RENSSELAER, N.Y.Federal reimbursement favors insurance companies over hospitals and health systems, according to a new report released by the Healthcare Association of New York State. According to the report, Falling Behind: Medicare Hospital Payment Policy in New York, the states cumulative Medicare hospital rate increase has been held to 15.4% over the past 10 years while costs for providing care increased by 43.2%. Meanwhile, during the past 10 years, the rates paid to New York Medicare Advantage plans increased 62.6%, the report said. HANYS blamed the failure of payments to keep up with costs for resulting in 56% of New York hospitals losing money, breaking even or operating with margins less than 1%. New Yorks hospitals face consistent, dramatic cost increases every year: for staffing, for operations, for upgrading equipment, and for providing the life-saving care communities demand, HANYS President Daniel Sisto said in a news release.
MALDEN, Mass.The Cambridge Health Alliance, an academic public health system serving the greater Boston area, was set to open the Malden Family Medical Center to patients on June 18. The primary-care facility will provide pediatric, adult and senior care and will serve as an anchor to the alliances forthcoming 75,000 square-foot ambulatory-care center in Malden. It will be staffed by 80 employees, including a team of 30 faculty members and residents from the Tufts University family medicine residency program. Care in womens and sports medicine will also be provided at the Malden center. Developers broke ground on the new family medicine center late last year. Plans for the larger ambulatory-care center are still being completed.
BOSTONThe findings of a report released last week by the New England Healthcare Institute indicate that growing rates of preventable chronic illnesses are as much a threat to the economic well-being of greater Boston as they are to the health of its individual residents. According to the report, titled The Boston Paradox: Lots of Health Care, Not Enough Health, the region is spending so much to treat preventable chronic diseases such as diabetes and obesity that the continued financing of other important social-needs areas, like the development of affordable housing and quality education, are at risk. Really, the thrust of the report is that in Boston, we have the highest per capita spending on healthcare, said NEHI President Wendy Everett, who noted such spending means theres less public and private money to go toward developing quality education and affordable housing. And because we have such high-cost housing, were looking at losing some 200,000 residents between the ages of 35 and 44 over the next decade, Everett said. As a result, in the coming years greater Boston will have a population that is sicker, poorer and less economically competitive than it currently is if changes arent made in the focus of the areas healthcare spending, she said. Weve got to create some more effective community interventions that prevent the development of chronic diseases in the first place, Everett said. But right now, we have this rising level of healthcare resources being poured into treatment of diseases.
BOSTONMassachusetts General Hospital has received state approval for a $498 million expansion that will include a new building, surgical suites, patient beds and an expanded emergency department. There are (patient) capacity issues, and the focus here is solving the problem of ambulance diversion and providing beds, said David Hanitchak, Massachusetts Generals director of planning and construction. The project was unanimously approved by the Massachusetts Public Health Council and is to date the states most expensive hospital construction project. Hospital officials expect to begin demolishing existing campus facilities late this year and break ground on a new, 10-story building by May 2008. It should be ready by mid-2011, Hanitchak said. The project will increase the hospitals operating rooms from 52 to 71 and patient beds from 902 to 1,052. It will also retool the emergency department. Well have a whole new trauma area and a different entry system, Hanitchak said. The new surgical suites will be as generic as possible, but will include orthopedic and neurology specialty suites, he added. The patient rooms will include space for visiting family members, and construction will also address traffic flow and parking problems. We plan to make this as green a building as possible, Hanitchak said. The nearly half-billion-dollar price tag includes the cost of new equipment and furniture to outfit the facilities. The state funding agreement requires Massachusetts General to donate $18.6 million to 26 community initiatives, including community health centers, and drug- and violence-prevention programs.
NEEDHAM, Mass.Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital-Needham, a branch of Bostons 503-bed Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, has begun fundraising efforts for a $30 million expansion, which, pending city approval, will begin in December, according to hospital officials. The medical center affiliated with (the Needham hospital) three years ago, and when we arrived, Needham had low census and was losing money, said Jeffrey Liebman, president and chief executive officer of Beth Israel-Needham. Now weve added about 40 new doctors in the last four years, and thats driving patient volume. Weve seen double-digit growth in our discharges and a 6% to 8% increase in our emergency department visits. Weve literally outgrown this space. The expansion, Liebman explained, will add much-needed capacity to the hospital, which has seen its emergency room activity jump 23% to 12,700 in 2006 from 10,300 visits in 2002. Outpatient visits increased to 97,000 from 70,000, or 39%, during that same period. The project will add 24 single-bed private rooms to the currently 41-bed hospital, and will also increase its ER capacity and improve its radiology facilities. Of the $30 million needed to complete the expansion, $18 million will come from an upcoming bond offering. An additional $5 million will come from donors and the remaining $7 million from Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, according to hospital officials.
NEW YORKHenry Amoroso was selected as president and chief executive officer of St. Vincent Catholic Medical Centers as the New York health system is poised to emerge from bankruptcy protection. Pending the approval of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court overseeing the case, he will assume his responsibilities in July, succeeding Guy Sansone, a managing director at turnaround firm Alvarez & Marsal who was acting president, CEO and chief restructuring officer for the past 18 months. Officials said Sansone has agreed to become a member of St. Vincents board and will work with Amoroso to ensure a smooth transition. Amoroso has served as president and CEO of Catholic Health and Human Services, an enterprise that manages three-hospital Cathedral Healthcare System in Newark, N.J., Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Newark and Mount Carmel Guild Behavioral Health System as well as Trinity Management and Technology, which provides corporate services support to each of those enterprises. St. Vincent officials said Amoroso has strong credentials in philanthropic efforts and also has a track record of working with elected officials on critical healthcare policy issues.
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