A recent contributor to this blog wondered about the correctness of “health care” versus “healthcare.” I’d like to answer that question by channeling my inner William Safire (the late, great New York Times language maven). If you’ll stick with me, I’ll also disclose why the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services is not abbreviated as CMMS and reveal something you may not have known about God – linguistically, if not theologically.
The two-word rule for “health care” is followed by major news organizations (New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal) and medical journals (New England Journal of Medicine, JAMA, Annals of Internal Medicine). Their decision seems consistent with the way most references to the word “care” are handled.
Even the editorial writers of Modern Healthcare magazine do not inveigh against errors in medical care driving up costs in acutecare hospitals and nursinghomes. They write about “medical care,” “acute care” and “nursing homes,” separating the adjectives from the nouns they modify. Some in the general media go even farther, applying the traditional rule of hyphenating adjectival phrases; hence, “health-care reform,” just as you’d write “general-interest magazine” or “old-fashioned editor.”
It’s rare that you get such a delicious health care story combining human frailty, blindness and multiple stereotypes, but Julie Rovner of NPR found it. In fact I literally thought she’d been set up but she confirmed to me that it was true and put me in touch with the CMS spokesman who confirmed it. So remember, this really happened.—Matthew
An interim hospital CEO in Ohio Valley Medical Center, in West Virginia “found out” “advanced intelligence” from “word of mouth” sources in Washington DC that the “High Commissioners of the Healthcare Reform Bill” were going deny Medicare payments to any hospital of which than 5% of employees were 25% overweight.
This rumor prompted the said CEO to panic. Now before I tell you what he did, let me tell you a little of his story. To quote the CEO as he tells it:
I am five feet, 10 inches tall. The guidelines (he’s referring to standard BMI guidelines) suggest that I should weigh between 151 and 163 for my medium frame. If you add 25 percent to the upper limit, I would need to be no heavier than 204 pounds. I currently weigh 272 pounds, down from 335. I would have three years to lose 68 pounds
That is indeed some challenge. Not to mention that the hospital is in West Virginia (albeit the northern sliver between Ohio & Pennsylvania) where the obesity rate is among the nations highest—there’s a reason that Jamie Oliver took his childhood obesity crusade there. In fact Ohio County, WV’s obesity rate is 32% according to the rather fun County Sin Rankings site. And as obesity tends to mean a BMI of roughly 25% more than the outer band of the guidelines, it’s a fair bet that somewhere close to 32% of the workforce is obese. So getting that number down to 5% would be a major struggle.
The interim CEO also wanted to promote not only his own weight loss story but the laudable activities of his hospital’s dietitians and its weight-loss programs. Here’s his counsel to hospital employees.
I strongly urge you to take advantage of the programs OVMC and EORH are currently offering employees who are battling with excess weight. Mary Velez is doing a fabulous job with Weight Watchers programs, and in addition, I have also been offering a program known as “Diet and Fitness for Love.”
Health Care Stocks Hurt as “Promise” Spooks InvestorsNEW YORK – Major health care stocks plunged today as investors worried that a series of voluntary actions the industry pledged in order to control costs represented a serious threat to profits.“Leaders of drug, device and health insurance companies gave their solemn word to the president of the United States that they will cut costs,” said Pinocchio Paparazzi, an analyst with Bear, Bulle and Morbull. “Simple math says if you trim two trillion dollars from spending, that’s two trillion dollars lower revenue. That reality should be reflected in stock prices.”Merck and Edwards Lifesciences, two companies whose CEOs personally attended a White House briefing announcing the coalition’s goals, led the decline with double-digit drops. Health insurance giants Wellpoint and UnitedHealth Group also slumped, as did the for-profit hospital sector, as investors decided that making the health care system “more affordable and effective for patients and purchasers” might be good politics but was bad for the bottom line.