Coalition Launched to Fight Doctor-Replacement Plan at California Hospitals
Hospital Conglomerate Tenet Spurs Opposition by “Putting Profits Ahead of Patients”
SACRAMENTO, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--A broad alliance of California health professionals announced today the formation of the Coalition for Quality Hospital Care, a group opposing Tenet Healthcare Corp.’s controversial plan to terminate contracts with independent physicians at its hospitals across California.
“bad for Tenet, bad for its hospitals, bad for its physicians, bad for its patients, and likely runs afoul of federal fee-splitting laws and California’s corporate practice of medicine laws”
The move by Tenet, the country’s third-largest for-profit hospital network and owner of 12 California hospitals, will result in reduced quality of care in emergency rooms and throughout hospitals across the state, the group says.
“California ACEP is surprised and alarmed to learn of a corporate plan by Tenet to replace local contracted providers of emergency medicine with a single contract at all Tenet hospitals in California without enough input from the affected medical staffs and physicians,” said Michael Osmundson, MD, FACEP, President of the California Chapter of the American College of Emergency Physicians (California ACEP), which is a member of the coalition. “Leaving the medical staff out of such decisions could result in patients losing access to their local doctors and can negatively impact patient care.”
The Coalition for Quality Hospital Care (www.coalitionforqualitycare.com) includes several hundred concerned physicians, and is also supported by two large physician organizations: American Academy of Emergency Medicine (AAEM), with more than 8,000 physician members, and California ACEP, with nearly 3,000 physician members in the state.
Tenet has solicited bids to replace hundreds of local physicians who currently serve as emergency room doctors, anesthesiologists, and hospitalists (doctors who provide general medical care to hospital patients). Under the contemplated plan, Tenet would replace such doctors in up to 11 of its California hospitals with one national physician staffing company, using the successful emergency medicine contracts to cut costs in their other emergency medicine, anesthesiology, and hospitalist contracts. The coalition seeks to stop Tenet, which reportedly plans to make a final decision on this issue soon after meeting with the chief executives of its California hospitals at the end of this month.
The plan is “bad for Tenet, bad for its hospitals, bad for its physicians, bad for its patients, and likely runs afoul of federal fee-splitting laws and California’s corporate practice of medicine laws,” said Mark Reiter, MD, President of AAEM, in a letter sent to Tenet (http://bit.ly/1nZLaCh).
In addition, the nearly 40,000-member California Medical Association (CMA) added its voice to the issue and posted the following to its blog on June 11 (http://bit.ly/1oZPhDz): “CMA also is concerned about the serious negative impact on quality of care should Tenet unilaterally and abruptly terminate existing service providers who have been providing care in Tenet’s hospital communities, some for many decades.”
Dallas-based Tenet operates 78 acute-care hospitals in 14 states, as well as 173 outpatient centers. In the first quarter of 2014, Tenet posted profits of $387 million.