GREENVILLE, S.C.-St. Francis Health System has launched a public relations campaign to protest its continuing exclusion from a preferred provider network sponsored by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of South Carolina. A series of print and broadcast advertisements urge Blue Cross enrollees to protest to the plan about the system's exclusion (See graphic). St. Francis said it's been excluded from the network since 1987 and, based on contract negotiations last year, it appeared that the system was going to be included for the first time this year. But, St. Francis said, it was excluded once again. Blue Cross has a preferred provider arrangement with Greenville's other major system, the Greenville Hospital System. A St. Francis spokeswoman said about 3,000 Blue Cross-insured patients use the system's facilities, including its flagship 237-bed St. Francis Hospital, annually despite having to pay higher out-of-pocket costs for seeking treatment outside the plan's network. Those patients represent about $27 million in annual revenues for the system, she said. She declined to disclose how much the system is spending on the public relations campaign.
GREENSBORO, N.C.-Moses Cone Health System and Eagle Primary Physicians Associates, a 34-physician group practice, have formed a physician-hospital organization to jointly pursue service contracts with payers. Moses Cone, the parent corporation of 796-bed Moses H. Cone Memorial Hospital, said the PHO is the first formed to serve the Greensboro market. The organization is called the Greensboro HealthCare Network.
ATLANTA-Four Georgia hospitals and their 100 staff physicians are moving ahead with plans to form a physician-hospital organization after the U.S. Justice Department cleared the PHO of antitrust problems. In a business review letter released March 5, the department said the PHO wouldn't operate in an anticompetitive manner because the four hospitals already are financially integrated under one parent corporation and the competing physicians involved would use a third-party, or messenger, to negotiate service contracts with payers in order to avoid price-fixing charges. The hospitals are North Georgia Medical Center in Ellijay; Chestatee Regional Hospital in Dahlonega; Chatuge Regional Hospital in Hiawassee; and Mountainside Medical Center in Jasper. The first three of those hospitals are owned by Atlanta-based Southern Health Corp., which also manages Mountainside. Michael Hall, Southern Health's chief operating officer, said he anticipates that the PHO, the Southeastern HealthCare Alliance, will be operational and seeking service contracts by mid-summer.