Four hospital associations are urging Congress to provide some regulatory stability for long-term acute-care hospitals with the hope that the U.S. House of Representatives will soon introduce a new bill. Both the House and the Senate introduced separate LTAC hospital bills earlier this year. Since then, the American Hospital Association, Acute Long Term Hospital Association, National Association of Long Term Hospitals and Federation of American Hospitals have joined forces to reach consensus on federal policy for LTAC hospitals, as they continue to assert that new patient and facility criteria are needed to ensure the right patients are treated in these facilities. LTAC hospitals meet the same requirements as general acute-care hospitals, but patients there have an average length of stay of 25 days or more.
The Hospital Quality Alliances Hospital Compare Web site unveiled its new national mortality rates for heart attack and heart failure last week. The new information alerts consumers on how heart attack and heart failure patients fared 30 days after being admitted to a hospital, including time spent outside of the hospital upon discharge. The new mortality data on the Web site will help patients choose the hospital thats best for them, said Richard Umbdenstock, president and chief executive officer of the American Hospital Association, a partner of the alliance. Umbdenstock attended a news conference unveiling the new data. The HQA announced in May that it would be publishing the data (May 26, p. 8)
The Department of Housing and Urban Development said it will release $74 million in community development block grants to Louisiana for a new academic medical center in New Orleans, but is requiring the state to address its concerns before providing the remaining requested funds. Late last year, the Louisiana Recovery Authority authorized a plan to allocate $300 million in federal funding for the center. In a letter to Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco, HUD Secretary Alphonso Jackson summarized his concerns and included a list of 25 questions about the plans to rebuild Louisiana State Universitys Medical Center of Louisiana at New Orleans. In 2006, LSU said it would build a new hospital in conjunction with the Veterans Affairs Department. Jacksons letter addressed concerns about the projected population, demographics, payer mix, utilization rate, availability of medical personnel and bed count. Another question addressed the reassignment of Don Smithburg, executive vice president and chief executive officer. Charles Zewe, spokesman for the LSU system, called the question silly, adding that LSU had an extensive system supporting Smithburg. Zewe also said that LSU will respond to the concerns promptly and thoroughly. Zewe said that the letter indicates Jackson read the CliffsNotes version because the questions demonstrate a profound lack of knowledge about the plan. Blancos office issued a written statement that said the Legislature has approved the business plan for this LSU teaching and research hospital and has answered these same questions to satisfaction. The statement also said that Blancos office will continue to work with all concerned parties to build a hospital suited to the states needs.
A judge in Hamilton County, Ohio, declined to further delay the departure of three hospitals fighting for more than a year to get out of the six-hospital Health Alliance of Greater Cincinnati. The alliance had asked Judge Fred Nelson to stay his June 13 order for the parties to begin settling accounts immediately, requesting time for an appeal to play out first. Nelson ruled April 16 that the hospitals470-bed Christ Hospital in Cincinnati, 217-bed St. Luke Hospital East in Fort Thomas, Ky., and 177-bed St. Luke Hospital West in Florence, Ky.had the right to quit the system. Earlier in the month, he entered a final judgment mapping out how they should divide their assets and liabilities, back-dated to the days last year when they said they wanted out (June 18, p. 20). Alliance spokeswoman Mary Beth Puryear said the system disagreed with the decision and may try to fight it. We are entitled to appeal the decision denying the stay and will be deciding whether to do so in the next few days, Puryear said.
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