MPMG to Close East San Diego County Operations After Negotiations with PacifiCare Fail to Produce Contract
Mercy Physicians Medical Group in San Diego County announced yesterday that it will close its East County division, after negotiations with PacifiCare health plan failed to produce a contract, the San Diego Union-Tribune reports. MPMG has been negotiating for several weeks with PacifiCare, which sought to put both MPMG's San Diego and East County divisions at "full risk," making them responsible for all medical expenses above the agreed fixed payments. While the San Diego division was able to enter into an agreement with Scripps Mercy Hospital to "share the risk," the East County division failed to convince either hospital in its region, Alvarado Hospital or Grossmont Hospital, to enter into a similar agreement. The East County division has 150 physicians and 14,000 patients. The decision may force the division's approximately 5,600 PacifiCare members in the area to switch doctors or health plans unless their physicians are part of another group with a PacifiCare contract or can join one. The closing is expected to be effective Dec. 31, "but could be delayed until January," depending on how quickly patients can be moved to new medical groups, physicians or plans. Continuing operations in East County without a contract would have been "unfair to the physicians who depended on PacifiCare patients," Dr. Stewart Frank, president of MPMG, said. PacifiCare declined to comment (Fong, San Diego Union-Tribune, 11/30).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.