Massachusetts Miracle

Judge lifts stay, allows Landmark suit against Blue Cross to proceed

Richard Asinof, Providence Business News, July 24, 2012
 Providence – Superior Court Judge Michael A. Silverstein lifted his stay today, allowing the lawsuit against Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island by Landmark Medical Center to move forward – at least as far as an August 30 hearing on the merits. The lawsuit, which is being brought by the Landmark Medical Center’s special master, Jonathan R. Savage, charges that Blue Cross “starved” the community hospital through unfair reimbursement rates, contributing to the financial failure of the hospital. Blue Cross, in turned, argued that the lawsuit was without merit, futile and potentially frivolous ... Judge

10 Things to Know About Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center

Bob Herman Becker’s Hospital Review, July 24, 2012 The Boston area is ripe with several renowned hospitals and academic medical centers, some of the first in the country's history, and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center fits right within that landscape. Here are 10 things to know about Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. ... 10

Blue Cross, Steward square off on contract

Richard Asinof, Providence Business News, July 20, 2012
 Providence – A July 25 deadline set by the RI Attorney General’s office looms for Steward Health Care to close its deal to acquire Landmark Medical Center of Woonsocket and its sister facility, the Rehabilitation Hospital of Rhode Island in North Smithfield. As a result, the court hearing scheduled on Tuesday morning, July 24, before Superior Court Judge Michael A. Silverstein, may prove to be the climatic scene in the four-year saga of Landmark’s receivership. If the deal is finalized, Landmark would become the Blackstone Medical Center, a for-profit entity incorporated in Delaware as part of Steward Health Care ... Blue

Landmark falls back to litigation on rates

Russ Olivo, Woonsocket Call, July 19, 2012 Woonsocket – Landmark Medical Center is asking a Superior Court judge for permission to move forward with a lawsuit accusing Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Rhode Island of starving the hospital into insolvency with unfairly low reimbursements. It’s the latest salvo in an increasingly acrimonious relationship between Landmark and BCBSRI that Landmark President Richard Charest says now jeopardizes the sale – and survival – of the hospital. ... Landmark

Heated Days for Health Care

Donna Perry, GoLocalProv, July 19, 2012 As the mercury soars to unhealthy levels in recent days, heated rhetoric about health care and declarations about refusing pay raises are coinciding this week. On the health care battlefront, this current skirmish is not directly related to the recent passage of the federal health care overhaul bill, but it’s a hot, loud, and very public argument just the same. Rhode Island’s long running health insurer monopoly, better known as Blue Cross/Blue Shield of RI, seems to be up against a foe willing to wage an aggressive debate about the company’s business practices. ... Heated

UMass Medical School to manage health care at North Carolina federal prison

Chris Reidy, Boston Globe, July 19, 2012 The Federal Bureau of Prisons has awarded the University of Massachusetts Medical School a contract to manage comprehensive medical services to about 4,900 inmates at the Federal Medical Center located in Butner, NC, UMass Medical School said. The agreement, valued at $24.7 million for the first year, represents its largest federal correctional health contract to date, the Worcester school said. The contract also has options for four additional years that could increase the overall award to more than $136 million through 2016, the school said. ... UMass

State needs to take stock before expanding health payment methods employers are rejecting

Eric Beyer, Boston Globe, July 18, 2012 The health care legislation under consideration in the State House has ambitious goals - to cap spending and change the way providers are paid. The bills encourage health insurance plans to move to a variety of payment methods that share the same focus: they would require providers to be held financially responsible for the health outcomes of their patients; they promote coordination of care; and they discourage redundant care. It’s easy to see the logic behind the concept of managing the cost of care ... State

Cost Control Legislation in Gridlock: Is Hospital Market Power Actually Driving Health Care Costs?

