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Southland hospitals to get Blue Shield grants

Twelve teams of healthcare providers in the region will be among 18 to get a share of $20 million from the California insurer to create partnerships. The goal is to work more efficiently.

October 18, 2011|By Duke Helfand, Los Angeles Times

Eighteen teams of healthcare providers will share $20 million in grants from Blue Shield of California to form new partnerships aimed at delivering medical care more efficiently, company officials said.

The recipients that will receive their grants by Dec. 1 include St. John's Health Center in Santa Monica, Children's Hospital Los Angeles and Huntington Memorial Hospital in Pasadena.

St. John's will get $2 million for a program to better integrate the work of its doctors and to decrease unnecessary patient re-admissions, among other things.

Children's Hospital is set to receive $1.1 million to improve its case management, enhance its information technology system and take other steps to improve care for its pediatric patients.

Huntington expects to receive $980,000 for initiatives to decrease re-admissions and emergency room visits.

The providers are setting up so-called accountable care organizations that bring together hospitals, doctors and insurers in some cases to improve patient care and cut costs. The national healthcare overhaul calls for the expansion of these types of organizations as a way to reduce unnecessary healthcare spending.

"We're proud to support all of our grantees as they work to materially improve care and succeed under federal health reform," Paul Markovich, Blue Shield's executive vice president and chief operating officer, said in a statement.

Twelve of the 18 partnerships are located in Southern California. They include the Greater Los Angeles Care Innovation Corridor, a partnership among doctors and hospitals affiliated with USC, four local hospitals from the Catholic Healthcare West hospital chain and Methodist Hospital of Southern California. The initiative is scheduled to receive $300,000 from Blue Shield to develop a "seamless" system of medical care.

Blue Shield said it was making the healthcare grants as part of a promise to return money to policyholders and the community when its net income exceeds 2% of revenue.

The San Francisco-based insurer said last week that it would also credit $283 million off December insurance bills for nearly 2 million customers in the state as part of that promise. The company announced a $167-million giveback in June; that money is being credited to insurance bills this month.

duke.helfand@latimes.com

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