Ochsner forms joint venture
* Ardent Health Services, Nashville, and Ochsner Clinic Foundation, New Orleans, said last week they have agreed to form a 50-50 joint venture to operate Summit Hospital, Baton Rouge, La. Financial terms were not disclosed. The deal, expected to close this fall, would give Ochsner its first acute-care property in the Louisiana capital, where the clinic employs 85 physicians. In April, Ochsner sold its profitable 188,000-member HMO to Humana for an undisclosed price. The hospital would continue to be managed by Ardent and its tax status would remain for-profit.
Tenet loses to health plan
* SCAN Health Plan, Los Angeles, said last week that an arbitrator awarded it $8 million in a billing dispute with Whittier (Calif.) Hospital Medical Center, owned by Tenet Healthcare Corp. The arbitrator agreed with the Medicare HMO that it inadvertently paid more than Medicare rates for services at Whittier over a two-year period because of rapid increases in the hospital's gross charges, SCAN said. Tenet disputed SCAN's version of events. "The SCAN Health Plan dispute was a contract interpretation case, and not related to the hospital's gross charges," Tenet spokesman Steve Campanini said in a statement.
HealthSouth to pay investors
* HealthSouth Corp., Birmingham, Ala., said last week that it has reached a tentative agreement with several groups of debtholders that had threatened to demand early repayment of the company's debt, possibly jeopardizing its recovery from a multibillion-dollar fraud scandal. The groups, which hold $1.9 billion of HealthSouth's $2.6 billion public debt, tentatively agreed not to declare the company in default in exchange for cash payments of $30 to $45 per $1,000 debt principal. In all, HealthSouth said it will pay investors $73 million to $80 million under the agreements.