BOSTON-The Massachusetts attorney general's office last week cleared Harvard Pilgrim Health Care of antitrust allegations stemming from its refusal to contract with New England Medical Center while referring patients to all other academic medical centers in Boston. The state said it was dropping an investigation after finding no evidence of "an impermissible anti-competitive agreement" between Harvard Pilgrim and any of NEMC's competitor hospitals. NEMC had been agitating for such a finding following unsuccessful attempts to be included in Harvard Pilgrim's panel of participating hospitals. But an agreement may yet be reached. Harvard Pilgrim said that with the pending acquisition of NEMC by Providence, R.I.-based Lifespan, "we now have the opportunity to make our decision based solely on what is in the best interest of our patients and their physicians." The attorney general's office said the two sides were discussing a pact.
NEW YORK-The Greater New York Hospital Association is launching an initiative to help curb New York state's growing uninsured population. Rima Cohen, senior health policy adviser to Sen. Tom Daschle (D-S.D.), has been tapped to lead the project, called Insurance Options for the Uninsured of New York, or IOU. She'll start in mid-November. IOU's goal is to create a public-private partnership to make low-cost insurance available to the state's 2.7 million uninsured adults. An executive summary of the project envisions hospital-based integrated delivery systems serving as provider networks under the new coverage. IOU follows an association-sponsored public awareness campaign on insurance launched this spring (April 21, p. 52). "I've been driven on this subject for the last couple of years," said GNYHA President Kenneth E. Raske.