HARRISBURG, Pa. -- Patient mortality at Pennsylvania hospitals declined to 4.5% in 2005, from 4.6% in 2003, for 26 treatment categories being tracked, according to the Pennsylvania Health Care Cost Containment Council. During the same three-year period, the overall readmission rate for the conditions climbed to 19.2% from 18.6%, the council said in an annual report on hospital performance. Mortality decreased significantly in 10 of the 26 categories -- with the largest decline occurring in hemorrhagic stroke, where mortality fell to 30.1% in 2005, from 33.5% in 2003. Hemorrhagic stroke also showed the largest increase in readmission rates among the 19 categories for which there were three years of data, with readmissions rising to 18.7% in 2005 from 16% in 2003, the council said.
BOSTON -- Madeline Rhenisch became the first person to apply for a new insurance program that was created by Massachusetts' near-universal healthcare plan, which started accepting applications last week. The state's goal is to cover 515,000 uninsured by fiscal 2009, which starts July 1, 2008. Rhenisch is one of an estimated 65,000 individuals who earn less than 100% of the federal poverty level, $9,800, and could be enrolled into a plan with no deductibles and no premiums. On Jan. 1, the state is expected to start enrolling those who earn from 100% to 300% into state subsidized plans. In July 2007, the uninsured will be mandated to have insurance or face tax liens.
NEW YORK -- Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center last month celebrated the opening of a state-of-the-art research center, the establishment of a new graduate school and the founding of a research program in human oncology. The official opening of a new research complex named in recognition of a $100 million gift from Sloan-Kettering board member Mortimer Zuckerman nearly doubled the size of the 425-bed cancer hospital's research enterprise. The 23-story building is the first new research facility for Sloan-Kettering since 1989. A second phase of construction is now under way to build a connecting seven-story structure. One of the tallest laboratory buildings in the world, the 693,000-square-foot complex will cost an estimated $503 million.
NEW YORK -- The Starr Foundation, a private foundation with assets of approximately $3.5 billion, last month made a $100 million grant to create the Starr Cancer Consortium to coordinate the research efforts of five institutions in the fight against cancer. The five research institutions -- the Broad Institute, Cambridge, Mass.; Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, Long Island, N.Y.; and Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, Rockefeller University and Cornell University's Weill Medical College, all in New York -- will collaborate on research aimed at understanding cancer at its most fundamental levels, and develop new approaches to the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of many forms of the disease.