The National Committee for Quality Assurance has developed standards for certifying organizations that verify credentials of physicians. The NCQA will mail the standards and an application on Oct. 6 to verification firms interested in undergoing certification. Current NCQA standards require the credentialing policies of such verification organizations to be reviewed and approved by each of the health plans with which it contracts. Certification will stand as sufficient evidence for NCQA accreditors and eliminate the need for each plan to cover the same ground, reducing costs for both the health plans and the verification firms while increasing efficiency, a spokesman said. Applications for the credentialing certification are due back to the NCQA by Nov. 17. All organizations that apply by that date will be surveyed before any determinations are released; the first group of decisions is expected in the fall of 1996. Organizations applying after Nov. 17 won't be surveyed until the initial group of decisions is released, the NCQA said. To register for the Oct. 6 mailing, call 202-955-5145.
Samaritan Health System, Arizona's largest not-for-profit healthcare system with six hospitals, has been discussing a possible merger with not-for-profit Tucson (Ariz.) Medical Center, the largest hospital in southern Arizona. Although the two boards have not met formally, they are expected to make an announcement about the status of their merger talks this week, according to Sue Chasin, a spokeswoman for Phoenix-based Samaritan. The combination-the largest health-related deal in Arizona to date-would form an organization with revenues of more than $1 billion.
An unsigned letter of intent has been drafted to link Columbia/HCA Healthcare Corp., Tampa (Fla.) General Hospital and four other healthcare organizations through an integrated delivery network in the Tampa Bay area. Tampa General also is discussing a possible joint venture with Tenet Healthcare Corp. and membership in BayCare Health Network, a preferred provider network of not-for-profit hospitals. Also involved in the Columbia and Tampa General discussions are the University of South Florida's College of Medicine physician group and H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center, both in Tampa; All Children's Hospital in St. Petersburg; and Helen Ellis Memorial Hospital in Tarpon Springs. The proposed agreement does not include the sale or lease of the facilities to Columbia. A decision is expected in October, sources close to Tampa General said.
As part of an overall corporate restructuring, the Health Insurance Plan of Greater New York has agreed to sell two not-for-profit hospitals sponsored by the New York-based HMO to North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset, N.Y. HIP will receive $18 million in cash for La Guardia Hospital in the Queens borough of New York City and Syosset (N.Y.) Community Hospital, said Maxine Fass, the HMO's senior vice president and general counsel. North Shore also will assume certain liabilities. It's estimated that the two hospitals will post a combined loss of $8.5 million this year. HIP also announced plans to create several for-profit holding companies to expand its insurance product offerings and raise capital in the equity markets.
Burbank, Calif.-based UniHealthhas signed an agreement to affiliate with San Jose (Calif.) Medical Group, a multispecialty medical group of 140 primary-care and specialty physicians. The group, which has 12 branch offices, also manages five independent practice associations comprising 1,300 physicians. It's associated with Stanford University Medical Center, admits to six local hospitals and contracts with 16 HMOs. UniHealth will provide the group with comprehensive management systems and capital access to support its expansion plans. UniHealth is affiliated with seven medical groups providing care to about 500,000 people. In another matter, UniHealth has transferred the lease of 106-bed Lindsay (Calif.) Hospital Medical Center, which it has managed since 1984, to Sierra View District Hospital in Porterville, Calif. The UniHealth system includes the physician groups, seven hospitals, an HMO, a home healthcare company and other services.