Thursday, November 29, 2012

Surgical site infections drop 32% with hospital teamwork - FierceHealthcare

Surgical site infections drop 32% with hospital teamwork - FierceHealthcare

Medicare Is Faulted in Electronic Medical Records Conversion - NYTimes.com

Medicare Is Faulted in Electronic Medical Records Conversion - NYTimes.com

Simple measures cut infections caught in hospitals - WSJ.com

Simple measures cut infections caught in hospitals - WSJ.com

GOP lawmaker calls for tougher fight against Medicare fraud - The Hill's Healthwatch

GOP lawmaker calls for tougher fight against Medicare fraud - The Hill's Healthwatch

GOP lawmaker calls for tougher fight against Medicare fraud - The Hill's Healthwatch

GOP lawmaker calls for tougher fight against Medicare fraud - The Hill's Healthwatch

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Health Reform May Still Face Partisan Resistance: Report

Health Reform May Still Face Partisan Resistance: Report

Hospitals still angry with low patient safety scores - FierceHealthcare

Hospitals still angry with low patient safety scores - FierceHealthcare

Hospitals Get New Grades On Safety – Capsules - The KHN Blog

Hospitals Get New Grades On Safety – Capsules - The KHN Blog

‘A’ through ‘F’: Group rates Georgia hospitals | Georgia Health News

‘A’ through ‘F’: Group rates Georgia hospitals | Georgia Health News

Editorial - Organized medicine moves to block end run on prompt pay for physicians - amednews.com

Editorial - Organized medicine moves to block end run on prompt pay for physicians - amednews.com

Geographic payment adjustments: Medicare's disputed borders - amednews.com

Geographic payment adjustments: Medicare's disputed borders - amednews.com

AMA meeting: Delegates adopt physician employment principles - amednews.com

AMA meeting: Delegates adopt physician employment principles - amednews.com

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Most Women Who Choose Double Mastectomy Don't Need To, Study Shows

Most Women Who Choose Double Mastectomy Don't Need To, Study Shows

Doctors' Pay Increases Lag Other Health Professionals

Doctors' Pay Increases Lag Other Health Professionals

Nonprofits turn attention to community outreach - FierceHealthcare

Nonprofits turn attention to community outreach - FierceHealthcare

Health reform back in the legal spotlight - FierceHealthcare

Health reform back in the legal spotlight - FierceHealthcare

Medicaid expansion would bring state $33 billion, cost it $2.5... | www.ajc.com

Medicaid expansion would bring state $33 billion, cost it $2.5... | www.ajc.com

Better transitions curb post-op complications, readmissions - FierceHealthcare

Better transitions curb post-op complications, readmissions - FierceHealthcare

Cancer Treatment Centers picks new Georgia chief | Georgia Health News

Cancer Treatment Centers picks new Georgia chief | Georgia Health News

Report takes new look at Medicaid expansion costs | Georgia Health News

Report takes new look at Medicaid expansion costs | Georgia Health News

Supreme Court Considers Whether Georgia Hospital Merger Creates Monopoly




Supreme Court Considers Whether Georgia 
Hospital Merger Creates Monopoly
By Jane Norman, CQ HealthBeat Associate Editor

Supreme Court justices Monday probed just how far a Georgia public hospital can go in acquiring another facility before the purchase raises federal antitrust concerns, in a case that’s gotten the attention of the hospital industry at a time of many mergers and consolidations.

The justices didn’t seem to reveal their opinions one way or the other. At one point, Justice Stephen G. Breyer declared: “I’m not at all decided.” Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg pressed a Department of Justice lawyer to explain how a Georgia state law should have been worded to allow a hospital to acquire other properties.

The Federal Trade Commission has challenged the Hospital Authority of Albany-Dougherty County’s 2011 purchase of a competing private facility, Palmyra Park Hospital. The FTC says such a sale creates a monopoly that will drive up prices for consumers since they are the only two hospitals in a wide geographic area.

