MCKESSON HBOC EXECS DEPART. In the wake of accounting irregularities that sent the company's stock into a nose dive, McKesson HBOC has fired its chairman, accepted the resignation of two other executives and ousted the top management of its software unit.
McKesson HBOC on June 21 announced the firing of Chairman Charles McCall and the resignations of Chief Executive Officer Mark Pulido and Chief Financial Officer Richard Hawkins.
San Francisco-based McKesson HBOC also announced it had dismissed all top management associated with the former HBO & Co. after an ongoing audit found accounting improprieties.
McKesson, a pharmacy-benefit manager, acquired Atlanta-based healthcare technology company HBOC for $14 billion in January. But the company's stock has been down 46% since April, when an audit found software sales improperly recorded by HBOC.
STEP CLOSER TO UNIONS. A Texas bill that gives physicians the right to collectively negotiate with health plans was signed into law last month by Gov. George W. Bush (see June, page 3).
The law will allow any group of physicians to come together and negotiate contract terms with health plans under the supervision of the state attorney general. The attorney general could reject contract terms if they are considered anti-competitive. All negotiations would be voluntary and nonbinding, and physicians could not strike.
Antitrust laws previously prohibited private practice physicians from collective bargaining. The law was opposed by business groups and health plans, but it was backed by the American Medical Association and the Texas Medical Association.
CALIFORNIA CONTRACTING TALKS. The Pacific Business Group on Health, a San Francisco-based employer healthcare purchasing coalition, is discussing direct contracting with leaders of California's major medical groups. Direct contracting involves purchasing coalitions bypassing health plans to negotiate directly with doctors and other providers.
David Druker, M.D., chief operating officer of the Palo Alto (Calif.) Medical Foundation, revealed the talks at the American Medical Group Association meeting in San Francisco last month, where he was installed as 1999-2000 AMGA chair. He said later that key medical leaders from around the state have met with PGBH representatives to offer input into payment rate decisions and quality incentive structures.
In early 1998, leaders of the California Public Employees Retirement System (CalPERS) also said they were considering contracting directly with medical organizations.
AETNA OFF HOOK. The Kentucky Department of Insurance called off investigative hearings into Aetna U.S. Healthcare's activities in Louisville, Ky. (see June, page 15).
The action came after the Blue Bell, Pa.-based insurer announced it would allow enrollees to see physicians in an independent practice association that had canceled its Aetna contract through March 31, 2000, or the end of the enrollee's plan year, whichever comes first.
Aetna ran into trouble with the department earlier this spring after a large local IPA balked at the insurer's all-product contract. The contract would require providers to accept all Aetna products, including the lower-paying HMO.
After the 1,800-physician The Physicians Incorporated (TPI) canceled the Aetna contract effective this month, the insurer announced that enrollees who wanted to continue to see their TPI physicians would have to pay out-of-network fees.
Shortly thereafter, the Department of Insurance announced it was investigating whether Aetna's actions violated state laws or caused public harm.