Sunday, December 18, 2011

America's Health Rankings Releases Florida Findings

This report is compiled annually by United Health Foundation. The latest report shows Florida has improved its position to 33 overall. It was 37th last year and 35th in 2009. Florida's strengths include low air pollution and high rates of immunization according to the foundation. The study notes the following challenges:

  • High rate of uninsured population
  • Low high school graduation rate
  • High geographic disparity within the state
It is further noted that smoking is down; about 13% of the state's residents smoke. Meanwhile obesity is up; over 22% of the population is obese with especially high rates among the non-Hispanic blacks at 38.8 percent

Click HERE to view the report.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

N.E. Florida's Largest Hospitals, Group Practices Announced


According to the Jacksonville Business Journal, NE Florida's largest hospitals are Shands Jacksonville with 695 licensed beds followed by Baptist Medical Center Jacksonville/Wolfson Children's Hospital (619 beds) and Northeast Florida State Hospital (613 beds). Top Group Practices in the area are University of Florida Jacksonville Physicians, with 414 doctors and 1,520 support staff, Mayo Clinic Hospital (369 doctors and 1,096 support staff) and Baptist Primary Care (172 doctors and 650 support staff).

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Pill Mill Update

A quick scan of the headlines reveals mostly positive news on the illegal pharmaceuticals front.

However, there are some unintended negative consequences to the Florida clean-up. See Florida's Pill Mill Crackdown Leads to Crime Elsewhere.

Meanwhile Tara Pihn's contribution, I Read the News Today Oh, Boy went viral.

·         Web Visits to up 48.4%
·         Story picked up by Health News Florida
·         Story read globally; in US, UK, Belgium, France, Thailand, India, Canada, Sweden & Switzerland
·         The story was #1 in organic, Google search (Pill Mill + Alt Weeklies) the week of Oct 10th
·         Two related video posts (posted by FHItv on You Tube) scored #3 and #13  respectively while the Health New Florida post garnered a #21 in an organic Google search October 11

There is increasing evidence that Pain Management Clinics are complying with, at least, the letter of the law.    A review of advertisements and websites reveals that most are insisting on Florida State I.D.s from new patients.  Most clinics have minimum age requirements and some even have Mission Statements posted to their sites.  One clinic boasts that it contracts "a premier health care attorney, and a State of Florida Licensed Risk Manager to support and facilitate ongoing compliance."

Don't crack the bubbly yet.  A quick check of the Pill Bill Barometer (the back pages of Broward/Palm Beach New Times) reveals 36 ads for pain management related services.  This is the same count Tara got when she originally posted her story last month.   And even more ominously, there is a new advertiser with this headline:  TIRED OF FLORIDA HASSLES.  The new sponsor is located in Tucker, GA.

Submit a READER RESPONSE for possible publication. 

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Why can't we be friends? Examining Political Polarization

FOR CRYING OUT LOUD                                                      
Jeff Herschler

OK. Quick show of hands.  Who among us is in favor of mandatory safety belts in American automobiles?    How about federal guidelines dictating proper infection control standards in hospitals and ASC's?  And may I assume that the vast majority of us would not vote to eliminate federal oversight of pharmaceuticals?   And let's address TSA making us take off our shoes to pass through airport security:  Silly for sure, but I'm thinking we don't mind too much.  (see story:  Improved Technology promises to eliminate TSA's shoe removal requirement).  A few wackos on the periphery disagree but most reasonable men and women believe in a powerful government role for our society.  

Now. Yea or Nay.  Physicians should be allowed to own their practices and profit in that enterprise.  Citizens should be permitted to own private property including real estate and financial investments.    People ought to be monetarily rewarded for hard work and dedication;  those who are lazy and foolish will and should earn less.  Again, aside from a couple of kooks, I am receiving a lot of affirmative feedback.   Thus, it's safe to conclude that we overwhelming espouse free-market capitalism. 

So why not promote the best ideas for this country that embrace a strong, but limited, government that collaborates with a free market, subject to the rule of law?  In this Utopian world, each decision we make recognizes the need for balance between government and business.   Brand me an idealist.  Mock my naiveté.  Heck you can even call me wishy-washy for occasionally voting for a Democrat.  For crying out loud,  it's better than being a demagogue or an extremist.

