Hospitals Stand to Lose Billions Under ‘Medicare for All’

For a patient’s knee replacement, Medicare will pay a hospital $17,000. The same hospital can get more than twice as much, or about $37,000, for the same surgery on a patient with private insurance.

Or take another example: One hospital would get about $4,200 from Medicare for removing someone’s gallbladder. The same hospital would get $7,400 from commercial insurers.

The yawning gap between payments to hospitals by Medicare and by private health insurers for the same medical services may prove the biggest obstacle for advocates of “Medicare for all,” a government-run system.

If Medicare for all abolished private insurance and reduced rates to Medicare levels — at least 40 percent lower, by one estimate — there would most likely be significant changes throughout the health care industry, which makes up 18 percent of the nation’s economy and is one of the nation’s largest employers.

Some hospitals, especially struggling rural centers, would close virtually overnight, according to policy experts.

Others, they say, would try to offset the steep cuts by laying off hundreds of thousands of workers and abandoning lower-paying services like mental health.

he prospect of such violent upheaval for existing institutions has begun to stiffen opposition to Medicare for all proposals and to rattle health care stocks. Some officials caution that hospitals providing care should not be penalized in an overhaul.

Dr. Adam Gaffney, the president of Physicians for a National Health Program, warned advocates of a single-payer system like Medicare for all not to seize this opportunity to extract huge savings from hospitals. “The line here can’t be and shouldn’t be soak the hospitals,” he said.

“You don’t need insurance companies for Medicare for all,” Dr. Gaffney added. “You need hospitals.”

Soaring hospital bills and disparities in care, though, have stoked consumer outrage and helped to fuel populist support for proposals that would upend the current system. Many people with insurance cannot afford a knee replacement or care for their diabetes because their insurance has high deductibles.

Proponents of overhauling the nation’s health care argue that hospitals are charging too much and could lower their prices without sacrificing the quality of their care. High drug prices, surprise hospital bills and other financial burdens from the overwhelming cost of health care have caught the attention (and drawn the ire) of many in Congress, with a variety of proposals under consideration this year.

But those in favor of the most far-reaching changes, including Senator Bernie Sanders, who unveiled his latest Medicare for all plan as part of his presidential campaign, have remained largely silent on the question of how the nation’s 5,300 hospitals would be paid for patient care. If they are paid more than Medicare rates, the final price tag for the program could balloon from the already stratospheric estimate of upward of $30 trillion over a decade. Senator Sanders has not said what he thinks his plan will cost, and some proponents of Medicare for all say these plans would cost less than the current system.

The nation’s major health insurers are sounding the alarms, and pointing to the potential impact on hospitals and doctors. David Wichmann, the chief executive of UnitedHealth Group, the giant insurer, told investors that these proposals would “destabilize the nation’s health system and limit the ability of clinicians to practice medicine at their best.”

Hospitals could lose as much as $151 billion in annual revenues, a 16 percent decline, under Medicare for all, according to Dr. Kevin Schulman, a professor of medicine at Stanford University and one of the authors of a recent article in JAMA looking at the possible effects on hospitals.

“There’s a hospital in every congressional district,” he said. Passing a Medicare for all proposal in which hospitals are paid Medicare rates “is going to be a really hard proposition.”

Richard Anderson, the chief executive of St. Luke’s University Health Network, called the proposals “naïve.” Hospitals depend on insurers’ higher payments to deliver top-quality care because government programs pay so little, he said.

“I have no time for all the politicians who use the health care system as a crash-test dummy for their election goals,” Mr. Anderson said.

The American Hospital Association, an industry trade group, is starting to lobby against the Medicare for all proposals. Unlike the doctors’ groups, hospitals are not divided. “There is total unanimity,” said Tom Nickels, an executive vice president for the association.

“We agree with their intent to expand coverage to more people,” he said. “We don’t think this is the way to do it. It would have a devastating effect on hospitals and on the system over all.”

Rural hospitals, which have been closing around the country as patient numbers dwindle, would be hit hard, he said, because they lack the financial cushion of larger systems.

Big hospital systems haggle constantly with Medicare over what they are paid, and often battle the government over charges of overbilling. On average, the government program pays hospitals about 87 cents for every dollar of their costs, compared with private insurers that pay $1.45.

Some hospitals make money on Medicare, but most rely on higher private payments to cover their overall costs.

