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Medical equipment increasingly likely to be leased, financed

The amount of health care equipment being leased or financed has grown, according to an annual survey of Equipment Leasing and Finance Assn. members. "There's less demand for equipment in general, but health care is a growing segment of the industry," said Ralph Petta, vice president of research and industry services for the association. The "2009 Survey of Equipment Finance Activity," released July 14, found that new business in the industry as a whole decreased 2.2%. But the proportion of leasing and financing to the health care sector increased from 8.9%, or $8.2 billion, in 2007 to 9.2%, or $8.6 billion, in 2008. Medical equipment leasing and financing also grew from 6.3% or $6.3 billion of total annual new business in 2007 to 7.2% or $7.2 billion of new business volume in 2008. Experts suspect that health care leasing and financing business is growing because, although the sector has not been immune from the recession, it is still faring better than others. Also, healt ...

Industry gift bans slammed for overreaching

Pressure is mounting on Capitol Hill to reveal the financial relationships among doctors, drug companies and devicemakers through the Physician Payments Sunshine Act. Six states already have enacted payment-disclosure laws or bans on gifts to doctors. Meanwhile, more medical centers are restricting doctors' and students' interactions with industry, as calls grow for medical societies and educators to turn down drugmakers' dollars. But now some doctors and physician organizations say the push to police financial relationships with industry has gone too far. In late July, a new organization called the Assn. of Clinical Researchers and Educators held its charter meeting before a 200-plus crowd in an amphitheater at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston. Participants assailed conflict-of-interest rules that they argue impede physician-industry collaboration. Recent statements from organizations representing cardiologists and endocrinologists also have defended the value of ind ...

Louisiana creates loan program for EHR purchases

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal signed into law a bill that would create a loan program for physicians and hospitals hoping to buy an electronic health record system. The Electronic Health Records Loan Program Act, signed July 9, gives the Louisiana Dept. of Health and Hospitals the authority to apply for $25 million in federal stimulus funds in order to administer loans for EHR purchases. The measure also included $5 million in matching funds from the state, a requirement under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The state will learn later this year if it will get the federal grant. "This is another step in updating and improving Louisiana's health delivery system for all Louisianians," Jindal said in a prepared statement. The measure builds on legislation passed in 2007 that helped seven rural hospitals acquire EHRs. The law also established the Louisiana Rural Health Information Exchange. In 2008, additional funding allowed another seven rural hospitals to become connec ...