Sutter Health|Aetna adds Stanford Health Care to network

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The joint venture between provider and payer, which launched last year, has grown to about 50 plan sponsors across 15 counties.

Sutter Health|Aetna has added Stanford Health Care to its network of providers.

Sutter Health|Aetna is the joint venture launched last year between the Sacramento, California-based health system and the national insurer. It offers self-insured preferred provider organization health plans to businesses in the Northern California area.

It has grown to about 50 plan sponsors across 15 counties.


This represents another expanded partnership between a provider and payer, though this is in the commercial space.

Other recent partnerships, such as the one announced between Duke Health and Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina, have capitalized on the Medicare Advantage market.

Stanford Health Care recently launched a Medicare Advantage plan with Lumeris called the Stanford Health Care Advantage, in northern California.

The partnerships allow providers and insurers to expand their reach and get access to population health data to lower costs and improve outcomes.
The addition of Stanford Health Care gives Sutter Health|Aetna’s network members in Northern California access to the network’s more than 1,500 specialists and nearly 200 primary care physicians throughout the San Francisco Bay Area.


With the addition of Stanford Health Care, the Sutter Health|Aetna joint venture features two nationally recognized healthcare systems and access to a Northern California network that includes 33 hospitals, more than 1,700 primary care physicians, more than 9,400 specialists, 74 urgent care locations and 25 walk-in clinics.


“The inclusion of Stanford Health Care, with its physicians from across Stanford Medicine, to our high-quality network will not only expand the provider network for our plan sponsors and members, but also provide access to another highly ranked health care system,” said Steve Wigginton, CEO of Sutter Health|Aetna. “This addition will help us in our goal to create a unique offering for Northern California employers and their employees centered around a superior consumer experience and market-leading value.”



Financial updates for Cleveland Clinic, Sutter + 9 other health systems

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The following 11 health systems recently released financial updates:

1. Naples, Fla.-based NCH Healthcare System saw its revenue and net income improve in the 2018 fiscal year. The health system ended fiscal 2018 with net income of $37.3 million, up 45.3 percent from $20.4 million reported in the year prior.

2. Salt Lake City-based Intermountain Healthcare saw its revenues and operating income improve in fiscal year 2018. After incorporating nonoperating income, which was $240.2 million lower than the year before, Intermountain ended fiscal 2018 with net income of $598.5 million. That’s down 8.6 percent from $655.1 million reported in fiscal 2017.

3. Boston-based Dana-Farber Cancer Institute‘s revenue climbed 11.5 percent year over year to $487.2 million in the first quarter of fiscal year 2019. After factoring in a $31.6 million investment loss, Dana-Farber recorded a net loss of $1.2 million in the first three months of fiscal 2019. That’s compared to the first quarter of fiscal 2018, when the hospital recorded net income of $46.1 million.

4. Bronx, N.Y.-based Montefiore Medical Center saw operating revenue increase in 2018 but ended the period with a lower overall operating margin. After factoring in nonoperating gains and losses, the medical center recorded net income of $26.6 million for 2018, down 52.9 percent year over year from net income of $56.5 million.

5. Renton, Wash.-based Providence St. Joseph Health saw operating revenue increase in fiscal year 2018 but ended the period with a net loss. After factoring in investment losses, Providence St. Joseph ended 2018 with a net loss of $445 million compared to net income of $780 million the year prior.

6. Cleveland Clinic‘s revenue increased in 2018, but the system’s operating income and net income declined year over year. After factoring in nonoperating losses, Cleveland Clinic ended 2018 with net income of $103.9 million, down 91 percent from $1.2 billion in the year prior.

7. Trinity Health recorded higher revenue in the first half of fiscal year 2019 than in the same period of the year prior, but the Livonia, Mich.-based health system ended the first two quarters of the current fiscal year with a net loss. After factoring in nonoperating losses of $419.6 million, including investment losses due to turbulent financial markets, Trinity reported a net loss of $301.5 million in the first half of fiscal 2019. That’s compared to the first six months of fiscal 2018, when the system posted net income of $806.4 million.

8. Quorum Health‘s revenue declined year over year in the fourth quarter of 2018, and the Brentwood, Tenn.-based company ended last year with a net loss. After factoring in expenses and one-time charges, Quorum ended the fourth quarter of 2018 with a net loss of $20.7 million, compared to a loss of $26.8 million in the same period of the year prior. Looking at full-year results, Quorum’s net loss widened from $114.2 million in 2017 to $200.2 million in 2018.

