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Steward To Launch ‘Believe’ Ad Campaign During Superbowl

A boxer to be featured in Superbowl ads by Steward Health Care System

WBUR’s Martha Bebinger reports:

“Believe” — that’s the theme for an ad campaign that Steward Health Care System is set to launch during Superbowl Sunday as it tries to re-brand Caritas Health Care.

The ads will feature patients talking about what’s important in health care, and about finding it at one of the six Caritas — now Steward — hospitals. To thrive, the former Catholic hospital chain, now a for-profit network, will have to persuade patients to use community hospitals instead of heading to Boston for care.

Brian Carty, Steward’s Chief Marketing Officer, would not say how much Steward is spending on this campaign. He estimates the ads will reach residents in the hospitals’ coverage areas six or seven times this month.

Caritas Deal: Top 3 Theories On What Cerberus Is Really After

Bebinger asks: What does Cerberus really want?

Here’s a smart Q&A with WBUR’s Martha Bebinger on Morning Edition, focusing on the question: Why would a New York equity firm pay nearly $900 million for a group of underperforming hospitals in Massachusetts?

After polling analysts and industry watchers, here are Martha’s top three theories:

1. Under Pressure
Cerberus (named after a three-headed dog that guards the gates to the underworld) has been under pressure to make acquisitions to circulate capital in a tight economic market, and this was a fairly reasonable deal.

2. Health Reform Law
The new health care law — which was a little bit in limbo given the recent elections — is expected to lead to a lot of consolidation in the hospital industry. So if Caritas can grow and boost its profit margin 2 or 3 percent, it can negotiate better reimbursement rates with insurers. Maybe it will be attractive to one of the larger for-profit hospital chains that is consolidating.

3. A Not-Too-Risky Deal

Cerberus bought low and the $895 million deal that we’ve been reporting is not all cash up front. The actual purchase price is about $496 million; more than half of that is the pension liability that Cerberus will pay off over many years if it holds on to Caritas. The big influx of cash, the remaining $400, is not a lump sum for service, but it’s money that Cerberus was committed to spend out of what it expects will be increasing revenue at Caritas.

Daily Rounds: Costliest Patients; Caritas Grilling; Aspirin and Colon Cancer; Drug Rep Flattery; MIT’s Gruber Vs. Tennessee Gov. On Reform

America’s Costliest Hospital Patients – NYTimes.com “Some of the sickest patients can run up hospital charges as high as $18,000 a day, with average stays of almost three weeks, according to a new government report on the cost of hospital care.” (The New York Times)

Judge grills Caritas on sale – BostonHerald.com “Caritas Christi Health Care’s underfunded pension liabilities were the focus of yesterday’s Supreme Judicial Court hearing on the proposed $895 million sale of the Catholic hospital chain to Cerberus Capital Management.” (Boston Herald)

Low-dose aspirin may cut colon cancer cases, study says – The Boston Globe “A low dose of aspirin may reduce colon cancer cases by a quarter and deaths by a third, a new study found.” (Boston Globe)

Dollars For Docs: Drug Co. Flattery Wins Docs, Influences Prescriptions : NPR “Drug companies train representatives to approach a narrow set of doctors in a very specific way, using language that deliberately fosters this idea that the doctors who speak are educators, and not just educators, but the smartest of the smart.” (npr.org)

Tennessee Governor Phil Bredesen Attacks Health Care Reform … And Gets It Wrong | The New Republic “The gist of Bredesen’s argument is pretty simple: Some firms will find it more attractive to stop offering insurance and let employees get coverage through the new insurance exchanges, where generous subsidies will be available. But the Affordable Care Act, which I’ve long supported, imposes strong penalties on firms that do not offer insurance, as well as sizeable tax credits for smaller firms that encourage them to offer.” (tnr.com)

Daily Rounds: Blood Test For Brain Injury; Lying CEO’s; Female Viagra Trial Stopped; Faith For Health? Partying With Caritas, Obama

Army finds simple blood test to identify mild brain trauma – USATODAY.com “The Army says it has discovered a simple blood test that can diagnose mild traumatic brain damage or concussion, a hard-to-detect injury that can affect young athletes, infants with "shaken baby syndrome" and combat troops.” (USA Today)

How To Tell When A CEO Is Lying : NPR The researchers say “lying executives tend to overuse words like "we" and "our team" when they talk about their company. They avoid saying "I."’ (npr.org)

Medical News: Company Halts 'Female Viagra' Development – in Product Alert, Prescriptions from MedPage Today “The German pharmaceutical company Boehringer Ingelheim announced it is halting development of flibanserin (Girosa), a pill to treat female hypoactive sexual-desire disorder. The decision to stop development of the drug dubbed "female Viagra" or "pink Viagra" follows.. an FDA advisory committee (meeting) during which the panel voted 9 to 2 that flibanserin doesn't seem to work any better at increasing female sexual desire than placebo.” (medpagetoday.com)

