Nearly 39.5 million, or 17.3% of Americans not eligible for Medicare, were without health insurance in 1994, according to a survey that will be released this week by the Employee Benefit Research Institute. For 1993, EBRI found that nearly 41 million people, or 18.1% of the population, did not have insurance. EBRI spokeswoman Carolyn Pemberton cautioned that because some questions were changed for the 1994 survey, the two numbers are not necessarily comparable. But she added that the survey showed large increases in the number of uninsured people halted in 1994.
Columbia/HCA Healthcare Corp. has made a $45 million offer to acquire Sequoia Hospital in Redwood City, Calif., part of Sequoia Hospital District. The 438-bed hospital is also weighing a bid by San Francisco-based Catholic Healthcare West for a lease or partnership, said Cecilia Montalvo, a senior planner at the hospital. Both Columbia's and CHW's bids contain "lots of different options," she said. "They are both very attractive proposals." Struggling with losses attributed to managed-care market pressures, Sequoia's board sought proposals to affiliate or merge. It decided not to pursue a proposal received from Roseville, Calif.-based Adventist Health System/West, Montalvo said.
After a year of on-again-off-again talks, the board of 407-bed Johnson City (Tenn.) Medical Center Hospital formally ended joint-venture negotiations with Columbia/HCA Healthcare Corp. last week. Columbia owns the city's other two acute-care hospitals. At deadline, the reason for the breakup wasn't disclosed. When negotiations were suspended at one point last year, the hospital cited disagreement over "certain governance issues."
Massachusetts General Hospital confirmed the appointment of James J. Mongan, M.D., as its new president and chief operating officer on Jan. 19. Mongan, 53, will be responsible for day-to-day management of the 900-bed hospital. He will report to Samuel O. Thier, M.D., president of Partners HealthCare System. Mongan has been dean of the University of Missouri-Kansas City Medical School and executive director of Truman Medical Center.
The U.S. Justice Department last week cleared the formation of a statewide network of more than 1,000 physicians in Oklahoma. The Oklahoma Physicians Network-IPA will contract on a capitated basis with PROklahoma Care, an HMO in which most of the network physicians own stock. The network has 1,011 of the 4,800 practicing physicians in the state and expects to attract more, said Steven S. Schweigert, director of network development at PROklahoma Care. In a business review letter, the Justice Department said it does not intend to challenge the operations as proposed, but reserves the right to bring enforcement action if the network has anti-competitive effects. However, the Justice Department said the nonexclusive nature of the network, the need for HMO coverage in rural markets and the network's structure make it improbable that it will erode competition.
Several drug manufacturers plan to pay almost $600 million to settle a class-action suit filed by thousands of retail pharmacies charging them with price discrimination. The settlement, which is expected shortly, won't end a long-running dispute over drug manufacturers' pricing policies. Retail pharmacies say drugmakers illegally charge them higher prices than those paid by hospitals, HMOs and mail-order pharmacies (Oct. 9, 1995, p. 84). The proposed settlement won't mandate new pricing practices, said John Rector, general counsel to the National Association of Retail Druggists in Alexandria, Va. In addition, some drug companies named in the class-action suit won't join the agreement. And several cases, involving both independent and chain drugstores, will continue, Rector said. The impact on hospitals is unclear. Federal law governing differential pricing exempts not-for-profit organizations if drugs are bought for their own use. Yet some hospital groups argue drugmakers will react to a negative outcome in the dispute by raising prices industrywide and perhaps by ending discounts altogether.
Moody's Investors Service is reviewing New York City Health and Hospital Corp.'s Baa bond rating for "a possible downgrade." In a newly published analysis, the New York-based credit-rating agency said efforts to privatize parts of HHC have created some uncertainty about New York City's future commitment to the public hospital system. At deadline, HHC officials could not be reached for comment. HHC's current bond rating, which affects $530 million of outstanding debt, is supported by the city's pledge of fiscal support. Without it, the rating likely would tumble below investment-grade status, according to the analysis, which appears in the Jan. 19 issue of Moody's Credit Perspectives.