|PacifiCare Health Systems said it will buy Preferred Health Resources, a Seattle-based managed-care operator with more than 70,000 enrollees. Terms weren't disclosed. Cypress, Calif.-based PacifiCare already covers more than 90,000 enrollees in the Pacific Northwest. The company said the acquisition would strengthen its Medicare operations in the region.
|TakeCare shareholders with a 22% stake in the Concord, Calif.-based HMO have sued the company in Delaware Chancery Court to block its proposed merger with FHP International, Fountain Valley, Calif., which was announced Jan. 10 (Jan. 17, p. 14). The shareholders contend that Jack R. Anderson, TakeCare's chairman, breached his fiduciary duty by working to ensure that FHP's part-cash, part-stock bid was accepted over a competing all-stock offer by United HealthCare Corp., Minnetonka, Minn. TakeCare said the lawsuit was without merit.
|The boards of 268-bed Queen of the Valley Hospital in West Covina, Calif., and 217-bed Inter-Community Medical Center in Covina, Calif., have entered into an agreement to explore a merger between the two hospitals. The agreement, called a memorandum of understanding, is a non-binding legal document that allows both medical centers to review the operations of the respective organizations and identifies and clears possible snags in the intended deal. Peter E. Makowski, Queen of the Valley's president and chief executive officer, said the merger will help create an integrated-care system in the San Gabriel Valley. In recent months, Queen of the Valley also had been studying a possible affiliation with Southern California Healthcare Systems in Arcadia, Calif., which operates Huntington Memorial Hospital in Pasadena, Calif., and Methodist Hospital of Southern California in Arcadia.
|The University of Minnesota and Fairview Health System will be able to tap into 1.2 million patients through Minnesota's latest integrated service network. The university, Fairview and Fairview Physician Associates have signed letters of intent to join Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota and Aspen Medical Group for the ISN. The Blues and Aspen announced last year that they would form an ISN. The move is in response to the state's MinnesotaCare healthcare reform plan, which mandates that providers join networks, also called "super HMOs," by July 1.
|Registered nurses at Jersey City (N.J.) Medical Center who went on strike Dec. 4 remain at loggerheads with hospital administrators over the issue of merit pay. The 680-member unit of Local 5058 of Hospital Professionals and Allied Employees of New Jersey opposes merit pay because annual increases would be determined by a nurse's supervisor. The union believes this is a tactic intended to avoid wage increases and break the union. A hospital spokeswoman said the nurses have been offered a contract that allows for annual increases of 2% to 6% and an opportunity to set the rules for measuring performance. The 447-bed hospital's other 1,800 employees are already on such a system.
|A new license and distribution agreement between Atlanta-based HBO & Co. and Boulder, Colo.-based CliniCom has netted its first customer, St. Louis-based SSM Health Care System. The two healthcare information system vendors announced earlier this month they are jointly marketing complementary patient-care and clinical information systems. SSM, a Roman Catholic healthcare system of 14 hospitals, will purchase HBO's pharmacy, laboratory, radiology and financial systems as well as a product called Care Manager that integrates CliniCom's clinical software into the HBO patient-care system. Terms of the contract weren't disclosed.
|Many managed-care organizations as well as providers believe price rather than quality is more important to marketplace success, according to a survey of 102 managed-care plans and 127 hospitals and physician groups by Foster Higgins, New York. As a result, many providers are moving slowly on outcomes measurement projects. The survey found that 69% of managed-care organizations ranked price first or second, followed by patient satisfaction (50%) and provider access (31%). Although health plans and providers believe outcomes research will improve quality, they disagree over its ability to reduce costs, Foster Higgins said.