The February 14 issue of AAMC News and Leadership Announcements is now available:
Dr. Darrell Kirch, President and CEO of the AAMC, authored an essay posted on Wednesday by The Hill, a newspaper popular on Capitol Hill, discussing “How sequestration will hurt patients.” Dr. Kirch concluded, “Medical schools and teaching hospitals are committed to doing their part to slow the growth of health care spending by developing new models of care that reward results…They also are developing and disseminating best practices for reducing hospital infections, making surgeries safer, and ensuring that tomorrow’s doctors are trained in these new practices. Change is happening, but budget cuts that disproportionately affect patients at teaching hospitals will not only affect the vital care these institutions provide, they will slow their ability to make care better, safer, and more cost-effective. That’s a bad prescription for the future of health care.” Dr. Kirch also discussed the impact on patients of possible medical research funding cuts.
The American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM) on Wednesday announced the appointment of Dr. Richard J. Baron as its new President and Chief Executive Officer, effective June 2013. Dr. Baron will serve as President and CEO of both ABIM and the ABIM Foundation, succeeding Christine K. Cassel, MD, who will be stepping down in June and become president and CEO of the National Quality Forum. Dr. Baron currently serves as the Group Director, Seamless Care Models, at the Innovation Center at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS).
Martin Lipsky, MD, regional dean of the University of Illinois College of Medicine at Rockford, has announced his resignation.
A report last week from the Congressional Budget Office highlighted what the NY Times called, “A sharp and surprisingly persistent slowdown in the growth of health care costs…” The Times further reported, the CBO “said it had erased hundreds of billions of dollars in projected spending on Medicare and Medicaid. The budget office now projects that spending on those two programs in 2020 will be about $200 billion, or 15 percent, less than it projected three years ago. New data also show overall health care spending growth continuing at the lowest rate in decades for a fourth consecutive year.” The paper added, “Health experts say they do not yet fully understand what is driving the lower spending trajectory. But there is a growing consensus that changes in how doctors and hospitals deliver health care – as opposed to merely a weak economy – are playing a role.”
A viewpoint essay in Wednesday’s issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) discussed “Community Research Partnerships: Underappreciated Challenges, Unrealized Opportunities.” The authors discuss some of the legal and compliance challenges facing academic medical centers in building such networks and some potential solutions. The authors of the article are Jennifer Kulynych, J.D., and Kate Heffernan,J.D. Ms. Kulynich is the Counsel for Human Research at Johns Hopkins Hospital and Health System and a former member of the AAMC staff.
The New York Times on Monday profiled Dr. Steven M. Safyer, the president of Montefiore Medical Center. According to the article, Dr. Safyer “took the helm of Montefiore in 2008 after three decades at the hospital, starting as an intern and resident who later spent years caring for inmates at Rikers Island. Today, he oversees four hospitals and 125 health clinics across the Bronx and lower Westchester County with a staff of 18,332 — making it the borough’s largest employer — providing services from primary care to fertility treatments and outpatient cardiac procedures….Dr. Safyer is the latest in a line of influential Montefiore leaders…who have helped shape the history of the Bronx. ”
Michael D. Tanner, a senior fellow at the Cato Institute, authored an essay in the Wilmington News Journal on Wednesday, that calls for an end to the federal funding of medical research. Mr. Tanner stated that “we should ask whether government funding of medical research is really necessary. There is no proof that the private sector is incapable of financing medical research, either for profit or as charity.” He also asserted that, “No evidence shows that government bureaucrats have either the qualifications or the incentives to make better decisions than private individuals and organizations about what research should be funded.” The Cato Institute describes itself as a “libertarian think tank.” It was founded by Charles Koch.
The Government Accountability Office released a report on Wednesday concerning the Department of Defense’s combat casualty care research and development program. GAO recommended “that DOD (1) communicate the importance of early coordination among DOD’s nonmedical organizations and (2) develop and implement a plan to determine the extent to which research fills gaps and achieves other goals. DOD concurred with these recommendations.”
