Doctors’ groups start Medicare petition

The Tennessee Medical Association is one several doctors’ groups across the nation asking people to sign a petition urging Congress stop delaying a fix for the Medicare and Tricare reimbursement formula.
This year, Congress has repeatedly put off what to do about a 21 percent physician payment cut by delaying it from taking effect month-by-month. Currently, the cuts are scheduled to take effect June 1.
The cuts are required by the Balanced Budget Act of 1997, which sets a sustainable growth-rate (SGR) formula for setting physician reimbursements. Doctors and health care experts have long complained the SGR formula is flawed.
To see the wording on the petition, visit www.ipetitions.com/petition/meltdown/

FDA looks at home-based medical devices

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Tuesday said it was going to begin monitoring the use of medical devices in home settings.
The federal agency is currently developing a guidance document for devices used to treat kidney failure, wound therapy care, intravenous therapy and ventilators. This summer, it is asking manufacturers of these devices to voluntarily submit their labeling to the agency.
To learn more about the regulatory changes, visit www.fda.gov/NewsEvents/Newsroom/PressAnnouncements/ucm209138.htm

The SEC’s Stanford Autopsy

A 159-page report issued last week by the SEC’s inspector general can be summed up thusly.

The federal watchdog agency has known since 1997 there was something amiss at Stanford Financial Group, according to the report. Even though the company’s promise – basically, ‘We’ve got a machine that spits out buckets of money when we press this button, honest!’ – was always a head-scratcher in some circles.

Circles like the SEC’s Fort Worth office, which the report indicates wanted to pounce long before the agency did – starting in 2005.

A Good Week for The MED

This was a good week for The Regional Medical Center at Memphis.
It got a commitment from the city of Memphis for $2 million to upgrade hospital equipment, received encouraging news on state legislation regarding Tenncare funding and changed its fundraising slogan to a more positive message.
The hospital’s new chief executive officer, Dr. Reginald Coopwood, suggested changing the old slogan of “Save Our Med.” One of Coopwood’s top priorities is to lead The MED past its culture of constant crisis.
(See The Daily News www.memphisdailynews.com/editorial/Article.aspx?id=48491)
The new slogan is “Tomorrow’s MED. A Healthy Investment.”
The MED Foundation worked with RedRover Company LLC and Dr. Coopwood in developing the new slogan. Coopwood wanted a slogan that would convey a message of investing in the future.
The financial woes of the publicly owned safety net hospital and its specialty centers, however, are for from resolved. But it is making progress.
The hospital is working with the Shelby County Commission on a plan that would drop insurance co-pays for county employees who use the hospital. This is a plan that Coopwood implemented in Nashville when he headed the Metropolitan Hospital Authority there.
Once Shelby County implements the program, the hospital may offer it to other employer groups in an effort to lure more patients with health insurance.
The Shelby County Commission earlier this year increased funding for The MED by $10 million to help offset state budget cuts.
On Tuesday, the Memphis City Council approved spending a total of $2 million for capital upgrades. Of that amount, $490,000 will go for digital mammography, $430,000 for two mobile C-arms, $900,000 for anesthesia monitors and $180,000 for operating room instruments.
City Council Members Joe Brown, Harold Collins, Edmund Ford Jr., Janis Fullilove, Myron Lowery and Barbara Swearengen Ware voted for the expenditure.
Voting no were Council Members Kemp Conrad, Shea Flinn, Wanda Halbert, Bill Morrison and Jim Strickland.
Councilman Reid Hedgepeth did not vote on the measure. Councilman William C. Boyd was absent.
Also this week, the Annual Hospital Assessment Act of 2010 emerged from key committees in the Tennessee Senate and House of Representatives, said Letisha “Tish” Towns, The MED’s vice president for government affairs.
She made the comments at this week’s meeting of The MED Task Force.
Interim Shelby County Mayor Joe Ford has led a series of brainstorming meetings of community leaders who belong to this special committee. The goal is to find new ways of raising revenue for the hospital.
Ford and other county officials have begun reaching out to corporate leaders in Memphis to get them involved in supporting The MED.

Men In High Heels Downtown

The line of men carrying signs down the Main Street Mall during the Friday lunch hour had to stop a few times so the men wearing heels could keep pace.

Some of the men wore bright red heels. Some went with conservative black to go with their suits.

The signs drew the attention of the lunch crowd initially in Court Square. Then the awkward gait of some of the marchers drew attention to their footwear.

A table of patio diners at Main and Madison burst into applause as the marchers slowly turned the corner near the University of Memphis Law School.

The first “Memphis Men For Memphis Women March” made its point about domestic violence. In some cases it was with a stiletto heel. The march was to raise awareness of the problem as well as the community collaborative headed by the Memphis Area Women’s Council to work toward solutions.

The marshals for the walk were Shelby County Commissioner Mike Carpenter, a vocal advocate of a family crisis center and a court devoted to domestic violence cases, and Lee Wilson, the General Sessions Criminal Court Judge who oversees the domestic violence docket.

“It is a pervasive problem in our community that is not taken seriously enough,” Carpenter said citing 300 to 400 protective orders that are requested every day in the Shelby County court system. “We have one dedicated shelter that houses 23 women and children and that’s it.”

Wilson took on the domestic violence docket when he was appointed judge by the Shelby County Commission last year. There have been domestic violence dockets in the past. The past efforts were overwhelming for the judges who tried to keep them going without a lot of support from other entities.

Wilson said he needs more advocates in court to help the victims.

“We need more investigators too. We need more help for the victims,” he said. “We need programs for the children who have witnessed domestic violence. We need more programs for the offenders themselves.”

Between Wilson and Carpenter at the front of the march was David Wayne Brown, who along with Reid Phillips organized the demonstration.

“Domestic violence is the only major crime in the community that is steadily going up – on the increase. Everything else has been going down. And probably half of the cases aren’t even reported. So, that’s only what we know,” said Brown, who sported a pair of red high heels.

“We’re trying to bring a little bit of light hearted awareness to this issue,” he added. “And I’m about to take these shoes off because they are killing me.”

It’s worth noting that when the movie star Ginger Rogers died, more than a few people observed that while her dance partner Fred Astaire got a lot of praise, Rogers did everything he did backwards and wearing high heels.

As the weekend begins, there are a few dozen men in Memphis who have walked the cobblestones and cracked sidewalks of Downtown with a bit more appreciation of that eulogy.

The Court Square area will be busy into the evening. The Law Week kickoff starts at 5 pm in the square. The Daily News is proud to be a part of the event by The Memphis Bar Association.

Dansette

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