WATERBURY, Conn.—LHP Hospital Group, Plano, Texas, and St. Mary's Hospital have signed a definitive agreement to form a joint venture to operate 175-bed St. Mary's, according to a joint news release. If the deal is completed, LHP would own a majority stake in the joint venture, and governance of the joint venture would be split 50-50, according to the release.
Regional News/Northeast: LHP Hospital Group and St. Mary's Hospital partner on joint venture, and other news
The hospital would continue to follow the Roman Catholic Church's ethical and religious directives for patient care and will retain the same policies on charity and uncompensated care and fulfill the community benefit standards required of tax-exempt hospitals. The deal is subject to regulatory approvals. No estimated closing date for the deal was announced. LHP operates two hospitals in joint ventures and has a joint venture with another Catholic system that is part of Ascension Health, St. Louis, to build a hospital in Harker Heights, Texas. LHP also has a joint venture in New Jersey that is going through regulatory approvals, an LHP spokeswoman said.
BOSTON—Expanding health insurance coverage is unsustainable in Massachusetts without cost controls, and moderating health spending is difficult, according to an assessment of Massachusetts' health reform by the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Massachusetts Foundation. In a report, the foundation outlines lessons learned from the state's universal healthcare program, enacted in 2006. Close coordination between Medicaid and other public insurance programs is crucial to capture new enrollees and also reduce administrative costs, for instance. And connecting the uninsured to coverage and care requires a cohesive and intense effort among stakeholders, according to the 24-page report. Getting to a 100% covered population isn't realistic so maintaining a strong safety net system is important, the report concludes. The state is now turning its attention to moderating healthcare costs. Last month, Gov. Deval Patrick filed legislation to expand the use of alternate provider payments, such as global and bundled payments, and expand accountable care organizations and other integrated models.
AMHERST, Mass.—A computer workstation infected by malware has prompted the University of Massachusetts at Amherst to notify University Health Services patients of a security breach under the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act. The infected workstation held names, insurance and prescription information for patients of University Health Services. The medications were written during a 10-month period in 2009. In a news release, the university said there is no sign of data theft but said letters to patients stressed the need for patients to monitor their medical records. The university has increased its security training and installed software to detect malware.
WILLISTON, Vt.—As the country begins to experiment with patient-centered models of primary care described in last year's Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, one such program in Vermont has seen enough early success that lawmakers plan to roll it out statewide. An article commissioned by Health Affairs for the journal's March issue said the 4-year-old Vermont Blueprint for Health was instrumental in the state being selected as one of eight demonstration sites in the ACA's medical-home pilot, the Multi-payer Advanced Primary Care Practice Demonstration. So far, about 10% of the state's population has been served by primary-care practices that make up the medical homes, which in turn are assisted by five-member community health teams led by registered nurses and including behavioral-health counselors and social workers. Each community health team costs about $350,000 a year and helps primary-care practices encourage their patients to become self-managing while also assisting with insurance, follow-up treatment, social services and disease-management goals, according to the Health Affairs article. A state analysis of spending patterns in Vermont's longest-running medical-home demonstration site, St. Johnsbury, found that inpatient cost per month declined by 22% in the space of one year, and emergency room costs fell by 36%. State officials estimate that rolling out the program statewide will reduce hospital admissions 10% to 15%.
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