New Jersey hospitals must cap prices for low- and middle-income uninsured people under one of four healthcare bills signed by New Jerseys governor. Other enacted bills expand the states oversight of troubled hospitals, require hospitals to hold yearly public meetings, and make retroactive 2007 legislation that mandates governance education for hospital directors and trustees. Under the new pricing law, hospitals may not charge more than 15% above Medicares rate for services to uninsured patients with incomes below 500% of the federal poverty level, which is $21,200 for a family of four. A second bill gives New Jerseys health commissioner power to appoint a monitor for hospitals at risk for or in financial distress. Of the final two pieces of legislation signed by Gov. Jon Corzine, one requires a yearly public meeting by the hospital for community members. Under the other, a law passed last year that mandates governance education for hospital boards now applies to directors and trustees appointed prior to its 2007 passage. The New Jersey Hospital Association did not oppose the bills, a spokeswoman said. However, the laws dont fully address problems outlined by the commission, Betsy Ryan, the associations president and chief executive officer, said in a news release.
Catholic Health East, Newtown Square, Pa., named John Johnsonwho is president and chief executive officer of 431-bed Holy Cross Hospital, Fort Lauderdale, Fla.to oversee a second hospital, 367-bed Mercy Hospital, Miami. The dual appointment is effective Aug. 12. Johnson, 65, succeeds John Matuska, who retired at the end of July. Matuska, 63, will continue with Mercy as a consultant through the end of the year. He will oversee the two hospitals strategic direction and operating performance.
A report from the Veterans Affairs Departments inspector generals office confirmed allegations of human-testing rules violations at the Central Arkansas Veterans Healthcare System in Little Rock. The office found that researchers did HIV tests on subjects without their consent; could not provide informed-consent documents for all subjects enrolled in study protocols; did not appropriately obtain witness signatures for demented patients enrolled in research; and did not report deaths occurring during the course of a study protocol, although those deaths were most likely not related to the research. The office also said the institutional review boarda committee at the institution where research is conducted that ensures human subjects protections are adequatefor the facility was aware of many of the deficiencies before the review, but had failed to suspend or terminate the researchers or research projects. The University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences served as the review board for the VA during the time the research began in the late 1980s and mid-1990s, according to an e-mail message from Jerri Jackson, a spokeswoman for the university system. The VA also has had its own research and development board which oversaw research there, she added. The office concluded that although the current facility leadership has made significant improvements to its research and development program, the VA undersecretary for health should determine if its appropriate to continue human research there; if so, research should comply with standards in the report. The inspector generals office also said appropriate administrative action should be taken against Veterans Health Administration employees. Undersecretary for Health Michael Kussman said he concurs with the recommendations, according to a memorandum issued last month.
Former New York City Health and Hospitals Corp. board member Daniel Ricciardis role in an exclusive contract between the 12-hospital system and St. Georges University School of Medicine in Grenada has been referred to the proper agencies for review, system spokeswoman Ana Marengo said, in an e-mail. Ricciardi resigned from the board after the New York Times reported that he was promoted prior to the deal as St. Georges dean of clinical studies. He reportedly recused himself from voting on the deal. The New York City health system struck a $400 per student, per week deal with St. Georges, with a bonus payment for hospitals that accept more than 30 third- or fourth-year students. The contract allows for up to 600 St. Georges students. The system hosted 200 students in 2008, Marengo said. The deal could generate $10 million annually, she said. The contract and others like it drew criticism from the Associated Medical Schools of New York over concerns that such deals create financial incentives to accept medical students from the Caribbean rather than New York schools. Jo Wiederhorn, executive director of the Associated Medical Schools, said hospitals with narrow operating margins are understandably searching for means to boost funding. Nobodys sitting here in the dark about financial stress hospitals face, including uninsured patients, she said. But we dont believe that medical education is the way to finance the hospitals. Wiederhorn argued recent deals turn students rotations into a commodity. Marengo rejected the idea that St. Georges students would squeeze out their New York counterparts.
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