PRN FILES CHARGES. The AMA's Physicians for Responsible Negotiation filed an amended complaint Feb. 28 with the National Labor Relations Board accusing a Chicago-area hospital of preventing union organizing activities.
It is the second such complaint PRN has filed with the board against Advocate-Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge, Ill.
Last year the board ruled the residents at the hospital had a right to form a union. The residents subsequently voted to have PRN represent them. However, that vote is being challenged by the hospital and is before the NLRB. In the new complaint, PRN officials allege Lutheran General's management threatened employees with retaliation if they formed a union and refused to leave an employee meeting in December.
Officials with Lutheran General say they believe they "continue to act in good faith and in accordance with the law," says Dan Parker, spokesperson with Advocate.
In other physician-union news, 80 doctors employed by Coler-Goldwater Hospital in New York City voted Jan. 18 by a 2-to-1 margin to be represented by Doctors Council, the nation's oldest and largest union of attending physicians. Hospital management challenged the results, but the board approved the doctors' petition.
HIPAA DELAY. The government has opened another 30-day comment period on the once-thought-to-be-final HIPAA privacy regulations.
HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson on March 2 ordered the additional comment period because of a procedural oversight. After the regulations were published in their final form Dec. 28, HHS was supposed to forward that information to Congress and the General Accounting Office for a 60-day review period. However, Thompson says those entities didn't receive that information until Feb. 13.
The effective date from which covered entities have 24 months to comply is now April 14.
SCOTT ADDS INSURER. Entrepreneur Steven Scott, M.D., is adding to his stable of Florida health insurance companies with a $48 million purchase of Foundation Health from Health Net of Woodland Hills, Calif.
Scott agreed last month to buy Health Net's Florida operations, which serve about 170,000 enrollees in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties.
Florida Health Plan Holdings II, a managed care holding company owned by Scott, will pay $23 million in cash and $25 million through an interest-bearing, secured five-year note, pending approval by state insurance regulators.
The deal represents the final piece of a Health Net restructuring program begun in 1999.
Scott, who is the chairman, president, CEO and largest shareholder of Durham, N.C.-based PhyAmerica Group, a financially ailing PPM, currently owns Beacon Health Plan, HIP Health Plan of Florida and Healthplan Southeast. The latest acquisition will give him control over an enrollment of 497,000 in the Sunshine State.
DISCIPLINARY DATA. The Federation of State Medical Boards for the first time has opened its national database of disciplinary actions against physicians to the general public, offering reports on specific doctors for $9.95 per inquiry.
The Federation Physician Data Center, previously available only to medical licensing boards, hospitals, insurance companies and governmental agencies, contains records of 115,000 actions taken against more than 35,000 physicians nationwide over the past four decades. It is compiled from reports of individual medical boards.
"It's all public information. This just provides it on a consolidated national basis," says Dale Austin, deputy executive vice president and COO of the Euless, Texas-based federation.
PHYCOR SALE. Embattled PPM PhyCor is continuing its massive restructuring effort by putting up for sale its most lucrative assets--its California IPA units, including subsidiaries PrimeCare International and a division of North American Medical Management.
The Nashville, Tenn.-based firm said in a March 2 filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission that it is considering a sale of these units, which PhyCor says "accounts for a substantial majority of the company's operating revenues and income from operations."
As of Jan. 1, PhyCor sold a portion of its California holdings--Victorville-based Desert Valley Hospital, Apple Valley-based Apple Valley Surgery Center and Big Bear Lake-based PrimeCare Medical Group of Desert Valley--back to PrimeCare founder Prem Reddy, M.D. PhyCor originally purchased PrimeCare from Reddy in May 1998, but the two sides were embroiled in lawsuits from February 1999 to October 2000 before they agreed to Reddy's reacquisition.
PhyCor also disclosed that it hired the Nashville-based healthcare division of Los Angeles-based consulting firm Jefferies & Co. to advise it on continued restructuring efforts. The company lost $516.8 million during the nine months ended last Sept. 30. It has not reported its 2000 year-end financial results.