U.S. healthcare providers mobilize quickly to help victims of the Asian tsunami as the death toll climbs past 100,000. Some critics contend that U.S. government officials were slow to respond to the disaster and that aid was initially "stingy."
Two of the nation's largest hospital chains enter 2005 with legal settlements of allegations of unnecessary care and fraudulent billing. Tenet Healthcare Corp. agrees to pay $395 million to settle about 750 lawsuits by patients who claimed that they were subjected to unnecessary cardiac procedures at Redding (Calif.) Medical Center. HealthSouth Corp. signs a $325 million pact with the government to resolve a series of federal whistle-blower lawsuits claiming improper billing of Medicare.
The fraud trial of HealthSouth founder and former Chief Executive Officer Richard Scrushy gets under way in Birmingham, Ala.
The former CEO of Fletcher Allen Health Care, Burlington, Vt., pleads guilty to criminal charges of conspiring to hide the cost of a $367 milˆ¡ˆ¡lion expansion at the hospital.
The government reports that national healthcare spending growth dropped for the first time in seven years with a 7.7% gain in 2003, compared with 9.3% in 2002.
The U.S. Senate confirms Mike Leavitt, a former Utah governor and head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, as HHS secretary.
President Bush proposes a $2.57 trillion federal budget that largely protects Medicare but contains $60 billion in Medicaid spending reductions over a decade. Governors and other state officials express worries about the Medicaid provisions.
The CMS announces a pay-for-performance demonstration project for physicians.
Richard Scruggs and affiliated lawyers begin shifting litigation over uninsured billing to state courts after encountering roadblocks in the federal judiciary.
A federal jury fails to reach a verdict in a physician kickback case against Tenet's Alvarado Hospital Medical Center, San Diego, and its former CEO.
An American College of Physician Executives survey finds that most physicians are very or moderately concerned about what they perceive to be rampant instances of dishonesty, financial conflicts and unethical behavior in the U.S. healthcare system.
Ardent Health Services agrees to sell its 20 psychiatric hospitals to Psychiatric Solutions for $500 million in cash and $60 million in Psychiatric Solutions stock. The pact sets the stage for Ardent's transformation from a behavioral healthcare provider to an acute-care hospital company.
President Bush and Congress intervene in the Terri Schiavo case, sparking concern and protests from some providers who say the actions represent political intrusion into patient-provider decisions.
The CMS releases its first comparative hospital quality performance data on a consumer tool dubbed Hospital Compare.
Pope John Paul II, whose beliefs shaped Roman Catholic healthcare policies on respect for life and care of the poor, dies at the age of 84.
A report in the Archives of Internal Medicine condemns advertising trends among the nation's most prominent hospitals.
Mease Health Care System and Morton Plant Hospital Association in Florida announce they will try to merge after a 10-year experimental antitrust deal expires.
A report by HealthGrades finds the number of adverse patient-safety incidents is increasing in the nation's hospitals and the gap widens between the best performing hospitals and the worst.
Congress approves a $2.6 trillion fiscal 2006 budget plan that would trim $10 billion from Medicaid spending over four years.
The House Energy and Commerce Committee asks the 10 largest hospital companies to turn over records detailing bills sent to certain groups of patients at their facilities. The information was requested as part of an investigation of uninsured billing practices.
Raymond Gilmartin resigns as chairman, president and CEO of pharmaceutical giant Merck & Co. in the wake of controversy over its arthritis drug Vioxx.
The war between specialty hospitals and full-service community facilities heats up with a federal lawsuit in Kansas. A physician-owned specialty hospital complains that HCA's Midwest Division violated antitrust laws by conspiring to pressure managed-care companies to boycott the facility and drive it out of business.
Initial results of a three-year demonstration project by Premier and the CMS show pay-for-performance programs can result in better care and fewer costly complications.
