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About this blog: I am a native of Alameda County, grew up in Pleasanton and currently live in the house I grew up in that is more than 100 years old. I spent 39 years in the daily newspaper business and wrote a column for more than 25 years in add...  (More)

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ValleyCare seeking a partner

Uploaded: Apr 24, 2014

The key news in ValleyCare's April 15 letter to corporate members was the ongoing discussions about an affiliation or partnership.
Chairman John Sensiba wrote, "We are currently exploring the potential for an affiliation with a number of these providers as we believe an affiliation will be in our community's best interest. With the changes in health care, community hospitals will not survive alone."
The ValleyCare board certainly is not alone in that decision. The giant Sutter Health system of non-profit hospitals was built when Sutter executives convinced local boards that joining the system made more sense for their communities than continuing as stand-alone entities.
ValleyCare nearly went that way many years ago when the board approved a merger with John Muir that the corporate membership rejected. ValleyCare has charted its own path since, but the health care industry changed dramatically with ObamaCare.
Just drive into Dublin on Tassajara Road and you can see one building with ValleyCare's urgent care; Palo Alto Medical Foundation physicians' offices; and Webster Orthopedics offices. Palo Alto is the doctors' organization that is linked with Sutter, which operates Eden in Castro Valley as well as Alta Bates-Summit in Oakland.
John Muir has formed a joint venture with San Ramon Regional, which purchased a four-story office building down the street from ValleyCare in Pleasanton.
The huge challenge for the ValleyCare board and new CEO Scott Gregerson will be to structure the right type of affiliation/partnership. There's no question that ValleyCare needs more capital to maintain and improve its services. The partnerships that former CEO Marcy Feit built with UC Davis's medical school and then UCSF gave patients access to specialists and cutting edge treatments (to say nothing about the neonatal intensive care unit staffed by UCSF specialists at ValleyCare).
As Gregerson noted, whatever arrangement must allow ValleyCare to retain its ability to react nimbly to the market, a trait very difficult to find in large organizations.
The demographics of the Tri-Valley, with relatively few patients living in poverty, are highly desirable for potential partners. ValleyCare brings a lot to the table—it will be interesting to see what organization the board decides to move forward with.
Last week President Obama touted sign-ups for ObamaCare, saying 8 million people had signed up. Of course, the government still cannot tell anyone how many of those people actually paid for their policies.
In California, the total was 830,000 through the state insurance exchange with another 2 million added to the MediCal rolls. Remember that Gregerson said that when ValleyCare treats a MediCal patient, it recovers just 68 cents on the dollar it spends. Those numbers are typical across the industry and remember that hospitals are targeted for cost reductions under the health care law.
Those numbers point out why hospitals serving communities with lots of people living in poverty struggle to survive—there just are not enough insured patients to spread the costs across to balance the books.
What is it worth to you?


Posted by Big Warriors Fan, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood,
on Apr 27, 2014 at 7:20 pm

Hey, Tim. You sound like a really, really smart guy. Seriously. So I'm looking to get your opinion on your fellow blogger's most recent post. You know, the one where Tom Cushing bravely calls upon Clippers players to protest/boycott their boss, Donald Sterling?

His reasoning goes like this. Since the Clippers players and coaches are mostly black, and they depend upon Sterling for a paycheck, they and they alone are best suited to wage a protest.

No, not big-butt, white, pseudo liberals like Cushing because, hey, he's not black, and he doesn't work for Sterling. And, no, not the NBA or ABC or other networks because, hey, they're white-owned and operated and we sure wouldn't want THEM to lose any revenue. I mean, if anyone should put out on this issue it's Sterling's employees. They can best afford to lose revenue, and why should they care if they antagonize their boss? You know?

So, Tim, I see Cushing's blog as just about one of the most courageous indictments of blatant racism I've ever seen. To boldly recommend that other people -- blacks, employees of Sterling -- engage in protest while the rest of us look on is just so heroically John Wayne like.

I'm hoping, Tim, that you can pry yourself away from those darned fraudulent ACA stats and your unwillingness to acknowledge how more insured folks will mean better treatment and, long run, less in medical expenses, and attend to Cushing's brave stand. Tell me: Is this why some posters refer to Cushing as Captain Courageous? Wowsa!

Posted by Ms. bunny, a resident of San Ramon,
on Apr 28, 2014 at 7:52 am

BWF, EVERY ONE OF US, should be appalled, that's for certain. This is hardly JUST about "blacks" in my opinion. Sterling is a "piece of work" as they say (in good company, so's TC, lol!)

Yes Tim, Valley Care has a real chance if they partner up with Sutter or another in the Tri-Valley. The population continues to grow in Dublin and to the east, so guessing there really is plenty of room for joining forces to address medical needs in our valley. I love the John Muir/San Ramon Regional partnership and already see the benefits to their unification.

As to where we're going with Obamacare? Methinks it may well be another decade before the "kinks" are worked out, if indeed they are/can be.

Posted by Wayne Goetner, a resident of Canyon Oaks,
on Apr 28, 2014 at 10:47 am

It appears that Mr. Cushing has quickly shoveled dirt over his recent brave post on Donald Sterling and the Clippers. BWF, I guess that shouldn't surprise you. Another courageous action on his part?

Posted by Wayne Goetner, a resident of Canyon Oaks,
on Apr 28, 2014 at 2:11 pm

Warrior's coach, Mark Jackson, seems to do Cushing even one better. He's bravely calling for Clippers fans to boycott the next game at Staples Center. Now, he didn't call for Warriors fans to boycott; nor is he calling upon himself or his own team to boycott. No, he's just hoping Clippers fans don't show up. You have to love these clowns who want everyone else to engage in protest without doing anything themselves.

Posted by ????, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood,
on Apr 29, 2014 at 9:44 am

Why is the above article about Valley Care,by Tim Hunt, but the comments are about Cushing and Sterling??? Is my computer cross-wired????

Posted by Ordinary Joe, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood,
on Apr 29, 2014 at 10:45 am

I think it's probably because BWF wanted Tim's erudite opinion on what Cushing is writing over in the other pasture. He probably tried to get onto Cushing's site but was censored, as Cushing tends to censor those who are critical of his blogs. Indeed, I've found the more intelligent the poster his, the more likely Cushman is to censor them.

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