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On June 20, President Clinton signed legislation designed to limit liability for damages resulting from year 2000 (Y2K) computer failures.
Clinton had previously vowed to veto the "Y2K Act" because he said it extended beyond the Y2K problem into broader tort reform issues, capping punitive damages in too many cases, and forcing too many class action suits into federal court.
A compromise on the bill was reached. The compromise includes a 90-day grace period for companies to fix Y2K-related problems before being sued, a cap on punitive damages for small businesses, and a guarantee that most business sued in Y2K cases will pay damages that only reflect their portion of the blame. In addition, the final bill includes language stipulating that hospitals sued for a Y2K-related event can, in turn, sue the device manufacturer.
John A. Page, FHIMSS, resigned as executive director of the Healthcare Information and Management Systems (HIMSS) in Chicago in mid-July, according to HIMSS Chairman of the Board Gary Kurtz, FHIMSS.
"After more than eight years of leading the society," says Page, "I’ve decided to take some time off to spend with my family and devote more attention to a number of personal interests of mine." Under Page’s direction, the society’s membership has more than tripled.
The HIMSS staff will continue functioning under the guidance of R. Norris Orms, HIMSS director of operations, who has been appointed as the acting executive director, says Kurtz.
Alleged "intentional deception" in accounting practices have cost the chairman and other executive managers their jobs at McKesson HBOC’s Information Technology Business (ITB) unit, formerly known as HBO & Co., of Atlanta.
In a statement released June 21, 1999, McKesson HBOC announced that Charles W. McCall has been removed as chairman of the board and dismissed as an employee.
The following ITB officers were also dismissed: Albert Bergonzi, president and CEO; David Held, CFO and controller; Jay Lapine, senior vice president and general counsel; and Michael Smeraski, senior vice president and head of enterprise sales.
Others submit resignations
In addition, McKesson executives Mark A. Pulido, president and chief executive officer, and Richard H. Hawkins, executive vice president and chief financial officer, submitted their resignations. These two were said not to be involved in the "accounting improprieties" but were held responsible by the board for the fallout.
The improprieties at HBO required it to restate fiscal 1999 earnings, reversing $42 million in sales of software that were subject to "contingencies" and booked before they were final, according to the Wall Street Journal. Investors are filing several class action suits against the company.
When Hospital Payment & Information Manage-ment asked if the loss of the ITB management team would affect provider contracts with the company, a spokesperson did not comment.
Not-for-profit hospitals’ bond ratings continued to take a nose dive in the first six months of 1999 and did so at a quicker pace than last year, Moody’s Investors Service said in July. The New York City rating company downgraded 35 not-for-profit hospitals and systems with more than $7.5 billion in debt in 1999’s first two quarters.
This exceeds the 19 downgrades worth more than $3 billion in the first half of 1998. The decline is attributed to the Balanced Budget Act of 1997, increased managed care, losses from capitation, ongoing physician losses, and the growing size and complexity of debt-financed merger and acquisition activity. Moody’s officials predicted further declines in credit quality for the next quarter and beyond.
DEKAYE Consulting in Oceanside, NY, is offering providers a new three-videotape series, "Compliance and Awareness: Safeguarding Healthcare’s Cash Flow Cycle from Fraud and Abuse."
Taped on location, this five-hour presentation provides managers, supervisors, and staff with real-life illustrations of the types of fraud and abuse that have made the national headlines. The series also discusses how compliance plans and programs need to go beyond "paper compliance" to effect meaningful procedures and reviews to safeguard a provider’s assets — and its reputation.
Information and order forms for this set can be found on DEKAYE’s Web site at: www. dekaye.com. Subscribers to DEKAYE’s PAM LIST (Patient Accounts Management Listserv) will receive a $50 per set discount from the purchase price.