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California | SOUTHLAND FOCUS

No Catholic Healthcare, Blue Cross Agreement

August 15, 2000|Sharon Bernstein

Negotiations between Blue Cross of California and hospital chain Catholic Healthcare West were expected to continue late Monday in anticipation of a midnight deadline for the expiration of the hospital chain's contract with the giant health plan. San Francisco-based Catholic Healthcare West, which operates 40 hospitals, including Northridge Hospital Medical Center and Glendale Memorial Hospital in Southern California, has threatened to drop out of the Blue Cross network because of low fees paid by the health plan for covering patients. Such a move would eliminate nearly a tenth of the state's hospitals from the Blue Cross network. Members of Blue Cross' preferred provider organization would still be able to seek care at Catholic Healthcare West, but patients would have to pay. It was unclear by Monday evening whether the issues between the sides would be resolved by the deadline. But Michael Chee, a spokesman for WellPoint Health Networks, the parent of Blue Cross, said "things look positive." Chee said the health plan hoped to settle the matter by today. Earlier this month, St. John's Hospital & Health Center in Santa Monica allowed its Blue Cross contract to expire.

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