Regional Digest

• Dr. Forrest Calico, CEO of Appalachian Regional Healthcare (Lexington, KY), resigned following a disagreement with the company’s board of directors. The dispute centered on how to improve the non-profit chain of hospitals, clinics, and home health services’ financial viability, a company spokeswoman said. Vice president/COO Willis Bultje will temporarily replace Calico until a national search finds a permanent replacement. Some physicians associated with the company worry that Calico’s departure might mean the board plans to reduce services in order to save money, reported The Courier-Journal in Louisville. Calico became the company’s CEO in 1993.

• Lobbyists are pushing hard to convince the Texas Legislature to lift the cap on the number of Medicaid patients served by home healthcare, reported the Austin Business Journal. "From our standpoint, they need to take that lid off entirely," said Sara Speights of the Texas Association of Home Care. Enrollment for the Community Based Alternatives program, which provides home healthcare services, had to close in August because all funded slots had been filled. That left on the waiting list about 8,000 people, who were forced into nursing homes. Sen. Mike Moncrief (D-Fort Worth) has drafted four bills to get more state funding for home healthcare.

Straub Clinic and Hospital’s (Honolulu, HI) home healthcare agency ceased operations on May 8. It is the fifth Hawaiian company that has closed in the past year, reported the Pacific Business News. The decision to close Straub was made from decreased reimbursements and the implementation of the Outcome Assessment Information Set (OASIS), said Katie Shigemitsu, director of the home healthcare program. Other home healthcare agencies shut down this year in Hawaii include Kahuku Hospital Home Health Agency, Kapiolani Home Health Services, Waianae Coast Comprehensive Home Health Care Service, and Maluhia Home Health Care.

• A 15-year owner of Reavis HomeCare in Round Rock, TX, had to call it quits because of problems with Medicare’s reimbursement procedure, reported the Austin Business Journal. Nancy Reavis closed her home health business recently and is now embroiled in a lawsuit with Palmetto Blue Cross and Blue Shield, based in South Carolina, and the Health Care Financing Administration (HCFA; Baltimore). Palmetto told Reavis that her business owed the company more than $1 million because the previous intermediary miscalculated her reimbursements. Reavis, who still oversees a rehabilitation center and Reavis Health Management System, said HCFA has been known for changing the rules. "And to make matters worse," she told the Journal, "they make those changes retroactive. Home health did cost too much, changes were needed, and people in the industry have been saying that for years. But the changes we’ve seen are flawed."

• A little marketing luck has helped Golden Technologies (Old Forge, PA) receive attention about its home healthcare products. The company builds power seat lift chairs, power scooters, and adjustable beds. First, the Tampa Bay Devil Rays ordered two scooters for special transportation needs, and now their mascot is using the scooter. So is the mascot of the Philadelphia Phillies. And actress Faye Dunaway, who bought a lift chair for a relative, agreed to endorse the product, reported The Times Leader in Wilkes-Barre, PA.

Memorial Home Health and Hospice of Salem County, NJ, has upgraded its TeleHealth System (Greenwood, IN) product to Version 4.0 operating on Windows NT. The technology is used in the company’s congestive heart failure program to monitor home-based patients. TeleHealth Suite is a cost-effective and timely mechanism of contacting patients, and a new QuestionSetCreator allows customers to design question algorithms to address specific patient needs.