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Group for independent docs creates Pa. chapter

Central Pennsylvania Business Journal | Joel Berg  | Nov. 30, 2017

Concerned about the growing economic clout of hospitals, a national group representing independent physicians has formed a Pennsylvania chapter.

Founded in 2013, the Association of Independent Doctors has been active in fighting hospital mergers. It filed a friend-of-the-court brief in 2016 opposing the merger – ultimately abandoned – between Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center and PinnacleHealth System, which eventually went on to affiliate with Pittsburgh-based UPMC.

The Pennsylvania chapter is the sixth for the association, which is based in Winter Park, Fla. It has about 1,000 members in 33 states, including at least 15 in Pennsylvania, the minimum threshold for forming a chapter.

Traditional medical societies and associations represent a range of physicians, including those employed directly by hospitals, as well as academics and researchers, said Marni Jameson Carey, the association’s executive director. Independent physicians need an entity representing solely their interests.

Among other issues, independent doctors are concerned about preserving their access to hospitals. As they consolidate and employ more doctors, hospitals may increasingly favor the doctors they employ directly, she suggested.

"This is the only group in America offering a national voice, a collective voice for independent doctors, speaking about and doing things about this, and we’re working at it full time," Jameson Carey said.

A spokesman for the Harrisburg-based Pennsylvania Medical Society noted that it offers programs for both independent and employed physicians.

"Specific to independent physicians, our newly formed Care Centered Collaborative is making progress in helping independent practices stay independent,” the spokesman, Chuck Moran, wrote in an email. The collaborative was launched in April 2017. 

A spokeswoman for The Hospital & Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania, also based in Harrisburg, said it has become aware of the Association of Independent Doctors.

"At this point they’re welcome to have...read more here.

Sacred Heart Hospital to Merge with St. Luke's

The Morning Call | Binghui Huang  | Sept. 19, 2017

Sacred Heart Hospital, the downtown Allentown Catholic hospital that has cared for some of the poorest patients in the region for more than 100 years, will become part of the growing St. Luke's University Health Network, the two hospital systems announced Tuesday.

The union comes a day after St. Luke’s obtained approval to build another hospital building at its Anderson Campus in Bethlehem Township, a $100 million project that includes two floors dedicated to maternity care, and less than a week after St. Luke’s announced its merger with Blue Mountain Health System, a network of two hospitals in Carbon County, adding 1,000 employees and expanding its reach to the Coal Region...read more here.

FTC wins appeal to halt Penn State Hershey/PinnacleHealth merger

Modern Healthcare | Erica Teichert  | Sept. 27, 2016

A federal appeals court decision Tuesday pausing Penn State Hershey (Pa.) Medical Center's merger with PinnacleHealth System has placed the Federal Trade Commission's hospital antitrust review program back on stable ground after a couple concerning losses.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit reversed the FTC's May loss in the Penn State-PinnacleHealth case, temporarily pausing the proposed merger while the agency takes on administrative review of the case. The 3rd Circuit judges said the lower court ignored the impact of the proposed merger on insurers when it ruled against the FTC, saying its analysis of the FTC's and Pennsylvania state regulators' proposed geographic market for the challenge was “economically unsound” and ignored commercial realities in the healthcare market.

Many experts saw the 3rd Circuit reversal as a necessary win for the FTC, according to Bruce Sokler, chair of Mintz Levin Cohn Ferris Glovsky and Popeo PC's antitrust section. Without this decision, FTC's hospital antitrust enforcement program could have been in jeopardy after two courts rejected its theories on geographic markets...read more here.

States, economists and doctors tell court: don't allow Hershey Medical Center Pinnacle 

Lancaster Online | Tim Stuhldreher | Jun. 11, 2016

  • Hershey Medical Center

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission and the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office have secured some high-powered allies in their battle to block the planned merger between Penn State Hershey Medical Center and Harrisburg-based PinnacleHealth System.

This week, a coalition of 12 states, a group of 37 top health care economists and the Association of Independent Doctors, an organization that represents almost 1,000 physicians in 14 states, filed three separate “friend of the court” briefs urging the U.S. Third Circuit to overturn a lower court decision allowing the deal to proceed.

Judge John E. Jones III issued that initial ruling in May in federal district court in Harrisburg, but the FTC and the attorney general’s office appealed...read more here.


     Pennsylvania Leadership

                          

              Anthony Dippolito, MD            

                                   

National News...

In one new Oklahoma City surgical center prices are 1/6 to 1/10 the amount charged by hospitals. Everyone pays the same price for the same procedure. Total charges are often less “than the deductibles on the Obamacare plans.” Patients are not asked: “What insurance do you have?” Real life evidence that “legitimate” pricing is the cure for a sick healthcare system. Please share and help to spread...read more here.


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