‘Operation G.R.A.P.E.’ targets graffiti in Dayton

Published: Saturday, August 12, 2017 @ 12:48 PM


            Graffiti like this at 211 S. Main St. was among the targets of Dayton police, city personnel and local volunteers during Operation “G.R.A.P.E.” on Saturday. MALIK PERKINS/STAFF
Graffiti like this at 211 S. Main St. was among the targets of Dayton police, city personnel and local volunteers during Operation “G.R.A.P.E.” on Saturday. MALIK PERKINS/STAFF

Dayton police officers, city of Dayton employees and community volunteers painted over graffiti in several locations on Saturday.

Operation G.R.A.P.E. (Graffiti Removal and Property Enhancement) worked to paint over or clean up graffiti in at least six locations around downtown Dayton.

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“I don’t only work in the city, I live in the city, so we want to maintain it,” said Dayton police Sgt. Gordon Cairns, who was helping on his day off. “When people come down and visit, we want them to say it is a clean city and it looks nice.”

Central Patrol Operations Division officers also planned to clean up some vacant lots and overgrown areas.

“It’s about claiming unclaimed spaces, said Bryan Stewart, a legislative aide for the city. “We’re going to go after and sometimes put up public art. Other times it is about simply covering up a curse word.”

PHOTOS: Legal graffiti by area artists

The targeted graffiti areas were at Monument and I-75, East First and Meigs, Jefferson Street and Route 35, South Main Street between Washington and Fifth, East Third Street and Sears and a blue building at Jackson and Gates.

Volunteers said they hope to gather quarterly to clean, and they may hire a local artist to paint some buildings.

“If you notice people tagging, call the police at the non-emergency number,” Cairns said. “Let us know and we’ll do our best to get the graffiti cleaned up as fast as possible.”

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Independent physicians say they’re getting squeezed out of business

Published: Sunday, February 25, 2018 @ 10:42 AM

Contributed
Staff Writer
Contributed(Staff Writer)

Thirty years ago, more than three out of four physicians owned their practices but today fewer than half of U.S. physicians work independently of hospital physician networks.

High costs and low insurance reimbursement rates have driven more doctors to join hospital physician networks, leaving behind a small number of independent doctors seeking to compete against larger hospital-employed groups.

Some independent doctors say this trend is bad for patient care and in the long run can lead to higher costs for patients.

Dr. Kenneth Christman, a Miami Twp. plastic surgeon with a solo practice, said his practice is an example of the pressures that independent doctors are under.

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Christman was recently interviewed by the Dayton Daily News for an article about patients caught off-guard when their insurance companies refuse to cover care because the doctor is out-0f-network – even when the care is in an emergency and the patient didn’t know the doctor was out-of-network.

Contributed(Staff Writer)

These patients have described this as “surprise billing,’’ and some are fighting the bills. But Christman calls it “surprise non-payment,” because the doctor may not be compensated if the insurance company or patient doesn’t pay the bill.

Christman said independent doctors like himself don’t have in-network deals with insurance companies because their work is worth much more than the rates they are offered from insurance companies. Hospitals are large enough to negotiate better rates than solo practitioners, Christman said.

“In any larger practice, the larger it is, the more clout they have and more they have to deal with those people,” Christman said. “But the smaller ones, they get picked off.”

Christman said the in-network rates for small practices are so low he couldn’t stay in business if he had in-network contracts with insurers.

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“I can’t afford to pay my employees and pay rent on these amounts. It’s just financially impossible,” Christman said.

He said independent doctors can give a patient more individual attention. He said he is worried about patients being told to use nurse practitioners and physicians assistants when they should be treated by doctors or surgeons.

But the insurance industry contests the characterization.

“With the vast majority of physicians, including small and independents, successfully contracting with insurers, it begs the question of whether the problem lies with the health plans or with a few physicians demanding unreasonable health care prices,” said Miranda Motter, president and CEO of Ohio Association of Health Plans, which represents the insurance industry. “Unreasonable health care prices are unfair to consumers and directly impact the affordability of health care, and ultimately affordability of health insurance.”

Anthem, the largest insurer in the Dayton market, said in a statement “collaborative relationships are important in helping to provide our consumers with access to high quality affordable care, while also ensuring that care providers and hospitals are compensated fairly.”

“Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield successfully contracts with greater than 95 percent of Ohio care providers – including many small group and independent physicians, and large integrated health systems in the Miami Valley.”

Bryan Bucklew, CEO of the Greater Dayton Area Hospital Association, said the incentives from government and commercial insurers are for more efficient, value-based care, and physicians are joining with hospitals because the hospital networks have the administration to deal with the upheaval from constantly-changing rules.

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“There are significantly more employed physicians than 10 years ago and that is dictated a lot by the payment and quality initiatives that are being promulgated by (Centers for Medicare and Medicare).”

Bucklew said the new payment systems from insurers are built to reward providers who can control the whole continuum of a patient’s care, from diagnosis to rehabilitation, which is something independent practicing doctors aren’t built to do.

“The system is moving away from just a single doctor practicing,” he said.

