IRVINE, Calif.-Western Growers Assurance Trust, a health and welfare trust for the Western Growers Association, has signed a three-year contract for managed-care services with WellPoint Life Insurance Co., a subsidiary of WellPoint Health Networks. "This is a historic union between two of the state's largest organizations," said Leonard D. Schaeffer, chairman and chief executive officer of WellPoint, a Blue Cross of California subsidiary. The 30,000 members of Western Growers, an agricultural association, grow, pack and ship 90% of the fresh vegetables and about 60% of the fresh fruits and nuts in Arizona and California. The contract includes claims processing, utilization review and case management as well as access to WellPoint provider networks of more than 39,000 physicians and 310 hospitals. The value of the contract wasn't immediately known.
WALNUT CREEK, Calif.-Premier Medical Services announced that New York venture capital firm DeMuth, Folger and Wetherill has invested $2 million in convertible preferred stock in the home-care staffing company. Premier will use $1 million of the proceeds to restructure acquisition debt, which the company said will significantly decrease related interest and amortization expense. The remaining $1 million will go toward increasing working capital and for future home healthcare purchases. Premier provides home-care nursing and supplemental medical staffing services through five branches in five states.
RENO, Nev.-Jeff Bills has been named president and chief executive officer of Saint Mary's Health Network. Mr. Bills, 41, had been CEO of Scripps Memorial Hospital in La Jolla, Calif. He will replace current president and CEO Bill Van Ry, who will retire from the network Nov. 1. Mr. Van Ry, 59, will stay on as a consultant to St. Mary's for the next 18 months. During a 90-day transition period beginning Aug. 1, Mr. Bills will serve as executive vice president and chief operating officer for the network, which includes Saint Mary's Regional Medical Center and a managed-care plan.