AAMC News and Leadership Announcements, 2013 April 7

The current issue of AAMC News and Leadership Announcements is now available:

Thursday’s Washington Post reported, “Cancer clinics across the country have begun turning away thousands of Medicare patients, blaming the sequester budget cuts. Oncologists say the reduced funding, which took effect for Medicare on April 1, makes it impossible to administer expensive chemotherapy drugs while staying afloat financially.” A follow-up article in Friday’s Post featured comments from Medicare officials that confirmed that the Medicare Part B drug program is not exempt from sequester cuts and that the situation cannot be resolved administratively.

Friday’s Twin Cities Pioneer Press reported, “The University of Minnesota has proposed a takeover of Fairview Health Services, the Minneapolis-based health system that operates the university’s flagship teaching hospitals and is one of the state’s largest health care providers. University President Eric Kaler outlined the proposal in a January letter that university officials released Thursday, April 4.” The article noted that “Since 1997, Fairview has operated the U’s teaching hospitals in Minneapolis through an affiliation agreement. The disclosure comes just days before Attorney General Lori Swanson is scheduled to conduct a hearing at the Capitol on merger talks between Fairview and Sanford Health, a large hospital system based in the Dakotas.” An article in Sunday’s Star Tribune reviewed the relationship between Denny Sanford, the “dominant figure” at Sanford Health, and the Univ. of Minnesota.

Dr. Paul B. Rothman, dean of the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and CEO of Johns Hopkins Medicine, wrote to faculty on Friday concerning recent comments by Dr. Benjamin Carson concerning the gay marriage issue. Simultaneously, Dr. Carson sent a letter of apology to the Hopkins community,

NPR’s All Things Considered on Thursday featured a segment on a UCLA program aimed at helping Latin American-trained physicians qualify and be placed in primary care residency positions in California.

An article last week in the Charlotte Observer reported that an investigation by Senator Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) “…has found that three nonprofit hospitals in North Carolina have made millions from a discount drug program intended to help the poor and uninsured. Hundreds of U.S. hospitals, including more than 40 in North Carolina, obtain deep discounts on outpatient drugs under a rapidly growing federal program called 340B.” The three North Carolina teaching hospitals strongly defended their participation in the program.

The deans of Michigan’s allopathic and osteopathic medical schools wrote a joint op-ed in the Detroit Free Press last week on the impact of federal budget cuts on medical research and the patients such research is seeking to help. The essay was written by Drs. Valerie M. Parisi, Marsha D. Rappley, James O. Woolliscroft, Robert Folberg, Hal Jenson, William Strampel, and Ernest Yoder. Jeffrey Gold, M.D., chancellor and EVt for health affairs of the University of Toledo, authored a commentary in Saturday’s Toledo Blade on the impact of the sequester on both research and health care.

Sunday’s New York Times featured an essay by Dr. Richard A. Friedman, a professor of clinical psychiatry and the director of the psychopharmacology clinic at the Weill Cornell Medical College, on the “…682 percent increase in the number of psychoactive drugs – antipsychotics, sedatives, stimulants and mood stabilizers – prescribed to our troops between 2005 and 2011. That’s right. A nearly 700 percent increase – despite a steady reduction in combat troop levels since 2008.” According to Dr. Friedman, “The prescribing trends suggest that the military often uses medications in ways that are not approved by the Food and Drug Administration and do not comport with the usual psychiatric standards of practice.”

Dr. Prakash Nagarkatti, Vice President for Research at the University of South Carolina, wrote an op-ed essay this week in The State, South Carolina’s largest newspaper, lamenting the threat to university-based innovation posed by the federal budget sequestration. He highlighted the specific threat to research being conducted at USC and in the state.

