MONTPELIER, Vt. -- Gov. Jim Douglas last week proposed a five-year, $235 million plan for statewide healthcare coverage and reforms to focus medical care on chronic conditions. A 3% tax on health insurance premiums would raise an estimated $20 million, for a total annual funding pool of $47 million with federal matching funds. The state would spend $100 million over the five years on cost-control initiatives, including technology grants for providers. The plan would offer subsidized coverage for some of Vermont's 62,000 uninsured and strive to enroll others in Medicaid.
PHILADELPHIA -- Albert Einstein Healthcare Network and 166-bed Montgomery Hospital Medical Center, Norristown, Pa., are exploring a partnership that would include building a replacement hospital for Montgomery and expanding clinical services. Officials said last week they expect to complete discussions and win board approval by fall. Joining the Einstein network would improve Montgomery's access to capital, the hospital's president and chief executive officer, Timothy Casey, said in a news release. Montgomery lost $1.2 million on operating revenue of $86 million in fiscal 2004, a -1.4% operating margin, according to the Pennsylvania Health Care Cost Containment Council. The new hospital would be located near Montgomery's existing facility.
TRENTON, N.J. -- New Jersey healthcare facilities now must share information about employees who are incompetent or potentially criminal with the workers' prospective employers and the facilities will face monetary penalties if they don't. The Health Care Professional Responsibility and Reporting Enhancement Act, signed into law earlier this month by the state's acting governor, was created to prevent serial bad hires such as Charles Cullen, a former nurse who confessed to dozens of murders at a string of hospitals in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. The law protects healthcare facilities from lawsuits and legal liability, provided the information shared with prospective employers is germane to patient care and safety, said state Sen. Joseph Vitale, a Democrat who sponsored the legislation. It also requires criminal background checks as a condition of re-licensure for all healthcare employees involved in direct patient care. The New Jersey Hospital Association applauded the law, saying it protects the safety of patients while recognizing the rights of nurses and other healthcare practitioners.