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In Brief: Berkeley Forum Calls For Better Integration Of Care To Cut Costs; El Camino Rating Upgraded

Feb 28, 2013

California Region

Berkeley Forum Calls For Better Integration Of Care To Cut Costs

A new report by a collaborative of healthcare executives, researchers and policymakers claims that California could save more than $100 billion over a decade if it were to aggressively switch to an effort to properly coordinate care.

The report by the Berkeley Forum, which is affiliated with the UC Berkeley School of Public Health, concluded that 78% of California's healthcare costs still flow through fee-for-service systems that can encourage unnecessary utilization. It encouraged an even balance between traditional fee-for-service and coordinated care systems by 2022, and increasing the number of Californians who receive care in fully integrated systems from its current 29% to 60%.

“For the first time, the key actors who deliver and pay for our healthcare have come together to support a roadmap for fundamental change in how we buy and provide health care services,” said forum chair Stephen Shortell, the dean of Berkeley's school of public health. “They agreed that fee-for-service must be put to bed and that they support actions to move toward global budgets that will facilitate major innovations in delivering better, more coordinated care.”

According to the report, California spends $850 million a day on healthcare, and will spend more than $4.4 trillion between now and 2022 should no changes be made.

In addition to more coordinated care, the report calls for better management of chronic conditions; expanded access to palliative care; programs to help the inactive engage in more physical activity; efforts to reduce infections acquired in healthcare settings; prevention of pre-term births and greater reliance on nurse practitioners and physician assistants for primary care services.

El Camino Gets Bump In Bond Rating

Moody's Investor's Service has upgraded the debt of El Camino Hospital in Mountain View to A1 from A2, a rare upgrade in a financial environment the agency says has been tough on non-profit hospitals.

Moody's cited El Camino's low of debt, strong cash flow and the fact its facilities are 95% seismically compliant through 2030.

“To receive an upgraded rating at a time when so many other hospitals and hospital systems nationwide are struggling further reinforces that we have the right management team, an enhanced governance structure, and long-term strategies in place that will enable us to make the necessary investments to care for the community,” said John Zoglin, chairman of the El Camino Hospital Board of Directors.

Moody's also issued a stable outlook for El Camino, although it cited a number of challenges, including a competitive environment and uncertainty around a ballot measure approved by voters last November that caps the pay of executives far below its current levels. 

Moody’s has been particularly pessimistic about non-profit hospitals in recent years, citing drops in their elective procedures and reimbursement cuts from Medicare and other payers.

El Camino is challenging the legality of the ballot measure in state court.

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