FPA: Massachusetts Docs Accuse HMO Of Secret Blue Cross Takeover
San Diego-based FPA Medical Management, Inc., "one of California's biggest managed care companies," is facing a fight in its attempts to expand to the East Coast. The Los Angeles Times reports that "a prominent group of Harvard doctors adamantly opposed to free-market medicine has turned its wrath on FPA" with the "fury of a New England nor'easter." The group, known as the Ad Hoc Committee To Defend Health Care, this week accused FPA of "negotiating a 'secret takeover deal' with Massachusetts Blue Cross and Blue Shield." They accused the insurer of planning to "transfer control of most of its remaining health care services" to FPA and portrayed FPA as an anti-union company with a 'history of dubious management practices' that would 'siphon money out of patient care and transfer it to executives and shareholders.'" Such a transfer, the doctors argued, would effectively convert Massachusetts' largest insurer into a for-profit company. The group has staged several-high profile protests against for-profit medicine, including a mock "Boston Tea" party at which they tossed the annual reports of for-profit health care companies into Boston Harbor.
FPA "manages hundreds of physician practices in California and is expanding to Boston and other East Coast cities." Currently it "owns 140 medical clinics and manages the practices of about 6,000 physicians in 28 states," making it the third-largest physician-practice management firm in the nation. The Los Angeles Times reports that while the Ad Hoc Committee stands by its accusations, it is not clear "what is going on." Both FPA and Blue Cross Blue Shield "emphatically denied" the claims, and said the only conversations they have had involve FPA's recruitment of "physicians into an independent practice association" (Olmos, 2/13).