Briefs (right)AMA to Develop Measure
Of Medical Care Quality
By Robert Pear
THE NEW YORK TIMES WASHINGTON
The American Medical Association has signed a pact with Congress promising to develop more than 100 standard measures of performance, which doctors will report to the federal government in an effort to upgrade the quality of care.
The deal comes as the Bush administration pushes “pay for performance” arrangements with various health care providers in an effort to publicize their performance and link Medicare payment to quality. And it mirrors efforts in the private sector, where consumer groups, insurance companies and large employers who pay for health care are demanding more information on the quality of care.
The performance measures are supposed to focus on diagnostic tests and treatments that are known to produce better outcomes for patients — longer lives, improved quality of life and fewer complications. Federal officials say tracking how well and efficiently doctors or hospitals treat heart attacks and illnesses like diabetes or pneumonia could provide consumers with useful information.
The idea has strong support in Congress and from AARP, the lobby for older Americans, but some medical specialists said they were surprised by the deal. Many doctors said they feared the information could be used by the government to justify cutting the Medicare fees they receive.
Radioshack Chief Resigns
By Floyd Norris
THE NEW YORK TIMES
David J. Edmondson resigned as the chief executive of RadioShack on Monday, only days after he told investors that he intended to stay on despite the revelation that he had lied to the company about his education by claiming two college degrees when he had none.
Leonard H. Roberts, the executive chairman of the company, who had chosen Edmondson to be his successor as chief executive, announced the departure, which he said was a mutual decision between the board and Edmondson.
“When our company’s credibility becomes based on a single individual, it is time for a change,” he told a news conference. “One of the most important things we have as a corporation is integrity and trust. We have to restore that back to the company.”
He said the board made the final decision Monday morning, though it came only after negotiations were completed that resulted in a severance payment for Edmondson of less than $1 million in cash.
He said the payment was less than provided in Edmondson’s contract, but conceded that any payment would be questioned by some. “The average employee just doesn’t understand,” he said. “The company needs protection in terms of noncompete, and his ability to solicit our employees.”
Israel Suspends Sending Receipts To Palestinians
By Steven Erlanger
THE NEW YORK TIMES JERUSALEM
Israel’s Cabinet decided Sunday to immediately freeze the transfer of about $50 million a month in tax and customs receipts due to the Palestinian Authority, arguing that the swearing in of a Hamas-dominated legislature on Saturday meant that the Palestinians were now led by the militant group.
“It is clear that in the light of the Hamas majority in the parliament and the instructions to form a new government that were given to the head of Hamas, the Palestinian Authority is in practice becoming a terrorist authority,” Ehud Olmert, the acting prime minister, told his Cabinet. “The state of Israel will not agree to this.”
Although the Cabinet decided to hold back on other penalties it had been considering, its move to withhold the receipts immediately put it at odds with its main ally, the United States, and the other members of the so-called quartet — the European Union, Russia and the United Nations — that has been promoting peace efforts between Israel and the Palestinians.
The quartet has said that its funding for the Palestinian Authority will continue until a new Hamas-led government is in place, a process that could take five weeks or longer. Even as Israel acted to cut off money to the Palestinians, the quartet’s representative, James D. Wolfensohn, was in the Middle East talking with Arab countries in the Persian Gulf region to try to raise money for the Palestinian Authority until Hamas fully takes over the government.
The U.S. State Department said Sunday that it had no comment on the Israeli decision.
U.S. Reclassifies Many Documents In Secret Review
By Scott Shane
THE NEW YORK TIMES WASHINGTON
In a 7-year-old secret program at the National Archives, intelligence agencies have removed from public access thousands of historical documents that had been available for years, including some already published by the State Department and others photocopied years ago by private historians.
The restoration of classified status to more than 55,000 previously declassified pages began in 1999, when the Central Intelligence Agency and five other agencies objected to what they saw as a hasty release of sensitive information after a 1995 declassification order signed by President Bill Clinton. It accelerated after the Bush administration took office and especially after the 2001 terrorist attacks, according to archives records.
But because the reclassification program is itself shrouded in secrecy — governed by a still-classified memorandum that prohibits the National Archives even from saying which agencies are involved — it continued virtually without outside notice until December. That was when an intelligence historian, Matthew M. Aid, noticed that dozens of documents he had copied years ago had been withdrawn from the archives’ open shelves.