PACIFICARE/FHP: DOCTORS’ GROUP SEEKS TO HALT MERGER
The Orange County Medical Association is seeking to blockThis is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.
the proposed merger between two California-based HMOs, PacifiCare
Health Systems Inc. and FHP International Corp. In a letter sent
to the Federal Trade Commission late last week, the group of
nearly 2,500 physicians contended that the merged HMO would
dominate the area's Medicare HMO market and "would raise barriers
to competing health plans and increase economic pressure on
providers." Dr. Juan Carlos Cobo, president of the medical
society, said, "You have a merger that will control two-thirds of
the HMO senior citizen enrollees in one county. You are dealing
with a powerhouse that has tremendous control in contract
negotiations with doctors and patient care." LOS ANGELES TIMES
notes that the concerns expressed by the physicians' group are
similar to those expressed recently by Consumers Union, which
also opposes the merger. Cobo expects the California Medical
Association and the county medical societies in Los Angeles and
San Diego -- all of which are affiliates of the American Medical
Association -- to also "lodge protests with the FTC."
NOT A MONOPOLY: TIMES reports that a federal official said
Friday that the merged company would not be as dominant as the
medical society and consumer group have predicted. According to
recent statistics, as of September the two HMOs together served
65% of San Diego County's Medicare HMO market; the opponents of
the merger contend that the new entity would serve 80% of that
market. The HMOs say that the new company would not dominate the
area's Medicare market. The FTC is currently reviewing the
merger; a ruling is expected "shortly" (Marsh, 1/11).
SEARCH FOR FREE: For more on the pending merger and the
FTC's investigation, search our word-searchable database FREE on
the World Wide Web, located at http://www.apn.com.