Medicare, which accounts for about 40 percent of hospital costs compared with 33 percent for private insurers, is the biggest source of hospital reimbursements. The majority of hospitals are nonprofit or government-owned.

The profit margins on Medicare are “razor thin,” said Laura Kaiser, the chief executive of SSM Health, a Catholic health system. In some markets, her hospitals lose money providing care under the program.

She says the industry is working to bring costs down. “We’re all uber-responsible and very fixated on managing our costs and not being wasteful,” Ms. Kaiser said.

Over the years, as hospitals have merged, many have raised the prices they charge to private insurers.

“If you’re in a consolidated market, you are a monopolist and are setting the price,” said Mark Miller, a former executive director for the group that advises Congress on Medicare payments. He describes the prices paid by private insurers as “completely unjustified and out of control.”

Many hospitals have invested heavily in amenities like single rooms for patients and sophisticated medical equipment to attract privately insured patients. They are also major employers.

“You would have to have a very different cost structure to survive,” said Melinda Buntin, the chairwoman for health policy at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine. “Everyone being on Medicare would have a large impact on their bottom line.”

People who have Medicare, mainly those over 65 years old, can enjoy those private rooms or better care because the hospitals believed it was worth making the investments to attract private patients, said Craig Garthwaite, a health economist at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. If all hospitals were paid the same Medicare rate, the industry “should really collapse down to a similar set of hospitals,” he said.

Whether hospitals would be able to adapt to sharply lower payments is unclear.

“It would force health care systems to go on a very serious diet,” said Stuart Altman, a health policy professor at Brandeis University. “I have no idea what would happen. Nor does anyone else.”

But proponents should not expect to save as much money as they hope if they cut hospital payments. Some hospitals could replace their missing revenue by charging more for the same care or by ordering more billable tests and procedures, said Dr. Stephen Klasko, the chief executive of Jefferson Health. “You’d be amazed,’ he said.

While both the Medicare-for-all bill introduced by Representative Pramila Jayapal, Democrat of Washington, and the Sanders bill call for a government-run insurance program, the Jayapal proposal would replace existing Medicare payments with a whole new system of regional budgets.

“We need to change not just who pays the bill but how we pay the bill,” said Dr. Gaffney, who advised Ms. Jayapal on her proposal.

Hospitals would be able to achieve substantial savings by scaling back administrative costs, the byproduct of a system that deals with multiple insurance carriers, Dr. Gaffney said. Under the Jayapal bill, hospitals would no longer be paid above their costs, and the money for new equipment and other investments would come from a separate pool of money.

But the Sanders bill, which is supported by some Democratic presidential candidates including Senators Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, Cory Booker of New Jersey, Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Kamala Harris of California, does not envision a whole new payment system but an expansion of the existing Medicare program. Payments would largely be based on what Medicare currently pays hospitals.

Some Democrats have also proposed more incremental plans. Some would expand Medicare to cover people over the age of 50, while others wouldn’t do away with private health insurers, including those that now offer Medicare plans.

Even under Medicare for all, lawmakers could decide to pay hospitals a new government rate that equals what they are being paid now from both private and public insurers, said Dr. David Blumenthal, a former Obama official and the president of the Commonwealth Fund.

“It would greatly reduce the opposition,” he said. “The general rule is the more you leave things alone, the easier it is.”

 

 

 

CHI Franciscan settles antitrust case: 5 things to know

https://www.beckershospitalreview.com/legal-regulatory-issues/chi-franciscan-settles-antitrust-case-5-things-to-know.html?origin=cfoe&utm_source=cfoe

Image result for hospital antitrust lawsuit

An antitrust lawsuit filed by the Washington state attorney general against CHI Franciscan will not go to trial, according to the Kitsap Sun.

Five things to know:

1. The lawsuit, filed in 2017, alleged Tacoma, Wash.-based CHI Franciscan’s affiliation with two physician groups in Kitsap County raised healthcare prices and decreased competition.

2. “Both transactions also enabled CHI Franciscan to capture more patient referrals and shift services to its wholly owned hospital, Harrison Medical Center, the only civilian acute care hospital in Kitsap County,” states an August 2017 press release from the Washington state attorney general’s office. “The transactions have hobbled CHI Franciscan’s competitors while allowing it to reap the benefit of more expensive, hospital-based rates.”