Mr. Herschler is the Editor and Publisher of FHIweekly.

 Submit a READER RESPONSE for possible publication. 

Sunday, October 16, 2011

I Read the News Today Oh, Boy!


Recently healthcare leaders have been highlighting achievements in shuttering pill mills and choking off the supply of prescription drugs being sold illegally in Florida.  It appears federal and state efforts to crackdown on illicit pain management clinics might be thwarting drug abuse in Florida.  However according to veteran healthcare pundit Tara Pihn, there is evidence that more work needs to be done.  For example, Tara recently observed….

“….in the September 8 edition of Broward/Palm Beach New Times, there are 36 ads for clinics and physician offices offering pain management services. …. One clinic offers pain management services with ‘NO LIMIT’.  Another beckons new patients with this message:  ‘Has Your Doctor Closed?’.  Others will ‘Meet any Competitors Offer’ or deliver ‘Full Service Pain Management’.”

The other alternative weeklies in the area, Miami New Times and City Link, also run these ads. Tara has some questions.

Would a legitimate operator get value from this type of marketing expenditure?   
To this type of audience? 
And if they are not legitimate, could they operate openly by running ads in the alternative weeklies?

Click HERE to read the story.

Source:   FHIweekly via

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Heightened Risks in Healthcare M&A?

By Tara Pihn

With all this talk about Practice Mergers, Hospital/Physician Alignment and the ascent of ACO's, I have to bring up the possibility of inadvertently acquiring Whistle Blowers as a risk associated with Practice Acquisition.  None of the recent articles on the topic that I have read, including Todd Demel's otherwise excellent June contribution, mention this very real risk.   Exhibit 1:   Whistle-Blower Suit at Mount Sinai  (11th Circuit Court via DBR).  The case involves an administrator employed in an Oncology practice that was acquired by Mt. Sinai in Miami Beach.  The complainant administrator had been employed by the practice for a dozen years and become an employee of the hospital in 2009.   I don't pretend to know the merits of the employee's case.  That said, some of the allegations seem improbable.  I do know that Mt. Sinai has enjoyed an above average reputation in the S. Florida healthcare community and recently was mentioned at the top of U.S. News & World Report's Hospital Rankings.  I am guessing they have a pretty good Compliance Department as well.  Without attempting to try this case in cyberspace, it's worth noting that opportunistic employees and former employees abound in this economy and have little loyalty to an acquirer. 

More recently I spotted this Whistle Blower headline in a local paper:  Doctors Receive $700k to resolve kickback allegations.  This involves Midtown Imaging and their employed doctors in WPB.  Again I don't pretend to know the merits of the case.  And for all I know, Midtown was culpable.   The point is that there are huge risks from within our organizations.  Payoffs from "blowing the whistle" can set one up for life so incentives are enormous. 

Meanwhile some law firms are trying to drum up business by soliciting Whistle Blower suits.  One example is  They are running this provocative advertisement headline in a S. Florida business paper:  Thinking About Blowing the Whistle on Corporate or Government Fraud?

There is no doubt that legitimate Whistle Blowers serve a beneficial purpose in exposing fraud and corruption and saving precious government resources.  However, just as in med mal, slip & fall, personal injury and product liability cases, frivolous litigation by opportunists (employees and their attorneys) does occur in the Whistle Blower world.   These unnecessary legal actions clog the courts and restrict an already sluggish economy.  They also harm lawful healthcare providers.    Compliance Departments must be extra vigilant in these trying economic times especially if engaged in a merger or acquisition.  An otherwise fine organization can be destroyed by one rogue employee.

                            Comment on this Story  

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Florida's Top Group Practices

According to the South Florida Business Journal, the Top Five Group Practices in the region are Holy Cross Medical Group, Cleveland Clinic Florida, Phoenix Physicians LLC, University of Miami Health System - UHealth and University of Miami Hospital.   The Top 25 list, was published in their annual Guide To Health Care on Aug. 19 and is ranked by number of physicians.  Holy Cross Medical Group (at #5) boasts 135 docs while University of Miami Hospital (at #1) employs a whopping 1300. 

