Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) urged HHS to complete regulations that will give the federal government stronger control over healthcare safety issues. In a letter to HHS, Kennedy calls for the issuance of rules mandated through the Patient Safety and Quality Improvement Act of 2005, which was signed into law but has yet to be implemented. The act included provisions for the creation of patient-safety organizations that would collect and analyze confidential adverse-event data reported by healthcare providers. Kennedys call came just ahead of the release of a review of an Iowa quality improvement organization by HHS inspector generals office. The office reviewed $10.3 million in costs incurred between 2003 and 2006 by the Iowa Foundation for Medical Carewhich acted as the state quality improvement organization under contract with the CMS to ensure quality Medicare health servicesand reported that of that amount, $208,974 are unallowable costs and $530,822 might not have complied with federal requirements. The Iowa foundation disputed the claim.
Hospital-specific errors in Washington state are no longer being made available to the public, after the state sided with the hospital association in interpreting a 2006 law on quality improvement. That law expanded the list of mistakes hospitals were required to report to 28 serious, preventable errors outlined by the National Quality Forum. For more than a year, the state has made that data available to the public, revealing serious errors at individual hospitals. But, under the language of the law, the state should have been reporting those errors in aggregate, according to the Washington State Hospital Association. The intent of the law was error prevention, rather than finger-pointing, said Cassie Sauer, spokeswoman for the hospital association. Last month, the state sided with the association and stopped releasing data from individual hospitals. A state lawmaker is contesting that interpretation by the state. I fought very hard to allow open disclosure, state Rep. Tom Campbell told the Spokesman-Review in Spokane. That is not acceptable behavior. Its unclear how the states reporting rules will work with the CMS new rules on reimbursement for so-called never events and other preventable errors, Sauer said. Were going to have to figure out how these regulations will work together, she said.
Patricia Maryland, recently tapped to oversee Ascension Healths Michigan operations, will succeed Elliot Joseph as president and chief executive officer of Ascensions Warren, Mich.-based St. John Health. Ascension named Joseph, 53, as a senior executive for the St. Louis-based system. Both appointments take effect Jan. 1, 2008. Maryland, 54, will continue as Ascensions market leader in Michigan, a role she assumed in mid-September. Previously, she was chief operating officer of Ascensions St. Vincent Health Indianapolis region and 740-bed St. Vincent Indianapolis Hospital. Josephs responsibilities will include developing international healthcare opportunities and board education and development, the system said in a written statement.
Floridas push to move its Medicaid coverage into the private market should not be expanded beyond a five-county pilot program without data to analyze the experiments cost-effectiveness, according to a report from the states inspector generals office. The recommendation came after the offices five-month review of the Medicaid overhaul at the request of Floridas Agency for Health Care Administration, which oversees the publicly financed safety net insurance program. The office also urged officials to delay expansion of the pilot without addressing problems uncovered in the programs claims processing, complaint tracking, data collection and evaluation, and plan readiness. A one-year pilot in Broward and Duval counties was expanded to Baker, Clay and Nassau counties in July. The Florida Legislature must approve statewide expansion, scheduled to be complete by June 2011.
A U.S. District Court judge in Kansas said there is sufficient evidence for 19-bed Heartland Spine & Specialty Hospital, Overland Park, to proceed in its antitrust lawsuit against some of the regions major healthcare providers, according to court documents unsealed last week. In April 2005, Heartland filed a lawsuit against: HCA Midwest, St. Lukes Health System, Carondelet Health System, Shawnee Mission Medical Center (part of the Adventist System) and North Kansas City Hospital; as well as Aetna, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas, Cigna Corp., Coventry Health Care of Kansas, Humana and UnitedHealthcare. The lawsuit alleges that they conspired to prevent Heartland from having access to essential in-network managed-care contracts in the Kansas City area. Heartland reached settlements with 451-bed North Kansas City Hospital, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas, Cigna, Humana and UnitedHealthcare earlier this year, according to Patrick Stueve, an attorney for Heartland. We are disappointed in the courts ruling, and we truly believe our practices are in the best interest of our patients, said Rob Dyer, spokesman for HCA Midwest.
Send us a letter
Have an opinion about this story? Click here to submit a Letter to the Editor, and we may publish it in print.