3. A trial in the case was slated to begin March 19 but was called off March 15 after the parties notified the court that the matter was resolved.

4. Specifics about the settlement have not been released. The parties have until April 29 to file documents outlining the settlement and requesting the case be dismissed, according to the Kitsap Sun.

5. A CHI Franciscan spokesperson told the Kitsap Sun that the settlement will ensure the health system’s affiliations with the two physician groups remain in place.

“This is good for patients and doctors on the peninsula, keeps our highly skilled doctors in our community, and ensures everyone has access to great care close to home,” the spokesperson said.

Access the full Kitsap Sun article here.

 

 

Segment 5 – Why Is U.S. Healthcare So Expensive?

Segment 5 – Why Is U.S. Healthcare So Expensive?

Slide06

 

This segment reviews the “Perfect Storm” of reasons for unrestrained increase of healthcare spending in the U.S.

In Episode 4, we zeroed in on what I call the Real Problem with healthcare — relentlessly rising costs.

In this Episode, we will look at why the US spends so much on healthcare. As you can imagine, there are many reasons, not just one. In fact, it’s a perfect storm of bad reasons. We will also look whether we are getting our money’s worth.

Here’s the list. Part 1 & Part 2.

Slide06

Slide07

We will go through each one.

Natural Spending Drivers

Let’s start with some natural drivers of health spending, which are understandable and expected. First, as the population grows, so will health spending. Likewise, as the proportion of older people increases, so will spending. We also expect health spending to increase slowly with inflation. New technologies and medicines increase cost, but we hope will give dramatic benefits. For example, during my 40-year practice lifetime I have seen the introduction of new drugs for diabetes, blood pressure, and virus infections including HIV and flu. I have seen new ultrasound, CT and MRI diagnostics. I have seen cardiac caths, by-passes and joint replacements. These new things are expensive but well worth the cost.

Slide08

But health spending grows from 1-1/2 to 4 times the rate of inflation, much more than would be explained by natural drivers, as we saw previously.

Slide09

Fee for Service Payments

So, let’s look at the other reasons. First and foremost, to my way of thinking, is fee-for-service. Doctors in the US – unlike other countries where they are salaried – get paid for piecework. If a surgeon doesn’t operate, he doesn’t get paid. If a specialist doesn’t have a patient scheduled, HE doesn’t get paid. Money is a powerful incentive. So we should not be surprised if doctors increase their own volume of services, many times unconsciously.

Health Insurance Hides Cost

The next big reason is our health insurance. Until recently premiums were paid by the employer and out-of-pocket copays were minimal. Healthcare felt free to most of us. Most of us had no idea what our care was costing the system, and cared little. Talk about a perfect storm!

Imperfect Market 

Why didn’t market forces keep down costs and spending. Many politicians and reformers think competition as the simple solution to the healthcare cost problem. But economists will tell you that healthcare is not a pure market;  they refer to it as “imperfect.” The reasons are first that no one knows the true price of anything. Have you ever tried to sort out a hospital bill? Ridiculous!

Second, markets rely on buyer and seller having equal footing to negotiate, but most patients dare not quibble with their doctor. Doctors get their feathers ruffled when patients challenge their advice. Third, to make matters worse, patients are a “captive market” – they are often suffering, frightened for their life, and desperate for immediate relief, not exactly a strong bargaining position. Fourth, doctors can control demand. There’s an old joke about the level of eyesight loss that needs a cataract operation – if there’s one doctor in town it’s 20/100, if two doctors it’s 20/80 and if three doctors in town it’s only 20/60.

Administrative Costs

Next is administrative costs. Some economists estimate that up to ¼ of all health spending is for administration, not actual care. This is not surprising knowing how complicated we make our delivery system and financing system. Other countries have one delivery system and one payment system. US has 600,000 separate doctors, 5,500 separate hospitals, and 35 different insurance companies, not counting Medicare and Medicaid. Doctors used to drown in papers; now we spend up to 2 hours doing computer work for every hour of patient care. Don’t you love it?

For comparison, Medicare reports only 2% administrative costs (but some other costs are hidden elsewhere in government).

Inefficiency & Waste

Some other spending drivers include inefficiency. I include in this category unnecessary tests and treatments, as well as wasted effort due to incompatible computerized record systems – there are 632 separate electronics vendors in the US. If airports ran this way, each airline at each airport would have its own unique air traffic control computer that did not connect with each other. All in the name of free market.