A column in Thursday’s Washington Post was titled the “Promising Science Work at Risk” and discusses potential budget cuts to the NIH. The on-line version was titled, “Dumb budget cuts would slow promising research on flu, cancer, other diseases.” The author, Robert McCarney, concluded, “America’s medical scientists have the brains and vision to make life better for all of us, if only our politicians would get out of their way.”
The Institute of Medicine on Wednesday released a report contending that, “No country acting alone can protect its citizens against the health risks posed by illegitimate medications, and reducing this problem requires international cooperation.” The report also “calls for global agreement on an international code of practice on drug quality. It also recommends establishing a mandatory drug tracking system and tightening the licensing requirements on medication wholesalers in the United States.” The report was the product of the Committee on Understanding the Global Public Health Implications of Substandard, Falsified, and Counterfeit Medical Products, chaired by Lawrence O. Gostin, J.D., of the Georgetown University Law Center.
The Baltimore Sun on Wednesday reported, “The University of Maryland St. Joseph Medical Center failed a critical federal inspection and has been unable to collect what is likely millions of dollars in Medicare reimbursements from the federal government since Dec. 1. As part of its takeover of the troubled St. Joseph that day, the University of Maryland voluntarily gave up a certification needed to bill Medicare and applied for a new one. The university health system wanted to disassociate itself from problems the hospital faced under its previous owner, Denver-based Catholic Health Initiatives.” However, the paper further reported, “A federal inspection days after the acquisition turned up shortcomings at St. Joseph. As a result, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) could not issue what is known as a Medicare provider agreement to St. Joseph. As of Tuesday, it could not be determined why St. Joseph failed the inspection. The federal agency conducted a second survey in February, but the results are not complete.” The paper noted that “In the meantime, the hospital can’t bill Medicare and may be losing money it will never recover, according to federal guidelines.”
The Institute of Medicine’s National Cancer Policy Forum held a workshop October 8-9, 2012 “to examine the drivers of current and projected cancer care costs, as well as potential ways to curb these costs while maintaining or improving the quality of care.” The IOM recently posted a summary of the workshop.
Dr. Lloyd Minor, an otolaryngologist and former provost of Johns Hopkins University, became dean of the Stanford University School of Medicine on Dec. 1. A recent article in the Stanford Report profiled Dr. Minor and discussed his agenda for the school.
Mr. Joseph McInerney has been named Executive Vice President of the American Society of Human Genetics (ASHG). He previously served as Executive Director for 10 years of the National Coalition for Health Professional Education in Genetics (NCHPEG), from which he retired in 2010. He succeeds Dr. Joann Boughman who is now Senior Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, University System of Maryland.
Drexel University College of Medicine this week announced it “has partnered with Kaiser Permanente in California to help ensure a strong physician workforce for the future and to further develop emerging healthcare leaders for the Sacramento region. This summer, as many as 16 third-year medical students from Drexel University College of Medicine’s Philadelphia-based campus will begin a year of clinical rotations at Kaiser Permanente medical centers in Sacramento, South Sacramento, Roseville, and Vallejo. The medical students will do rotations in pediatrics, obstetrics/gynecology, surgery, outpatient, psychiatry, family medicine, and adult medicine.”
The Sioux Falls Argus Leader on Wednesday reported on early discussions by University of South Dakota officials on whether to shorten medical school from four years to three for students pursuing careers as family doctors.
The New York Times and others reported on a paper released by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) on Monday that highlighted limitations of mice as a model for some human inflammatory diseases.
JAMA Internal Medicine has released an article on the difficulty consumers have in discovering the price of hip replacement surgery. According to the article, only about half of the hospitals contacted could provide any sort of price estimate. Of those that did provide an estimate, the quotes varied by a factor of more than 10, with the range from $11,100 to $125,798.
The HHS Office of Research Integrity this week posted the new issue of its quarterly newsletter (carrying a December 2012 cover date). The lead story featured a detailed examination of the increase in the number of journal article retractions and what it may — or may not — tell us about the frequency of research misconduct. The article is by John Krueger, Ph.D., a member of the staff of the ORI Division of Investigative Oversight.
The Corporation of Brown University on Wednesday formally approved creation of a new School of Public Health. Dr. Terrie “Fox” Wetle, associate dean of medicine for public health, will serve as the school’s inaugural dean.
