SFIPA: Another Physician Group to Close Doors
Ailing from the failure of an affiliated organization and the loss of 40% of its patients, the 500-doctor San Francisco Individual Practice Association will close its doors on Oct. 31, the San Francisco Business Times reports. In August, SFIPA's partner group, San Mateo IPA, with which SFIPA shared a CEO, 25 administrative personnel and office space, ceased operations. SFIPA President Dr. Mitchell Sollod said, "We decided that we cannot afford to pay our administrative expenses all by ourselves. The problem is, that while we have a better capitation rate than SMIPA and a lot of other groups, we are not sure that we have enough to support the administrative services necessary for the organization." Compounding the loss of SMIPA's shared support staff, SFIPA recently lost 40% of its patient base when Health Net pulled 4,700 patients from the IPA. Sollod added, "Health Net chose to remove the patients, and that has compromised our businesses."
A Flawed Model?
While IPAs were viewed by many in the industry as a way for physicians to pool costs and negotiate better rates with HMOs, the high failure rate of the groups has many "questioning the whole concept." SFIPA joins other IPAs that have recently closed, including MedPartners Medical Group, FPA, Sequoia Redwood Medical Group, BayCare and SMIPA. Walter Kopp, president of Marin County-based Medical Management Services, said, "We are going to see more of these kinds of failures. IPAs have filled an important role by managing care in the local marketplace. The health care system is definitely broken, and this is another wheel falling off of the train." Kopp added, "Not only is the IPA not a survivable model, but we are going to have to start looking for the next model. If you see how the IPAs are treated by the HMOs, how are individual doctors going to get a better deal?" (Doherty, San Francisco Business Times, 10/2).