A Senate panel investigating alleged unnecessary heart surgeries at hospitals owned by financially troubled Tenet Healthcare Corp. on Monday moved to compel Blue Cross of California to provide its study of the surgeries and related documents.
The Senate Finance Committee issued a subpoena to Blue Cross, which recently stopped covering bypass surgeries at a Tenet-owned hospital in Modesto and threatened to cut all ties with it unless the hospital improved care. Blue Cross later retracted the threat, saying the hospital had addressed its concerns. In the interim, Doctors Medical Center in Modesto had sued Blue Cross for libel and defamation.
The study commissioned by Blue Cross found that more than half the cardiac bypass surgeries performed on Blue Cross members at the hospital between Jan. 1, 2000, and Jan. 31, 2003, were medically unnecessary.
The study was prompted by an investigation into unnecessary heart surgeries and Medicare over-billing at another Tenet hospital, Redding Medical Center in Redding.