University of California-San Diego Announces Plans to Close Home Health Care Division
The University of California-San Diego, citing "mounting losses," yesterday announced plans to shut down the university's home health care operations on June 30, a move that will affect about 5,200 patients, the San Diego Union-Tribune reports. UCSD spokesperson Leslie Franz said that the university hopes to place the patients with other home health care agencies but added that some may have to receive care as hospital outpatients. In addition, UCSD officials said that the university will transfer some of the 140 nurses and administrative employees in the home health division to other positions and will help others to find positions outside the UCSD health system. UCSD established a home health care division in 1991 after the university acquired the San Diego division of the Visiting Nurses Association. The university broke even or posted a small profit on home health care operations through 1999, but the division lost $1 million in 2000 and $2 million in 2001. UCSD officials predicted that losses would reach $3 million this year. Mary Middleton, UCSD's director of patient care services, attributed the division's financial problems to reduced reimbursements from both private insurers and the federal government, as well as increased medical costs. Under the 1997 Balanced Budget Act, CMS reduced Medicare reimbursements for home health care services by as much as 30%, and the agency plans to impose an additional 15% reduction in October. UCSD officials also said that the university has had problems with nurse recruitment. Home health care, which requires experienced nurses qualified to work without supervision, has had "even more difficulty" with nurse recruitment than hospitals, the Union-Tribune reports (Fong, San Diego Union-Tribune, 3/12).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.