Sens. John McCain and Barack Obama have fundamentally different visions of how they would reform healthcare as president, and Obamas is better, according to a new comparison by the Commonwealth Fund. The plan proposed by Obama, the Illinois Democrat, could provide more people with affordable health insurance that covers essential services, achieve greater equity in access to care, realize efficiencies and cost savings in the provision of coverage and delivery of care, and redirect incentives to improve quality, according to the report. McCain, the Arizona Republican, does not advocate universal coverage as a goal, which is at the top of the Commonwealth Funds criteria for judging the proposals. Rather, McCain focuses on making it easier for people to buy insurance on the individual market if they dont get it at work, providing tax credits and allowing policies to be purchased across state lines. The Commonwealth Fund, though, is critical of the strategy, predicting many employers would choose to drop plans and that insurance deregulation might encourage insurance companies to compete on price but also neutralize consumer protections some states have in place.
Cardinal Health, Dublin, Ohio, agreed to pay $34 million in civil penalties to settle allegations that it failed to report suspicious orders made by Internet pharmacies for the opioid hydrocodone, which were diverted for illegal use, according to a news release. The company separately announced it will spin off its clinical and medical products business into a separate, publicly traded company. Regarding the settlement, Cardinal admits no wrongdoing but will pay various sums to seven U.S. attorneys offices to settle the charges. The agreement follows the closure of three of Cardinals drug distribution centers in November 2007 and an investigation conducted by the Drug Enforcement Administration into the companys order-filling activities. The settlement will allow Cardinal to reinstate distribution from those centers. After the spinoff, Cardinal Chairman and Chief Executive Officer R. Kerry Clark, 56, will retire and be replaced by George Barrett, 53, who is currently Cardinals vice chairman and CEO of its healthcare supply-chain services. The clinical and medical products spinoff will create a $4 billion global company to be headquartered in San Diego.
Hospitals may have an incentive to underreport their healthcare-associated infections, and states lack the ability to find out if the number of infections hospitals report is accurate, according to Health-Care-Associated Infections in Hospitals: An Overview of State Reporting Programs and Individual Hospital Initiatives to Reduce Certain Infections, a new U.S. Government Accountability Office study. According to the report, the problem is thatas the foundation of their reporting programsstates are using a system developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for hospitals to use for their own internal measurement of healthcare-associated infections. The CDCs National Healthcare Safety Network system relies on self-reported data, which, the GAO concludes, may be giving hospitals an incentive to minimize the number of HAI cases they identify and report. Using this information raises concerns about the lack of established mechanisms to check the completeness and accuracy of the data submitted by hospitals, the study said. Specific procedures for validating HAI data need to be developed and tested, and resources allocated to implement them.
Community Health Systems completed its purchase of two-hospital Empire Health Services, a locally owned, independent not-for-profit in Spokane, Wash., for $148 million. We are very pleased to put this lengthy period of negotiation and approval process behind us and excited to begin implementing our plans for the improved operations of this health system, Wayne Smith, chairman, president and chief executive officer of the for-profit Franklin, Tenn.-based Community Health Systems, said in a news release. Last month, Providence Health Care, the Spokane system operated by Seattle-based Providence Health & Services, dropped a lawsuit related to the Empire sale (Sept. 29, p. 14). Providence had asked a judge to rule that Empire could not transfer its stake in a joint venture without Providences consent.
The Revolution Health Network, developer of the consumer healthcare information Web portal revolutionhealth.com, and Waterfront Media, New York, owner of the consumer-oriented Everyday Health Network, will merge, according to a news release. Financial terms of the deal between the two privately held companies were undisclosed. Revolution Health Network is a business unit of Revolution Health Group, Washington. The merged companies will retain the name Waterfront Media and will remain headquartered in New York with Waterfront Media co-founder and Chief Executive Officer Benjamin Wolin staying on as CEO. Revolutionlaunched by America Online co-founder Steve Case, who was voted No. 1 this year on Modern Healthcares 100 Most Powerful People in Healthcare rankingwill continue as an independent organization with its Brainscope, Extend Health, RediClinic and SparkPeople health-related businesses. Case will serve on the board of Waterfront Media, according to the release.
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