The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality published interim guidelines for creating a patient-safety organization while HHS continues to hammer out a final rule governing how PSOs will collect and share patient-safety data. The interim guide, published Oct. 8 in the Federal Register, allows qualified organizations to submit an application, which is available online. AHRQ said it is going ahead with applicants while HHS finalizes its rule because of strong interest in the healthcare community. The final ruleexpected by year-endwill be the implementation of the Patient Safety and Quality Improvement Act of 2005, through which the federal government hopes to create a network of PSOs that will analyze patient-safety incidents and establish best practices and other quality improvements. HHS proposed rule, released earlier this year, was met with relief from the industry, which wants to ensure any work conducted through PSOs is protected from liability. Data submitted and work conducted during the interim guidance period will be privileged and confidential under the Patient Safety Act, according to AHRQ.
Federal community health center programs, rural healthcare service outreach grants and the National Health Service Corps have been reauthorized until 2012 under a bill signed by President Bush. The Health Care Safety Net Act of 2008 provides increased funding of federal community health centers to $3.3 billion by 2012, up 57% from $2.1 billion this year. It also raises funding of the National Health Service Corps to $186 million in the same five-year period. Community health centers deliver care to more than 18 million people at about 6,600 sites nationwide, many in underserved urban and rural areas. The National Health Service Corps, funded at $131.5 million this year, provides financial assistance to medical students who agree to practice primary care in medically underserved areas after graduation. Congress last reauthorized these programs in 2002. Also included in the law is the Rural Health Care Services Outreach Grant Program reauthorization, at $45 million annually until 2012. The law also calls for federal studies on the economic costs and benefits of school-based health centers and quality improvement activities at community health centers.
A Michigan circuit court judge threw back to the state insurance commissioner the issue of whether a for-profit subsidiary of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Michigan should have been allowed to purchase a workers compensation company. Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox brought the lawsuit, alleging that the not-for-profit insurer illegally transferred $125 million to the Accident Fund, a subsidiary, in November 2007, and then used those funds to purchase CompWest Insurance Co., a workers compensation firm in San Francisco, that same month for $127 million (July 14, p. 6). Two other subsidiary purchases are involved in the lawsuit. In her ruling, Ingham County Circuit Court Judge Paula Manderfield agreed with the Detroit-based Michigan Blues on two out of three counts in the lawsuit. But she refused to dismiss Coxs challenge of the transfer of funds. We are pleased that the court has agreed with our position on the majority of the complaint, said Lisa DeMoss, senior vice president and general counsel for the Michigan Blues, in a written statement. John Sellek, spokesman for Cox, said that the attorney general was also pleased because the judge gave some guidance on how the insurance commissioner should rule on the matter that favored the state.
WellStar Health System named Michael Graue chief operating officer, as of Jan. 5, 2009. The Marietta, Ga.-based system said Graue, 52, will oversee operational performance for WellStars five hospitals. Graue served previously as executive vice president of the south operating group with SSM Health Care, where he oversaw the systems acute-care, pediatric and rehabilitation hospitals in St. Louis. The former COO, Linda Clark, accepted a position overseas, according to a spokeswoman for WellStar.
A federal judge ordered California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to explain to the court whether and when he can produce $250 million to start the first phase of an 8 billion prison healthcare system construction project. U.S. District Judge Thelton Henderson set an Oct. 27 hearing date for the governors response. The court-appointed receiver of the states prison healthcare system, Clark Kelso, says he needs the funding to bring Californias prison healthcare system up to constitutional standards. The plan is to build seven new prison hospitals across the state to treat up to 10,000 inmates. The plan includes $6 billion for new construction and $2 billion to improve existing facilities. The court order comes as California faces a grim financial forecast.
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.