Williamson Medical Center in Franklin, Tenn., has come full circle. About six months ago, officials at the 121-bed county-owned hospital, just south of Nashville, began talking to Vanderbilt University Medical Center executives about partnership opportunities. After getting unsolicited offers from Columbia/HCA Healthcare Corp., Nashville's Baptist and Saint Thomas hospitals and Quorum Health Group, Williamson's board of trustees voted late last month to enter exclusive negotiations with Vanderbilt, the original proposed partner for the hospital (June 21, p. 4). The talks will be conducted over the next two to three months.
Harvard Pilgrim Health Care of Rhode Island has ceded control of the plan to the state. An Oct. 25 rehabilitation order by the Superior Court in Providence, R.I., will allow the state to move 155,000 Harvard Pilgrim subscribers to other health plans-something that couldn't happen under the plan's previous supervision (Oct. 11, p. 4). Doubtful that the insurance side of the financially ailing Harvard Pilgrim will be sold, the state has already asked enrollees to seek other coverage. State officials have vowed to find coverage for all subscribers by Dec. 31 when the HMO's parent company, Brookline, Mass.-based Harvard Pilgrim, cuts funding to Rhode Island operations.
The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously late last month to build a 60-bed satellite hospital to County-USC Medical Center. The hospital will be located about 10 miles east of downtown Los Angeles when County-USC is rebuilt early in the next decade. The satellite facility is a compromise. The board had supported rebuilding a downsized county hospital with 600 beds, but state lawmakers had pressed for a larger facility (Sept. 20, p. 34).
Integrated Health Services has abandoned efforts to sell RoTech Medical Corp., its profitable oxygen therapy division, because it has not received a suitable offer. The Sparks, Md.-based nursing home operator had hoped a sale of the unit, which it valued at $1.5 billion, would raise cash to pay off some of its $3.4 million debt. IHS also said it expects to report a loss of more than $4.6 million, or 10 cents per share, for the third quarter ended Sept. 30. IHS acquired Orlando, Fla.-based RoTech in 1997 for $858 million and has been trying to sell it since February (March 1, p. 2).
Cigna Healthsource New Hampshire, Hooksett, has abandoned plans to salvage its 14,000-enrollee Healthsource for Seniors Medicare-risk plan in four New Hampshire counties. The Cigna unit said in July that it would drop the Medicare HMO at year-end (Aug. 23, p. 20). But the company reconsidered its decision, because of pressure from Gov. Jeanne Shaheen and Insurance Commissioner Paula Rogers. In the end, Cigna concluded "there were too many hurdles to overcome," and enrollees in Healthsource for Seniors have until Dec. 31 to sign up for other Medicare coverage.
As part of its effort to refocus on its core hospital business, Denver-based Centura Health will sell its for-profit health insurance business, in part because that business has grown so much. Neil Waldron, chief executive officer of 52,000-member Sloans Lake Health Plan, said the HMO would generate $65 million in revenues this year and profits of more than $1 million. "Centura's been a good partner . . . but in a company our size we either have to grow or shrink," Waldon said. He added that Centura is financially unable to supply needed capital to fuel growth. Centura, owned jointly by Portercare Adventist Health and Catholic Health Initiatives, is trying to regain its financial footing after losing $52.9 million in fiscal 1999 and $48.2 million in 1998. In recent months the 10-hospital system has trimmed other noncore businesses and renegotiated contracts with its money-losing physician practices.