SONOMA COUNTY: Hillcrest To Join St. Joseph Health Foundation
Taking part in a "common trend among local doctors groups," the 70-doctor Hillcrest Physicians Medical Group announced it will join the larger St. Joseph Health Foundation Dec. 1, the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat reports. Petaluma-based Hillcrest, which currently serves about 16,000 patients, is the fifth doctors group in Sonoma County to fold this year. Robert Park, president of Hillcrest's board of directors, explained that his group is closing because of its small size. With 25 primary care physicians, it "didn't have enough leverage to negotiate for higher reimbursement rates from health insurers," the Press-Democrat reports. Park said he expects membership in St. Joseph to bring his doctors higher reimbursement rates and savings from lower administrative costs. With the addition of Hillcrest, St. Joseph will grow to include 105 primary care doctors and 270 specialists -- "narrow[ing] the gap" between it and Sutter Medical Group, the largest physician group in the county. The move is expected to be "relatively painless for patients," 90% of whom will keep their primary care physician. "I think it's probably a good thing for patients," said Joseph Cook, chief medical officer for Health Plan of the Redwoods, which covers almost 50% of Hillcrest's patients. "The consolidation is resulting in stabilization of the medical community" (Allday, Santa Rosa Press-Democrat, 10/26).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.