Thursday, May 9, 2013

Hospital Charges Vary a Lot: Big Deal or So What?

Posted By on Thu, May 9, 2013 at 1:51 PM

Baptist Memorial Hospital bills Medicare $51,152 for a drug-coated stent insertion, while Methodist Hospital bills Medicare $80,635 and St. Francis Hospital bills $82,211 for the same procedure. All three hospitals are in Shelby County.

To put in a pacemaker, the charges are $51,483 at Baptist, $76,490 at Methodist, and $61,614 at St. Francis. So it goes, for scores of medical procedures at nonprofit and for-profit hospitals all over the country.

What Medicare actually pays is another number, and the same goes for private insurance companies, employer-provided insurance, and the patient. So, assuming you know what a drug-coated stent insertion is, is this a big deal or one of those things like the national debt, public pension obligations, and food additives that is vaguely troubling but too complicated to worry about?

The question comes up following release of a massive amount of data on Medicare this week. The story was reported Wednesday, with some nice context and quotes, by The New York Times and The Washington Post and other news organizations.

For the first time, the federal government released the prices that hospitals charge for the 100 most common inpatient procedures. The charges have been mostly secret to the average person. What the numbers reveal is a health-care system with lots of variation in the costs of services.

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Friday, May 3, 2013

A New Documentary about Broad Avenue

Posted By on Fri, May 3, 2013 at 11:07 AM

Brighten up a wet weekend with a look at this documentary on the revitalization of Broad Avenue by Edward Valibus.

Valibus, a graduate of Overton High School and the University of Memphis who lives in Cordova, partnered with the Mayor's Innovation and Delivery Team to produce the short doc, doing all the camera, sound, production and interviewing work himself. Most of the filming was done the week before the grand opening on April 19th.

Among the business owners interviewed are David Wayne Brown, Guy Weaver, Tom Clifton and Pat Brown, Cynthia Norwood, Jay and Shalene McLaughlin, N J and Khara Woods, and Michael Andrews. Broad Avenue, with its grade-level train tracks that always seemed to bring rush-hour traffic to a standstill, looked doomed when Sam Cooper Boulevard was extended several years ago. But a combination of owners who wouldn't quit and new ones attracted to what was something of a blank canvas are bringing it back.

"Broad kind of has a wild-card feel about what it can turn into," said Valibus. "Other areas like Overton Square and South Main have more of a theme. Broad can become anything."

(Mural by artist Guillaume Alby)

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Bike Ride from Little Rock to Memphis

Posted By on Thu, May 2, 2013 at 9:50 AM

Ward Archer and friends have reposted this excellent video of their group bike ride from Little Rock to Memphis last summer. It shows the current scary sidewalk over the Mississippi River and a computer-generated rendering of the future Harahan Project, scheduled for completion in 2014. The rendering is not state of the art as far as the fencing and other details but you get the idea. Nice photography, music and narration. Check it out while the Harahan Project and Main Street to Main Street Connector are in the news. The ride was 186 miles. For those interested in something shorter, Little Rock has a great network of trails on both sides of the Arkansas River and over the Big Dam Bridge.

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