Regards unnecessary treatments and procedures, a doctor at Dartmouth named John Wennberg pioneered using Big Data in the 1980s to look at numbers of prostate operations in each individual ZIP code, and found that surgeons in some regions were operating 13 times for often in highest areas than the lowest. Since prostate disease is relatively constant everywhere, this can only mean that doctors practice varies widely – the highest utilizers are doing too many operations.

Monopolies

Next is monopolies. Many small- and medium-sized towns and rural areas can only support one hospital. This creates monopolies with no market forces whatsoever to hold down charges.

Cost Shifting

Cost-shifting means that uninsured patients come to the ER for care. Since the ER doesn’t get paid, the ER shifts the Uninsured cost into the bill for INSURED and Medicare patients. The cost-shifting itself doesn’t increase the costs, but getting care in an ER instead of doctor’s office is the most expensive possible place for care.

New-Technology Policy

The FDA new-technology policy means that FDA rules say that it will approve any new drug or treatment if it shows even the slightest statistical benefit, no matter how small. Some cancer drugs are approved that extend life by only a few weeks. Some medicines are approved, even if the number needed to treat is 100. For example, for some new cholesterol medications, 100 patients need to be treated for 5 years before we see even 1 heart attack prevented. That’s a lot of patients, and a lot of doses, and a lot of dollars. By comparison, since half of appendicitis patients die without treatment, and almost all with appendectomy surgery survive and live happily ever after, the calculated number-needed-to-treat is only 2. So appendectomies are a good valued, but cholesterol medication (for otherwise healthy people) is questionable value.

Non-Costworthy Marginal Benefit

Here is another way of looking at value. As we go from left to right in this graph, we are spending more and more on health care. The more we spend, the higher the cumulative health benefit, at least to start. The first section (Roman number I) are very high value interventions like public health, sanitation, immunizations. The next section (Roman number II) are good value routine health treatments, including kidney dialysis and first-line chemotherapy for treatable cancers. But when we reach the third section (Roman number III), the benefits level off. Bypass surgery is less effective for older patients (and more risky); dying patients don’t survive in intensive care units and are miserable with tubes and futile breathing machines. If we spend even more we reach section Roman numeral IV in which no additional benefit is gained, just a lot of extra testing, treatments or drugs – these are wasted dollars. And if we keep spending more yet, we actually do more harm than good, and can even have deaths on the operating table or reactions to too many drugs. The US is well into section IV and in some cases section V. A lot of other richer countries think that they have already reached the point where spending more will give no benefit or possibly do more harm than good, even though they spend less than the US.

Slide19

In the next episode we will look at the ramifications of so much health spending on the US economy, politics and society. We will look at some potential threats if we do not start to control costs better.

I’ll see your then.

 

Harbinger of things to come as the Healthcare Landscape becomes Dominated by Massive, Vertically-Integrated Competitors

https://www.cnbc.com/2019/01/18/walmart-cvs-health-hammer-out-new-pbm-pharmacy-network-deal–.html

Subs: CVS Pharmacy exterior

Verticals gonna vertical

As we wrote last week, the recent dust-up between CVS’s pharmacy benefit management (PBM) subsidiary Caremark and Walmart, during which the retail giant threatened to sever its relationship with CVS over a dispute regarding reimbursement levels before finally coming to a settlement, is a harbinger of things to come as the healthcare landscape becomes dominated by massive, vertically-integrated competitors.

new investigative piece from The Columbus Dispatch this week seems to confirm this view. Examining previously-undisclosed data about CVS’s drug plan pricing practices as part of Ohio’s Medicaid program, the article reveals that CVS paid its own retail pharmacies much higher reimbursement rates than it offered to key competitors Walmart and Kroger to provide generic drugs to Medicaid beneficiaries. According to the article, CVS would have had to pay Walmart pharmacies 46 percent more, and Kroger pharmacies 25 percent more, to match the levels of reimbursement it paid its own retail pharmacies, data that are cited in a state report on the Medicaid pharmacy program that CVS is engaged in a court battle to keep secret. The reimbursement differential is “startling information”, according to a former Justice Department antitrust official quoted in the article. A spokesman for CVS maintained that the PBM’s payment rates are “competitive” and influenced by a complex range of factors. Underscoring the opaque and complicated methodology drug plans use to determine payments to retail pharmacies, independent pharmacy operators were paid more than CVS stores, as were Walgreens stores. A separate analysis of PBM pricing behavior in New York uncovered similar evidence, according to Bloomberg.

