BEACHWOOD, Ohio—On March 2, University Hospitals opened UH Ahuja Medical Center in Beachwood, Ohio, which is the first new free-standing hospital in Cuyahoga County in 30 years, according to a news release from the Cleveland-based system.
Regional News/Midwest: UH Ahuja Medical Center opens, and other news
Ahuja Medical Center is named after the family of UH Board Chairman Monte Ahuja—founder, chairman and CEO of Transtar Industries, a Cleveland-based distributor of auto transmission parts. The Ahuja family donated $30 million in 2006 toward the system's $1.2 billion Vision 2010 strategic plan. The hospital, built during the past three years on a 53-acre campus about 11 miles east of Cleveland, is opening with 144 beds and designed to grow to 600 beds. The completed phase also includes a 60,000-square-foot medical office building.
CHICAGO—Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois has agreed to pay $25 million to settle allegations that it wrongly denied medically fragile children private duty nursing care covered by their policies in order to shift them to Medicaid. Under the agreement with the U.S. Justice Department and HHS, the Illinois Blues will pay $14.25 million to the state of Illinois, and $9.5 million to the federal government. It will also pay $1.25 million to Illinois under the state consumer fraud statute. The insurer admits no liability or wrongdoing in the settlement. The government alleged that between 2000 and 2010, the Illinois Blues denied benefits owed to the families and also fraudulently told policyholders that children were not covered for private-duty nursing during claims reviews sought after initial denials. “While we disagree with the allegations and deny any inappropriate conduct at any time, we are pleased to put this matter behind us and focus on serving the needs of our policyholders,” the Illinois Blues said in a statement. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois is a subsidiary of Health Care Service Corp., a Chicago-based not-for-profit that operates Blues plans in four states.
BEMIDJI, Minn.—A contract was signed approving the merger between Sanford Health and North Country Health Services, a system anchored by the 118-bed North Country Regional Hospital in Bemidji, Minn. The deal was effective March 1. Sanford Health owns, leases or manages 31 hospitals in Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota, and has dual headquarters in Sioux Falls, S.D., and Fargo, N.D. As part of the deal, Sanford will invest $70 million in North Country over the next decade and make an immediate gift of $5 million to its foundation. The two organizations' facilities in Bemidji will operate under the name Sanford Health of Northern Minnesota, a news release said. The agreement received antitrust clearance from the Federal Trade Commission this month. A letter announcing the intent of the two organizations to merge was drafted in November.
HILLSBORO, Wis.—St. Joseph's Health Services, a regional system based in Hillsboro, announced plans to merge with Gundersen Lutheran Health System, LaCrosse, Wis., after five months of operations under a management agreement. Boards of directors of both systems approved the merger, though it still needs regulatory approval, which is expected by June 1. St. Joseph's CEO Debra Smith declined to release financial details of the agreement. St. Joseph's, which includes a 25-bed acute-care hospital and three community clinics, will change its name to St. Joseph's Health Services—Gundersen Lutheran. Under the arrangement, four members of the current St. Joseph's Community Board will become members of St. Joseph's board, along with five members from Gundersen Lutheran. Gundersen Lutheran operates a 261-bed acute-care hospital and a network of clinics in Wisconsin, Iowa and Minnesota. St. Joseph's is the third regional system to merge with Gundersen, following Tri-County Memorial Hospital and Nursing Home, Whitehall, Wis., and Palmer Lutheran Health Center, West Union, Iowa.
LANSING, Mich.—Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder has proposed a fiscal 2012 budget that would cut graduate medical education payments to hospitals, but maintain existing eligibility rules for beneficiaries of the state Medicaid program. State lawmakers have been holding hearings on the proposal, which Snyder unveiled last month. The budget would institute a new 1% tax on all health insurance claims paid in the state, replacing a current 6% tax on Medicaid HMOs. The state's 2012 fiscal year begins in October. Healthcare groups had measured praise for Snyder's budget while voicing disapproval over the cuts for medical residents, which Michigan State Medical Society Executive Director Julie Novak said in a news release “directly impacts access to care.” Crain's Detroit Business, a sister publication to Modern Healthcare, reported that the cut would save the state's general fund about $22 million but cost hospitals $67 million when combined with lost federal matching funds. The Michigan Health & Hospital Association said nearly 2 million state residents use Medicaid, an all-time high.
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