Kaiser Permanente to Acquire ‘Ailing’ Alameda Medical Group
In a move that will give Kaiser Permanente "better reach" in Alameda County, where it has 20,000 beneficiaries, the insurance company will acquire the Alameda Medical Group, the San Francisco Business Times reports. The acquisition becomes official Jan. 2. To remain with an Alameda Medical Group physician, patients will need to switch to Kaiser health plans and will be "routed" to Kaiser's Oakland Medical Center and away from Alta Bates Summit Hospital and the "ailing" Alameda Hospital. Hospital consultants say the acquisition of the medical group could be the "beginning of a consolidation," particularly because Kaiser added the doctors at a time when medical groups are "faltering financially" and having difficulty recruiting physicians. Dr. Tom McDonald, physician in chief of the Oakland Medical Center Permanente Group, said, "Other systems are having a hard time recruiting physicians, but we're recruiting the best, and vigorously hiring." The acquisition may most affect the not-for-profit Alameda Hospital, which is currently considering a variety of solutions to fix its "financial woes." For the past three years, the hospital has been operating at a loss. The Alameda Medical Group is the "largest source" of referrals to the hospital, but with the acquisition, the hospital is likely to experience a "dip" in referrals. The hospital is looking into purchase by a hospital chain or conversion to a tax-supported district hospital. On April 9, voters will consider a tax levy to bring in more funding for the hospital. The Times reports that if the hospital's financial situation does not improve, it "will not survive" (Doherty, San Francisco Business Times, 11/2).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.