UCSF-STANFORD: Reports of Losses Bring Calls for Dissolution
University of California President Richard Atkinson told the UC Board of Regents yesterday that his management team "failed badly" in the merger that created the troubled UCSF Stanford Health Care System. The hospital network lost $11 million in Q4 1998, and is expected to lose $60 million by the end of this year. The regents did not cloak their concern. Regent Frank Clark, "a longtime critic of the merger," said the deal should be reversed "immediately. ... This is not private money we are talking about losing. This is money belonging to the state of California. We should immediately set in motion the process of dissolution and complete termination of this ill-fated and mismanaged merger." Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante (D) "asked for assurances that the regents were not wasting money by operating the system," and Regent Ward Connerly said the board cannot "go on much longer giving (the merger) a chance." UCSF School of Medicine Dean Haile Debas argued against a UCSF-Stanford divorce, saying, "We have to make the merger work. The alternative ... will cause untold harm to both institutions." Among the key problems contributing to the current losses, according to a report from Debas, included the loss of key managers during the merger discussions, the lack of teamwork among clinical faculty, staffing levels that actually rose after the deal occurred and a slumping health care market. The regents took no action at their meeting, which continues today. The next scheduled meeting is June 17-18 in San Francisco (Curiel, AP/San Francisco Chronicle, 5/21).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.