The National Committee for Quality Assurance added four measures to its industry-standard evaluation of health plans. The new measures from the accreditation group are aimed at encouraging physicians to step up efforts to manage the health of older adults and discouraging overuse of expensive imaging tests. Under its 2005 Health Plan Employer Data and Information Set, known as HEDIS, the accreditation group will evaluate whether Medicare beneficiaries have been asked and advised about the importance of physical activity for patients with problems such as high blood pressure, arthritis and osteoporosis. Other measures will track whether Medicare Advantage beneficiaries are regularly screened for glaucoma and whether heart-attack patients who are prescribed beta-blockers continue to take the drug for six months after the attack.
Grant funds Calif. report card
A new project in California aims to establish a statewide report card for hospitals. The California HealthCare Foundation announced a $240,000 grant to the Institute for Health Policy Study at the University of California, San Francisco. The institute has been charged with creating consensus on a comprehensive set of quality measures for all California hospitals and developing an implementation plan that will make the report card financially self-sustaining. Collaborators include the California Institute for Health Systems Performance, the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations and the National Quality Forum.
Aetna gets $740 million refund
Aetna, Hartford, Conn., will receive a $740 million federal tax refund, which the insurer said it would use to repurchase shares. The refund, approved by the Congressional Joint Committee on Taxation, relates to losses on businesses that Aetna sold during the 1990s, including a re-insurance unit acquired by Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. The refund will be recorded in the third quarter as income from discontinued operations. It will not affect income from continuing operations. Aetna has 13.3 million medical members.
Nassau Health gets acting CEO
Nassau Health Care Corp., East Meadow, N.Y., named Daniel Kane as its acting president and chief executive officer after the resignation last month of Richard Turan, who earlier in the year had settled ethics charges with a state commission. Kane, 61, has been president and CEO of 520-bed Englewood (N.J.) Hospital and Medical Center for the past 14 years. He was chosen to lead Nassau Health Care because of his experience in "dealing with large organizations requiring innovative management and fiscal stability," board Chairman Lawrence Gottlieb said in a news release. Kane has a one-year, $325,000 contract with the public benefit corporation, which oversees formerly county-owned facilities including 631-bed Nassau University Medical Center. After a three-year turnaround effort, the corporation is projected to lose $15 million on revenue of $500 million this year.