(Previous Issues)

February 28, 2003

Medical Liability
House Republicans hold emergency medical malpractice hearing
Recent Poll Shows Public Position on Malpractice Crisis in Pennsylvania
State News
"Cover the Uninsured Week" activities slated for March 10-16
Federal News
Bush Signs spending bill; bill includes over $800 million for hospitals
CMS to implement positive 1.6% physician fee update

CDC: No serious adverse events reported from civilian vaccinations

 

Medical Liability
House Republicans hold emergency medical malpractice hearing. The House Majority Policy Committee held the first in a series of medical liability hearings this week at Holy Redeemer Hospital to take testimony on the impact of the medical malpractice crisis on health care in Pennsylvania. Participating in a panel with Michael Laign, Chief Executive Officer of Holy Redeemer Hospital and Mark Baumel, Chief Medical Officer of Mercy Health System, Alan N. Rosenberg testified on behalf of Penn Medicine discussing the impact of the professional liability crisis on the Health System and the need to move quickly on short-term relief and further reform efforts.

Recent Poll Shows Public Position on Malpractice Crisis in Pennsylvania. According to a recent Quinnipiac University poll, 43 percent of PA voters approve of the governor's handling of the medical liability issue. 33 percent were undecided. 68 percent of voters also say that patients bring too many lawsuits against doctors; and 65 percent say jury awards in malpractice suits are too high, while 21 percent say they are about right and five percent say they are too low. By a 72 to 23 percent margin voters support a limit on the amount of money awarded for pain and suffering in medical malpractice cases.

State News
"Cover the Uninsured Week" activities slated for March 10-16. The Health System and the School of Medicine along with many hospitals, health systems and universities across the nation are preparing for the national "Cover the Uninsured Week." The event is to raise awareness of and support for extending health care coverage to the more than 41 million uninsured Americans. Events will be announced in next week's update. For more information please visit www.CoverTheUninsuredWeek.org/news.

Federal News
Bush Signs spending bill; bill includes over $800 million for hospitals.
Last week President Bush signed the fiscal year 2003 omnibus-spending bill, which contains over $800 million in increased spending for hospitals. The legislation includes a $300 million increase from April 1 through Sept. 20 in Medicare payments for rural and "other urban" hospitals through equalization of the standardized rate. It also provides $518 million in bioterrorism preparedness funding for hospitals, $15 million in new funding for the Nurse Reinvestment Act, and $28 million in education incentives for medical schools to incorporate bioterrorism related information in their curriculums. The omnibus bill did not include the restoration of the IME reductions that the hospital industry advocated for over the past six months. It did include a "fix" of the Medicare update for physician payments as noted below.

CMS to implement positive 1.6% physician fee update. CMS was scheduled to implement a negative 4.4% update effective March 1, 2003. CMS has been working with Congress over the past few months to correct a defect in the formula generated in part by unanticipated changes in economic conditions. This flaw will be corrected and instead of the 4.45 negative update, a positive 1.6% update will be implemented effective March 1, 2003. Working with AAMC, the Health System has been active in advocacy efforts to address this mistake including very helpful letters from clinical chairs and senior management to members of Congress.

CDC: No serious adverse events reported from civilian vaccinations. From Jan. 24th through Feb. 14th the smallpox vaccine was administered to 4,213 civilian health care workers in 27 jurisdictions as reported by the CDC. No potentially life threatening or moderate-to-severe adverse events were reported. Seven people reported non-serious adverse events, the most common signs and symptoms being fever, rash, malaise, pruritus, hypertension, and pharyngitis. CDC said reported adverse events are not necessarily associated with the vaccination and may be incidental. The agency plans to continue publishing regular smallpox vaccination, surveillance reports in its and Mortality Weekly Report. For more info, go to www.cdc.gov/mmwr.


The Government Relations Weekly Update is provided by the
Office of Government Relations of the University of Pennsylvania Health System

Shelly Krycia or Alan N. Rosenberg
Government Relations Office
University of Pennsylvania Health System
2021 Penn Tower/4385
Phone: 215-349-5136
Fax: 215-662-3910

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