Long Beach Medical Group Plans to ‘Reduce Sharply’ Number of OB/GYNs
Long Beach-based Memorial HealthCare IPA has "drawn criticism" for a plan to "reduce sharply" the number of obstetrician-gynecologists that it contracts with, the Long Beach Press-Telegram reports. Memorial HealthCare, which serves about 75,000 patients in Los Angeles and Orange counties, said it decided to reduce the pool of OB/GYNs from 40 to five to "reduce paperwork and ensure better quality care" by dropping contracted physicians not certified by the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology. However, doctors whose contracts are being terminated on Dec. 31 cited cost control as the "primary motivation" for Memorial HealthCare's decision. The doctors also said that five physicians could not "handle" the patient base served by the medical group. Memorial HealthCare CEO Patty Page LaPenn said that the five doctors "should be sufficient" to serve the medical group's patients and "denied that the change was intended to save money," calling the move "part of a wider physician contract review process." In September, Memorial HealthCare sent letters that informed OB/GYNs about plans to terminate their contracts at the end of the year. The letter also informed doctors that they could "submit written proposals for reducing paperwork and streamlining the treatment authorization process" to apply for a new contract. Only four groups of doctors submitted proposals in response to the letter, LaPenn said. A panel of Memorial HealthCare primary care physicians approved one of the proposals from a group of five doctors that included "only board-certified physicians who were willing to invest time and money in the technology to coordinate patient care electronically and manage all outside (patient) referrals within their organization," LaPenn said (Cox, Long Beach Press-Telegram, 11/19).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.