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SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA / A news summary | The Regional

$3-Million Loan Sought to Save Simi Physicians Group

September 20, 2000

The California Medical Assn. is seeking a $3-million emergency loan for a Simi Valley-based physicians group so that it can stave off bankruptcy and continue to serve 135,000 patients in Ventura County and the western San Fernando Valley.

Family Health Care Medical Group, the largest in Ventura County, has been teetering on the brink of bankruptcy for weeks, and the state doctors' association says the group needs the bailout or it will soon close.

Centered in Simi Valley, Family Health cares for tens of thousands of patients through clinics and specialists in Simi Valley, Thousand Oaks, Camarillo, Moorpark and Oxnard. Its West Hills clinic serves about 16,000 patients from the San Fernando Valley, officials said.

In addition to creating havoc for patients, bankruptcy would affect 200 primary care doctors and about 700 specialists affiliated with the plan.

"Family Health Care needs to be bailed out or it's going out of business," association President Marie Kuffner said Tuesday during a speech at Oxnard College. "And that situation is being repeated everywhere--in Orange County, in San Diego, in Sacramento."

Statewide, more than two dozen physicians groups that provide health care for insurance company health plans have failed in recent years. They usually cite low payments from managed-care organizations as the problem.

The state association sought a loan for Family Health in a letter Thursday to the 13 health plans that contract with the medical group. It said Family Health's $1-million debt had to be rectified immediately or it would fold.

The CMA said there are no other physicians groups in the communities served by Family Health with capacity to absorb so many extra patients.

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