LOS ANGELES: Report Raises Concerns About Tenet’s Bid To Purchase Queen Of Angels
The sale of Queen of Angels-Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center to the for-profit Tenet Healthcare Corp. "could lead to 'overall destabilization' of the greater Hollywood area's emergency medical system," according to a report prepared by the Lewin Group. The Los Angeles Times reports that the "state-mandated" study concludes that the hospital "is likely to scuttle services that operate at a loss or are not linked to its viability" if the Tenet purchase goes through. In addition, the study found that "the most vulnerable targets are services to the sickest Medi-Cal patients."
The report was ordered by state Attorney General Dan Lungren, who is required to "review and approve any sale of a nonprofit hospital to a for-profit company." According to the Lewin Group, the reduction of services at Queen of Angels "would reduce access to health care because other facilities are 'not as linguistically or geographically accessible.'" The Tenet purchase agreement promises to maintain emergency and perinatal services "for at least five years, so long as Medi-Cal payments are not reduced." But the report notes that "significant reductions in Medi-Cal payments are anticipated" in that period. Also, the report states that charity care and ER services will be at "enormous risk" if the deal goes through. The Times, however, notes that Tenet "has said it will guarantee at least $15 million annually in charitable care, the same level as the hospital now provides, in perpetuity."
Something For Both Sides
According to the Times, the report "gave fodder to both sides in the heated debate over the fate of the 410-bed" hospital. Opponents of the $86 million sale, including "consumer groups, the hospital union, hospital medical staff and Cardinal Roger Mahony," view "Tenet ownership as incompatible with Queen of Angels' charitable mission." Opponents seized on the report, saying the findings "will force Tenet to change its offer or face rejection by the attorney general." National Health Law Program attorney Leslie Daniels said, "Unless this deal can be amended ... the deal doesn't have much hope of going through." The "hospital board and its supporters," however, see advantages in the prospect of strengthening the medical center to the point where it can "land coveted [HMO] contracts." Supporters see "Tenet as a ticket to preserving -- and enhancing -- the hospital's financial health and contributions to the community." Hospital spokesperson Douglas Jeffe said the report "doesn't look like anything that presents a serious obstacle." Harry Anderson, a representative for Tenet, "said the report may result in 'enhanced or clarified language' but not a return to the negotiating table" (Marquis, 3/18).