The American Medical Association continued to get smaller, losing about 5,500 members in 2004, the fourth consecutive year its membership shrank, according to a report to be released at the organization's annual meeting in mid-June. While still the nation's largest doctors' group, the AMA saw its membership drop to 244,530 at the end of 2004, compared with about 250,000 at the end of 2003 and the most recent high of about 294,000 in 1999. Officials detected some good news in the numbers: Membership declined by 2.5% in 2004, less than the 3.7% drop in 2003. The final membership figure for 2004 fell from a midyear total of about 247,000. Dues revenue fell about $600,000 to $48.1 million, down 1.2%, meaning the average dues paid was about $196 per member, compared with the stated annual fee of $420 for a regular membership.
Yale-New Haven chief retiring
Joseph Zaccagnino, president and chief executive officer of 694-bed Yale-New Haven Hospital, said he would retire Sept. 30 after more than 35 years with the health system and hospital. A search was launched before the announcement and a successor should be named by Sept. 1, officials said. Zaccagnino, 59, joined Yale-New Haven in 1970 following graduation from the Yale University School of Medicine with a master's of public health in healthcare administration. He was appointed executive vice president and chief operating officer in 1978 at age 32 and became president and CEO of the hospital and its parent in 1991. Zaccagnino is the second prominent CEO to announce his retirement in the past week, following Robert Pallari, CEO of Legacy Health System in Portland, Ore. (See related story, p. 35).
CMS creates Office of Policy
The CMS will create an Office of Policy to support and coordinate significant agencywide policy initiatives, such as efforts to tie Medicare reimbursement to performance (See cover story, p. 6) and provide better information on cost and quality, CMS Administrator Mark McClellan said in an e-mail to staff. McClellan said the CMS faced a number of policy issues that cut across the responsibilities of existing CMS offices and he wanted to be able to draw on talent and insight from throughout the agency. Carol Kelly, who led the CMS' Office of Legislation and Policy from 1982 to 1986, will direct the new office and the CMS' recently created Policy Council. McClellan described the council as a "vehicle for the agency's senior leadership to develop our strategic policy directions and initiatives." Most recently, Kelly was executive vice president for federal legislative policy and healthcare system reform at AdvaMed, a trade association for medical technology companies.
No verdict yet from Scrushy jury
Jurors in the criminal trial of Richard Scrushy completed their seventh day of deliberations without reaching a verdict. During the week, jurors sent U.S. District Judge Karon Bowdre in Birmingham, Ala., two more notes saying they were having trouble reaching a unanimous decision, and the judge summoned the jurors and lawyers to the courtroom to clarify jurors' questions about a key conspiracy charge. The judge told the jurors they could consider the other 35 charges first. Deliberations were scheduled to resume May 31. The government contends that Scrushy, founder and former chief executive officer of Birmingham-based HealthSouth Corp., played a major role in massive accounting fraud. He is the first CEO to be tried under the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002.
Shulkin taking over at Beth Israel
Quality expert David Shulkin was named president and CEO of 1,080-bed Beth Israel Medical Center in New York. He will assume the post in July, succeeding Thomas Killip, who has been serving as interim president and CEO since 2002. Shulkin, 45, has been chief medical officer at 475-bed Temple University Hospital in Philadelphia since March 2004. Prior to joining Temple, he was chief quality officer and chairman of medicine for the Medical College of Pennsylvania Hospital, Philadelphia, and vice dean of the hospital's teaching affiliate, Drexel University School of Medicine. He also served for nine years as chief medical-quality officer for the University of Pennsylvania Health System, also in Philadelphia. Killip will continue his role as a member of the teaching staff of Beth Israel's cardiology division, officials said.
Shircliff takes top spot at Jewish
Bob Shircliff, senior vice president of Jewish Hospital HealthCare Services in Louisville, Ky., since 1991, has been named president and chief executive officer of the five-hospital system, the board of trustees announced. Shircliff, who joined the organization in 1985, succeeds Hank Wagner, a 32-year veteran of the system and its president for the past 25 years.
Nurse ratios poised for win?
California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger did not have the authority to relax the state's nurse-to-patient ratios, a state judge said in a preliminary ruling, indicating the California Nurses Association may win another legal victory in its campaign to enforce the law. Sacramento Superior Court Judge Judy Hersher issued the preliminary ruling before a hearing late last week. A final ruling was to follow the hearing. Hersher said Schwarzenegger and the state Department of Health Services overstepped their authority in November 2004 with an emergency regulation that eased certain provisions of the staffing law and delayed for three years a tightening of the medical-surgical ratio to one nurse for every five patients from one for every six. Hersher in early March issued a preliminary injunction blocking the emergency regulation. A Schwarzenegger administration official said the state would appeal if the judge upholds her preliminary ruling. The administration "strongly rejects" both the preliminary ruling and earlier injunction, the official said.