By comparison, Florida Physicians Medical Group (FPMG) claims to be the Orlando area's largest multi-specialty medical group practice with 252 board-certified physicians and surgeons. In Tampa that honor goes to the USF Physicians Group with more than 350 physicians.  Meanwhile,  the University of Florida Physicians (operating in Gainesville and Jacksonville) is a medical group practice comprised of more than 640 doctors.

The South Florida region has long held a reputation for smaller groups, duo's and solo's.  Any Detail Man (or Detail Woman) can tell you that. Often S Florida docs "pose" as groups but are really separate P/A's or LLC's sharing office space.  That said, SFBJ's latest list provides fresh evidence that economic forces, accelerated by HCR, appear to be changing this traditionally small group market. Click to view:  SFBJ's Top Five South Florida Group Practices.

 submit a READER RESPONSE for possible publication.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Why Rep Ryan’s plan doesn’t go far enough

Tara Pihn

OK.  Let’s recap.   There has been a lot of talk about unfunded liabilities and monstrous debt accumulation by the US government.    We’ve  known this was coming (for at least the last thirty years) but there has been little political appetite by either party to face the music.   The Great Recession (and the easy money policy response) exacerbated the problem and our leaders decided to finally address it.   The Bi-Partisan Debt Commission recommends over $4 trillion in budget cuts (over ten years) with heavy hits to entitlements.  But these recommendation are not adopted.  Nothing happens.  The ‘Pubs engage in a bit of brinkmanship and refuse to raise the debt ceiling.  Meanwhile the Ryan Plan recommends an austerity plan ($6.2 trillion in budget cuts over ten years)  that includes re-shaping Medicare.  He is careful to exclude citizens over 55 (he states in the WSJ on April 5 “But because government should not force people to reorganize their lives, its reforms will not affect those in or near retirement in any way.”).  The Dems deride Ryan’s Plan and staunchly stand up for all citizens and the Medicare benefits to which they are entitled.  Rep Ryan’s Path to Prosperity is promptly tabled since Progressive and even moderate Republicans won’t support it.   At the 11th hour, the debt ceiling deal goes through with massive budget compromise.  Only $2.4 trillion is cut, some of it fake.  Nobody is impressed.  Including S & P.  Downgrade in US credit rating results.  Then we have a global financial market meltdown.

It is allegedly extreme but in reality Rep Ryan’s plan doesn’t go far enough.  We have to cap Medicare benefits now, for everybody.  For those over 55.  For those over 60.  Hell, for those over 70.   To quote the Prez, “we all need some skin in the game”.  Now, before relegating me to the lunatic fringe, click on this link: US BIRTHS 1947-1964.  As you can see the Demographic Bulge is happening right now.  It’s peaking right now.  The people enjoying benefits and about to benefit are hitting their maximum numbers over the next decade.  That’s why it is Mission Critical to reform Medicare immediately with no Sacred Cows.

See related article from the New York Times:  Federal Budget (2011 and 2012) — Obama and Ryan Budget Plans

Saturday, August 20, 2011

South Florida Hospitals: Financial, Quality Results Revealed

Based on a recent South Florida Business Journal Report, the five largest hospital operators in the region are Baptist Health South Florida, Tenet, HCA, Memorial Healthcare System and Jackson Memorial Hospital.  See chart:  Largest S. FL Hospital Operators.  The top five all boasted net operating revenues in excess of $1 billion in fiscal year 2010.  The top four all earned an excess of revenue over expenses (i.e. profits) in the 3-7% range.  Jackson suffered a loss of $34.4 million versus $1.14 billion in revenue.  SFBJ notes that Jackson's loss has narrowed by 80.7% when compared to 2009. 

Meanwhile, U.S. News & World Report just released its Best Hospitals Report.  To learn about their methodology, click HERE.   This is the top five in South Florida according to USN&WR:

  • University of Miami, Jackson Memorial Hospital
  • Cleveland Clinic Florida
  • Mount Sinai Medical Center
  • Bascom Palmer Eye Institute (UM Health System)
  • Baptist Hospital of Miami 
To their credit, some operators occupy both lists. After all, how can one continue to deliver top quality without also delivering strong financial results? Interestingly (and perhaps ominously), there are no for profit entities occupying the top five quality list. 

