The U.S. Justice Department is deciding whether to appeal a federal judge's ruling that allows a joint venture between the only two hospitals in Dubuque, Iowa. The government filed a notice of appeal Dec. 22, 1995, with the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Louis. Federal authorities are weighing whether to challenge U.S. District Judge Michael Melloy's decision rejecting the government's request for an injunction to block the consolidation of 320-bed Mercy Health Center and 124-bed Finley Hospital (Oct. 30, 1995, p. 4).
Southern New Hampshire Regional Medical Center, a 188-bed facility in Nashua, has merged with Lahey Hitchcock Clinic, a 900-physician multispecialty group practice and primary-care network based in Burlington, Mass. The full-asset merger establishes a third hospital for the clinic network, which has an existing division in Nashua that contributes about half the hospital's referrals, said Bernard Streeter, vice president of public affairs for the medical center. The hospital will retain its own local board and control of endowments, and it will continue to have responsibility for the credentials of the medical staff, Streeter said. Lahey Hitchcock Clinic has 50 clinic sites in Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Vermont.
Hewitt Associates, a national employee benefits consulting firm based in Lincolnshire, Ill., has launched a study to help employers compare the quality and cost of healthcare plans in 75 markets. More than 100 major employers have agreed to participate in the "Health Value Initiative," which will simplify the process of evaluating plans by providing regional cost and quality-of-care scores for each health plan offered. Hewitt is inviting other national employers with large managed-care enrollment to participate in the study. Going beyond straight premium comparisons, the study will adjust for differences in population and plan design. The initiative will assess the financial value of each health plan so that employers can pinpoint specific improvement goals and track results over time.