9. Sacramento, Calif.-based Sutter Health reported its first annual loss in 23 years due to investment losses caused by turbulent financial markets in the fourth quarter of 2018 and recognizing less revenue from the California Hospital Fee Program. Sutter reported a net loss of $198 million in 2018, compared to net income of $893 million in the year prior.

10. Columbia, Md.-based MedStar Health saw its revenue increase in the first half of fiscal year 2019, but ended the six-month period with a net loss due to the investment markets’ unfavorable performance. After including nonoperating results, MedStar ended the first half of fiscal 2019 with an $87.5 million net loss, compared to net income of $171.5 million in the first half of the prior year.

11. Philadelphia-based Temple University Health System saw its financial position improve in the six months ended Dec. 31. TUHS ended the six-month period with an operating loss of $26.2 million, compared to an operating loss of $39.1 million in the six months ended Dec. 31, 2017.


When Hospitals Merge to Save Money, Patients Often Pay More

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Sutter’s operating income surges 806% in first half of 2018

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Sacramento, Calif.-based Sutter Health saw revenues and operating income increase in the six months ended June 30, according to recently released unaudited financial documents.

Here are four things to know:

1. The health system reported operating revenues of $6.3 billion in the first six months of 2018, up 6.5 percent from revenues of $5.9 billion in the same period a year earlier. Sutter said the increase was primarily attributable to higher patient service revenues and premium revenues, which climbed 5.3 percent and 11.3 percent year over year, respectively.

2. Sutter’s operating expenses climbed 4.3 percent year over year to $6.1 billion in the six months ended June 30.

3. Sutter ended the first half of 2018 with operating income of $145 million, up 806 percent from $16 million in the same period of 2017. The health system’s operating margin increased from 0.3 percent in the first half of 2017 to 2.3 percent in the first six months of 2018.

4. After factoring in investment income, which declined due to a drop in value of certain securities and debt extinguishment, Sutter’s net income was $174 million in the first six months of this year, compared to $350 million in the same period a year earlier.



California city anticipates 1,200 jobs spurred by Kaiser, Adventist and Sutter expansions

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The city of Roseville, Calif., anticipates a job boom as healthcare giants Kaiser Permanente, Adventist Health and Sutter Health expand in the area, reports The Sacramento Bee.

The area is expected to see about 1,200 more jobs over several years resulting from the projects.

“We are expecting a significant, 11 percent job growth over the next five years, and these expansions play into that,” Laura Matteoli, the city’s acting economic development director, told the publication.

Roseville, Calif.-based Adventist Health’s plans involve consolidation. According to the report, the system will consolidate its corporate headquarters and other buildings into one 275,000-square-foot building, projected to cost $100 million and slated to open in January. Human resources, IT and strategy departments will be housed in the building. Adventist Health also is building a clinic for its workers in Roseville, vice president of talent strategy Doris Tetz Carpenter told The Sacramento Bee.

Oakland, Calif.-based Kaiser Permanente’s plans in Roseville involve replacing its 90,000-square-foot Riverside Medical Offices with one 210,000-square-foot building that will offer outpatient services, spokesperson Edwin Garcia said.

At Sacramento, Calif.-based Sutter Health, hospital officials are expanding the system’s Roseville hospital’s emergency and intensive care unit, the report states. The 97,000-square-foot building addition is slated for completion in 2020.



California attorney general sues Sutter Health for anticompetitive practices


California’s attorney general has filed a lawsuit against Sutter Health, the largest system in the northern part of the state, claiming the organization’s anticompetitive practices have driven up healthcare prices throughout the region

The charges in the lawsuit (PDF) are “not new to Sutter,” AG Xavier Becerra said at a press conference Friday afternoon. The filing follows a statewide investigation into healthcare costs that revealed wide price disparities between the northern and southern parts of the state.

“Sutter Health is throwing its weight around in the healthcare market, engaging in illegal, anticompetitive pricing that hurts California families,” Becerra said in an announcement. “Big business should not be able to throttle competition at the expense of patients.”

