Santa Rosa-Area Health Professionals, Purchasers Gather for Three-Day Summit
About 100 representatives from health plans, insurers, community clinics, hospitals medical groups, doctors groups, companies that purchase group health plans and other health care players will gather today in Santa Rosa for a "first-ever health care summit" to discuss the problems that "continue to weigh on medical services on the North Coast," the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat reports. Dermatologist Cynthia Bailey, former president of the Sonoma County Medical Association, and Jill Sanford, compensation director of JDS Uniphase and president of the North Bay Employers Coalition on Health Care, came up with the idea for the three-day conference. Bailey said, "We found that the people paying for health care and the people providing health care had never been in the same room." The Press-Democrat reports that local health care experts "believe the time is ripe to sort out" the area's health care problems. During the conference, participants are expected to discuss the financial collapse of four area medical groups in the last two years; the dispute between care providers and health plans over reimbursement rates; the frustration of doctors, who are leaving HMOs or even Sonoma County altogether; and the "quandary" of insured patients who sometimes cannot find a care provider. Kaiser Permanente Medical Director Dr. Robert Schultz said, "I hope this will educate a cross section of our community on what the real situation is and what the community might do to address these difficulties." Santa Rosa health care consultant Bob Shirrell said, "We have an extremely serious problem so we should get the brighter minds together to see what the possible solutions are. But, after three days, I'm afraid solutions No. 1 through No. 10 are all going to mean more money" (Rose, Santa Rosa Press-Democrat, 1/25).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.