Second CON a charm?Nemours,Jacksonville, Fla., filed a second certificate-of-need application in its effort to build a $260 million, 95-bed children’s hospital in Orlando, Fla. The Florida Agency for Health Care Administration, which rejected the first application, is expected to make a decision on the second CON by mid-December. Nemours is appealing the initial denial. Nemours says it adjusted its second CON application "to better explain our proposed children’s hospital and its benefits to the central Florida community." Nemours, a pediatric specialty group, owns four specialty centers in Florida and Wilmington, Del., and 172-bed Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children, Wilmington.
Indiana docs get go-aheadA $20 million physician-owned hospital in Clarksville, Ind. , received planning commission approval after a federal judge last year overturned a protective county law. Construction on the 60-bed Kentuckiana Medical Center , a general acute-care hospital, is expected to begin shortly. The for-profit hospital, owned by 25 physicians, is scheduled to open within two years. At least five Indiana counties had passed moratoriums or local certificate-of-need laws restricting hospital projects after physicians proposed building facilities that would compete with local hospitals. Federal judges struck down the laws last year.
New head for clinic hospitalsThe Cleveland Clinic named Fred DeGrandis as president and chief executive officer of its eight regional hospitals, a leadership restructuring that consolidates oversight of the hospitals. DeGrandis, 56, will report to Cleveland Clinic President and CEO Toby Cosgrove, M.D. The clinic previously had divided the hospitals into eastern and western regions. DeGrandis was CEO of the three-hospital western region. The position held by Thomas Selden, who was head of the four-hospital eastern region, has been eliminated.
Pediatrix settles billing casePediatrix Medical Group, Sunrise, Fla. , will pay $25.1 million to settle civil Medicaid fraud allegations that it upcoded claims for neonatal intensive-care services from 1996 until 1999. Pediatrix, which denied the allegations in the settlement, also signed a five-year corporate integrity agreement with HHS’ inspector general’s office. The publicly traded company provides services to hospital neonatal intensive-care units. The government alleges that as many as one-third of infants weren’t critically ill when admitted to the ICUs and about half of infants weren’t critically ill during subsequent treatment, although Pediatrix billed as if they were.
Med school enrollment upFirst-year enrollment in U.S. medical schools edged up slightly—by 2.2%—in 2006 for the second straight year, reaching an all-time high of 17,340, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges. The increase is a small step toward a long-term resolution of an expected future shortage of physicians, AAMC President Darrell Kirch, M.D., says. The AAMC, which represents all of the nation’s 125 accredited medical schools, has called for a 30% increase in medical school enrollment by 2015. Twenty-eight medical schools boosted first-year enrollment by 5% this fall. Kirch says the AAMC data also show greater student diversity.
Judge won’t dismiss hospital tax caseA U.S. District judge in Chicago refused to dismiss a lawsuit brought by the University of Chicago Hospitals seeking $5.5 million in employer tax refunds from the Internal Revenue Service. The judge is the third to refuse federal requests to dismiss lawsuits involving taxes paid for medical residents under the Federal Insurance Contributions Act. In July and August, federal courts refused to give summary judgments for cases involving 448-bed University Hospital, Cincinnati, and the Center for Family Medicine at the University of South Dakota, Sioux Falls . In all three cases, the hospitals contend that medical residents are students and exempt from FICA taxes.
Specialists see better pay in ’05Median compensation for specialty physicians rose to $316,620 in 2005, a one-year increase of 6.6% and a 20.3% jump since 2001, according to an annual survey by the Medical Group Management Association. Primary-care physicians saw slightly slower compensation growth. Their median compensation hit $168,111 in 2005, a 3.9% increase from the previous year and a 12.8% rise since 2001. Doctors’ work volume as measured by gross charges also rose, a sign that physicians are boosting productivity, the MGMA says. From 2004 to 2005, specialists’ gross charges rose 6.5% and primary-care physicians’ gross charges increased 6.8%.
Docs sue to protect surgery centerPeoria (Ill.) Day Surgery Center accused 593-bed OSF St. Francis Medical Center of antitrust violations in a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court, Peoria . The surgery center alleges that the Peoria-based hospital used boycotts, tying arrangements and exclusive contracting in an attempt to monopolize outpatient surgeries. The center performed about 4,770 surgeries in 2004, or about 14% of the market, according to the lawsuit. St. Francis and St. Francis’ ambulatory surgery center performed about 14,600 surgeries in 2004, or about 42% of the market, according to the lawsuit. A St. Francis spokesman says the hospital does not comment on pending litigation.