House leaders were set to introduce the Childrens Health and Medicare Protection Act, which includes $50 billion over five years for the federal State Childrens Health Insurance Program and a two-year Medicare payment increase for physicians. Privately though, theyre preparing a more streamlined bill that would strip out some of the costlier Medicare provisions as a backup measure. The move comes after the Senate Finance Committee defied a presidential veto threat in passing a $35 billion bill to reauthorize and expand the SCHIP. But all along the House has plotted a different legislative blueprint for the expiring SCHIP, according to Washington lobbyists. Not only would the House eliminate a scheduled 10% physician payment reduction, but it also would bring payments to Medicare Advantage plans closer to those of traditional Medicare, among other changes, according to a source familiar with the House plan.
Pennsylvania hospitals, nursing homes and ambulatory surgery centers must expand infection-control prevention and surveillance under a new law that offers financial incentives starting in 2009 to healthcare facilities that curb infection rates. Under the law signed by Pennsylvania Gov. Edward Rendell, providers must draft prevention and control plans for infections acquired in hospitals, nursing homes or surgery centers, and file plans with state health officials. Hospitals, which already report such infections to the state, must now report data to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. By Dec. 31, each hospital must evaluate the cost and logistics of adopting an electronic infection-surveillance system and adopt such a system no later than Dec. 31, 2008. The law includes provisions for hospitals unable to meet the 2008 deadline.
A circuit court judge in Sangamon County, Ill., on July 20 sided with 128-bed Provena Covenant Medical Center in its long battle to reclaim the property-tax exemption it lost four years ago, as well as the $6 million in taxes it paid as a result. Judge Patrick Londrigan listened to oral arguments last week and ruled from the bench in favor of the Urbana, Ill., hospital. The judge was prepared, said Patrick Coffey, a partner in the Chicago office of Lord, Bissell & Brook representing Provena. Hed obviously spent a good deal of time reading the material. Londrigan did not explain his decision, Coffey said. The Champaign County (Ill.) Board of Review recommended in 2002 that Covenant lose its exemption, arguing that its billing and collections practices were out of line with its charitable mission. The Illinois Department of Revenue complied, and late last year Revenue Director Brian Hamer affirmed the decision. Six-hospital Provena challenged the decision in Sangamon County because its the home of the states capital city, Springfield. Were overjoyed, Provena spokeswoman Lisa Lagger said. I think Provena has always at its core lived its mission. Since losing the exemption, Covenant has paid about $6 million in property taxes, which the state would have to pay back if the ruling stands. Hamer spokesman Mike Klemens said the department hadnt determined its next step. Well review the transcript and then decide whether to appeal.
The Massachusetts Hospital Association has tapped Lynn Nicholas, former head of the American Diabetes Association, to take over as president and chief executive officer. Nicholas, 53, will replace the associations interim president and CEO, Robert Gibbons, who took over in January after Ronald Hollander resigned the post. Nicholas is expected to start within a months time. In addition to leading the American Diabetes Association for 2½ years, Nicholas is also former head of the Louisiana Hospital Association and former executive vice president and chief operating officer for the New Jersey Hospital Association. In a 2005 commentary in Modern Healthcare, Nicholas criticized hospitals for not aggressively controlling blood-glucose levels in patients (Nov. 14, 2005, p. 24).
HCA, Nashville, closed a deal to sell its two Geneva hospitals to private equity firm Colony Capital, Los Angeles. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. The two parties entered into a definitive agreement May 29. With the sale of Clinique de Carouge and Hospital de la Tour, HCA owns 170 hospitals, including six in London, said Colonys spokesman Ed Fishbaugh. Clinique de Carouge and Hospital de la Tour are licensed to operate 40 beds and 165 beds, respectively, he said.
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