– California Hospitals Open Books, Showing Huge Price Differences

Link: – California Hospitals Open Books, Showing Huge Price Differences. (subscription required)

A new law in California mandates that hospitals there do what few hospitals in America will: open up their "chargemasters," books that show thousands of list prices for medical goods and services. An examination of chargemasters at several hospitals shows that pricing strategies fluctuate wildly — on everything from brain scans to painkillers to leeches. Depending on a hospital’s pricing method, the charge for the same commodity or service, such as a blood test, can vary by as much as 17-fold from one institution to another.

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Holiday Letter

Year-end 2004

Hello from Brooklyn and the construction site also known as 171 Marlborough Road. With the end of the year approaching we’re still repairing and painting on warm days which are fewer each week. The front porch was reconstructed and we learned that the columns were oak trees, shaved down to the column shape. With epoxy to repair the rot on the column ends and a whole new support structure, we’ve put the porch back together with new Douglas Fir decking and have primer on most of it for the winter. For further lessons on decrepit house renovation, call or write anytime.

Zoey took an interest in sailing when after his spring tennis camp he raced with Steve’s sister, Susan, in a one-day race in Tampa Bay. Steve and Zoey followed up with a sailing course in NY Harbor during June. Avoiding the barges and ferries took some of the pleasure out of the experience, but they’re looking forward to another spring break with Susan and her sailboat in balmier Florida waters. Masha may learn to dive on the same trip while Simone retains her accustomed role of chauffeur of the “Mom-mobile.”

Masha spent the summer on the Bryn Mawr College campus enjoying her independence while engaged in a total immersion Russian language program for eight weeks. She’s added Russian through weekly tutoring with an NYU Russian professor to her other academic endeavors. She is feeling she’s prepared for our planned trip to Russia late next summer for exploration and possible discovery and meeting of some of her biological relatives.

Simone’s volunteer efforts with Friends Seminary—where the children go to school in the city—led her to run the used book sale at the start of the school year. Anyone want some old textbooks—better you than my trashmen who between the old books and the old, rotted wood coming out of the house have a hex on me. Simone also helped feed us all by working with the Cobble Hill Community Sponsored Agriculture (CSA) program that supplied us with fresh produce beginning in late spring and just ending a few weeks ago. Find a nearby CSA at or

Simone has further developed the Brooklyn branch of the German Shepherd Dog Rescue that she helped establish when we were in Philadelphia ( She has placed more dogs and even recruited a few (very few) volunteers in the New York metropolitan area. As I write we have a year-old female shepherd puppy in the house that just had her hip fixed and is full of puppy energy—too much for our older dogs who will be happy to see the puppy leave soon. So too will Steve.

We’re fortunate that our mothers remain basically well and active though not without some of the challenges of great age. Simone’s Mom had a landmark birthday with surprise party this past spring. Next spring will bring Simone’s brother Stacy’s marriage to Melissa. These family tidings remind me of friends who are struggling with their health and life itself. I hope you are taking care of yourselves and enjoying the world around you, I try more to do so every day.

Imgp0345_1Zoey & Steve enjoying NY Harbor in June with their instructor. Lady Liberty just to the right of Zoey’s head.

We wish you all the best for 2005. Think globally. Act locally.

VA Chief, Prinipi, Quits with Budget Cuts Looming

So the VA Chief, Prinipi, is quitting. It probably doesn’t have much to do with the $900 Million plus cut anticipated in the DVA budget which will mostly fall on healthcare since that’s the largest part of the DVA budget. This at the time when our military men and women will be returning from Iraq. Just a small precursor of the coming cuts in Medicare. Stay tuned.

Bloomberg Dec 9 2004 1:24AM GMT [Moreover – moreover…]