hospital privileges" are suing these general hospitals when, after openly competing with those general hospitals, the latter revoke these physicians' privileges.
If the physicians are right, then why aren't "hospital privileges" called "physician entitlements"-like physicians' entitlement to use any general hospital they like as a free workshop for cases they don't want to accept in their competing specialty hospitals? Can someone please tell this little immigrant country economist from rural New Jersey just what he doesn't understand about the word "privilege"?
James Madison professor
of political economy
Princeton (N.J.) University
VHA study misrepresented
Thanks for covering VHA's research on physician competition with hospitals ("VHA: Keep doc investors at bay," March 8, p. 10). The article, however, misrepresented the study's findings. VHA does not advocate any particular strategy to address physician competition. The study presents three approaches our member hospitals are taking, noting that organizations may choose one or more of these approaches depending on their specific situation.
Additionally, VHA and its members recognize the long-standing value of hospitals and physicians finding common ground to meet the healthcare needs of their communities. VHA encourages its members to be proactive in establishing ongoing dialogue with physicians to address issues before they escalate into competition. Because of growing interest in this topic, VHA has posted the study's executive summary on our corporate Web site, vha.com.
Director of strategic planning
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