PHYSICIANS FEDERATIONS: KAISER DOCTORS PLAN FORMATION
"In a new offensive to land more national customers," KaiserThis is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.
Permanente doctors are forming a national federation, SAN
FRANCISCO CHRONICLE reports. Doctors in Kaiser's 12 autonomous
regional medical groups "have a tentative plan to join forces"
this spring under the name "Perm Corp." CHRONICLE reports that
the federation will "give Kaiser doctors the ability to develop
new business opportunities with health plans other than" Kaiser
and allow for "direct provision of care."
OPEN MARRIAGE?: CHRONICLE reports that a "side effect" of
the move could be "the erosion of Kaiser's long-standing
tradition as a closed system in which Kaiser doctors treat only
Kaiser patients at Kaiser facilities." Francis Crosson,
assistant executive director of the Permanente Medical Group in
Northern California, said that "very limited" contracting with
non-Kaiser doctors may occur in areas where Kaiser providers are
not available. "The health plan has been looking at how to form
a broader geographic profile around the country. One of the
issues is how can the Permanente Medical Group act as a component
partner when we are all divided up into 12 groups," Crosson
DETAILS: The proposed federation might initially "focus on
improving Kaiser's internal operations by standardizing medical
care nationwide," CHRONICLE reports. By allowing Kaiser
physicians to "sell their managed care expertise to other HMOs or
doctor groups," Kaiser physicians could expand to other care
providers. Also, the federation may attract new business in
parts of the country where Kaiser lacks a strong presence. The
federation currently includes 9,329 physicians including 3,581 in
Northern California (Hall, 9/27).
ARIZONA: In related news, a group of Tucson, AZ, physicians
met with representatives of the National Labor Relations Board
September 26 to discuss whether they are "entitled to join a
union." The physicians contend that "[a]llowing doctors to join
unions would help ensure the quality of patient care, especially
during an era dominated by" HMOs, AP/Tucson ARIZONA DAILY STAR
reports. The meeting followed a petition filed earlier this
month by physicians from the Thomas-Davis Medical Center in
Tucson and Green Valley, who want to join the Florida-based
Federation of Physicians and Dentists. Keith Shelman, one of the
Thomas-Davis doctors, said, "The reason we are doing it is for
patient care. People are more important than money" (9/27).