Articles

Malpractice proposals clash with Indiana law: Federal reform efforts could create confusion

President Bush’s proposal to lower health care costs by capping medical malpractice awards could create questions in Indiana, where state lawmakers passed similar legislation 30 years ago. Bush made his case to reform health care earlier this month in Madison County, Ill., across the Mississippi River from St. Louis. The American Tort Reform Association has called the county the “judicial hellhole” of the nation because of a reputation for huge jury awards won by plaintiffs. The president wants to place…

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Growing groups carry clout: Successful physician organizations drive deals for new health care facilities

Indiana’s largest group of cardiologists was almost ready a few years ago to build its own specialty hospital in partnership with an out-of-town chain. The Care Group LLC had entered deep discussions with North Carolina-based MedCath Corp. to create a potent duo in a profitable field. The doctors told St. Vincent Health, which depended on them for cardiology expertise, “at the 11th hour” of their plans, said Dr. Skip Hallam, a cardiologist and Care Group CEO. “They stepped up to…

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Failed deals raise questions: Standard Management calls off two health services acquisitions, delaying strategic shift

Standard Management Corp. lost a large chunk of potential revenue and raised more questions about its future when it recently revealed the end of deals to buy two health services companies. The deals’ collapse stifles attempts, at least for now, to shift the company’s business focus from life insurance to providing medical services. And it’s caught the attention of regulators who are giving the company a close look. The India n a p o l i s holding company stated…

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Indy heart care offerings expand once again: St. Francis polishes cardiac and vascular center

Furniture movers and technology testers have taken center stage as St. Francis Hospital and Health Centers prepares to become the latest Indianapolis provider to flex its cardiac care muscle. On March 1, St. Francis will accept the first patient for a $70 million Cardiac Vascular Care Center addition to its south campus. The new center will include an operating room with the latest electronic connections to patient information among other selling points. One item it won’t provide is a conclusive…

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ECONOMIC ANALYSIS: Understanding factors in public-sector job growth

There is nothing like a war and a recession to increase the size of government payrolls. Yet the hiring behavior of the public sector in the last four years has been unusual, when compared with previous recessions. The data tell us much of the growth in recent years has come from state and local governments. But they do not tell us why. There has been much stronger job growth in the public sector than in the private sector in the…

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Standard Life deal on hold: Firm still trying to sell life insurance business

Standard Management Corp. ended a difficult 2004 the same way it started the year: trying to seal a deal to sell its life insurance business. The Indianapolis holding company announced in November a plan to sell Standard Life Insurance Company of Indiana to “an unaffiliated third-party buyer.” That marked the third time in 2004 that Standard entered into such an agreement, according to SEC filings. Company shares jumped 27 percent to close at $3.55 the day of the Nov. 22…

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School-based clinics get boost from grant: Learning Well Inc. operates in 53 Marion County schools

Indianapolis-based Anthem Foundation gave Learning Well Inc. $100,000 to open two school-based clinics in Marion County and support its efforts to address childhood obesity and asthma. But the effect will go much further than that, one board member said. “We’re finally seeing stability and potential for growth,” said Betty Wilson, a member of Learning Well’s executive committee and CEO of The Health Foundation of Greater Indianapolis, which has plowed millions into the program and is a driving force behind the…

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ECONOMIC ANALYSIS: Slow, steady job growth certainly beats alternative

It’s good to have job growth in the U.S. economy once again, even if the monthly gains in employment reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics occasionally fall short of some analysts’ expectations. After a long spell of minuscule job growth in the wake of a painful recession, we’ve grown used to disappointing announcements from the federal statistical agency responsible for tracking the labor market. But the recent report on the employment situation in December caps a year-long streak of…

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A family cashes in on the nursing shortage: Noblesville company grows rapidly by filling void

A Noblesville family took on the U.S. nursing shortage in 1999 armed with only $30,000 and a home computer and wound up creating a multimillion-dollar business. The nursing shortage still lingers, but the family’s company, Innovative Placements Inc., takes in more than $8 million in annual revenue by filling employment gaps with traveling nurses. Twin sisters Retha Clark and Letha Engelman, and Letha’s husband, John, place more than 100 nurses in 39 states. They want to add 50 more nurses…

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Hospital grades hit Web: State says data is helpful, but should be used carefully by health care consumers

Everything from the number of services performed to the number of complaints received is covered by the new hospital consumer reports section on the department’s Web site. Health Department officials say they’ve wanted to post this information for some time to give patients a way to make more informed choices about where to seek treatment. However, the people who post the numbers and others in health care caution that the data offers only a slice of insight. Starting late last…

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Lilly maintains focus on its pharmaceuticals: Drugmaker has no plans to replicate J&J’s diversity

Johnson & Johnson loves to profit from a balanced product line, and it has competitor Eli Lilly and Co. to thank-in a roundabout way-for its latest bit of leverage. New Jersey-based J&J plans to expand its medical device business by buying Guidant Corp., which Lilly created and then spun off in the early 1990s. J&J leaders think the proposed, $25.4 billion deal will create better balance among a line of businesses that has been led by pharmaceuticals, which made up…

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Tax-law changes push investment: Congress raises contribution limits to savings plans, allowing workers to stash away more for retirement

While any serious debate over whether to privatize Social Security could turn messy, the message from federal lawmakers regarding your personal retirement plans is crystal clear. The advice coming from Washington, financial planners say, is to stash away as much as you can, because it may get tougher to make it on a monthly government allowance with an uncertain future. Evident again in this year’s changes to the tax law, which has become friendlier since a 2001 makeover, are across-theboard…

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COBRA strikes with revised set of guidelines: Deferred compensation plans also subject to changes

Human resource workers may have little time to ease into the new year as they prepare for legal changes that erase some deferred-compensation loopholes and clarify COBRA notification. Last spring, the U.S. Department of Labor issued new guidelines for health care coverage obtained under the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act. In the fall, Congress took aim at deferred compensation. HR people not familiar with changes to both could stumble into problems, according to some Indianapolis attorneys. The Department of Labor…

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ECONOMIC ANALYSIS: Prices recover in 2004; expect same in 2005

A few weeks of big price changes, particularly on the up side, and the armchair economists seem to really come out of the woodwork. Oil prices peaked in October at levels 40-percent higher than in July, and so did rumblings about conspiracies, windfall profits and pricegouging. To hear some lunchroom conversations, as well as the saber-rattling of some attorneys general around the country, the only thing that keeps businesses of all kinds from fleecing the American public with unconscionable prices…

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