Moody's Investors Service downgraded Philadelphia-based Graduate Health System's bond rating to Ba from Baa. The rating reduction, which affects $170 million of the healthcare system's unenhanced debt, reflects uncertainties surrounding Independence Blue Cross' decision not to renew $25 million of contracts with Graduate's four Phildelphia-based hospitals (Aug. 5, p. 12), Moody's said. It also stems from concerns regarding the health system's need for financial improvement and its access to funds held by the previous parent corporation. Recently, Allegheny Health, Education and Research Foundation, a seven-hospital system in Pittsburgh, assumed management of Graduate's operating units in an initial step toward consolidation (Aug. 12, p. 10). Moody's said it views the entrance of new leadership as "a stabilizing factor," which could affect the rating.
King of Prussia, Pa.-based Universal Health Services has acquired Timberlawn Mental Health System in Dallas. Terms of the agreement weren't disclosed. The system's main component is 117-bed Timberlawn Psychiatric Hospital in Dallas. Universal operates 35 acute-care, psychiatric and women's hospitals in 21 states. Its ventures also include 26 ambulatory-care centers and other outpatient facilities.
PhyMatrix, a West Palm Beach, Fla.-based physician practice management company, has acquired full interest in Physician's Choice Management, a physician-run management services organization based in Ridgefield, Conn. PhyMatrix previously owned a 44% interest in the MSO. Terms of the deal weren't disclosed. Physician's Choice was established in 1995 and provides management services to 330 physicians in Fairfield and Litchfield counties in Connecticut and Putnam and Westchester counties in New York. It has about 20,000 covered lives. PhyMatrix said it has strategic plan to enter the New York/New Jersey/Connecticut market.
Medical schools aren't doing enough to combat negative attitudes toward primary care, according to a new study released last week. "The environment within academic health centers is chilly for primary-care education and practice," said researchers led by Susan Block, M.D., from Harvard University Medical School and Harvard Pilgrim Health Plan in Boston. Researchers reported that less than half the 2,293 survey respondents said primary-care physicians require a high degree of expertise. In addition, only 43.2% of respondents endorse a generalist to provide care for patients suffering from more than one serious illness. Respondents included first- and fourth-year medical students, residents, clinical faculty, primary-care residency training directors and chairs, and medical school deans. Results of the telephone survey were published in the Sept. 4 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.
Molly Joel Coye, M.D., has been named executive vice president for strategic development at HealthDesk, a Berkeley, Calif.-based developer of on-line systems for health information and disease management. Coye had been senior vice president of Good Samaritan Health System in San Jose, Calif., until January, when it was acquired by Columbia/HCA Healthcare Corp. She previously served as California's director of health services and New Jersey's commissioner of health.