See the rankings in your community by clicking here:  U.S. News & World Report: Top FL Hospitals

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Examining the Demographic Bulge and the Dynamics of Capitalism: Why the Pundits are too Gloomy

It’s pretty depressing reading the newspapers these days.  I speak metaphorically when I say “reading the newspapers”.  Clearly online reading is replacing traditional print media at an exponential rate.  But more on that later.  According to the experts, we are heading to Hell in a Handbasket because of unfunded entitlement programs, a demographic bulge and anemic growth.   Add to that runaway inflation caused by an historic increase in money supply (see hilarious and cynical video on The Quantitative Easing).  Admittedly the Great Recession and chronic budget deficits have left us with a full plate of challenges.  But it’s not as bad as the prophets of doom have made it out to be.  Here’s why.

The Demographic Bulge
The first Baby Boomers qualified for Medicare and Social Security this year.  The Baby Boom covers those born from 1946 – 1964.  Roughly speaking, the Boom lasted from the end of WWII to the launch of The Pill.  Nothing is certain but death and taxes.  And that applies to the Baby Boomers as well.  They will pay their taxes.  And more importantly they will die.  The first batch will be mostly gone in twenty years.  The younger Boomers (present company included) will be pretty much gone in forty.  So is entitlement reform necessary?  Definitely.  That said, this crisis will eventually solve itself (Learn more, click here:  Equilibrium Theory).  Dead people don’t receive Medicare benefits or Social Security checks.

Dynamics of Capitalism
Meanwhile growth will return to this economy.  Despite the frequent predictions of our imminent demise, this nation enjoys an embarrassment of riches including a highly skilled and educated workforce, abundant natural resources, meritocracy, democracy and the rule of law. Some aging Boomers, inept politicians and greedy bankers can’t ruin all of that.   And innovation is being deployed at a breathtaking pace.   Did anyone outside of Silicon Valley even know what a Tablet was five years ago?   Or Social Media?  Or Cloud Computing?  Innovation causes major economic disruptions in the short run.  These are the structural economic challenges that the pessimistic pundits talk about gloomily.   They often fail to mention that in the long run these disruptive innovations instill economic efficiencies and capital growth that we never dreamed off.  Here’s just one example.   In the next fifty years a new energy industry will emerge to replace fossil fuels.  This will create millions of jobs, solve the trade in balance and eliminate our need to fight expensive foreign wars.  Here’s another one that’s already happening big time.  The way we read and learn is rapidly changing and reinventing the media, publishing and education industries.   We can now read a news story and view a video of the incident simultaneously.  And then check all the references and related articles from multiple media sources with the click of a mouse or a touch screen.   But this goes way beyond crushing the big city dailies, putting Borders out of business or making college degrees more affordable.  Information and the knowledge and wisdom derived from it will become universal (provided we have an Internet connection).  How’s that for a game changer?

The Way Forward
We’ve seen this movie before.  The Great Depression and WWII in the 30’s and 40’s.  Vietnam, race riots, Watergate and Stagflation in the 60’s and 70’s.  A double-dip recession, huge budget deficits and the Cold War in the 80’s.  We emerged stronger.   This current crisis will have a similar outcome.  But it won’t be easy.  The young Boomers will take the biggest hit. Traditional retirement will not be an option for most as cuts in entitlement programs will have to be offset by hard work late in life.   A sensible immigration policy that compensates for the reduction in American birthrates can bring in younger workers to expand the tax base.  Speaking of taxes, we need coherent tax reform so all workers have some skin in the game.  Something sensible will have to emerge with regard to healthcare policy.  Hats off to the Dems for doing something but HCR is not the answer.   And finally we need a national energy policy to accelerate the departure from fossil fuels.