Benjamin Day, Mass-Care, Blue Mass Group, July 18, 2012 News is getting out that the conference committee tasked with reconciling the health care cost control bills in the House and the Senate has run into areas of gridlock, and is running out of time. One of the key areas of contention is whether the House bill’s proposal to prevent some hospitals from charging much higher prices than others for the same care should be included in the final bill. The Globe has been a study in contrasts. On Sunday the news department published an article arguing that the market power of hospitals is a key cost driver ... Cost

Doctor Terry Garfinkle joins Saint Elizabeth’s Medical Center to lead medical affairs

Chelsea Conaboy, Boston Globe, July 18, 2012 Doctor Terry Garfinkle, has been named vice president of medical affairs at Saint Elizabeth’s Medical Center, a Steward hospital. He was most recently medical director at the Mass General/North Shore Center for Outpatient Care in Danvers and chief of head and neck surgery at North Shore Medical Center in Salem. Garfinkle was medical director of the Danvers center during its ground-breaking and first years in operation, and he oversaw staff mergers between North Shore Medical Center and Massachusetts General Hospital. ... Doctor

Blue Cross strikes blow to northern Rhode Island health care

Tom Ward, Valley Breeze, July 17, 2012 The decision by Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island to play hardball with the health care of northern Rhode Islanders should not be taken lightly. In a July 9 notice that is nothing short of bullying, BC/BS has told its subscribers that Landmark Medical Center in Woonsocket, beginning August 1, would be "out of network." Translation: "Dig deeper, Woonsocket area residents. We're going to make you pay a lot more to use Landmark." ... Blue

Reducing payments to hospitals doesn’t reduce health care costs

It just shifts them to someone else. Lynn Nicholas, Boston Globe, July 17, 2012 Piloting a glider successfully requires learning how to avoid over steering, otherwise a flight can quickly turn into a crisis. That same common-sense principle should apply to our state’s health care reform efforts. We are on the right course. But over steering by government could send the system spinning off course. We believe there is a valid role for government in transforming the health care system. But successful reform is about collaboration ... Reducing

Massachusetts General Hospital earns top spot in US News ranking for first time

Deborah Kotz, Boston Globe, July 17, 2012 Massachusetts General Hospital earned the top spot in US News and World Report’s annual “Best Hospitals” rankings for the first time in the survey’s 23-year history, the media group announced. The Boston hospital switched places with Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, which had held the top slot for the past 22 years. Last year, Massachusetts General was number two. “We’re thrilled,” said Dr. Peter Slavin, president of Massachusetts General. ... Massachusetts

Massachusetts General named nation’s top hospital

Associated Press, July 17, 2012 Boston - Boston is celebrating another championship, but this time it’s not a sports team. Massachusetts General Hospital was named Tuesday as the nation’s top hospital by US News and World Report. MGH, which held the No. 2 spot last year, displaced Johns Hopkins in Baltimore at the top of the annual list. Hopkins had been at the top for 21 consecutive years. "This recognition is a tribute to the more than 23,000 staff members at MGH who are dedicated to delivering the highest quality care to patients and families," said MGH president Dr. Peter Slavin. Massachusetts General Hospital, founded in 1811, is the original and largest teaching hospital of Harvard Medical School.

State health care bill should focus on areas of broad agreement

Boston Globe Editorial, July 16, 2012 The long effort to develop an effective cost-containment law for the Massachusetts health care system has entered a worrisome phase. With just two weeks left in the Legislature’s formal session, a conference committee is reportedly making little headway on resolving critical differences and arriving at compromise legislation. The committee pits House legislators pushing hard for a plan that would give state regulators broad powers to enforce health care cost caps against Senate negotiators arguing for using a lighter hand to nudge the market toward more cost-conscious practices. ... State

Massachusetts makes progress on health costs, but single payer would be cheaper

Deborah Milbauer, Milton, Boston Globe, July 16, 2012 Kudos to the Globe for reporting on the success of global payments in reducing health care costs (“Blue Cross plan shows reduction in spending,” Page A1, July 12). The study shows that policy changes can and do improve the quality of health care and can reduce costs. However, in the US too many of our health care dollars still go to administrative costs like marketing and underwriting. All other developed countries pay lower administrative costs. Even our own Medicare program spends only 3 percent on administrative costs. ... Massachusetts

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