Sutter was able to jack up prices for care at its facilities in several ways, according to the lawsuit:

  • Forcing insurance companies to negotiate with it in an “all-or-nothing” systemwide fashion
  • Blocking payers from offering patients low-cost health plan options
  • Charging extremely high rates for out-of-network visits
  • Limiting price transparency

Karen Garner, a spokesperson for Sutter, said in a statement emailed to FierceHealthcare that the system is “aware that a complaint was filed, but we have not seen it at this time, so we cannot comment on specific claims.”

Garner said that data from the state’s Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development show lower prices at Sutter Health facilities compared to other providers operating in Northern California. Sutter has also kept rate increases for its health plan in “low single digits since 2012,” she said.

“It’s also important to note that healthy competition and choice exists across Northern California,” Garner said. “There are 15 major hospital systems and 142 hospitals in Northern California, including Kaiser Permanente, Dignity, Adventist, Tenet, UC and more. And health plans can elect to include or exclude parts of the Sutter Health system from their networks, and health plans have been doing so for many years.”

Multiple California employers and labor unions have taken action against the health system for anticompetitive practices prior to the AG’s involvement. Sutter came under fire late last year after it was revealed that in 2015 it destroyed 192 boxes of documents that these entities sought as evidence, which the system said was a regrettable mistake.

A California judge said there was “no good reason” for Sutter to have destroyed the documents and said the “most generous interpretation” was that the system was “grossly reckless.”

The AG’s lawsuit also alleges that in addition to driving up healthcare costs in Northern California, Sutter’s actions enriched its executives, and fueled acquisitions that led to further consolidation and funding for its own health plan.

Becerra’s office was spurred to act, according to the announcement, following the release earlier this week of a report from the University of California that detailed how much consolidation has impacted healthcare costs in the state, with northern regions especially affected.

The average cost for an inpatient stay in Northern California was $223,278, compared to an average of $131,586 in the southern regions, according to the report (PDF).

Kathleen Foote, senior assistant attorney general in California who heads the antitrust unit, said at the press conference that taking action against Sutter’s practices should lead to increased competition that benefits both price and care quality.

A video of the full press conference is embedded below:



State of California files suit against Sutter Health over antitrust allegations

Sutter Medical Center in Sacramento

The State of California on Friday filed an antitrust suit against Sutter Health, accusing the Sacramento-based health system of practices that have driven up the cost of care in Northern California.

Sutter is accused of preventing insurance companies from negotiating with the health system on anything but an all-or-nothing basis, which requires insurers to contract with the entire health system, and not just parts of it. The lawsuit also alleges the health system has prevented insurance companies from offering low-cost health plan options and set excessively high out-of-network rates, while restricting the publication of provider cost information for patients’ review.

A Los Angeles Times analysis of medical care costs, which is referenced in the lawsuit, found that hospitals in Northern California’s six most populous counties collect about 56 percent more revenue per patient per day from insurance companies and patients compared to hospitals in Southern California’s six largest counties.

At a news conference this morning, Attorney General Xavier Becerra said the investigation has been in the works for about six years, prompted by complaints from patients and employers about high medical care costs in Northern California.

“It’s time to hold health care corporations accountable,” Becerra said at the news conference. “If we do nothing, it will continue to happen.”

The state attorney general’s office said in a statement that the “excess profits” Sutter took in from its allegedly illegal conduct was put toward “waves of acquisitions, extreme levels of executive compensation and financing its own insurance arm.”

“Much of the increased cost of health care in Northern California is attributable to Sutter and its anticompetitive contractual practices which it has imposed as a result of its market power,” the complaint against Sutter states. “Specifically, Sutter embarked on an intentional, and successful, strategy of 
securing market power in certain local markets in Northern California.”

The lawsuit seeks to enjoin Sutter from continuing its allegedly illegal contracting practices, including all-or-nothing contract negotiations and so-called price-secrecy terms. The lawsuit also seeks to “restore competition” by requiring Sutter to stagger its negotiations between its providers of inpatient services, outpatient services and affiliated physician groups that refer patients to non-Sutter hospitals.

The lawsuit also seeks to stop Sutter from transferring money earned by its health care providers to finance its health plan, Sutter Health Plus.

“We are aware that a complaint was filed, but we have not seen it at this time, so we cannot comment on specific claims,” said Karen Garner, a spokeswoman for Sutter, in an emailed statement. “It’s important to note that publicly available data (from the OSHPD) show that on average, total charges for an inpatient stay in a Sutter hospital are lower than what other Northern CA hospitals charge.” The OSHPD is the Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development.