Nearly nine of 10 hospitals and systems are engaged in community health improvement activities, and the degree of managed-care penetration in their area seems to have little effect on those efforts. Those are two key results of a recent survey of members of VHA, an Irving, Texas-based hospital alliance. Some 336 VHA members responded. About 85% of responding organizations said they had conducted or are conducting a community health assessment. And 93% listed mission and values as the main reasons for their efforts. Payer demands, the desire to decrease the cost of uncompensated care and the need to maintain tax-exempt status also were identified as motivators.
Tenet Healthcare Corp., Santa Barbara, Calif., filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission to sell as much as $1.3 billion in debt securities. The company plans to use proceeds from the sale, along with a $981.8 million loan, to repay debt and purchase outstanding OrNda HealthCorp notes as part of its merger with the Nashville, Tenn.-based company. In October, Tenet said it would acquire OrNda in a $1.8 billion stock swap and assume $1.3 billion of OrNda's debt. The SEC documents say Tenet plans to sell $800 million in senior notes, which mature in 2005, and $500 million in senior subordinated notes, due in 2007.
Thomas Ault, director of HCFA's Bureau of Policy Development, will leave the federal government in February to join Health Policy Alternatives, a Washington-based consulting firm. Ault has been in the federal government for more than 25 years. He oversaw HCFA's policy department, including the offices of hospital policy and physician and ambulatory-care policy. A HCFA spokeswoman said no replacement for Ault had been named.
Integrated Health Services, an Owings Mills, Md.-based post-acute provider, said it has signed an agreement with Aetna U.S. Healthcare to offer services to more than 161,000 skilled-nursing-facility residents in Delaware, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania. Under the five-year agreement, Aetna's Medicare HMO enrollees in those states will have their patient-care and preventive services coordinated by IHS geriatric nurses and by Aetna case managers. IHS provides post-acute services, including subacute care, assisted living, skilled nursing and home care, at more than 1,000 sites in 40 states.
Shareholder suits against two managed-care giants were resolved last week. Plaintiff Ray Levy, who accused Minneapolis-based United HealthCare Corp. of issuing false reports about its acquisition of MetraHealth Cos. and the company's financial prospects, received no payment as part of a settlement in federal court in St. Paul, Minn. The suit also alleged that United HealthCare's officers withheld information to drive up the company's stock price, then exercised stock options before announcing earnings would be lower than expected. Meanwhile, U.S. Healthcare, a Blue Bell, Pa., unit of Aetna, agreed to pay $22 million to settle a class-action suit alleging that the company-now called Aetna U.S. Healthcare-kept its stock price artificially high between October 1994 and April 1995 by withholding information about enrollment growth, premiums and medical costs. A federal judge in Philadelphia must approve the settlement. An Aetna spokeswoman said the company did no wrong and admits no liability. The settlement will not impact earnings, she said.
HealthRight of Meriden, Conn., and Value Behavioral Health of Falls Church, Va., a subsidiary of Value Health, have agreed to affiliate. Under the agreement, Value Behavioral Health will provide network and medical management for a broad range of mental-health and substance-abuse services to more than 27,000 enrollees in HealthRight's Medicaid HMO in Connecticut beginning Jan. 1. The agreement is one of several managed-care deals recently brokered by Avon, Conn.-based Value Health. The company will invest $10 million in the next two years to establish a division focused on helping state governments and managed-care plans develop public mental-health programs.