MCKINNEY, TexasDallas-based Methodist Health System began construction early last month on Methodist McKinney Hospital, a 65,625-square-foot facility that will be a joint venture among Methodist, Nueterra Healthcare and 26 physicians in the McKinney area. Expected to open in the fall of 2009, the two-story hospital will include six operating room suites, two procedure rooms, 15 private patient rooms, a diagnostic imaging unit and an emergency room. The total cost for the project is nearly $50 million, which includes $35 million to $40 million for the facilities, equipment and furnishings and $5.8 million for the 24 acres (including 14 acres that were purchased for expected future expansion). The hospital will be built in two phases of development: the first will be for the hospital and adjacent medical office building, and the second will be for the expansion, likely within three to four years, according to Methodist.
ATLANTAGeorgia Gov. Sonny Perdue this month signed two bills that provide tax breaks to insurance companies and aim to help residents afford healthcare coverage by combining high-deductible health plans with health savings accounts. Under the new laws, insurers dont have to pay state insurance-premium taxes for the sale of high-deductible plans that have an HSA attached to them, and consumers who have such plans can deduct the amount they pay on premiums from their state income taxes. In addition, employers may set up health reimbursement accounts for employees to use pretax dollars to pay for health expenses, including insurance. Small businesses would receive a $250 annual tax credit for each employee enrolled in an HSA plan, Perdue said in a news release. According to an analysis by the Georgia Budget and Policy Institute, a not-for-profit, nonpartisan research organization in the state, insurance companies will receive $146 million in tax cuts over the next five years as a result of the new legislation.
DURHAM, N.C.Duke University Health System said state regulators granted certificate-of-need approval for a $596 million expansion and renovation project at its flagship 789-bed Duke University Hospital, Durham. The system will add 16 operating suites to the hospital with the project. Duke also will modernize 160 of its current beds, in four, 24-bed intensive-care units and two, 32-bed intermediate/step-down units. Both intensive-care and step-down units are running at full capacity, according to the system. Crews are expected to break ground on the project in early or mid-2009, and the project should be completed by 2013, according to a Duke health system spokesman.
CORAL GABLES, Fla.The Justice Department announced May 12 that Baptist Health South Florida agreed to pay $7.8 million to settle False Claims Act allegations stemming from the systems own disclosure that two of its hospitals made excessive payments to an oncology group between 2003 and 2005. In February 2006, the system reported to HHS inspector generals office that 574-bed Baptist Hospital of Miami and 345-bed South Miami Hospital paid Oncology Hematology Group of South Florida at above-market rates for physics and dosimetry services, which the government concluded violated the Stark law prohibitions against physician self-referral, according to a news release from the Justice Department. The False Claims Act can be triggered when a provider certifies that its in compliance with all relevant laws for the purpose of participating in federal health programs. We discovered the error, we fixed it, and we voluntarily reported it, President and Chief Executive Officer Brian Keeley said in a news release. The settlement does not constitute an admission of wrongdoing and does not impose a corporate integrity agreement. I am proud of our people for discovering this situation and addressing it in a responsible, transparent and unequivocal matter, Keeley said.