ALBANY, N.Y.New York state health officials said $250 million in grant funding will be available this spring to further the restructuring of New York's healthcare system to strengthen primary care, eliminate excess bed capacity and reduce overreliance on inpatient care in hospitals and nursing homes. Grant applications are due April 17 for up to $100 million to fund proposals offered by diagnostic and treatment centers, including those run by county and municipal health departments. Hospitals may also seek funds to expand primary care in outpatient settings and hospital extension clinics. The goals of the funding are to develop new primary-care capacity for underserved populations and to enhance existing services. Meanwhile, applications are due April 3 for a second funding cycle for up to $150 million available to hospitals, nursing homes, certified home health agencies and hospices. The funding will be issued both to those areas affected by the rightsizing mandates of the Commission on Health Care Facilities in the 21st Century and for look-alike projects that reduce bed capacity in favor of ambulatory and community-based services. The funds are intended in part to enable hospitals and nursing homes to enter into shared governance arrangements and other collaborative agreements with other facilities to eliminate excess capacity and achieve greater efficiency in services that respond to community needs.
NEW YORKOne year after hospital and healthcare union interests brutally clashed with New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer over the proposed healthcare budget, the GNYHA/1199 SEIU Healthcare Education Project said the proposed 2008-09 executive budget addresses many of the urgent health issues facing the state although there also are some significant concerns. Highpoints of the proposal include recognition of the need for all sectors of the healthcare community, such as pharmaceutical and insurance companies, to equitably participate in the shared sacrifice necessary to improve healthcare for all New Yorkers, project officials said in a news release. The proposed budget also addresses the need to rectify the fact that only 23% of New York's Medicaid population ... accounts for 73% of all Medicaid spending in the state. However, project officials said it is concerned about a funding cut to hospitals' inpatient detoxification services as well as the enormous ambiguity surrounding the financial impact on New York hospitals of a proposed shifting of funds away from hospital inpatient services and into outpatient/ambulatory care and other programs. This year's budget proposes to allocate $46.3 billion to Medicaid compared with $45 billion last year, a 2.7% increase, according to a project spokesman. The Healthcare Education Project is a joint initiative of the Greater New York Hospital Association and 1199 SEIU United Healthcare Workers East.
ELLWOOD CITY, Pa.Ellwood City Hospital will develop a clinical alliance with 445-bed Allegheny General Hospital in Pittsburgh, part of West Penn Allegheny Health System. The alliance will allow 118-bed Ellwood City Hospital to remain independent while strengthening its clinical expertise, officials said in a news release. Senior management and the board had been examining options over the past seven months, including a merger. Details of the clinical enhancements are still evolving, officials said, but the goal of the alliance is to collaboratively develop clinical programs based and provided in Ellwood City, using certain specialized clinical expertise from Allegheny General as well as local clinical resources. Over the next several months, both organizations will be evaluating locations at the Ellwood City campus for developing clinical space for physicians. It is expected new services and programs will be in place by year-end.
BURLINGTON, Mass.Healthcare reform in Massachusetts has proven to be successful beyond all our expectations, according to a detailed analysis conducted by the Massachusetts Hospital Association. The report examined a three-year period since coverage efforts were first launched, finding that MassHealth and Commonwealth Care enrollment has increased by approximately 28% while the number of free-care visits has decreased by the same rate. Key findings include a strong connection between increased coverage and reductions in free-care utilization, but the experience is not consistent in all regions or hospitals. Challenges also remain as healthcare reform is uncharted territory, the MHA said. Free-care funding was dramatically reduced in fiscal 2008 by about $242 million, or 36%, and at the same time, new eligibility and payment reforms are being implemented. An adequately funded safety net remains a must, as there will always be some need for free care. The report is available at mhalink.org/freecareanalysis.
BOSTONThe Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, a principal teaching hospital of Harvard Medical School, established a collaboration with drugmaker Merck & Co. to develop gene-therapy compounds for treatment of cancer, according to a news release. The agreement calls for Merck to provide upfront funding of research, which will be conducted by Dana-Farbers Center for Applied Cancer Science, or CACS. The 27-bed Dana-Farber Cancer Institute would receive milestone and royalty payments should any of the compounds be licensed for use in cancer drugs. Dana-Farber pre-clinical researcher Lynda Chin, an associate professor of dermatology at Harvard Medical School, will be a senior investigator in the CACS-Merck research collaboration. CACS faculty, under the direction of physician researchers James DeCaprio and Kenneth Anderson, will also participate in research. Lead investigators would receive a share of any royalties received by the hospital, said Dana-Farber spokesman Bill Schaller. The essence of this deal is if we can do more robust pre-clinical work then the compounds may be more effective in (new-drug) clinical trials, Schaller said. He added that its too soon to know if Dana-Farber would participate in any clinical trials resulting from development of the collaborations gene-therapy compounds.
BOSTONThe Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences will help develop a graduate and postgraduate pharmaceutical-education program for King Saud University, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, according to a news release. Under the agreement, Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences has received a $450,000 grant for its services, which includes helping King Saud University select clinical-practice faculty, developing a doctor of pharmacy program and creating postgraduate residency, fellowship and research programs. This collaboration will provide both institutions with a unique opportunity to develop cross-cultural and international perspectives on pharmaceutical care, said Charles Monahan Jr., president of Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences.