Tenet Healthcare Corp., Dallas, said its North Ridge Medical Center, Fort Lauderdale, Fla., is for sale. The company prefers other growth opportunities to spending its capital on North Ridge, and believes that another local operator could more easily take advantage of those opportunities, Tenet spokesman Steve Campanini said. The hospitals financial performance also was a factor in the decision, Campanini said. The 391-bed hospital lost $39.3 million on $90.5 million in net revenue in 2006, according to the American Hospital Directory. Tenet paid $22.5 million in 2004 to settle federal fraud charges related to purchases of physician practices.
For-profit chain Community Health Systems will acquire all operating assets of Empire Health Services, a Spokane, Wash., not-for-profit system that includes two acute-care hospitals. The terms of the agreement were not disclosed. The 287-bed Deaconess Medical Center-Spokane, 98-bed Valley Hospital and Medical Center, also in Spokane, and four outpatient clinics and ancillary services are all included in the deal. It is one of the largest private employers in the region. Negotiations over the sale of Empires assets began prior to Community Health Systems $6.97 billion acquisition of Triad Hospitals, which was finalized in July, said Wayne Smith, Community Healths chairman, president and chief executive officer, in a written statement. The agreement is subject to approval by Washington state regulators and is expected to close in the first quarter of 2008. Community Health made a $100 million capital commitment over the next five years toward facility improvements at Empire.
Arizona senator and GOP presidential hopeful John McCain outlined a multipronged platform for healthcare reform, saying that American families and neither government nor special-interest groups would drive the change. Under McCains plan, individuals would have increased access to actual healthcare cost information, and would receive much more simplified bills for the care they receivemoves meant to bolster consumer awareness and spark providers to drive for higher quality and better-managed care. He also said provider-payment reforms are needed. McCain, who has built his platform on traditional, conservative free-market principles and less dependence on federal dollars, said he would give individuals a tax credit of $2,500, or $5,000 for families, if they have health insurance.
The CMS needs to step up its activities to protect the Medicare Part D program from fraud and abuse, according to a report from HHS inspector generals office. In analyzing the safeguards the agency took during fiscal 2006, the inspector generals office found that the CMS relied largely on complaints to identify potential fraud and abuse in the Part D program. However, not all of these complaints were investigated in a timely manner. In particular, the office identified several weaknesses to the effective oversight of the program. The agency responded that many of its activities already satisfy the recommendations. The CMS went on to say that the report didnt fully explain the workload involved with developing and administering the benefit in its first year, and that processes have improved with time since then.
United Auto Workers, or UAW, members ratified a four-year collective-bargaining agreement with General Motors Corp. that includes establishing an independent trust fund to pay retiree health benefits. Meanwhile, Chrysler reached a tentative agreement with the UAW to set up such a trust. UAW members solidified a tentative deal made on Sept. 26 with GM. Under the new contract, GM will contribute more than $35 billion toward health benefits, including a $24.1 billion contribution to set up a voluntary employee beneficiary association, a tax-exempt trust to pay for retiree health benefits that allows the automaker to take retiree health liability off its books. The UAW called off a strike Oct. 10 after nearly seven hours when it reached a tentative agreement with Chrysler on a new labor contract covering about 45,000 workers. The deal includes a memorandum of understanding to set up an independent retiree healthcare trust, according to Chrysler.
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