This time is not different.  This time is like any other era in American history.   For those willing to work hard, hustle and innovate the future is quite bright.   Comment on this Story

Sunday, July 17, 2011


click headline to view post in its entirety
In the past week, Florida lawmakers turned down a $2.1 million federal grant that would pave the way for the state to receive $35 million in federal funding that would move elderly and disabled patients from nursing homes to their own homes during the next five years. With the help of this federal funding elderly people could be moved out of nursing homes to independent-living facilities or to support care at home with their families resulting in less money to be spent on nursing-home care. Republican legislators defended their refusal of the latest federal grant, known as the Money Follows the Person funding...Is there any hope that rational thought will prevail in Tallahassee? -Bernd Wollschlaeger, MD

RE:  Medicare Reform 

According to a article posted on July 8... "Democrats have spent a lot of time lambasting Republicans for supporting a Medicare reform plan from House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan. They excoriate it as 'destroying Medicare as we know it.'"  When will the Progressives realize that Medicare as we know it is unsustainable and must be destroyed?  Over utilized and plagued with fraud, the Medicare Program's time has come and that's a good thing for young and old, for conservatives and liberals!  -Healthcare Professional, Ft. Lauderdale 

Re:  Doctor Accountability vs. Patient Justice

Medical liability reforms such as HB-479 are bad for everyone except those hospitals and doctors who make mistakes that hurt patients.
Is it fair to limit the recovery of a patient who is the victim of a wrong leg a doctor who had performed ANOTHER wrong leg surgery just a year before?
I represented a client in just that situation.
Some claim that the new legislation promotes a friendlier place to practice medicine.
Is "friendly" really what the citizens of Florida deserve or need?
How about safe and accountable?
What do you think?
 -John Leighton, Leighton Law  |

Re: Understanding HB 155:  Is this a Joke?
It's not a joke and FAFP has joined in a lawsuit with other medical physician organizations to try and declare the law unconstitutional. These are nasty times.
 -Tad Fisher, Executive VP, Florida Academy of Family Physicians

New Jersey license has a statement on their license renewal to waive your  rights.
 -New Jersey Physician

Re:  Unfunded Entitlements

The Greek debacle is a cautionary tale.  We must face down the budget crisis now to avoid the chaos recently seen in Athens.  Greece has become a nation of corrupt and entrenched bureaucrats, idle rich and a disillusioned workforce that has largely forgotten how to hustle and innovate.  If our leaders don't lead, the US is headed down that same path.  The nation that perfected democracy has to avoid the Hell being endured in the country that invented it.  -Healthcare Executive, Miami

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Florida's Healthcare Workers Command High Wages Despite Declining Reimbursements, Sagging Economy

By Jeff Herschler

According to the Florida Agency for Workforce Innovation, Florida's healthcare workers are outperforming many of their peers in other industries.  And this feat is achieved despite reimbursement reductions and a weak economy.

For example, physicians and surgeons boast a mean yearly wage of $107,540 for entry level and $235,710 for experienced practitioners.   Pediatricians don't do badly either, earning $89,550 to $200,970.  Meanwhile Registered Nurses are making $46,400 to $71,380.  Pharmacists gross $88,450 to $117,150 while an OBGYN's mean annual wage is $225,620. A typical Radiation Therapist's yearly salary is $55,720 to $89,040.  One hot emerging category is Physician Assistant. They earn $64,150 to $100,960.   Surprising many is the fact that Podiatrists gross $73,770 to $171,400.

Healthcare workers' outperformance is apparent at the national level as well.  According to (citing On Numbers analysis of federal compensation data for 801 occupations), the eight highest paying jobs in America are in the healthcare field.  See article:  Highest Paying Jobs in America. 

Not all healthcare jobs are high paying however. The Florida Agency for Workforce Innovation reports that Emergency Medical Technicians and Paramedics earn $23,010 to $36,950 while a Home Health Aid's annual salary comes in just a bit above the minimum wage at $18,090 to $26,940. has published a photo gallery illustrating several healthcare vocations and their average incomes.  Click here to view the photo gallery. 
Mr. Herschler is the Editor and Publisher of FHIweekly and 

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Reader commentary regarding HB-155 (Provides that licensed practitioner or facility may not record firearm ownership information in patient's medical record)

