SONOMA COUNTY: REMGI’s Pullout Concerns Health Plans, Patients
Redwood Empire Medical Group's announcement Friday that its doctors would cease contracting with seven area health plans because of financial troubles sent waves of concern throughout Sonoma County this week, the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat reports. REMGI and the insurers -- Aetna, Blue Cross, Blue Shield, HealthNet, OneHealth, PacifiCare and Prudential -- were flooded with calls from patients seeking assurances that they could continue seeing their regular physician or specialist. REMGI's pullout has left some 50,000 residents ineligible for care from its 350 members. But the group's officials yesterday said they are working with health plans to ensure patients can see their regular providers through June. President Donald Van Giesen said, "We are planning an orderly and ethical wind down so that patients are treated as fairly as possible," adding, "We don't have a specific time frame." Aware of REMGI's financial woes, several of the health plans took preparatory steps and began contracting with other medical groups over the past six months. For example, Sutter Medical Group, Sonoma County's largest physicians group, has established contracts with the insurers and could absorb 10,000 REMGI patients. The North Bay Employers Coalition on Health Care, representing about a dozen companies, is stepping in to assure workers that their health coverage is still active. The coalition said that it will inform workers of any changes in network physicians. Despite those efforts, Lynn Scuri, Sutter's managed care director, said that a smooth transition could still take several weeks because of the required coordination between insurers and doctors groups (Rose/Norberg, 6/6).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.