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Practices lose financial ground as recession outpaces productivity

When faced with payment cuts, physicians traditionally work longer hours or hire additional staff to help keep up revenue. But those strategies have reached their limit, a report from the Medical Group Management Assn. shows. After hitting a peak in 2007, the median revenue a practice collected per full-time-equivalent physician took a 7.8% dive in 2008, according to the MGMA report on multispecialty practices, released in October. While the organization also surveys single-specialty practices, the association views multispecialty practices as a proxy for overall economic trends for outpatient health care. The amount of gross revenue taken in by multispecialty practices per full-time physician steadily increased from $463,637 in 1998 to $690,032 in 2007, as annual productivity gains that often ran into the double digits helped lift revenues, mostly by single-digit percentages. But gross revenue dipped to $637,677 in 2008. "These data demonstrate the trickle-down effect that ...

Medical schools, teaching hospitals help drive local economies

Medical schools and teaching hospitals had an economic impact of more than $512 billion in 2008, according to a report released Oct. 8 by the Assn. of American Medical Colleges. The 131 accredited medical schools and approximately 400 teaching hospitals employed about 1.86 million full-time workers. Indirect employment -- such as through contracts with food vendors -- brought the total to 3.3 million full-time jobs. That means one of every 43 wage earners in the U.S. is linked to an AAMC-member institution, according to the report ( The $512 billion impact was generated, in part, by money institutions spend on capital improvements and for drugs, medical disposables and other items. The report also factored in spending by employees, independent contractor physicians, medical residents and students, patients (outside the hospital) and visitors who came both to see patients and to attend meetings sponsored by the schools and hospitals. "U.S. medic ...

Senate panel adopts bill restricting generic drug delays

Washington The Senate Judiciary Committee on Oct. 15 approved a bill that would restrict brand-name drug companies' abilities to settle patent disputes by paying drugmakers to delay the introduction of generics -- an arrangement sometimes called "pay-for-delay." The committee voted 12-7 to adopt the measure, known as the Preserve Access to Affordable Generics Act. The bill has eight co-sponsors, including two Republicans. One of them -- Sen. Charles Grassley (R, Iowa) -- said the legislation is a response to a flurry of pay-for-delay arrangements after two appellate court decisions in 2005 allowed such deals. Nearly half of all patent settlements in the two years after the decisions involved pay-for-delay, he said. "Our bill takes direct aim at anti-consumer, anticompetitive agreements between generic and brand-name pharmaceutical manufacturers that line drugmakers' pockets at the expense of consumers," Grassley said. The bill would presume that pay-for-delay deals are illegal ...