Briefly Noted

• HealthCare Markets Group (Hilton Head, SC) reported that home health stock prices declined 11.8% for the first half of 1999. The industry’s stock prices declined 18.7% in 1Q99, and 43.8% for calendar year 1998. Stock prices also decreased 8.5% in 1997, but rose .7% in 1996 and 2.2% in 1995. Consistent losses and a lack of earnings growth have impeded any stock appreciation for most of the industry, HealthCare reported.

An annual study by the Health Care Financing Administration (HCFA; Baltimore) called The Next Decade of Health Spending: A New Outlook is published in the July/August 1999 issue of Health Affairs. The study shows that national health spending will grow only 6.5% for 1997 to 2007, compared to an earlier estimate of 7%. Spending is expected to accelerate from 1998 to 2000 because of acceleration in the private sector health spending growth. HCFA actuaries project Medicare spending will grow about 4.5% on average over the 1997-2000 period. The slower growth is a result of the Balanced Budget Act of 1997 and initiatives against fraud, waste, and abuse. Public sector spending growth, particularly Medicare, is affected by slower expected input price increases for hospitals, physicians, home health, and skilled nursing services, the study found. Spending on nursing home and home health care will grow more slowly than projected last year. Detailed information about the forecasts is available on the HCFA home page on the Web at www.hcfa.gov/stats/NHE-Proj/.

Stephen Teed of Tweed Jeffries (Louisville, KY) and recruiting expert Cathy Fyock have written a manual, being offered by Tweed Jeffries, that will help home health agencies attract and retain capable workers. Strategic Recruiting: How to Find the Employees you Need in Home Health Care, a five-section, 139-page manual, will show home care providers how to diagnose their staffing pain, target and segment their labor work, create strategic recruiting advantage in their marketplace, and make it easier for job candidates to "buy." The book is available for $99 by calling (800) 254-5777.

Payment reductions made by the Balanced Budget Act of 1997 will amount to $71 billion over five years, making it the largest reduction to healthcare providers in history, according to a study conducted by the American Hospital Association and Lewin Group. The study found that while the projected margin for inpatient PPS services remained positive, ranging from 7.5% to 4.2%, all other services would have negative margins. For hospital-based home health agencies, the margin was projected to be down 11.4%.