The Ohio and New York pharmacy stories are yet more evidence that, as healthcare companies continue to expand their control over greater segments of the “value chain”—combining, for example, insurance, distribution, and care delivery—they are able to flex their market power in ways that look increasingly anti-competitive. Hospitals that “own” their referral sources, insurers that “own” the delivery of care, and pharmacies that “own” drug benefit managers all edge closer to creating closed, proprietary platforms that can lock out competitors in any one segment.

That’s a feature, not a bug—indeed, much of the logic of population health is predicated on “network integrity”: keeping consumers inside a fully-controlled ecosystem of care to enable better coordination and reduce duplication and inefficiencies. Yet as giant healthcare corporations turn themselves into Amazon-style “everything stores”, we need to keep a watchful eye on competition.

Red flags to watch for: using the courts to maintain secret agreements or block the free flow of talent or information, “vertical tying” behavior that requires all-or-nothing contracting, and pricing strategies that leverage market power in one segment to raise prices in another.

The biggest flaw in using “market competition” to lower the cost of care: most companies hate actually competing in the marketplace—a problem made even more vexing by vertical integration.

 

 

 

Creating Effective Health Care Markets

https://www.commonwealthfund.org/blog/2018/creating-effective-health-care-markets?omnicid=EALERT1469225&mid=henrykotula@yahoo.com

Building a health care market

Disagreement about the role of markets lies at the root of many of our fiercest health care controversies. One side believes that unleashing market forces will rescue our health care system. From this viewpoint, government involvement is inherently destructive, except in rare circumstances. Many opponents of the Affordable Care Act share this opinion.

The other side believes that health care markets are deeply flawed and that government must play a major role in achieving a higher-performing health system. These people point out that markets make no claim to ensuring equity in the use of health care resources, only improved efficiency. Supporters of the ACA tend to hold this view.

Given this fundamental divide, it’s worth considering the conditions underlying the effective functioning of market economies, whether those conditions currently prevail in health care and, if not, what changes would be required to establish them.

Students learn in Economics 101 that several assumptions must hold for free markets to achieve their potential:

  • First, consumers and suppliers of goods and services have perfect — or at least sufficient — information. They know or can find out the price and quality of available products.
  • Second, consumers and producers are rational. They make reasoned decisions about what to purchase and supply. These decisions maximize their welfare as consumers and their profits as businesses.
  • Third, it is easy for producers to enter markets, thus assuring that monopolies don’t form, and that increased competition occurs where prices are excessive, reducing prices to efficient levels.
  • Fourth, in any market, there are large numbers of firms selling a homogeneous product.
  • Fifth, individual firms cannot affect market prices.

Practically speaking, these conditions rarely exist in pure form anywhere in our economy. In the case of health care, there are a variety of different types of markets. For example, employers purchase insurance, large hospital systems purchase medical supplies, and individuals purchase insurance plans. These markets may embody these conditions to varying degrees, but the most basic health care markets, in which consumers or patients directly buy health care services, depart from this ideal dramatically, as the following examples illustrate.

To begin with, health care consumers not only lack perfect information, but often any information at all.   At present, prices in the U.S. health care market are virtually unknowable. Quality data are scant, imperfect, and often confound even experts.  Further, medicine is a complex science-based service: even highly trained health professionals struggle to stay current. As a result of social media and the internet, consumers are better informed than ever before, but most depend on advice from health professionals to make informed health care purchases. This kind of imperfect information may help explain why consumers in high-deductible health plans are equally likely to reduce their use of high-value or low-value health care services. They are just as likely to forgo their blood pressure treatments as unnecessary back surgery.

Health care consumers also face unusual challenges to making rational decisions. In medicine there is a saying that any doctor who treats herself has a fool for a patient. Even the most informed individual can have difficulty acting rationally when confronting the emotional turmoil that accompanies their own illness or that of a loved one. Beyond this, there are clear situations where patients’ cognitive abilities are compromised, for example, in cases of stroke, dementia, intoxication, loss of consciousness, delirium, or mental illness.

Competent patients have the inherent right to make their own medical decisions, and many do so wisely and well. But market advocates also must recognize the special obstacles to rational decision-making that face health care consumers.

