Archive for the ‘Development’ Category

Hospital Executives’ Priority Is to Control Costs

Tuesday, October 19th, 2010

Hospital CEOs’ top priority is to bring their costs in line with Medicare payment levels. The American College of Healthcare Executives (ACHE) tested the waters of how its members feel about the Affordable Care and Patient Protection Act by conducting an in-depth survey.  The primary finding is that hospital executives are reacting to healthcare reform by slashing expenses. Their goal is to bring their per-patient costs into line with Medicare payment levels.

Based in Chicago, the trade association for hospital and healthcare system executives, queried 539 CEOs and learned that more than 75 percent plan to cut per-patient costs.  Additionally, they intend to study means to avoid penalties for preventable readmissions over the next year as a response to the healthcare reform law.

Thomas Dolan, ACHE President and CEO, said “Hospital CEOs are actively taking steps to ensure their communities are going to benefit from the advantages offered by healthcare reform legislation.”

Approximately 72 percent of executives who took the survey plan to build closer relationships with physicians so all can benefit from incentives for care coordination, enhanced quality, patient safety and reduced costs.  Another 68 percent plan to apply for subsidies through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to purchase electronic health record systems.  Fully two-thirds are investigating ways to prevent infections and avoid penalties.  Almost 50 percent of respondents plan to look into ways to decrease the average patient stay or partner with community organizations to promote wellness.

Anthony Downs On Financial Reform

Tuesday, September 14th, 2010

Anthony Downs discusses the ins and outs of financial reform.  The nation’s financial system needs significantly more regulation than exists now.  The lack of tough regulatory powers strongly impacted the recent financial crash and the Great Recession that ensued.  The good news is that the Obama administration is moving firmly in this direction with financial reform legislation a critical item on its agenda.  This is the opinion of Anthony Downs, a senior fellow with the Brookings Institution and former President of the Real Estate Research Corporation.  In a recent interview for the Alter+Care Podcasts, Downs said that between 1980 and 2007, the value of international capital markets – including bank deposits, assets, equities, public and private debt – quadrupled relative to the world’s GDP, lifting millions of people out of poverty.  Although unprecedented, this growth relied heavily on borrowed money to finance higher living standards and highly leveraged loans with limited reserves backing them.  In the end, the growth was unable to be sustained.

The financial reform legislation currently undergoing reconciliation by a Senate-House conference committee is not a reinstatement of the 1933 Glass-Steagall Act – which separated investment and commercial banking — because banks will still be allowed to deal with securities.  Under the new law, banks will have to register derivatives with some type of formal exchange and maintain records on who is borrowing money and under what terms.  This marks a significant change from before the Great Recession, when derivatives were traded with virtually no oversight.

Downs believes that former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan contributed to the financial crisis in two ways.  In 2001, when Greenspan was informed that there was fraud in the subprime housing market and that he should do something about it, he refused to take action because he didn’t believe in regulation.  According to Downs, “that was a terrible mistake and meant that all the horrible loans made in the subprime market could continue unchecked.”  Greenspan’s second error was to maintain low interest rates for as long as he did at a time when an enormous amount of capital was coming into the United States economy from overseas.  Because investors were avoiding the stock market, they put their money into real estate.  That drove the price of properties sky high and destroyed the concept of intelligent underwriting and evaluating the risk before approving the loan.