For centuries, the law has recognized the importance of physician patient communications. Privilege extends over those communications such that a physician may not be compelled to disclose information obtained from a patient without that patient’s permission or a court order. The idea here is to give patients confidence and comfort in discussing highly personal matters with their physician. Similar privileges exist between lawyers and clients and clergy (known as the priest/penitent privilege). It seems to me that the Florida law does harm to physician patient communication because it begins to regulate the communication instead of protecting it.
 --Michael J. Sacopulos, JD

I was taught to be concerned about "anticipatory guidance" — teaching parents how to safeguard their children against accidental injuries. Like pediatricians, family doctors ask about bike helmets, seat belts, and GUNS. [This Law]… means I cannot counsel parents how to secure a gun to prevent accidental injury and death?  Shall I delete those questions from my patient intake form? Shall I NEVER ask those questions?  Will I be disciplined if I dare asking those questions?
 --Bernd Wollschlaeger, MD

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Law Firm Unveils Recommendations for Health Providers in Response to Controversial Draft ACO Regulations

McDermott Will & Emery recently released a detailed white paper entitled, “The Controversial Draft Medicare ACO Regulations: Analysis, Comments, and Recommended Action."  McDermott health lawyers have prepared this publication to help make sense of the proposed ACO regulations, and provide specific action steps.
ACOs, which create incentives for health care providers to work together to treat individual patients across multiple care settings, are at the core of the federal health care reform legislation enacted last year.  On April 7th, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) finally published 400+ pages of draft ACO regulations that many in the health care industry view as excessively burdensome and biased against providers. On May 17th, the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation announced a parallel track ACO initiative called ‘Pioneer ACO’ that may have been intended to overcome such objections and stimulate interest in ACO participation.
“Reaction to the proposed rules issued by CMS to implement the Medicare Shared Savings Program ("MSSP") has reportedly been harsh and critical,” observed Gary Scott Davis, a partner at McDermott Will & Emery who focuses his practice on managed care, hospital-physician alignment and health system strategic transactions, restructurings and reorganizations.  "While it remains to be seen how the Federal Government will ultimately implement ACOs, providers today are looking for much-needed guidance as they consider ACO participation,” added Davis.  “Regardless of whether a hospital, health system, physician group or other provider presently intends to participate in the MSSP, understanding the regulations are important to any ACO formation, whether with Medicare or a private insurer. We believe that ultimately many of the concepts being vetted and developed – metrics and mechanics to measure and assess quality as a means for reimbursement -- will end up being incorporated into private market ACOs.” 
Private sector efforts toward accountable care are well under way, and will continue whether or not the final regulations are implemented.  “The private sector will not wait for the government to figure this out,” adds Davis. “There is a major paradigm shift already under way that is making the need for accountable care ever more urgent.  And, because there are elements in the proposed regulations that provide important  foundational concepts for achieving accountable care in the private sector, our white paper should prove uniquely valuable. This document should be particularly helpful to industry participants seeking to accomplish two critical goals of accountable care:  tying quality to payment and capturing and using the critical data needed to get paid on this basis.”

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Examining Patient Decision Making in Selecting a Provider

According to a research report entitled Selecting a Provider: What Factors Influence Patients' Decision Making? published in the March/April edition of the Journal of Healthcare Management, reputation of organization and reputation of physician(s) are the chief drivers in choosing a provider.  The study was based on 467 survey respondents at a large academic medical center in Minnesota.  The respondents were mostly white (87%), well-educated (84% had at least some college), insured (100%) and healthy (73.4% were in good health or better).  The group was broadly diversified over the age spectrum.
"In Network", appointment availability and physician referral were close behind reputations as an impetus to facility or clinic selection.    Interestingly, cost is only a factor in 44.29% of provider choice decisions illustrating the fact that healthcare is currently not consumer driven as we rely on third party payers.  Only 24.2% reported using websites that report clinical quality data.  That number is sure to climb in future surveys.  Advertising comes in tenth as a decision motivator, again underscoring the lack of consumerism in healthcare.  This also suggests that providers will be well served by establishing their reputations, contracting with insurers and addressing service and logistical issues before committing to advertising campaigns.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

And the Winners are....

