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    Elaine Brynaert is a medical biller for one of the state's biggest hospital firms: William Beaumont Hospital. Beaumont is currently suffering from economic problems and is doing everything they can to fix them. This interview is an account of a Beaumont employee who deals directly with the money coming in to the hospitals.

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    Leah Brynaert (LB): Can you tell me a little bit about Beaumont Hospitals?

    Elaine Brynaert (EB): William Beaumont Hospitals is a group of three hospitals (289 to 1,061 beds), nursing homes, medical centers, physician offices and more that are in our communities for everyone. There are a wide range of specialties (91) and more than 3,700 physicians. Beaumont is a teaching center, along with a research program, that has improved many patients' lives. The innovative technologies and creative approach to technique and care is outstanding. There are more than 300 investigators in over 35 departments conducting research and more than 850 active research studies at Beaumont, including applied and clinical research, as well as clinical trials.

    LB: That's interesting. What exactly do you do for the hospitals?

    EB: I work in the Patient Financial Services as a medical biller for the professional side. I deal with the insurance claims that have been rejected for whatever reason and try to resolve them. What my department bills are diagnostic charges such as x-rays, CT scans, MRIs and some labs. I have worked Medicare, Medicaid, Medicaid HMO's and auto claims.

    LB: That seems difficult to do. There are so many types of claims to handle. What exactly it going on with the hospitals economy wise?

    EB: Beaumont is trimming the fat to ensure the best patient care possible regardless of what the patient is being seen for. Obviously, the money that we were being paid by both the insurance companies and patients is not what had been forecasted. With the recession this country is in and the large population that makes up most patients in hospitals (senior citizens) the expected monies from both Medicare and Medicaid for the hospital is down. Payments for the physicians are down, also. Beaumont, Royal Oak, is the third largest Medicare hospital in the country. We provided over $200 million in unpaid direct patient care in 2009 and I'm sure that number is only going to grow in 2010 and beyond. Elective surgeries have dropped as the number of people out of work has increased.

    LB: Is Beaumont doing anything special to fix these problems?

    EB: Beaumont has brought in this woman: K. Bobbi Carbone, M.D., M.B.A., the first physician and first female COO in Beaumont's 55-year history. She became executive vice president and chief operating officer in July of 2010.

    LB: What is exactly is she doing for the hospitals?
    EB: Dr. Carbone came to Beaumont from Memorial Hermann Health System in Houston where she served as chief clinical operations officer. During her career, she's also served as an independent health care industry consultant; as health care director and faculty member at Rice University Jones Graduate School of Management in Houston; as senior vice president, medical affairs, and vice president, clinical effectiveness and quality improvement, for Jefferson Health System in Wayne, Pa.; and in a series of executive positions with University of Pennsylvania Health System, including associate vice president, clinical effectiveness and quality.
    Dr. Carbone is a board-certified anesthesiologist who graduated from the University of Wisconsin Medical School and served a residency in anesthesiology at Northwestern University Medical School in Chicago, and a fellowship in cardiac anesthesia at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.
    LB: So she knows the ways of the medical field. She most likely understands what the employees are going through.
    EB: Right, she also has a master's degree in business administration from The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, and a bachelor's degree from Amherst College, Amherst, Mass. Dr. Carbone is definitely making a clean sweep, from the top to the bottom, across every level and department.
    LB: She obviously has the potential to fix some of the problems the hospital group is having. Do have any idea how the doctors or patients are feeling about all this?

    EB: I don't really know how the physicians feel about this. I know the patients have been affected. There are a lot of people in the area that lost both their jobs and their insurance yet their health problems still exist, sometimes made worse by the stress of having no job and not enough money for the basics, let alone visits to a doctor or medication that they might need. A lot more people are now applying for Medicaid yet not all are getting it.

     

     

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    About Us

    The Michigan Policy Network is a student-led public education and research program to report and organize news and information about the political process surrounding Michigan state policy issues. It is run out of the Department of Political Science at Michigan State University, with participation by students from the College of Social Science, the College of Communication, and James Madison College. 

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    Meet your Policy Fellow: Leah Brynaert

    Leah Brynaert is Health Care Fellow & Correspondent for the Michigan Policy Network. She is a first-year student in Lyman Briggs College at MSU.