KAISER NORTHEAST: 800 Doctors Looking to ‘Break Free’
Kaiser Permanente Northeast, which lost nearly $90 million last year, is considering shedding a group of doctors and other health providers, bringing the HMO back to "the business of insurance only, not health-care delivery," the Albany Times Union reports. The unprecedented spin-off of an independent group owned by 75 physicians would employ 800 doctors in four counties and lease eight health centers from Kaiser beginning January 1. The as-yet-unnamed group is considering an affiliation with Community Care Physicians in Troy, NY, which would provide administrative operations and information systems previously supplied by Kaiser. In exchange, Community Care would gain access to clinics with 24-hour service. The physicians anticipate a successful transition, in that severing ties with Kaiser will enable them to focus on marketing health services, not insurance, as well as allow them to shed "the burden of managed care's image." Although the group would be large enough to attract potentially favorable fees from insurers, a local industry competitor notes, "They've been employed physicians for a good number of years, within a closed loop, and now they'll have to fend for themselves. They've actually got to enter the world of entrepreneurial medicine" -- a world that includes negotiating contracts and foregoing pay during times of low patient volumes (Hughes, 6/3).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.