10 Ohio hospitals get federal contract to cut readmissions; Prime Healthcare acquires MedCath hospital;

> Ten Ohio hospitals landed a federal contract to cut readmission rates, reports the Beacon Journal. They join other hospitals nationwide in the new Community-Based Care Transitions Program, under the Partnership for Patients program. Article

> Florida's Halifax Health has asked a judge to dismiss a federal kickback suit, reports The Daytona Beach News-Journal. The Florida hospital and its staffing company are accused of violating Stark law and having improper financial relationships with several doctors. Article

> More than 2,400 providers (mostly physicians) signed an open letter to HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius opposing the Institute of Medicine's recent report on essential benefits, arguing that the recommendation focuses on cost rather than medical need. Adopting the recommendation "will sacrifice many lives and cause much suffering," the providers wrote. Letter

> MedCath's selling spree is one step closer to its end now that Prime Healthcare Services has acquired Harlingen (Texas) Medical Center, California-based Prime announced yesterday. MedCath's last hospital is a 74-bed facility in California, reports MedCity News. Article

> South Texas Health will acquire Weslaco, Texas-based Knapp Medical, the USH hospital announced yesterday. Last month, Knapp Medical workers protested the chief executive's hefty $850,000 compensation. Press release

And Finally... Hospital ER: 0, Flying squirrels: 2. Article