The Boston Globe on Thursday reported, “The presidents of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Lahey Clinic told employees and affiliates Wednesday they are in preliminary talks with each other and three doctors groups about an alliance that could rival Partners HealthCare in scale and reach.” According to the Globe, “Besides Beth Israel and Lahey, the parties involved in the talks include the Harvard Medical Faculty Physicians at BIDMC group, the Lahey Clinic Physicians Group, and Atrius Health, a consortium of community doctors groups that refer patients to Beth Israel and Lahey, according to the letters.”

NIH Director Francis Collins, M.D., Ph.D., made several public appearances this week to discuss the BRAIN Initiative. On April 4 he appeared on the Colbert Report. On April 3 he appeared on NPR’s The Diane Rehm Show.

Thursday’s Orlando Sentinel reported on a newly formed group that is seeking to unite independent doctors to fight the national trend toward hospitals buying physician groups.

A new study in Thursday’s issue of the New England Journal of Medicine from researchers at the University of Michigan and RAND finds that U.S. dementia care costs were between $159 and $215 billion in 2010. The costs were comparable, if not higher, than the costs if cancer and heart disease.

Dr. Ralph de Vere White, director of the UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center and associate dean for cancer programs at the UC Davis School of Medicine, wrote an essay in the Sacramento Bee last week on the effect of the federal sequester on cancer patients.

The National Science Board and the National Science Foundation have issued a request for information from principal investigators to help identify federal policy and institutional requirements that increase the administrative workload of investigators. The RFI was published in the March 29 Federal Register. Comments are due by May 24.

Daniel F. Pauly, M.D., Ph.D., has been named Chief of Cardiology at the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Medicine and Truman Medical Centers. He most recently was on the faculty of the University of Florida College of Medicine. He succeeds Douglas Bogart, M.D., who is retiring.

A Post and Courier newspaper in Charleston reported on Friday about an MUSC faculty member suing the school over the allocation of lab space.

Ross University School of Medicine has signed an “Education Agreement” with Atlanta Medical Center, an almost 500-bed teaching hospital in Atlanta. Owned by Tenet since 1997, the hospital was formerly known as Georgia Baptist Hospital. The hospital also has an affiliation agreement with the Medical College of Georgia.

Robert J. Vinci, MD, has been appointed Chief of Pediatrics at Boston Medical Center (BMC) and the Joel and Barbara Alpert Professor and Chair of the Department of Pediatrics at BU School of Medicine (BUSM). He had been Vice-Chair.

A new study in BMC Medical Informatics and Decision Making examined “critical issues surrounding organizational dynamics and leadership structures that influence the effective use of IT and informatics expertise to advance clinical and translational research.” The study involved 31 academic medical center domain experts from across the computer science, information science, biomedical informatics and information technology disciplines.

A new article in the FASEB Journal discussed the public accessibility of biomedical research articles from PubMed Central and the possible impact on the readership of scientific society journals. The report concluded that for the journals studies, PubMed Central access is leading to a reduction in downloads from the journals’ web sites.

Catholic Health East (CHE) and Trinity Health on Thursday announced two interim top executives for the new organization and 12 members for the board that will be formed when the two organizations merge. The boards and sponsors named Judith Persichilli, R.N., B.S.N., M.A., president and chief executive officer, CHE, to be the interim president and CEO of the new organization and Larry Warren, interim chief executive officer, Trinity Health, to be the interim chief operating officer.

And finally…The Gaston (NC) Gazette reported on Saturday that Gaston County commissioners have voted to oppose the name of a new wellness campaign unveiled by the county’s major hospital.  The campaign is branded, “Cheat Death.”

Tony Mazzaschi

PS: Feel free to email <cas@aamc.org> if you have a problem accessing any article or resource mentioned in this summary. Also, have colleagues email <cas@aamc.org> if they would like to receive these news postings. We also welcome news tips and corrections.
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+AAMC Second Opinion, news and perspectives from AAMC’s Chief Public Policy Officer
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+Wing of Zock, a blog about innovation and change in medical schools and teaching hospitals
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+AM Rounds, the journal Academic Medicine’s official blog


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