Recently the South Florida Business Journal announced their 2011 Ultimate CEO Awards for Palm Beach County. There were ten honorees; four were healthcare leaders.  According to the SFBJ, top CEO's from the Palm Beach area medical community are:

Scott H. Adams, CEO, Integrity Tracking LLC dba MobileHelp - The company's website describes the  firm as a "healthcare technology company that developed and distributes the MobileHelp medical alert provide emergency assistance to users while in their homes or away."
Davide M. Carbone, CEO, St. Mary's Medical Center and the Children's Hospital at St. Mary's
Cathy Cohn, president/CEO, Healthy Mothers Healthy Babies Coalition of Palm Beach County
Jerry Fedele, president and CEO, Boca Raton Regional Hospital

Sunday, April 17, 2011

FL Docs Monitor Pending Legislation

At the state and federal level, legislation is pending that, if passed, could have a significant impact on Florida providers. 

In Tallahassee Sen. Ellyn Bogdanoff, R- Fort Lauderdale has introduced a bill to fight staged automobile accidents and excessive PIP claims.  Consumer advocates and the insurance industry support the bill.  See Strange Bedfellows: Insurance Industry Unites with Consumer.  The FMA and the Florida Chiropractors Association have voiced their opposition to the pending legislation. The concern is that the proposed new law would make it easy for insurers to delay payments and deny PIP claims to legitimate providers.  In other words, "this new law would cast too large a net thus ensnaring honest docs already squeezed by declining healthcare reimbursements," stated a leading physician advocate. Adds Glen Ged, Ellis, Ged & Bodden "All legitimate parties want to see fraud out of the system -- the stated aim of these bills. However, many provisions would only open the door to greater insurance company profits at the expense of providers."  An editorial in the Ft. Lauderdale Sun Sentinel, insists that the proposed new law is not good news for consumers either.  See PIP Legislation Bad News for Docs and Citizens.  However according to a recent article in the Daily Business Review, the Insurance Information Institute estimates Floridians have paid an extra $1 Billion in auto insurance premiums due to bogus claims. 

Meanwhile, in D.C. the Help Efficient Accessible Low-cost Timely Healthcare Act of 2011 would cap contingent attorney's fees in medical malpractice cases.  Sponsored by US Rep. Phil Gingrey, R-Georgia, the bill also includes a cap of $250,000 for non-economic damages.  The goal of this legislation is "To improve patient access to health care services and provide improved medical care by reducing the excessive burden the liability system places on the health care delivery system" according to  The CBO estimates savings of $35 per American over five years.  Opponents of the legislation assert that the caps, while appearing consumer-friendly, are actually bad for consumers.  In an article published recently in the Daily Business Review, Brian Wolfman, a law professor at Georgetown University stated that the bill "...fixes non-economic damages at $250,000 forever, regardless of the impact of inflation" and that this illustrates that the cap " not a genuine attempt to gauge the impact on real people's lives..." Predictably Democrats are against this legislation.  Ironically they cite the sanctity of free markets and states' rights (two subjects typically championed by Republicans) as reasons to oppose the bill.

Stay tuned.

Sunday, April 10, 2011


According to

"Starting in 2022, the House GOP resolution would convert Medicare -- the health care program for seniors -- into a voucher program, or what Ryan calls a premium-support model.  Under such a system, seniors would choose from a Medicare-approved list of private insurance plans and the cost of their chosen plan would be subsidized in part by the federal government."

And with regard to Medicaid reform, reported that

"The resolution would also convert the federal government's payments for Medicaid -- the health program for the poor and disabled -- into a block grant to be allocated among states. Currently, federal payments to states are determined by a formula."

 Read the complete story HERE.

The GOP Path to Prosperity by Paul Ryan was posted to the Wall Street Journal website on Monday (April 4) evening.  In that op-ed piece, Representative Ryan said

"The open-ended, blank-check nature of the Medicare subsidy threatens the solvency of this critical program and creates inexcusable levels of waste,"  

He also stated:

"The new health-care law is a fiscal train wreck."

Click the link to see the Paul Ryan video: 

"If you think healthcare is expensive now, wait until it's free," states House Representative, Paul Ryan (R), Wisconsin.