Tag Archives: arizona hospitals

Lawsuit Dropped To Prevent AHCCCS Hospital Payment Cuts

Lawsuit Dropped To Prevent AHCCCS 5% Hospital Payment Cuts

The Arizona Hospital and Healthcare Association (AzHHA) Board of Directors voted Tuesday to drop the lawsuit against the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System (AHCCCS) to prevent a five percent cut in hospital payment rates.

After thoughtful consideration, the AzHHA Board of Directors decided it would be in the best interest of all the parties involved to move forward and work together in partnership with policymakers to strengthen Arizona’s healthcare delivery system.

“This is a challenging time for hospitals and patients as a result of a prolonged recession and budget cuts to healthcare programs,” said AzHHA President and Chief Executive Officer Laurie Liles. “As we look ahead, we know the state and Arizona hospitals will continue to face economic challenges and we look forward to working with state leaders like Senate President Steve Pierce to prepare for the future and grow our state’s economy.”

“I’m glad to hear the Association is dropping this lawsuit. We need to stop looking back and instead look ahead to find solutions to the crisis in health care.  These are complex issues and we need to work together.  I’m tired of a shotgun approach to fixing things.  We must look at the big picture,” says Senate President Steve Pierce.

Arizona hospitals have struggled in recent months as they care for an increasing number of uninsured patients who turn to hospitals for emergency treatment.  In the last quarter of 2011, the amount of charity care hospitals provided increased by 75 percent over the same period in 2010.

For more information on AzHHA, visit their website at azhha.org. For more information on AHCCCS, visit their website at azahcccs.gov.

Mountain Vista Medical Center Receives Honors

Mountain Vista Medical Center Receives Honors

Mountain Vista Medical Center in Mesa, Ariz. was given the prestigious honor of ranking in the top five percent of hospitals in the nation, according to a ranking system developed by HealthGrades.

A resource for individuals to rank their local hospitals online, HealthGrades has become a leading provider of comprehensive information about physicians and hospitals. The HealthGrades website is used by millions to research, review, select and connect with local physicians or hospitals in their area. The website also provides comprehensive information about clinical outcomes, patient satisfaction, patient safety and health conditions for users to make informed decisions.

As no hospital can opt-in or opt-out of being evaluated, HealthGrades asses the nation’s 5,000 non-federal hospitals on a long list of procedures and diagnoses.

Mountain Vista Medical Center was named a Distinguished Hospital for Clinical Excellence. This award places the hospital in the top five percent of hospitals nationwide for clinical performance and outperforming all other hospitals across all of the 17 mortality cohorts and six of the nine complication cohorts studied from 2008 though 2010.

“We are extremely delighted and proud to receive this distinguished recognition by HealthGrades,” said Tony Marinello, CEO of Mountain Vista Medical Center. “These awards are based solely on the clinical outcomes from patients in our community who have received care at Mountain Vista. This means out unwavering commitment to providing high quality health care with advanced technology and exceptional customer service, has set us apart from other local hospitals, and placed us among the top hospitals in the nation,” added Marinello.

The hospital itself is a 178-bed, full service hospital that features private rooms and advanced medical technology. Providing care services for East Valley residences, the hospital is a Level IV Trauma Center, Primary Stroke Center, Chest Pain Center and Cardiac Receiving Center.

In addition for earning the award of Distinguished Hospital for Clinical Excellence, Mountain Vista Medical Center has consistently been recognized for its commitment to deliver quality healthcare.

“The hospital can be proud of the contributions of its physicians, nurses and staff in achieving outstanding patient care,” said Kristin Reed, MPH, HealthGrades vice president of hospital rankings and author of the study. “The residents of Mesa and the surrounding community are fortunate to have access to some of the highest quality hospital care in the nation.”

For information on HealthGrades and how Mountain Vista Medical Center was ranked, visit healthgrades.com.

AZ hospitals, how to attract top talent, AZ Business Magazine July/August 2011

Arizona Hospitals Share Strategies For Recruiting, Retaining Top Performers

The health care industry in Arizona managed to hold its own during the worst of the recession. But the challenges aren’t over yet.

Human resources experts have been warning companies across industries about the next big wave of change as the economic recovery takes hold: retaining the top talent that helped a company survive.

In good economic times, the health care industry often was faced with shortages of nurses and other professionals, so it’s an old hand at devising ways of attracting and retaining talent. Arizona Business Magazine asked four hospitals and health care systems about how they attract the best.

Abrazo Health Care

Currently, Abrazo Health Care’s website is the No. 1 way candidates are found when applying for an open position. Additionally, Abrazo Health Care utilizes social media sites such as LinkedIn and Facebook to attract and hire future employees. A large number of new hires comes from referrals within the organization.