Healing faith? – The Boston Globe “Women who read Scripture passages and prayed together during their classes — and set goals for themselves — walked farther and potentially had lower blood pressure than women whose sessions didn’t emphasize faith.” (Boston Globe)

Caritas CEO hosting fund-raiser with Barack Obama – BostonHerald.com “Though several Democrats said de la Torre has shown little interest in the party, he is a friend of DSCC chairman and New Jersey senator Bob Menendez, with whom he shares Cuban roots. He has also been a public advocate of national health care reform.” (Boston Herald)

Caritas Sale Could Remake Local Hospital Landscape

Will the Caritas sale ultimately benefit patients?

Will the sale of the Caritas Christi hospitals really offer more competition, and possibly threaten the dominant hospital system in the state? And will it ultimately benefit patients?

Those are the questions WBUR’s Martha Bebinger raises in her piece this morning on the imminent deal that will flip Caritas’s status from non-profit to for-profit once it is acquired by the New York equity firm, Cerberus Capital Management.

But the most pressing question, in the short term, at least, is how will the chain (to be renamed “Steward”) make money once the initial investment is spent?

Caritas CEO Ralph de la Torre has a plan. It begins with holding on to patients who come to Caritas hospitals in Norwood or Methuen or Brighton, for example, for primary care. Right now, 65 percent of patients head to the big downtown Boston hospitals when they need more than an office visit.

“We are here to reverse that tide,” de la Torre says. “We realize that it’s our responsibility to provide the facilities, the personnel and the convenience needed to entice people to stay in their community for health care.”

De la Torre figures that every percentage point of patients Caritas can recapture is worth millions of dollars for his network. And he says convincing patients his hospitals are just as good and cheaper than the major teaching hospitals will lower health care costs for everyone.

Folks like Paul Levy, CEO of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, tell Ms. Bebinger that the deal “will dramatically change the ownership of the health care environment in Massachusetts forever.” And Tufts Health Plan CEO Jim Roosevelt says: “If there’s real competition between two high-quality systems, there’s a better chance of holding down the costs.”

But whether patients will actually switch providers and walk away from the major academic centers remains a big unknown. And then there’s the question of the sale itself. The deal still needs approval from the state’s highest court — and the Catholic church.

Daily Rounds: Criminal Caregivers; Avandia Restrictions; Threat Of Caritas Closures; Health Law Q&A

California has paid scores of criminals to care for vulnerable residents – latimes.com Including people convicted of rape and assault. (Los Angeles Times)

What the FDA’s Restriction of Avandia Means for Diabetics – TIME Healthland “The restrictions, and the fact that there is a similar drug that has not been associated with the same degree of heart risks, may be the death knell for the once popular medication, which grossed nearly $3 billion worldwide during its peak of popularity in the early 2000s.” (healthland.time.com)

Caritas warns of 2 hospital closures – The Boston Globe “Caritas Christi Health Care executives have told union negotiators they will shutter St. Elizabeth’s Medical Center in Brighton and Carney Hospital in Dorchester if they can’t close a deal for the six-hospital chain to be bought by a New York private equity firm.”(Boston Globe)

Q&A: Will health law help me now? – USATODAY.com Wonderfully clear questions and answers about the federal reform’s immediate effects. (USA Today)

Daily Rounds: Twentysomethings And Insurance; Kids And Concussions; Howard Dean On Reform; Cautions on Caritas

Returning To Parents' Insurance Raises Other Issues : NPR “Here’s what a lot of friends my age and in the same situation are focusing all their energy on: transitioning from freelance — or part-time — to full-time work with benefits. Not health insurance.”(NPR)

Phys Ed: Can Concussions in Kids Cause Problems Later in Life? – NYTimes.com “When researchers looked at the electrical activity of the students’ brains, they found that the concussed athletes showed noticeably less activity in portions of the brain associated with attention.”(ell.blogs.nytimes.com)

Howard Dean: Health Care Reform Will Succeed Without Individual Mandate “As a generation of experience in Vermont has shown, an individual mandate is not essential either to achieve near universality or to have a stable insurance market. While its true that the new federal law will expand health care coverage and make the system fairer if it contains an individual mandate, the most important changes will survive, and the bill will still achieve all of it’s major goals even without a mandate.” (Huffington Post)

Coalition urges further scrutiny of Caritas sale – The Boston Globe “In letters being sent today to Attorney General Martha Coakley and Public Health Commissioner John Auerbach, the coalition, organized by consumer advocacy group Health Care for All, urged officials to review the sale of Caritas to Cerberus Capital Management in a “deliberate, transparent, and inclusive’’ manner.” (Boston Globe)