The California Nurses Association takes a step toward becoming a national competitor to the American Nurses Association. It wins its first labor election outside California as Cook County, Ill., nurses voted to leave the ANA-affiliated Illinois Nurses Association to join a CNA offshoot.
Two powerful U.S. senators introduce a bill to ban physician referrals to specialty facilities in which the doctors hold a financial interest.
A coalition of not-for-profit experts and industry leaders presents a report to Congress with 120 proposals for improving accountability and transparency. It urges Congress to let regulators suspend charities' tax-exempt status and make it easier to go after governing boards that approve unreasonable compensation for CEOs.
The National Governors Association says it will not be part of the Bush administration's panel to devise ways to control Medicaid costs. The announcement came in the wake of a similar decision by Democratic lawmakers.
The U.S. Senate confirms Daniel Levinson as HHS' inspector general. The appointment had been held up by senators seeking various concessions from the Bush administration.
HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt effectively assumes the role as the nation's health information technology leader by serving as chairman of a new IT advisory commission.
HealthSouth announces a $100 million settlement with the Securities and Exchange Commission over allegations of accounting fraud. Meanwhile, jurors continue to deliberate in the trial of Richard Scrushy; they received the case on May 19.
It's revealed that Resurrection Health Care Corp., Chicago, has settled a lawsuit accusing one of the system's hospitals of overcharging uninsured patients and having collection agencies hound them. The settlement is thought to be the first in the country under state consumer fraud laws.
The healthcare industry is stunned as a federal court jury in Birmingham, Ala., acquits Richard Scrushy of all charges related to the multibillion-dollar fraud scandal at HealthSouth. An online poll of Modern Healthcare readers showed 96.5% disagreed with the verdict and 54.9% said it will likely increase law enforcement scrutiny of the industry.
UnitedHealth Group announces plans to acquire Medicare giant PacifiCare Health Systems in a deal valued at $9.2 billion. It is believed to be the second-largest such transaction in managed-care history.
The 40th anniversary of Medicare and Medicaid is observed as both programs wrestle with financial problems.
A new study finds that Americans pay more for healthcare than citizens of other nations because of high price tags for services, not because of malpractice settlements or other costs.
LifePoint Hospitals, on the heels of its $1.7 billion acquisition of Province Healthcare Co., says it will spend $285 million to add five more rural hospitals to its portfolio.
The Service Employees International Union breaks away from the AFL-CIO. Labor experts say the split could lead to more hard-line contract negotiations between hospitals and their workers.
HCA agrees to sell five hospitals to Capella Healthcare, a new company, for $260 million.
Hurricane Katrina strikes New Orleans and the Gulf Coast, causing a public health emergency and severely damaging the regional healthcare infrastructure. About two dozen hospitals in New Orleans are crippled and many are evacuated. Some say the disaster marks the worst episode of hospital damage and service disruptions in U.S. history. Private donations of money, medical supplies, services and manpower pour into the area, but the federal government as well as state and local officials are criticized for bungling the response.
Fitch Ratings becomes the first major organization to push not-for-profit hospitals toward full compliance with the Sarbanes-Oxley financial reporting law.
A judge rules Minnesota Attorney General Mike Hatch wrongly accused Medica directors of self-dealing and engineering a "sham election" to keep control of the Minnesota insurer.
Formation Capital makes a $1.86 billion offer for Beverly Enterprises, topping North American Senior Care's bid of $1.85 billion.
WellPoint announces it will pay $6.5 billion to acquire WellChoice, the New York-based parent of Empire Blue Cross and Blue Shield and the last independent, publicly traded Blues plan in the country. The deal is believed to be the fourth-largest in managed-care history.
HHS' Medicaid Commission issues six recommendations on how to cut Medicaid spending by $11 billion over five years. The proposals closely mirror those of the National Governors Association.
The Census Bureau reports that the number of uninsured Americans increased by nearly 860,000 to 45.8 million in 2004. Employment-based health insurance fell to 59.8% from 60.4% of the nation.