AAMC has published an updated version of its primer for new teaching hospitals entitled, “Becoming a New Teaching Hospital, A Guide to the Medicare Requirements.” This primer is designed to assist hospitals that are thinking of becoming new teaching hospitals as well as medical schools seeking to develop education partnerships with non-teaching hospitals to understand the basic principles of the Medicare payments available to support the added costs associated with being a teaching hospital. The guide is free to AAMC members (it is available only in hard copy). After logging in, members will only have to pay shipping. The publication also is available to non-members for $100. For more information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Breast Cancer and Environmental Research Act, enacted in 2008, required HHS to establish an Interagency Breast Cancer and Environmental Research Coordinating Committee (IBCERCC) of federal and non-federal members “to examine the current state of breast cancer and the environment research and make recommendations for eliminating any knowledge gaps in this area.” The report has been released and the panel recommended that research into the environmental causes of breast cancer research and its prevention be higher funding priorities.
A study published in the January issue of Clinical and Translational Science reported on a national survey that “found that only 11% of adults and 5% of children had ever participated in medical research.” The authors also “found that 64% of adults said they were aware of opportunities to participate in medical research, while only 12% of parents said they were aware of opportunities for their children to participate.”
WellPoint on Tuesday appointed Joseph Swedish its new chief executive officer. According to news reports, “WellPoint, which sells health insurance as Blue Cross Blue Shield, holds the No. 2 spot in the United States behind UnitedHealth Group Inc.” Mr. Swedish has been CEO at Trinity Health, which has 47 hospitals and had revenue of $9 billion in 2012. Trinity includes the Loyola University Health System. Trinity has named Larry Warren as interim CEO. Mr. Warren is the former CEO of Howard University Hospital and former CEO of the University of Michigan Hospital.
Dr. Susan Love, clinical professor of surgery at UCLA, author, and prominent breast cancer research advocate, was recently interviewed by the LA Times concerning her experience as a patient with leukemia.
The Hennepin Healthcare System, Inc. has named Jon Pryor, MD, MBA, as its new chief executive officer. The system operates Hennepin County Medical Center (HCMC), a Minneapolis trauma center and public hospital. Dr. Pryor replaces David Jones, who stepped in as interim CEO in August when Arthur Gonzalez left to become CEO of Denver Health. Dr. Pryor is currently the CEO of the Medical College of Wisconsin Medical College Physicians, a clinical practice group of the medical staff for Froedtert Health System. Dr. Pryor is the former chair of urologic surgery at the Univ. of Minnesota.
President Obama’s state of the union message on Tuesday evening discussed both Medicare reform and medical research. He said:
+Medicare: “…I’m prepared to enact reforms that will achieve the same amount of health care savings by the beginning of the next decade as the reforms proposed by the bipartisan Simpson-Bowles commission. Already, the Affordable Care Act is helping to slow the growth of health care costs. The reforms I’m proposing go even further. We’ll reduce taxpayer subsidies to prescription drug companies and ask more from the wealthiest seniors. We’ll bring down costs by changing the way our government pays for Medicare, because our medical bills shouldn’t be based on the number of tests ordered or days spent in the hospital – they should be based on the quality of care that our seniors receive. And I am open to additional reforms from both parties, so long as they don’t violate the guarantee of a secure retirement. Our government shouldn’t make promises we cannot keep – but we must keep the promises we’ve already made.”
+Medical Research: “If we want to make the best products, we also have to invest in the best ideas. Every dollar we invested to map the human genome returned $140 to our economy. Today, our scientists are mapping the human brain to unlock the answers to Alzheimer’s; developing drugs to regenerate damaged organs; devising new material to make batteries 10 times more powerful. Now is not the time to gut these job-creating investments in science and innovation. Now is the time to reach a level of research and development not seen since the height of the Space Race.”
Alan L. Schiller, MD, has been named Professor and Chair or the Department of Pathology at the John A. Burns School of Medicine of the University of Hawaii. He was earlier chair of pathology at Mount Sinai.
CORRECTION: In my earlier message on Ray L. Watts, M.D., being named President of the University of Alabama at Birmingham, I erroneously said he is succeeding Carol Goddard. He actually is succeeding Carol Garrison.