But the hospital authority contends that the merger was needed to provide enough beds for low-income patients and that Georgia law allows the purchase, even if it’s anti competitive, and so federal law doesn’t apply.

The two sides wound up at the high court after the FTC appealed a decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit in favor of the hospital and a district court decision that also backed the hospital.

Justices asked questions about the reach and intent of a 1941 Georgia state law that allowed the creation of county hospital authorities so that localities could better serve the poor. Under that law, the Albany-Doughterty County authority was formed, and it bought Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital to operate as a public hospital. The authority ran the hospital until December 1990, when it formed two nonprofit corporations and one corporation leased the hospital operations to the other.
Though the hospital is now run as a corporation and through leases, its lawyers argue that the state law exempts it from federal antitrust laws through what’s known as the “state action” doctrine developed mostly in the courts. That essentially means the state in its laws has allowed certain conduct by its entities, in this case hospital mergers.

“In the specific area of local hospital services, the Georgia legislature has adopted a model of local public choice, including the choice to reduce or eliminate competition,” Seth Waxman, the lawyer for the Georgia health system, said in his argument before the court.

Hospital Needed Beds
Waxman said Phoebe Putney, as it grew and handled more low-income patients, faced a need for more capacity. A new hospital could have been built, if permitted by the state. “Or we can talk with the private hospital about whether they would like to be acquired. And the record shows that they did that for many, many years, even before the Phoebe Putney entities were created,” Waxman said.
Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. noted that there were likely few hospitals in rural areas of Georgia in 1941 when the law was enacted, so there must have been an anticipation that monopolies might be created. “When this law was passed, giving them the power to acquire hospitals, wasn’t it the case that there would likely be only one other hospital or two, so that any acquisition of another hospital would have the merger consequences that this one had?” Roberts asked.

Benjamin J. Horwich, an assistant to the solicitor general arguing on behalf of the FTC, said that the justification for the state action doctrine is that the state is trying to pursue a policy that is part of its traditional prerogatives to regulate its own economy.

In this case, though, the FTC argues that all the state did was grant general corporate powers to the local hospital authorities to buy property, and it’s too broad of an authority to construe as permitting the merger and allowing a monopoly.

“If the state is not actually trying to advance some other policy with respect to the particular conduct at issue, then it can’t be said that the state has done something that federal law should stand aside for,” Horwich said.

In an analysis of the case, Peter C. Carstensen, a professor of law at the University of Wisconsin Law School, says that it represents the first time in nearly 20 years that the high court has looked at its standards for exemptions under the state action standard.

In the meantime, some lower courts have taken a broad view and exempted actions from antitrust law whenever the competitive harm was something that could reasonably have been foreseen by lawmakers. In other cases, courts have tried to figure out whether the question of competition was central in lawmakers’ minds.

The American Hospital Association and Georgia Hospital Association said in their brief that it’s important that valuable work by hospitals not be impeded by worries over antitrust issues. “AHA has a specific interest in this case, because many of its member hospitals are publicly owned and operated by state and local governments,” their brief said.

“More generally, the AHA has a longstanding interest in how the antitrust laws are applied to hospital mergers, which often foster, rather than diminish, competition, and in many cases are necessary for hospitals to deliver care effectively,” the brief said.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Online Access To Docs Increases Office Visits, Study Finds - Kaiser Health News

Online Access To Docs Increases Office Visits, Study Finds - Kaiser Health News

With Routine Mammograms, Some Breast Cancers May Be Overtreated - Kaiser Health News

With Routine Mammograms, Some Breast Cancers May Be Overtreated - Kaiser Health News

Now that health reform is inevitable, what can Georgia firms expect? | Georgia Health News

Now that health reform is inevitable, what can Georgia firms expect? | Georgia Health News

AHA: IRS rules thwart health reform - FierceHealthcare

AHA: IRS rules thwart health reform - FierceHealthcare

American Hospital Assn. sues over retroactive Medicare pay denials - amednews.com

