CATHOLIC HEALTHCARE WEST: Delays Merger With UniHealth
"The much-anticipated announcement of a merger between Catholic Healthcare West and UniHealth has been pushed back to as late as November," Modern Healthcare reports. The merger -- which had been expected by late September -- "would spell financial relief" for Burbank-based UniHealth "whose eight Los Angeles-area hospitals are more than $300 million in debt." For CHW, the deal would mean that the San Francisco-based system -- which currently does not dominate any given area -- would become a "powerhouse" in the Los Angeles region. Modern Healthcare reports that "a number of reasons" could be contributing to the deal's delay, including a recent controversy at one of UniHealth's hospitals. Earlier this summer, Northridge Hospital Medical Center was accused of denying epidurals to Medi-Cal patients in labor unless they could pay cash up front (see past coverage). Currently, the Los Angeles district attorney, the state Department of Health and the federal Health Care Financing Administration are investigating. Another reason for the delayed merger, according to sources, could "center on the structure of UniHealth's current and future charitable foundations." The state attorney general's office "confirmed" that it is investigating the proposed merger. But Susan Whitten, a spokesperson for CHW, "said the attorney general's examination of UniHealth's foundations would be part of the normal process involving an affiliation with another party." Modern Healthcare notes that UniHealth officials "declined to comment" (Shinkman, 8/24 issue).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.