Equipment-sharing bills resurface in Congress

February 10, 1993

Proponents of health-care reform wasted little time resurrectingfederal legislation that would grant antitrust waivers to hospitalsplanning medical equipment-sharing arrangements. Similar legislationintroduced in the last session of Congress expired when

Proponents of health-care reform wasted little time resurrectingfederal legislation that would grant antitrust waivers to hospitalsplanning medical equipment-sharing arrangements. Similar legislationintroduced in the last session of Congress expired when the Senateand House of Representatives adjourned last year (SCAN 7/1/92).

Equipment-sharing has been touted as one way hospitals canreduce capital acquisition costs while maintaining a high levelof quality care. Many hospitals, however, have been resistantto enter into equipment-sharing agreements for fear of violatingstate and federal antitrust laws.

Bills introduced by Rep. Constance Morella (R-MD) and Rep.Peter Hoagland (D-NE) would attempt to alleviate those fears byallowing hospitals to receive waivers from federal antitrust law.Morella's legislation is H.R. 286; Hoagland's bill is H.R. 73.

Like legislation introduced in the last session of Congressby Sen. William Cohen (R-ME), the bills would authorize five 10-yeardemonstration projects in which two or more hospitals would collaborateto share expensive medical equipment. At the conclusion of thefive-year period, the Agency for Health Care Policy and Researchwould report to Congress on the potential for such arrangementsto increase access to service and contain health-care costs.

Sen. Cohen also plans to reintroduce the legislation he sponsoredlast year, according to an aide. Antitrust waivers for hospitalshave also been included in a number of other health-care billsbefore Congress this year, the aide said.

BRIEFLY NOTED:

  • A federal review is under way to determine whether togrant Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement for MR angiography.The Agency for Health Care Policy and Research is gathering datafrom completed clinical studies to determine MRA's efficacy comparedto conventional x-ray angiography.

The resulting report will be used by the Health Care FinancingAdministration to determine whether to reimburse for MRA. Thestudy began late last year and should be completed this year,according to Dr. Harry Handelsman, medical officer with the AHCPR'sOffice of Health Technology Assessment.

  • A new imaging services trade group picked its first topadministrator last month and underwent a name change. What initiallyhad been the Quality Imaging Coalition (QUIC) will be called theQuality Imaging Association (QIA), according to executive directorRichard Geier. The name switch is more than superficial. Groupsregistered with the government as associations have a more permanentstatus than coalitions.

The QIA will hold a meeting for prospective members on Feb.18 in Washington, DC. Equipment vendor representatives are alsowelcome to attend. For information, call Geier at 404/394-0628.

Geier comes to the QIA straight from the Atlanta-based HealthImages, where he previously served as executive vice presidentfor corporate affairs. HI is one of the imaging center and mobilefirms supporting the new association (SCAN 11/18/92).

HI made two high-level executive changes last month followingGeier's departure. W.A. Wilson was promoted from executive vicepresident of development to chief operating officer. C.S. Zborowski,formerly director of U.S. site development, moved into Wilson'sformer job.

Although the COO position is new to HI, Geier had performedfunctions that would traditionally be part of a COO position.The new slot is more a reaction to HI's high-visibility listingon the New York Stock Exchange last month than a reflection ofoperational changes at the company, according to president RobertD. Carl.

  • Diagnostic Health is almost set to roll on its ambitiousimaging center plans (SCAN 4/8/92). The Birmingham, AL, start-upfirm has filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission foran exchange offer--sometimes called a roll-up--that will combinea public stock offering with acquisition of 12 physician-ownedcenters.

  • A former Diagnostic Health executive, Sam Skipper, startedhis own center firm with similar acquisition objectives in May,according to a report in the Houston Business Journal. Skippertook ImageTrust of Houston public in November, with a listingon the NASDAQ exchange.

ImageTrust recently announced plans to buy four centers, accordingto the Journal. These were Carolina Diagnostic in Columbia, SC,Waters Edge Scanning & Associates of Tampa, FL, and two unnamedHouston centers.

  • Medical Imaging Centers of America paid $1.02 millionin November to settle a shareholders suit, according to The SanDiego Union-Tribune. The suit charged the San Diego imaging servicesfirm and two officers, chairman Antone J. Lazos and former chieffinancial officer Diane Erk, with making misleading statementsabout the company's prospects.

MICA's stock price dived by half a little over a year ago whenthe firm reported an unexpected loss and lower-than-expected revenueprospects (SCAN 10/9/91).

  • DVI Health Services acquired 100% of TMC Radiology for$1.3 million last month. The Irvine, CA, imaging center firm andscanner lessor will operate TMC Radiology within a previouslyformed MRI partnership in which DVI holds a 60% interest. TMCRadiology runs five multimodality centers in the Phoenix area.