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Teaching Hospital Update - November 7-11, 2011


Email Alert
November 11, 2011
By Adam Mingal

Unhappiest Hospital Patients are in New York City, Chicago, and Florida

Not all hospital patients are alike. Some are harder to satisfy, especially those who are admitted to hospitals in and around New York City, Chicago, and parts of Florida. Patients in those places gave some of the lowest evaluations of their hospital stays, Medicare data show. The surveys asked patients how well their doctors and nurses communicated, whether their pain was always handled well, and whether their rooms were clean and quiet.

Hospitals are paying more attention to the surveys as Medicare prepares to use the results as one factor in deciding how much to pay hospitals. The new approach, part of the Affordable Care Act, pits hospital against hospital, with Medicare putting aside a portion of its regular payments and doling them out as bonuses. Competing for every dollar is becoming increasingly important for hospitals, especially if a failure by Congress' super committee to reach a deficit cutting deal will lead to across-the-board Medicare cuts. New York has the hardest patients to please in the country, with its nationally known teaching hospitals, including NYU Langone Medical Center, New York-Presbyterian and the Mount Sinai Medical Center, faring worse on patient surveys than community hospitals in the Midwest that aren't known beyond their towns.

Jordan Rau, Unhappiest Hospital Patients Are in New York City, Chicago, and Florida, Kaiser Health News (Nov. 8, 2011).

Massachusetts Hospitals Expecting Billions in Cuts

Massachusetts hospitals face $2.5 billion to $4.9 billion in cuts over the next decade if a bipartisan committee charged with reducing the nation’s deficit adopts proposed Medicare reimbursement reductions, according to a new analysis by the Massachusetts Hospital Association. The figures offer the first dollar amount on what is at stake for the state’s medical industry as Congress considers cutting payments for graduate medical education, which would disproportionately impact the state because of its large number of teaching hospitals. The hospital association estimates that over ten years, the state would lose between $1 to $3.2 billion in reductions for the training of medical residents alone.

Congress is also considering cuts to reimbursements for services when patients cannot afford to pay, changing hospital admissions codes in a way that would lower reimbursement rates, eliminating additional funding for rural hospitals, and freezing incremental reimbursements to address medical inflation. "Obviously the impact of the aggregate number would be extremely detrimental to the healthcare system in Massachusetts as well as the economy," said Tim Gens, executive vice president at the hospital association. Massachusetts hospitals are already reeling from a $5.3 billion cut to reimbursements over ten years because of federal healthcare overhaul, Gens said. "Adding to that the proposed reductions would really just make it untenable."

Tracy Jan, Massachusetts Hospitals Expecting Billions in Cuts, The Boston Globe (Nov. 9, 2011).

Mark Laret to Chair the Association of American Medical Colleges

Mark Laret, longtime chief executive officer of UCSF Medical Center and the affiliated UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital, has been elected by his academic medical center peers as chair of the board of the Association of American Medical Colleges, UCSF said Wednesday. Laret’s one-year term as chairman will run until November 2012. His appointment was made at this week’s annual meeting of the trade association, which represents 135 U.S. and seventeen Canadian accredited medical schools, and nearly 400 major teaching hospitals and health systems. The association works with Congress and federal regulatory agencies on a wide range of healthcare issue, officials said, noting that medical schools in the association train 70% of all resident physicians in the United States and Canada, and account for approximately one-quarter of all hospital admissions. They also provide nearly half of all hospital charity care nationwide, UCSF said.

Chris Rauber, UCSF's Mark Laret to Chair the Association of American Medical Colleges, San Francisco Business Times (Nov. 9, 2011).

Study: Teaching Hospitals Provide Better Care for Prostate Cancer Patients

Researchers at the Henry Ford Hospital analyzed the quality of treatment care for patients in teaching and non-teaching medical centers as part of an international study. They found that patients who undergo radical prostatectomy get better results at academic hospitals when compared to non-learning environments. Radical prostatectomy is the surgical removal of the entire cancerous prostate gland and some surrounding tissue and is the most common type of treatment for this type of cancer. Trinh, Quoc-Dien, a Fellow at Henry Ford Hospital's Vattikuti Urology Institute and lead author of the study, said: "While our findings do not imply that teaching hospitals always provide better care than others, it is obvious that teaching hospitals have certain intrinsic characteristics that would explain the better results." Published in the Journal of Urology, the study also found that of the 90,000 patients surveyed, those who underwent surgery at academic institutions had fasted recovery times, fewer blood transfusions, and were less likely to face complications after an operation.

Jeanette Royston, Teaching Hospitals "Provide Better Care for Prostate Cancer Patients", Spire Healthcare (Nov. 9, 2011).

AAMC Report Touts Benefits of Medical Research

While the health benefits of medical research are easily observed in our everyday lives--through stories of patient survival, biomedical discoveries, and prevention strategies--the economic rewards often go unnoticed.

To help the public better understand the far-reaching impact of medical schools and teaching hospitals, the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) released a new report today quantifying the importance of publicly funded healthcare advancements for the fiscal health of the nation. According to the analysis, federal- and state-funded research received by medical schools and teaching hospitals in 2009 added close to $45 billion to the U.S. economy. To put this in perspective, the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the largest federal funding agency of medical research, invested approximately $28.5 billion in fiscal year 2009 for extramural research conducted across the nation, including American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funding. Of those funds, about 55% (or about $15.6 billion) went to medical schools and teaching hospitals, a particularly productive research environment where physicians and scientists deliver care to patients, help train the next generation of physicians and researchers, and conduct vital medical research. While NIH funding is critical, the data show that for every dollar invested in research at medical school and teaching hospitals, $2.60 of economic activity occurs.

In the report, a comparison of the total economic and employment impact for the top twenty-four states and the District of Columbia with AAMC-member medical schools and teaching hospitals showed that California ranked number one.

Lia Steakley, The Economic Benefits of Publicly Funded Medical Research, Stanford Scope, Stanford School of Medicine (Nov. 7, 2011).

*We would like to thank Adam Mingal, Esquire (U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, Washington, DC), for providing this week's update.

AHLA Teaching Hospital Updates are intended to provide quick summaries of cutting-edge issues of interest to teaching hospitals and their counsel. Additional information and more in-depth coverage on these topics may be available from AHLA Health Lawyers Weekly and appropriate AHLA Practice Groups.

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