ORANGE COUNTY: Patient-Physician Contract Dispute Settled
"A contract dispute that threatened to force as many as 50,000 Orange County patients to switch doctors was settled Wednesday, averting what might have been one of the largest disruptions of patient care in the region," the Orange County Register reports. St. Joseph Health System of Orange and Health Net, one of the area's largest HMOs, announced they have reached a multiyear "mutually beneficial contract." St. Joseph, which provides care through a network of three hospitals and 500 physicians, terminated its contract with Health Net last week, citing financial losses caused by low reimbursement rates. While neither party would discuss contract specifics, Health Net spokesperson Brad Kieffer said, "This assures our members of continued access to quality care." This "threatened disruption" was the latest to hit the area, as local providers insist that capitation rates are too low. According to the California Medical Association, health insurance premiums in the state are 30% to 40% less than premiums in comparable East Coast markets (Crabtree, 3/16).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.