Massachusetts Attorney General Scott Harshbarger said he will hold a public hearing in September on the proposed sale of 500-bed MetroWest Medical Center in Framingham to Columbia/HCA Healthcare Corp. The deal would be the first acquisition of a not-for-profit hospital by a for-profit corporation in the state. Terms of the deal haven't been disclosed (June 19, p. 8). Harshbarger last week said his office will assess whether Nashville, Tenn.-based Columbia is paying a fair price for the hospital's assets and review control of the charitable foundation and future safeguards about access and affordability of healthcare in the area.
Tenet Healthcare Corp., an 81-hospital chain, completed the sale of two hospitals in Singapore for $321 million, which includes $78.3 million in debt, to Singapore-based Parkway Holdings. The hospitals are 505-bed Mount Elizabeth Hospital and 145-bed East Shore Hospital. Santa Monica, Calif.-based Tenet will use the proceeds to repay debt. Tenet officials said the previously announced sale of hospitals in Malaysia, Thailand and Australia to Parkway is expected to be completed by Nov. 30.
Suburban Hospital in Bethesda, Md., and Inova Health System, a three-hospital chain in northern Virginia, have called off merger talks and are pursuing technology- and quality-related affiliations. The announcement ends their hopes of establishing a regional health delivery network in the Maryland and Virginia suburbs of Washington. Suburban and Inova said they hope to collaborate on developing and sharing technology and coordinating clinical programs.
Moody's Investors Service completed a review of 19 unenhanced healthcare revenue bond ratings in Texas, upgrading one, downgrading two and confirming 16 others. The New York-based rating service downgraded $35.6 million in bonds issued by Baptist Healthcare System, Beaumont, to Ba1 from Baa. It downgraded $114.2 million in debt issued by Harris Methodist Health System, Fort Worth, to A1 from Aa. The rating service upgraded $15.8 million in debt issued by Northeast Medical Center Hospital in Humble to Baa1 from Baa. Rising HMO penetration and an oversupply of beds is expected to place a greater financial burden on hospitals, Moody's said.
James Hinton, 36, was named president and chief executive officer of Presbyterian Healthcare Services, a 10-hospital system based in Albuquerque, N.M. He replaces Richard Barr, 56, who is retiring after 17 years as the system's CEO. An Albuquerque native, Hinton had been vice president and chief operating officer at Presbyterian.
Medical supplier Johnson & Johnson will team up with Value Health to develop disease-management programs for hospitals and managed-care organizations. The companies announced a five-year agreement last week. They are among several suppliers, providers and payers that have unveiled such ventures (June 12, p. 30). Terms of the agreement weren't disclosed. In theory, disease-management programs define the best known care for a condition, such as asthma, and modify their definitions according to results. Programs cover health promotion, screening, diagnosis, treatment and maintenance. Value Health is an information-services company based in Avon, Conn. It also has a disease-management venture with drug manufacturer Pfizer. Johnson & Johnson, based in Piscataway, N.J., makes drugs and medical devices.
Sick people in managed-care plans say they experience more problems than sick people in fee-for-service plans in getting treatment they or their doctors think is necessary, according to a survey. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation-sponsored telephone survey of 2,374 adults between June 1994 and April 1995 found that 22% of sick people in managed-care plans didn't get care that either they or their doctors thought necessary, compared with 13% in the fee-for-service sector. The study found, however, that sick people in managed-care plans paid less out of pocket.