STANISLAUS COUNTY: Deal With DMC Has Not Been Stellar
One year after Doctors Medical Center "stepped in to provide emergency services and hospitalization services" for Stanislaus County's low-income residents, the Modesto Bee takes a look at how the system has fared under the public-private partnership. The Bee reports that although the "county and Doctors blended their philosophically different working environments" for the benefit of patients, Medi-Cal beneficiaries have found it more difficult to see specialists. Low reimbursement rates have made it difficult for Medi-Cal managed care providers Omni and Blue Cross to recruit doctors, and subsequently for patients to see specialists. The Bee reports that some Medi-Cal beneficiaries have had to go as far as Sacramento for specialty care (Birch, 11/30). In a related story, the Bee reports that switching uninsured patients from the county system to Doctors has also meant the loss of $5 million in state aid that the county previously received to treat poor patients. Because "Doctors treats more insured patients than the county did ... its percentage of uninsured patients didn't meet the threshold for the funding." The agreement between Doctors and the county has fallen short in other areas as well: Doctors expected to see an average of 41 more patients per day under the deal; in reality it has only seen about 23 more; the hospital hasn't been paid for the treatment of some uninsured patients (Lane, 11/30). County residents "mistakenly assumed that when Stanislaus Medical center closed, the outpatient clinics shut down, too," and since then have not been utilizing preventive services at the clinics. Just as the county was hit with a flu epidemic last winter, "[s]taff shortages at Doctors paralyzed its emergency department" (Birch, Bee, 11/30). One year after the deal was sealed, no one is sure if the agreement between the county and Doctors has been a good one -- and what will come next is unknown. Doctors CFO Bob Beehler "is not convinced that Doctors made the right decision" (Lane, Bee, 11/30). Click here for previous coverage of the agreement.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.