The Senate Finance Committee said it has subpoenaed Blue Cross of California for documents related to its dispute with Tenet Healthcare Corp., Santa Barbara, Calif., over heart procedures at Tenet hospitals. Blue Cross requested the subpoena so it could comply with the committee's request for information without breaking healthcare privacy laws. The insurer, a unit of WellPoint Health Networks, Thousand Oaks, Calif., had threatened to drop its contract with Tenet's 391-bed Doctors Medical Center of Modesto (Calif.), but Tenet satisfied the insurer that the hospital's heart program was safe. The subpoena seeks an independent panel's report on 52 heart bypass operations performed at Tenet's 238-bed Redding (Calif.) Medical Center and the Modesto hospital. The panel concluded that 85% of the procedures at Redding and 59% of the procedures at Doctors were medically unnecessary, according to a report in the Los Angeles Times cited by the committee. The Senate committee also wants some of the correspondence between Tenet and Blue Cross related to the Modesto dispute. The committee is probing alleged unnecessary procedures at three Tenet hospitals in California, the company's Medicare outlier reimbursements and its physician relationships. -- by Vince Galloro
Senate panel subpoenas Blues plan over Tenet dispute
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