The $1 billion acquisition of Epic Healthcare Group by HealthTrust-The Hospital Co. apparently has cleared federal antitrust hurdles. Last week, the deadline passed for the Federal Trade Commission to request additional information about the deal. Nashville, Tenn.-based HealthTrust plans to complete the purchase of Dallas-based Epic in late April or early May. The deal will create a system of 115 hospitals with $3.4 billion in annual revenues.
The fate of a proposed three-hospital sale involving HealthTrust-The Hospital Co. and Holy Cross Health System Corp. still was unknown late last week as the two systems continued to deliberate whether to fight an antitrust challenge of their transaction. HealthTrust, the Nashville, Tenn.-based for-profit chain, wants to buy the three Utah hospitals owned by South Bend, Ind.-based Holy Cross. HealthTrust already owns six hospitals in Utah. Four are located in the same market as the Holy Cross facilities. The commissioners of the Federal Trade Commission late last month authorized the agency to file an antitrust complaint against the systems to stop the sale, but, at deadline, the agency hadn't taken any formal action. The FTC appears to be waiting for the two systems to decide whether to fight the antitrust charges or scrap the deal. An FTC spokeswoman declined to comment on why the FTC hasn't acted.
The U.S. Labor Department last week filed five civil suits against what it called "sham health insurance providers." Those named in the suits were primarily multiple employer welfare arrangements, which are insurance purchasing alliances formed for small businesses. The largest suit was brought against Michael Houck, who operated Dallas-based Employee Staffing Services. The firm had nearly 20,000 beneficiaries and owed more than $1 million in unpaid claims, according to the Labor Department. In total, the five suits affect more than 27,000 beneficiaries and nearly $4 million in unpaid claims, officials said.
The National Committee for Quality Health Care, a Washington-based coalition of hospitals, hospital systems, healthcare organizations, pharmaceutical companies and suppliers, has elected Robert W. O'Leary as its chairman for 1994, effective April 1. Mr. O'Leary is president and chief executive officer of American Medical International, a Dallas-based chain of 35 acute-care hospitals and one psychiatric hospital in 12 states.
North Arundel Hospital in Glen Burnie, Md., has received a waiver from the Maryland Health Services Cost Review Commission to set up the state's first capitated payment arrangement with four local HMOs. The state hasn't granted any capitation waivers under its all-payer provider reimbursement system. The hospital has created a wholly owned for-profit subsidiary called New American Health and hopes to enroll as many as 25,000 HMO members within three years, with eventual expansion to 100,000, according to a hospital spokeswoman.
Florida House and Senate committees last week approved two versions of Gov. Lawton Chiles' plan to offer subsidized health insurance to some 1 million low-income residents. The House appropriation committee approved most of Mr. Chiles' "Florida Health Security" bill in a 23-13 vote. The Senate's healthcare committee, however, approved a stripped-down version of the plan after Democrats failed to win over the committee's Republicans. The Senate committee version's eligibility limits, which are based on federal poverty levels, would be income of less than $21,525 for a family of four or income of less than $10,455 for individuals. The House committee approved income eligibility caps of $35,875 for a family of four and $17,425 for individuals. Because Florida's House has a Democratic majority while the Senate is evenly split, a compromise bill is expected to be reached in conference committee before the session ends April 8.
The first long-term-care representative to the Prospective Payment Assessment Commission has been appointed by the congressional Office of Technology Assessment. Susan Bailis, 48, is executive vice president, chief operating officer and principal of the ADS Group, an Andover, Mass.-based long-term-care company that manages 3,500 beds in Massachusetts. Ms. Bailis' term began April 1.