Other recruitment efforts include the new graduate development program, a unique opportunity available to 100 nursing graduates per year. This competitive program gives new nurses 12 weeks of education and training to become an acute care nurse at an Abrazo Health Care facility. New graduates entering a specialty area also will be part of a bridge program for additional training.

Another opportunity available is the nurse-specialty training program for current nurses, which is offered four times per year. Nurses can apply to receive training to transition to a specialized nursing position in the operating room, emergency room or intensive care unit.

All applicants must complete a web-based interview developed in partnership with the Gallup Organization. The assessment helps to ensure a candidate will align with the cultural environment at Abrazo Health Care.

Abrazo Health Care employs more than 5,000 people. Currently, there are 400 positions available. Abrazo Health Care offers competitive salaries, health benefits and tuition reimbursement.

[stextbox id=”grey”]Carmen Hern is regional manager of talent acquisition at Abrazo Health Care, abrazohealth.com. [/stextbox]

Banner Health

Banner Health recruits talent through strategic work force planning such as:

  • Targeted media events
  • Academic relationships
  • Social media
  • Banner Health’s website


Banner’s approach to recruiting top talent aligns with the strategies of the organization by emphasizing Banner’s vision on patient care. Its hiring incentives are centered on total rewards compensation.

The Banner journey begins with a potential employee’s first experience (the website, at an event, videos or even as a patient). Once they have joined Banner, there is an ongoing, one-year, onboarding program. Throughout their time at Banner, there are opportunities for learning, coaching and developing employees’ careers.

There are three main reasons an employee stays at Banner are:

  • The relationship with their manager
  • The people they work with
  • Learning and growth opportunities


In addition, employees have a choice in their selection of benefits. They also get to participate in a 401k plan, life insurance, food discounts, transportation discounts, and childcare at some facilities. We look at each employee’s needs to determine which benefits are best for them

Banner prides itself on having created an environment of innovation and teamwork. It offers opportunities for employees to spread their wings, in addition to pay for performance. There is compensation for all when Banner meets and exceeds goals in the areas of patient satisfaction, financial performance and employee retention.

Recognizing that Banner Health is competing with many other health care systems in Arizona for quality employees, the company tries to stay in tune with the community. Banner may have more hospitals than anyone else, but we have to pay attention because we know there are other good hospitals out there.
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Shyrl Johnston is senior director of talent acquisition at Banner Health, www.bannerhealth.com.[/stextbox]

Phoenix Children’s Hospital

Phoenix Children’s strategy to attract new talent includes expanding space, growing programs and services, and aggressive recruiting.

Phoenix Children’s continues to grow and expand, thus offering exciting new prospects for top talent in the health care industry. An 11-story patient tower, which opened in June, will raise the hospital’s bed count from 345 rooms to 626 private rooms by early 2012. The hospital also added 96 PCIU/CICU rooms, 12 operating rooms, new services and programs, innovative research supported by leading clinical trials, and advanced education/training for clinical providers.

Collaborations and partnerships with Arizona State University, University of Arizona, Mayo Clinic, Banner Good Samaritan, and a Strategic Alliance with St. Joseph’s Hospital & Medical Center also add jobs and opportunities for attracting the best and brightest.

The hospital’s six Centers of Excellence also are growing. Phoenix Children’s is the only Level 1 Pediatric Trauma Center in Arizona; the Children’s Heart Center is recognized as one of the nation’s best; there is the Phoenix Children’s Center for Pediatric Othopaedic Surgery; the Newborn Intensive Care Unit, with 110 licensed beds, is one of the largest NICUs in the country; the Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders is Arizona’s only fully dedicated facility of its kind; and the Children’s Neuroscience Institute provides comprehensive care for children with neurological and behavioral disorders.

For the past four years, Phoenix Children’s Hospital has been steadily and aggressively increasing recruitment of nationally known physicians and superior staff. Medical staff at the hospital has increased to include more than 1,000 pediatric specialists with 40 pediatric specific specialties.

Recent prominent additions, to name a few, include: David Adelson, MD, a renowned neurosurgeon, recruited to lead the Children’s Neuroscience Institute at Phoenix Children’s; Richard Towbin, MD, a top neuro-radiologist who has served at children’s hospitals in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati and Michigan; Lee Segal, MD, who came from Hershey Children’s to initiate the Center for Pediatric Orthopaedic Surgery; Heidi Dalton, MD, section chief critical care, who was recruited from Children’s Medical Center in Washington, DC; and Tamir Miloh, MD, a hepatologist recruited from Mt. Sinai, NY, who will create and lead Arizona’s first pediatric liver transplant center.

