SANTA BARBARA: Future of Medicare HMOs In Doubt
Medicare HMOs "could vanish in Santa Barbara County in the years to come" or even "sooner," the Santa Barbara News-Press reports. Lompoc Hospital said on Friday that it "will stop serving Medicare HMO patients by February" if Medicare HMO reimbursement rates are not increased. And Lompoc Hospital Administrator Jim Raggio said, "I am 100 percent confident that unless the federal government allocates more money, there will be no more plans in Santa Barbara County very, very soon." In addition, "the county's largest hospital and major doctor groups are known to be wondering whether they'll be treating Medicare HMO patients more than a year from now." To date, only one of the four Medicare HMOs doing business in Santa Barbara County -- Lifeguard Inc. -- has announced plans to pull out beginning next year. "Still, local medical authorities say the possibility exists for Santa Barbara County to experience a harder-hitting withdrawal, perhaps beginning as soon as this spring," the News-Press reports (Schultz, 11/22).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.