American Hospital Assn. sues over retroactive Medicare pay denials - amednews.com

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Monday, November 12, 2012

Medical practice acquisitions may see uptick after election - amednews.com

Medical practice acquisitions may see uptick after election - amednews.com

Residency accreditation groups reach landmark agreement - amednews.com

Residency accreditation groups reach landmark agreement - amednews.com

Decisions doctors must make to avoid Medicare penalties - amednews.com

Decisions doctors must make to avoid Medicare penalties - amednews.com

Medicare finalizes physician pay for new care coordination benefit - amednews.com

Medicare finalizes physician pay for new care coordination benefit - amednews.com

AMA delegates debate defined-contribution Medicare financing - amednews.com

AMA delegates debate defined-contribution Medicare financing - amednews.com

Rockdale Citizen | Newton Medical Center to require up-front emergency room payment

Rockdale Citizen | Newton Medical Center to require up-front emergency room payment

Piedmont-WellStar alliance shakes up marketplace | Georgia Health News

Piedmont-WellStar alliance shakes up marketplace | Georgia Health News

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Pete Stark defeated after 40 years in Congress - Jennifer Haberkorn - POLITICO.com

Pete Stark defeated after 40 years in Congress - Jennifer Haberkorn - POLITICO.com

Status Update: Medical Schools May Check Applicants On Facebook – Capsules - The KHN Blog

Status Update: Medical Schools May Check Applicants On Facebook – Capsules - The KHN Blog

Bloggers Parse What Happens Next On Health Law – Capsules - The KHN Blog

Bloggers Parse What Happens Next On Health Law – Capsules - The KHN Blog

Hospitals bet on urgent care success - FierceHealthcare

Hospitals bet on urgent care success - FierceHealthcare

Real health reform requires strong governance - FierceHealthcare

Real health reform requires strong governance - FierceHealthcare

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Health care law lives – and Ga. faces big choices | Georgia Health News

Health care law lives – and Ga. faces big choices | Georgia Health News

Promising Treatment For Unresolved Reflux Symptoms: Electrical Stimulation Of The Esophagus

Promising Treatment For Unresolved Reflux Symptoms: Electrical Stimulation Of The Esophagus

Med school enrollment up but only partial solution to doctor shortage, educators say - amednews.com

Med school enrollment up but only partial solution to doctor shortage, educators say - amednews.com

Long nurse shifts lead to burnout, patient dissatisfaction - FierceHealthcare

Long nurse shifts lead to burnout, patient dissatisfaction - FierceHealthcare

Obama win boosts health law, but states still control its destiny | www.ajc.com

Obama win boosts health law, but states still control its destiny | www.ajc.com

Doctors With More Experience May Have Lower Care Costs

Doctors With More Experience May Have Lower Care Costs

Obama win seen as victory for healthcare reform | Modern Healthcare

Obama win seen as victory for healthcare reform | Modern Healthcare

Monday, November 5, 2012

Oddsmakers predict sequestration and SGR delay - amednews.com

Oddsmakers predict sequestration and SGR delay - amednews.com

Medicaid pay turnabout: More states boosting rates - amednews.com

Medicaid pay turnabout: More states boosting rates - amednews.com

Doctors get another chance to avoid Medicare e-prescribing penalty - amednews.com

Doctors get another chance to avoid Medicare e-prescribing penalty - amednews.com

New doctors trained to overcome LGBT health care gap - amednews.com

New doctors trained to overcome LGBT health care gap - amednews.com

Detailing Medicare's 2013 Doc Pay Schedules: Home Health Flat, Primary Care Up - Kaiser Health News

Detailing Medicare's 2013 Doc Pay Schedules: Home Health Flat, Primary Care Up - Kaiser Health News

State eyes major change in Medicaid | Georgia Health News

State eyes major change in Medicaid | Georgia Health News