[stextbox id=”grey”]Jane Walton is head of media relations at Phoenix Children’s Hospital, www.phoenixchildrens.com.[/stextbox]

UA Healthcare

UA Healthcare is a private, nonprofit health-care entity located in Tucson. It was formed by the merger of two highly respected and well-established organizations: University Medical Center (UMC) and University Physicians Healthcare (UPH). The organization consists of the largest physician practice plan in Arizona, including a Health Plan Division, two academic medical centers and Southern Arizona’s only Level 1 Trauma Center.

UA Healthcare employs more than 6,000 people and is ranked one of the top 10 employers in Southern Arizona. University Medical Center was the first hospital in Arizona to earn the Magnet designation — the American Nurses Association’s highest honor for nursing excellence. The designation recognizes hospitals that provide the best nursing care and a supportive, professional environment. As the only academic medical center in Arizona, UMC offers many opportunities for professional growth, personal enrichment and career development.

UA Healthcare’s 2011 benefits package is designed to promote wellness and encourage healthy lifestyle choices. UA Healthcare considers staff members to be its most valuable resource and it is dedicated to providing a culture that keeps patients healthy.

The system provides managers with the tools required to retain its first-rate staff. It offers learning opportunities that ensure high levels of patient and employee satisfaction, as well as a strong financial position. UA Healthcare gives total rewards that are competitive in the Arizona employment market. UA Healthcare ensures individual and group accountability for performance, rewards and growth through ongoing communication.
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John Marques is vice president for human resources at UA Healthcare, www.azumc.com.[/stextbox]

Arizona Business Magazine July/August 2011

Clinics help workers stay on the job

Convenience Care Clinics Help Workers Get Back On The Job Faster

While we all expect quality health care to be available when it’s needed, our future could be flat lining. According to the Association of American Medical Colleges, meager graduation and physician training rates in our country could cause a shortage of up to 150,000 doctors within the next 15 years.  As many of us are aware, Arizona already is battling an on-going primary care physician shortage, which will cause wait times and delays in care to grow in the coming years.  Because of this, no-appointment convenience care clinics have become an important and growing part of our healthcare landscape.

The Rand Corp. recently performed a survey which showed that convenience care clinics staffed by nurse practitioners or physicians assistants can treat acute, everyday illnesses in a way that is quick, convenient and significantly more affordable for the patient, without sacrificing quality. Convenience care clinics have shorter wait times than emergency rooms, help people avoid lengthy physician appointment scheduling delays, and in some cases, require a payment that is less than an office visit co-pay or co-insurance.  In short, convenience care clinics help people with minor illnesses return to good health and get back to their daily routine, and are efficient in doing so.

There are now 1,200 quick-care clinics operating in 32 states, according to the Convenient Care Association. In Arizona, Cigna Medical Group has opened nine CMG CareToday clinics since 2007, with at least two more planned this year and a newly opened facility off of the Metro Light Rail in down town Phoenix. Other health care organizations – including some Arizona hospitals – are recognizing that this facility model can help direct people to the right health resource based on the severity or simplicity of their symptoms.

According to the National Center for Health Statistics, seven of the 10 most common reasons people go to the doctor are for minor needs that can be successfully treated by a physician’s assistant or nurse practitioner. Yet to function optimally, the providers in convenience care clinics should be integrated into a large medical group or health system in two ways.  First, they should be programmatically linked with supporting primary care physicians in order to make the treatment of patients more effective.  Secondly, they should share electronic health records with these same primary care physicians to have direct access to the detailed patient records prior to providing the acute care and to communicate back to the physician who is providing ongoing care.  If a system like this were in place at more neighborhood walk-in clinics, it would become easier for patients to go to a convenience care clinic for quick treatment, and still be sure that their primary care physician will be updated about any important changes in their health.

Not only is this critical in our personal lives, but access to healthcare (or delays to it) also has deep implications in the workplace. During this time where businesses are facing a great deal of economic stress, many offices are operating as leanly as possible and the absence of just one sick co-worker disturbs an entire department.  Because of this fact, employees are trying to be fully productive.

According to a 2008 survey conducted by Yankelovich for CIGNA, about 61 percent of U.S. workers said they reported for duty while they were sick or coping with family and personal matters.  On average, they did this more than twice as often as they missed work.  Employees who are ill at work are not fully “at work.” Their productivity, morale and concentration drops. Employees realize that presenteeism affects the workplace. In the same survey, 62 percent said they were less productive on those days they came to work too distracted to perform at their fullest potential. Yet, convenience care clinics – especially when located near dense, urban employment hubs – make it possible for employees to receive medical care near the office and return to work that same hour, or return home with medicine in hand to assist a speedy recovery.

