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Posts published in “Day: March 8, 2007”

Skimming the cream

Legislators trying to cope with the perverse health care marketplace are kept jumping: New problems with the system keep arising almost constantly.

This evening the Washington Senate passed Senate Bill 5398, floor sponsored by Senator Chris Marr, D-Spokane, which takes a swing at one of the newer ones. The case was compelling enough that even though it calls for a new arena of regulation, a new license, all but two Republicans along with the Democrats voted in favor (the vote was 42-2).

The licensed would be "specialty hospitals," a brand new kind of health critter, which specialize in certain limited types of treatment. The concern, as Marr put it, is that these facilities would serve only the most profitable cases - that they'd be "cherry picking," leaving community hospitals with a larger share of the less profitable, or unprofitable, cases. (There are also concerns about the relationships some physicians may have with these hospitals, and the referrals they may give.)

It's simple market logic.

The Washington State Hospital Association is among the backers of the bill. It seems well poised for passage.

Call me

Aquick note on a couple of things observed this evening from the gallery at the Washington Senate (still meeting today into the evening, as we understand it likely will into this weekend) . . .

A larger portion of people than we've ever noticed elsewhere, wearing those oblong small-seashell phone devices, hooked over their ears. (Most of those we saw weren't twentysomethings, either.) Didn't notice offhand any legislators wearing them, but a number of staffers seemed to be plugged into the grid.

Which lent a certain irony to the one piece of paper readily readable from the gallery on a number of senator's desks - a half-dozen at least. It was the familiar bumper sticker "Hang Up & Drive," signifying that a number of legislators haven't given up on banning cell phones for drivers.

Write your own punch line.