The Healthcare Leadership Alliance, a coalition of healthcare professional organizations, unveils an inventory of knowledge and skills it deems necessary for successful executives.
The Internal Revenue Service issues proposed regulations that would threaten the tax-exempt status of not-for-profit hospitals for committing excess-benefit transactions.
Accountability for patient safety during Katrina becomes an issue for providers. The Louisiana attorney general's office charges owners of a nursing home with negligent homicide for failing to evacuate the facility in violation of a mandatory order during the disaster. The office also said it will investigate Tenet's Memorial Medical Center in New Orleans, where 45 bodies were recovered after the flooding.
HCA finds itself in the spotlight as Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.), a member of the company's founding family, comes under official scrutiny for the sale of company stock ahead of a drop in share prices. The SEC also says it will investigate some sales by HCA executives.
GE Healthcare makes a big grab for the healthcare information technology market, saying it plans to acquire IDX Systems Corp. in a deal valued at $1.2 billion.
A Federal Trade Commission administrative law judge orders Evanston (Ill.) Northwestern Healthcare to divest one of its three hospitals, ruling that a 2000 merger gave the combined organization power to illegally control market prices. The decision is the first involving a completed hospital merger, and experts say it could lead federal and state officials to file more retroactive antitrust challenges.
Louisville, Ky.'s only Roman Catholic hospital and only Jewish health system announce plans to merge.
HCA says third-quarter profits fell short of expectations because of declining patient volume, an increasing percentage of uninsured patients and hurricane-related costs.
Hospital CEOs are again near the top of the annual compensation rankings for not-for-profit executives by the Chronicle of Philanthropy.
The Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations comes under fire over a data-mining arrangement between its subsidiary and the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. Critics are concerned about the commission's business activities and possible privacy violations through the use of patient-specific information.
General Motors Corp. and the United Auto Workers reach a contract agreement that would scale back healthcare benefits.
The scrutiny of not-for-profit organizations heats up as the IRS says it will send letters to a "significant number" of not-for-profit hospitals seeking information on executive compensation and community benefits.
Richard Scrushy finds himself in legal trouble again with the unveiling of a federal indictment charging him with bribing a former governor for a position on Alabama's Certificate of Need Review Board.
The U.S. subsidiary of a German quality-improvement organization says it wants to accredit U.S. hospitals, becoming a competitor to the JCAHO and the osteopathic hospital accreditation program.
President Bush unveils a $7.1 billion plan to prepare for a flu pandemic. Health officials generally applaud the plan, but some say not enough money has been allocated to states and localities to deal with an outbreak.
American Hospital Association data show aggregate profits at the nation's hospitals climbed to a record high in 2004 and the net profit margin hit a six-year high.
Providence Health System in Oregon agrees to settle a lawsuit on behalf of uninsured patients. The pact is the first to be proposed among 60 state lawsuits filed by a consortium of attorneys led by Richard Scruggs.
The CMS says it will write bonus checks for a total of $8.85 million to 123 hospitals in a groundbreaking pay-for-performance deˆ¡monstration project being coordinated by hospital alliance Premier.
A federal grand jury in New Orleans indicts Barry Scheur, founder of the Oath of Louisiana, and two former colleagues on charges of trying to conceal the crippled financial condition of the defunct health plan from state insurance regulators.
The Institute of Medicine calls for a universal set of measures to evaluate pay-for-performance plans.
Boston Scientific Corp. complicates the bidding war for Guidant by offering $25 billion, surpassing Johnson & Johnson's bid of $21.5 billion. Guidant officials say they will study the proposal.
HHS' inspector general says he intends to exclude South Beach Community Hospital in Miami Beach, Fla., from billing federal health programs. The government says the case marked the first time it had sought exclusion because a facility failed to comply with a corporate compliance agreement.
An independent Washington-based group says the hospital industry has not been very effective in planning for expected surges in patient volume after major disasters.
A new study concludes that pay-for-performance programs may be blocking access to healthcare for the poor.