This convenience care clinic model is proving to be effective and under demand in Arizona because more than ever before, greater health care access is crucial. Arizona continues to experience a shortage of primary care doctors, with a physician-to-population ratio that is below the national average, according to the American Medical Association.

It is our hope that more healthcare organizations, employers and individuals will help advance a new, stratified level of service: convenience care clinics for minor ailments, physician offices for more complex or specialty needs, urgent care centers for serious wounds or injuries, and quality emergency rooms for life-threatening needs.

A cooperative effort toward better public education and understanding as to which type of facility to seek for the appropriate  level of care would be a valuable step towards preventing over-crowding at emergency rooms and physician offices. Such an effort would assure that each type of facility provides the right care at the right time when patients come through the door. This adaptability, along with innovation, can give the customer quality care every time.

Hidden Tax Revealed Chart

Hidden Health Care Tax Hits Workers

The Arizona Hospital and Healthcare Association (AzHHA) and the Arizona Chamber Foundation are joining forces to stop what we call a hidden health care tax on businesses and consumers. According to a study released by the Arizona Chamber Foundation, which is associated with the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Arizona employers and the state’s 3.5 million privately insured consumers pay 40 percent above cost for hospital services, primarily because the state and federal governments significantly underpay hospitals for those same services.

“This study shines a light on what Arizona business and health care leaders refer to as the hidden health care tax,” says Suzanne Taylor, executive director of the Arizona Chamber Foundation. “The study demonstrates that when state or federal lawmakers reduce hospital payment levels to below their costs, Arizona businesses and consumers pick up the tab in the form of higher health insurance premiums.”

The study, An Analysis of Hospital Cost Shift in Arizona, was conducted by the nationally recognized Lewin Group. It found that in 2007, private insurance payments for Arizona hospital services exceeded costs by $1.3 billion in order to offset underpayment from:

  • State government — The Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System (AHCCCS), Arizona’s Medicaid program that paid 79 percent of hospitals’ costs for providing services, underpaid Arizona hospitals by $407 million.
  • Federal government — Medicare, which paid 89 percent of Arizona hospitals’ costs for delivering services, underpaid Arizona hospitals by $481 million.

Uncompensated care — Arizona’s hospitals absorbed $390 million in 2007 — 4.4 percent of their total costs — for services they delivered, but for which they received no compensation.

Public insurance programs such as AHCCCS and Medicare are the primary drivers behind the hidden health care tax, paying hospitals below what it costs to treat patients. To cover these costs, hospitals shift the burden to private health insurers by negotiating higher rates to provide coverage.

“In this downturn, the hidden health care tax is particularly harmful to the economic well-being of our state,” Taylor says. “Employers throughout Arizona are grappling with incredible challenges ranging from declining revenues to shrinking credit. The hidden health care tax is another weight on businesses that want to continue providing employer-based insurance to their employees.”

Arizona employers and their employees typically share the cost of health insurance coverage, with employers paying an average of 81 percent of a single policy and 75 percent of a family policy for workers enrolled in their respective health plans. According to the study, in 2007 inadequate payment by AHCCCS and Medicare, as well as uncompensated care, increased private health insurance premiums in Arizona by 8.8 percent or $361 for every privately insured person.

The study revealed that public program underpayment in 2007:

  • Added $1,017 — $324 of which is due to AHCCCS underpayment — to the annual price tag of a typical family health insurance policy, bringing the cost to $11,617.
  • Increased by $396 — $126 of which is due to AHCCCS underpayment — the annual cost of a single health insurance policy, bringing the price tag to $4,519.

Underpayment by public insurance programs for hospital services exacts a steep price on employers, their workers and private purchasers of health insurance. In 2007, the cost shift due to AHCCCS, Medicare and uncompensated care cost: employers an additional $941.7 million, $301.3 million resulting from AHCCCS underpayment; employees an additional $292.8 million, $93.7 million of it due to AHCCCS underpayment; and private purchasers of health insurance an additional $41.4 million, $13.2 million of it resulting from AHCCCS underpayment
AHCCCS payment rate freeze.

  • Five percent AHCCCS payment rate reduction.
  • Disproportionate share hospital payments.
  • Graduate medical education.
  • AHCCCS payments to rural hospitals.
  • State savings of  $95 million.
  • Lost federal funds of $250.4 million.

Total dollar increase in private insurance premiums due to the cost shift of $1.48 billion in 2009 and $1.63 billion in 2010.
Individual increase in premiums of 19 percent for privately insured Arizonans due to the cost shift.