Tenet Healthcare Corp., Santa Barbara, Calif., said it is voluntarily complying with a document request by the U.S. attorney in St. Louis. Federal prosecutors are seeking documents related to physician relocation agreements at four Tenet hospitals in St. Louis and a former Tenet hospital in Kennett, Mo.-Twin Rivers Regional Medical Center, Tenet said. The prosecutors also requested more information about certain admissions and medical procedures at Twin Rivers, Tenet said. The company said it disclosed in its quarterly securities report that Health Management Associates, the new owner of Twin Rivers and Harton Regional Medical Center in Tullahoma, Tenn., received subpoenas requesting documents dating from Tenet's ownership of the hospitals. The subpoena at Twin Rivers seeks documents pertaining to cardiac care patients treated at the hospital from 1999 to 2003. Tenet's treatment of heart patients has been scrutinized since the allegations that unnecessary heart procedures were performed at its former Redding (Calif.) Medical Center became public in October 2002. HMA purchased Twin Rivers, Harton Regional and three other Tenet hospitals last year. For more Tenet coverage, see story, p. 10.
Hospital employment up
Hospitals hired a net of 4,100 workers in July, bringing total hospital employment to more than 4.3 million workers, a 0.095% increase over June, according to preliminary data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Compared with July 2003, hospital employment increased by 76,400 workers. Employment in the full healthcare and social-assistance sector rose by 20,200 people in July to 14.2 million overall. The sector employed 292,000 additional workers in July compared with July 2003.
Highmark to phase out HMO
Highmark, Pittsburgh, said it will phase out its HealthGuard of Lancaster HMO, which serves 92,000 members in central Pennsylvania, over the next 18 months. HealthGuard's board of directors decided to close the 20-year-old HMO after a market analysis projected dwindling demand for traditional managed care. Highmark plans to launch two new PPO-based products in the area. HealthGuard lost $5.2 million on $148.1 million in revenue last year, according to data from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners.