GUNNISON, Colo.-A hospital that has served the Gunnison area for more than 60 years is getting a shot in the arm. An $8.3 million addition and remodeling project at 22-bed Gunnison Valley Hospital is scheduled for completion in December, capping a comeback for a rural facility that was in near flat-line condition in the mid-1980s. "We've had to work very hard to turn it around," said Gunnison Valley Administrator Robert Austin. Ten years ago, hospital administrators began planning for a major expansion. The county sold $10 million in bonds to finance the project, with $1.7 million of that going to a county-owned nursing home.
DAVIS, Calif.-The University of California Davis Health System plans to slash about 100 jobs by early January 2000, including 71 vacant positions, as part of an effort to cut $12 million in annual wages and benefits. A second and possibly larger round of cuts at the 9,000-employee academic medical center is expected by June 30, 2000, when the system's current fiscal year ends, officials said. U.C. Davis Health System posted $29.3 million in net income on patient revenues of $625 million for the year ended June 30, 23% less than the $38 million profit it reported the prior year. Officials blamed the need to reduce staff on decreasing reimbursement rates, including Medicare cuts resulting from the Balanced Budget Act of 1997. Other factors are rapidly increasing drug costs and the requirement to retrofit buildings to meet new California earthquake-safety standards by 2008, said U.C. Davis spokeswoman Bonnie Hyatt.
BISMARCK, N.D.-Without admitting any wrongdoing, Acceleration Life Insurance Co., Dublin, Ohio, and Commonwealth Life Insurance, Louisville, Ky., agreed to pay $14.7 million to settle a class-action lawsuit alleging fraud in the sale of long-term-care insurance. A U.S. magistrate granted preliminary approval for the settlement in late October with a final hearing scheduled for Dec. 7. The suit, filed by three North Dakotans, accused the companies of luring them to purchase the insurance with low prices and then dramatically raising the rates. The average premium increased 629% in North Dakota between 1989 to 1996, according to one of the plaintiff attorneys. People who bought the policies must decide within the next month whether to participate in the suit. Those who participate will receive premium reimbursement and a decrease in current premiums. The companies also face lawsuits in Florida and Wyoming.
HONOLULU-MultiPlan, one of the nation's largest PPOs with approximately 23 million enrollees, has added Hawaii to its network as its 50th state. The New York-based PPO's network in Hawaii includes 400 physicians and 66 medical facilities, including 10 acute-care hospitals. Among them are leading Honolulu facilities such as Kapiolani Medical Center for Women and Children, St. Francis Medical Center and Queen's Medical Center. "Insurance companies, third-party administrators and corporations will be able to access our network for their covered lives wherever they may work or reside in this country," said Harvey Sigelbaum, MultiPlan's president and co-chief executive officer.
HELENA, Mont.-New West Health Services, which recently changed its name from New West Health Plan, has been granted a health services corporation license by the state insurance commissioner. While New West now covers 15,000 people through its HMO, the new license allows the company to offer the full gamut of health insurance products, including fee-for-service and PPO plans. New West said it will launch the new products in the near future but did not specify a date. The not-for-profit insurer is owned by four hospitals: Community Medical Center, Missoula, Mont.; Deaconess Billings (Mont.) Clinic; Northern Montana Hospital, Havre; and St. Peter's Hospital, Helena, Mont.