PacifiCare Ends Contract with Saint Agnes, Matrix Doctors Group
In a move that "took many by surprise," PacifiCare this week "abruptly" ended its contract with Fresno-based Saint Agnes Medical Center and the hospital's physician group Matrix and announced it will transfer the plan's 61,000 Valley members to Community Medical Centers and its Sante Community Physicians, the Fresno Bee reports. Saint Agnes officials said "they had no clue the HMO was cutting them off." J. Michael Gallagher, executive vice president of corporate development for Saint Agnes, said, "We are shocked by PacifiCare's decision to end its relationship with Saint Agnes and extremely concerned about the impact this will have on patients, physician partners, staff and the overall community." Saint Agnes's contract with PacifiCare generated about $52 million in business last year. On Thursday, an attempt by Matrix to seek a temporary restraining order to halt the transfer failed after a Fresno Superior Court judge refused to hear the case and referred the physician group to a Los Angeles court. Saint Agnes and Matrix are considering other legal options. They say the contract with PacifiCare does not expire until Dec. 31. For its part, PacifiCare decided to terminate the contact because of concerns about continuity of care for its members and the "instability of the Matrix doctors network," according to PacifiCare spokesperson Tyler Mason. He added that the termination was prompted by a Department of Managed Health Care audit that found problems, including inadequate staffing, lack of expertise and failure to separate fiscal and administrative management, in Priority Plus, the claims processing venture Saint Agnes and Matrix co-owned (Correa, Fresno Bee, 3/30).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.