The American Hospital Association formally opposed any Medicaid reforms that do not preserve the program as an entitlement for the needy. AHA joined several other provider groups in opposition to converting the federal share of Medicaid to lump-sum payments called block grants that place few restrictions on how states administer their Medicaid programs. The AHA joined the American Association of Homes and Services for the Aging, the American Health Care Association, the Association of American Medical Colleges and the National Association for Home Care in signing a letter to each member of Congress outlining opposition to ending the entitlement.
Police in San Francisco arrested 50 demonstrators from the Service Employees International Union who blocked morning rush-hour traffic in front of the Pacific Stock Exchange on Jan. 31. The SEIU was protesting Vencor-Hillhaven nursing homes' refusal to come to terms on a labor contract. Among those arrested were Richard Cordtz, the new SEIU president; Sal Rosselli, president of Local 250 in Oakland; and Martin Sheen, the actor. About 200 demonstrators disabled a van painted to look like an ambulance in the street in front of the stock exchange. They were charged with failing to obey an officer's order, said Sgt. Barbara Davis, police spokeswoman. At the same time, SEIU demonstrators handed out materials at the New York Stock Exchange. Lisa Hubbard, a Local 250 spokeswoman, said that when Vencor and the union meet on Feb. 8 to bargain, the company has agreed to discuss patient-care issues.
United HealthCare Corp. will buy HealthWise of America, a Nashville, Tenn.-based HMO operator with 154,000 enrollees in four states. United said it would gain access to networks in underpenetrated areas and where its MetraHealth clients live. It also will allow United to combine health plans where they overlap in Arkansas and Tennessee. Minneapolis-based United will issue 4.6 million shares of stock to acquire all outstanding equity in HealthWise.