Consolidation among insurers and health care organizations has radically reduced the number of providers selling health care and health insurance in many U.S. health care markets. Recent work shows that providers in 90 percent of U.S. markets are highly or “super” concentrated.

This consolidation and resulting lack of competition has enabled individual providers to charge excessive prices in many markets. Similarly, government-granted patents create monopolies that enable drug manufacturers to set astounding prices for new drugs and raise them almost at will.

These and other departures from the conditions necessary for effective market functioning suggest the dangers of uncritical reliance on free markets to improve our health care system. At a minimum, advocates of market solutions would be wise to consider three interventions that could increase the probability that markets will function as desired.

  1. Develop better information on prices and quality. Consumers need information to make informed decisions. Publishing raw data on the prices of care — often referred to as price transparency — is insufficient because it rarely reflects the actual cost consumers face during an episode of care. The price of a chest x-ray that diagnoses pneumonia, for instance, is a poor indicator of the costs of a subsequent hospitalization, not to mention the downstream costs for any previously undetected lung disease. To make health care markets work, advocates must develop approaches to price transparency and quality measurement that are meaningful and understandable to consumers.
  2. Foster markets for health services that pose the smallest challenges to rational decision-making. Certain health services — often referred to as “shoppable” — involve tests or treatments that are either elective, relatively simple to understand, or nonurgent, which allows patients time to learn and think about them. Examples include screening tests for generally healthy individuals (e.g., colonoscopies, mammograms), elective surgeries (e.g., hip and knee replacement), or necessary but nonemergent care (e.g.,whether to add insulin to a diabetic regimen). Fostering competitive forces in these areas could improve the functioning of the health care market overall. But reformers should be aware that these services are likely to account for a minority of health care activities and, frequently, are not the most expensive ones.
  3. Promote competition. Unless government finds ways to restore competition among providers where it no longer exists, markets can’t succeed. This is true both for health care services generally and pharmaceuticals in particular.

Given our desperate need for health care reform, the appeal of market solutions is understandable. But it is naïve to assume that they will work in health care just like they do in other sectors. It is time for a frank, open, and nonideological discussion of the problems markets can address in health care and how we can create conditions that will enable markets to function as intended.

 

 

Atrium Health releases 92 physicians looking to break away

https://www.beckershospitalreview.com/hospital-physician-relationships/atrium-health-releases-92-physicians-looking-to-break-away.html

Hospital-Physician Relationships

Charlotte, N.C.-based Atrium Health said April 25 it will grant the request of a group of physicians looking to separate and end their employment agreements with the health system Sept. 1, according to The Charlotte Observer.

In an emailed statement to Becker’s Hospital Review April 25, Atrium confirmed it will release a group of roughly 92 Mecklenburg Medical Group physicians from their noncompete agreements, effective Sept. 1. The physicians will continue practicing as part of the health system until Aug. 31.

“While we were hopeful that our many months of discussions would lead to an acceptable solution for everyone involved, we will not seek to prevent these physicians from forming a standalone practice,” the health system told Becker’s.

Atrium said it will also offer the physicians new employment agreements “in the hopes they remain at Atrium Health and their MMG practice … and join the other 1,900 physicians who provide care for our patients,” the health system told Becker’s.

The group of roughly 92 Mecklenburg Medical Group physicians filed a lawsuit against Atrium April 2, arguing the health system engaged in monopolistic and anticompetitive behavior. Atrium said the same day it would allow the physicians to leave the organization. On April 16, the physicians filed a complaint against the health system with the North Carolina Medical Board, alleging the health system violated board regulations by intentionally misleading patients.

Atrium acquired Mecklenburg Medical Group in 1993, according to The Charlotte Observer. In a statement to the publication, the physicians said their attorneys will meet with Atrium’s lawyers to further assess the situation.

Atrium Health CEO Eugene Woods told The Charlotte Observer the health system is in the process of hiring roughly 20 physicians to help fill the vacant positions left by physicians planning to leave Mecklenburg Medical Group. The health system also previously offered to give employees who choose to say a bonus of up to 10 percent of their salary if they remain through the end of the year.

“We feel for our staff, and our first concern was making sure that they feel that we’re with them,” Mr. Woods told the publication. “We offered them retention bonuses because some of them were scared about what the future is going to be.”