HELENA, Mont.-A coalition of companies and associations representing about a quarter of Montana's employees and their families have formed Community Health Options, the state's first health purchasing cooperative. Community Health Options is an offshoot of the Montana Association of Health Care Purchasers, a trade association whose members include Montana Power Co., the state government and university system, and the Montana Chamber of Commerce. Community Health Options must receive approval from Montana's insurance commissioner before it commences operations as planned in July 1997. In 1995, the state Legislature approved the creation of healthcare purchasing cooperatives. Coverage is expected to be available in a standardized benefits package through several health insurers. Eligible participants include any company with two or more employees. Healthcare employers and insurers are ineligible because of conflict-of-interest concerns.
SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif.-Santa Barbara-based Tenet Healthcare has acquired 35-physician San Luis Medical Clinic. Tenet executives say the medical group and its seven affiliated clinics will be linked with two local Tenet hospitals-195-bed Sierra Vista Regional Medical Center in San Luis Obispo and 84-bed Twin Cities Community Hospital in Templeton, Calif.-creating a regional network. Such network building is in line with the company's strategy in California, according to Tenet executives. The company's presence in the San Luis Obispo market in light of its proposed acquisition of OrNda HealthCorp is the focus of the Federal Trade Commission's antitrust investigation of the Tenet-OrNda deal.