SUTTER HEALTH: ‘Flips’ Doctor Payment System
Under a new managed care alliance between its Sacramento medical groups, Sutter Health is reversing how it pays its doctors. The Sacramento Business Journal reports that Sutter has linked the three medical groups -- Sutter Medical Group, Sutter West Medical Group and Sutter Independent Physicians -- into a new network called the Sutter Health Alliance. Primary care doctors in the alliance will be paid on a fee-for-service basis while most participating specialists will see capitated payments. Under managed care, primary care doctors' payments usually are capitated and specialists' are fee-for-service. Dr. John Whitelaw, president of Sutter Medical Group, said the health system wants to encourage primary care doctors "to do more by paying them for what they actually do on a fee-for- service basis." Specialists will be paid according to the number of referrals they receive from primary care doctors. And in an effort "to reward doctors who get the best results," Sutter's new data system "will track costs and patient outcomes so primary care doctors will refer patients to specialists who do the best job." Whitelaw said, "That seems to be the best way to make the market work, and it offers us the best chance to succeed financially" (Robertson, 11/23).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.