News Briefs

What’s the latest in mergers and acquisitions?

HCA — The Healthcare Co. in Nashville, TN, has sold two of its hospitals to Florida-based companies. The first, 278-bed Miami Heart Institute and Medical Center, was sold to Miami Beach-based Mount Sinai Medical Center for $75 million.

The second was sold to Adventist Health Sys-tem in Winter Park, which purchased the 339-bed Winter Park Memorial for $62.2 million. Winter Park Memorial has been owned since 1994 by a joint venture of HCA and not-for-profit Winter Park Health Foundation. It is possible that with profits from the sale to Adventist, HCA turned around and bought the foundation’s interest in the hospital for $47.2 million.

University news

In university news, the clinical operations of Georgetown University Medical Center in Washington, DC, have been acquired by MedStar Health in Columbia, MD. In exchange for $95 million and the assumption of Georgetown’s $80 million debt, MedStar was given a long-term lease on the Georgetown clinical enterprises, which include the 535-bed hospital, a community physician network, and a faculty practice, along with two medical office buildings and a parking lot.

Duke University Health System in Durham, NC, has also undergone some changes and has announced a definitive agreement to sell its five-year-old managed-care subsidiary, WellPath Community Health Plans, to Coventry Health Care in Bethesda, MD, for $25.5 million. WellPath, which has about 152,000 members and annual premium revenue of about $230 million, lost $12.8 million in the fiscal year ended June 30, 1999, and $4.6 million through the first eight months of fiscal 2000.

Twenty-seven-bed Randolph County Hospital and Health Services in Winchester, IN, has been purchased by Central Indiana Health System (CIHS) in Indianapolis and renamed St. Vincent Randolph Hospital.

Indianapolis-based CIHS is the regional holding company of Ascension Health in St. Louis. CIHS’ flagship hospital, the 621-bed St. Vincent Hospitals and Health Services, had been managing the Randolph Country hospital for the past 18 months.

St. Joseph sold to HMA

Catholic Health Initiatives in Denver has sold its Lancaster, PA-based hospital, the 256-bed St. Joseph Hospital, to Naples, FL-based Health Management Associates (HMA) for an undisclosed sum. The sale makes HMA, which also owns the 116-bed Community Hospital of Lancaster, the owner of two of Lancaster’s three hospitals and puts it in control of more than 43% of the city’s acute-care beds.

The bankrupt company Charter Behavioral Health Systems in Alpharetta, GA, has announced the sale of its 66-bed Charter Louisville (KY) Behavioral Health System to United Medical Corp., which is based in Windermere, FL. Although the terms of the deal have not been disclosed, United expects to receive approval from the U.S. Bank-ruptcy Court. Among United’s other holdings are 94-bed Ten Broeck Hospital and two psychiatric hospitals, all in Louisville.

Regional Medical Center and University of Tennessee Bowld Hospital, both in Memphis with 383 and 111 beds, respectively, have approved a merger to create a single facility.

If the merger goes through, the consolidated hospital is expected to be operational within three years. It would be housed at the downtown Memphis campus of Baptist Memorial Hospital, whose owner, Baptist Memorial Health Care Corp., plans to move out of the facility and shift services to its east Memphis campus and other hospitals in the Memphis area.


DC Medicare providers say no new members

As of Aug. 8, residents of Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, DC, became ineligible to join Oakland, CA-based Kaiser Permanente’s Medicare+Choice plan.

Permanente, the nation’s largest Medicare HMO provider, made this decision based on the fear that it would not be able to handle the flood of seniors in the area who are being dropped by other HMOs. Three HMOs in the Washington-Baltimore area — CareFirst Blue Cross and Blue Shield, Cigna Corp., and United Healthcare Corp. — announced that they will pull out of the Medicare program by the end of the year, leaving a combined 50,000 beneficiaries looking for new coverage and leaving Kaiser the only Medicare HMO in the area.


2001 Medicare physician fee schedule released

The Health Care Financing Administration (HCFA) has released the proposed 2001 Medicare physician fee schedule which would make several changes to physicians’ Medicare payments, among them a refinement of the resource-based relative value units used in the payment formula.

Cardiac surgeons, neurosurgeons, ophthalmologists, and thoracic surgeons can expect to see a small decrease in their Medicare payments, while gastroenterologists, nephrologists, radiologists, and radiation oncologists can look forward to a slight increase.

General practitioners and plastic surgeons would see virtually no change. The final fee schedule will be released on or before Nov. 1, and will go into effect on the first of next year. For more information or to see the proposed schedule, visit www.hcfa.gov.


Alzheimer’s may be related to high-fat diet

Researchers at Case Western Reserve Univer-sity School of Medicine and University Hospitals of Cleveland have found a possible link between a person’s likelihood of developing Alzheimer’s disease and a high-fat diet during early and mid-adulthood. This link is strengthened in people who carry a gene variant called the ApoE-e4 allele, or apolipoprotein E, a key protein involved in the transport and disposal of cholesterol.

The group’s findings were released at the World Alzheimer Congress 2000 in Washington, DC, in June.

The study examined foods eaten by 304 men and women (72 with Alzheimer’s disease and 232 healthy people), and found that of people ages 40-59 with the ApoE-e4 allele, those who consumed the highest fat diets were seven times more likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease than people with the gene marker who ate lower fat diets. People with the gene marker whose consumption of fat was less than 35% of their calories had a fourfold increased risk of developing the disease compared with those with no e4 and lower-fat diets. In contrast, people with the ApoE-e4 allele who had diets in which more than 40% of the calories came from fat had a 29-fold increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease compared with people who ate high-fat diets and did not have the e4 allelle.

For people ages 60 and older, those who were ApoE-e4 carriers and consumed a similar high-fat diet had a 12-fold higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s than those who ate a high-fat diet and did not have the e4. In people ages 20-39, the combination of ApoE-e4 and a diet with more than 40% of calories from fat raised the risk of Alzheimer’s by almost 23 times compared with those with high-fat diets and no ApoE-e4.


HFMA announces fall home health seminar

The Healthcare Financial Management Associ-ation (HFMA) has released the dates for its Fall 2000 seminar series. Among the topics: "Compliance, Coverage and Cost Reporting for Home Health Agencies Under the New Prospective Payment System."

The seminar will be offered October 18-19 in New Orleans. Register on-line and save $50: www.hfma.org. For more information, call (800) 252-HFMA (4362).


AAH welcomes new board of directors

The newly formed American Association for Homecare (AAH) has announced its inaugural 2000 board of directors. The executive committee of the incoming board consists of:

• chairman — Donald White, Associated Healthcare Systems;

• vice chairman — David R. Savitsky, Staff Builders;

• secretary — Joel C. Mills, Advanced Home Care;

• treasurer — Lawrence Higby, Apria Healthcare Group;

• immediate past chairman — Mario LaCute,