CHARLOTTE, N.C.-Presbyterian Hospital and the Nalle Clinic, a 100-physician multispecialty group practice, have formed a joint venture to pursue provider contracts with managed-care plans and employers. The joint venture will put Nalle Clinic physicians on the same physician roster as Presbyterian's physician-hospital organization. The PHO, Presbyterian Health Service Corp., already employs approximately 90 primary-care physicians. Presbyterian is one of three hospitals in Charlotte that are aggressively acquiring or affiliating with physician group practices (May 30, p. 30).
GREENVILLE, S.C.-The Greenville Hospital System has launched a major operational restructuring program intended to trim $20 million from the system's operating budget by the end of next year. That's about 5% of the system's $388 million operating budget in fiscal 1994, which ends Sept. 30. Like other hospitals across the country, the system is attempting to lower its costs to better position itself for healthcare reform and networking opportunities with other providers and insurers, said Frank Pinckney, Greenville's president and chief executive officer. The system operates 16 healthcare facilities, including three acute-care hospitals. The flagship hospital is 703-bed Greenville Memorial Hospital. The savings will come from work force reductions, changes in wage differentials and work shifts, changes in the skill mix of the work force, and improvements in work procedures. A spokesman said the system hasn't determined how many of its more than 5,000 full- and part-time employees will be let go, but he said short-term cuts will focus on management positions.
TALLAHASSEE, Fla.-The Florida Supreme Court has ruled that class-action suits filed by a group of hospital patients can stay in state court. In requesting dismissal of the lawsuits, Plantation (Fla.) General Hospital and Santa Monica, Calif.-based National Medical Enterprises contended the suits should be tried in county courts when alleged damages are under $10,000 per patient. But the Supreme Court said county courts aren't adequate to decide complicated class-action lawsuits. The suits are the first in the nation against hospitals for the common practice of cost-shifting (Sept. 30, 1991, p. 3; Dec. 23/30, 1991, p. 6). Eight lawsuits against 14 hospitals have been filed in Florida over the past three years by patients who charge that hospitals have systematically overbilled them. To recoup losses from non-paying patients, unpaid costs of government programs or from money-losing managed-care contracts, hospitals charge paying patients higher prices. A spokesman for the Florida Hospital Association said many hospitals will be forced to close if hospitals lose the right to shift costs. Trial dates for the lawsuits haven't been scheduled.