EAST BAY: Health Net Drops Independent Docs
Health Net will cut contracts next month with 41 independent-contract doctors in Alameda and Contra Costa counties, leaving approximately 1,200 enrollees to find new physicians. The Contra Costa Times reports many patients and doctors are "rankled" and "stunned" by the announcement, which gives many "less than a month" to make needed arrangements. Health Net said it is getting away from independent contracts because "it can provide better, more efficient care to patients whose doctors belong to groups." Groups usually accept lower reimbursement rates than independent contractors. Exempt from the change are members "whose employers specified in contracts with Health Net that dropping doctors is not allowed after the annual health plan sign up period." Health Net spokesperson Ron Yukelson said the HMO will work with affected patients to help them find a new doctor and will allow some members with medically compelling reasons to retain their doctors. The Times reports that the move, coupled with recent health care mergers, "further reduces the number of independent doctors in central Contra Costa County," where most are in groups that serve John Muir/Mt. Diablo Health System (Appleby, 3/11).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.