SACRAMENTO COUNTY: Group Offers Specialists $0.14 Per Patient
In an effort to "adapt to the tough economics of managed care," Golden State Physicians Medical Group is paring down costs by offering its podiatrist members a capitation rate of $0.14 per patient, which some consider "a slap in the face." Most agree the proposed rate is "astonishingly low," considering that the average HMO capitation rate for doctors ranges from $35 to $50. Steve McDermott, CEO of Hill Physicians Medical Group Inc., disagrees with capitation for specialists altogether, saying it is "much too strong an incentive to withhold care." But Karen Taranto, a Sacramento health care consultant, says capitation can enhance management support, assuming it is implemented and overseen properly. "If the group is collegial and really understands the skill sets of each doctor, capitation can be very successful. If it's only a vehicle to control costs without a plan for how to do it, the group is using it for the wrong reason," she said. Golden State has already created panels for other specialties, including general surgeons, physical therapists and laboratories. The agreement for podiatry will be hashed out next month. Until then, many doctors are waiting to see the final plan before deciding if they will accept Golden State's offer (Robertson, Sacramento Business Journal, 5/1).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.