Primary care doctors have faced some of the largest challenges in the current health care environment and are on average paid the least compared to other physician specialties. Leaders of PriMed Physicians said their physician-owned network in the Dayton area is a way for primary care doctors to band together while still having autonomy from a hospital. The doctors can pool resources for things like pricey electronic health record systems and share administration for growing data collection requirements.

“Part of the reason why previously independent physicians have joined hospital networks is to try to offload some of that,” said Dr. Tom Greer, physician manager. “Our advantage is we’re big enough where we can relieve some of that extra burden.”

While more physicians than ever are employed by hospitals, data from the American Medical Association also shows that hospitals have been slowing down the rate they are acquiring more practices. Thomas Campanella, professor of health economics at Baldwin Wallace, said that should be a good thing for the consumer.

More patients are paying with high-deductible plans and employers are taking on more of the cost of providing health insurance benefits, and those cost-conscious patients are finding that things like MRIs can be cheaper at a small practice.

“Consumers are actually better off with choices,” Campanella. “I don’t think the independent practice is dead and at the same time, what that will do from a positive standpoint is also put pressure on hospital systems that have employed physicians to be that much more value-based because they got competitors in the marketplace.”

But Dr. David Westbrock, a retired local endocrinologist, said doctors are losing their autonomy and their profession is becoming more corporate and less patient-focused as more small practices are acquired.

“If we look at the change in the horizon, we went from having control of our practice to having virtually no control,” he said.

Medicine isn’t like it used to be when Westbrock graduated in 1972 and when he retired in 2010. He said he retired earlier than he would have liked because he couldn’t make things work.

“When I went into medicine it wasn’t how much money I make. It was about caring for patients,” he said.

Dr. John Fleishman, a Dayton ophthalmologist who has been practicing for 33 years, said independent physicians aren’t under the same pressures to “churn out patients” the way a hospital-employed physician might be.

“When you have an employed physician … the physician answers to their employer,” he said.

He said if patients better understood prices they would be more likely to support independent physicians. Christman supports a Ohio law that he said would solve the issue by mandating better transparency for patients.

Rep. Jim Butler, R-Oakwood, sponsored a bill that was passed by the legislature in 2015 that required an estimate in “good faith” of what a medical bill would be in non-emergency cases.

But the Ohio Hospital Association and other medical professional groups filed suit, saying the law would be unworkable, and a court granted an injunction to stop it. Gov. John Kasich’s administration also has yet to write rules creating the guidance that would allow the law to take effect.

Christman said the legislation would work better for consumers.

“My patients have a right to know. A lot of patients have come to me outside their network. I tell them what I’m going to charge them. I give them the dollar amount. And furthermore, I tell them look, I can do this cheaper right here in my office,” Christman said.

Butler said one way to rein in rising health care costs is to give consumers the medical pricing information they need to seek out cheaper care.

“The missing link is we don’t know what the costs are so we can’t shop around,” he said.

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This story is part of an ongoing investigation into the local health care industry and the costs of medical care.

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Police: Teen mother arrested, accused of killing newborn baby

Published: Saturday, February 24, 2018 @ 1:08 PM

Teen Mother Arrested and Accused of Killing Newborn Baby

A Texas teenage mother was arrested Friday, accused of killing her newborn child earlier this month, police said.

Erica Gomez, 17, is accused of stabbing her newborn child, wrapping the infant girl in a bathrobe and hiding the body in a storage shed at a home in the El Paso area, police said. The infant's body was found Feb. 9 by authorities, the El Paso Times reported. 

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The infant had a stab wound and cuts to the neck and body, according to a news release from the El Paso County Sheriff's Office.

Gomez was charged with capital murder and is being held on $800,000 bond, according to records from the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office.

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Dayton police investigate shooting after victim shows up at hospital

Published: Saturday, February 24, 2018 @ 11:07 PM

A gunshot victim arrived tonight at Good Samaritan Hospital, which notified police.

The shooting reportedly happened in the 700 block of Ferguson Avenue in Dayton, according to the Montgomery County Regional Dispatch Center.

Dayton police were dispatched to the hospital around 9:45 p.m.

>> Man found dead on neighbor’s property in Warren County

The victim’s name, age and condition was not available tonight.

Got a tip? Call our monitored 24-hour line, 937-259-2237, or send it to newsdesk@cmgohio.com.

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Warren County resident loses $2,000 in fake arrest scam: Sheriff’s office issues warning

Published: Saturday, February 24, 2018 @ 5:31 PM

Nick Graham / Staff
Nick Graham / Staff

The Warren County Sheriff’s Office is warning people of a phone scam that cost one area resident about $2,000.

Sgt. Roy McGill said since Feb. 15, several residents who live inside and outside Warren County have received phone calls from someone identifying himself as a “Sgt. Corey Adams” of the sheriff’s office and telling them he has a warrant for their arrest.

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The fake deputy then tells the resident to purchase pre-paid debit cards from local retailers and subsequently requests the debit card numbers for payment, over the phone, to keep from being arrested on the warrant. McGill said at least one victim provided payment information and was scammed out of approximately $2,000.

McGill said the Warren County Sheriff’s Office wants citizens to be aware that they do not request payment for warrants over the phone. If anyone receives this type of call, they should hang up and contact their local police agency.

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