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Blue Shield of California names grant recipients

October 17, 2011 | 11:56 am

Blue Shield of California is handing out $20 million in grants to healthcare providers who are setting up partnerships to deliver care more efficiently
Blue Shield of California said it is preparing to hand out $20 million in grants to hospitals, medical groups and other healthcare providers who are setting up new partnerships to deliver medical care more efficiently.

The nonprofit insurer named 18 groups of providers across California who will receive grants of as much as $2 million by Dec. 1.

The list of recipients includes St. John's Health Center in Santa Monica, Children's Hospital Los Angeles and Huntington Memorial Hospital in Pasadena.

St. John's is to receive $2 million to implement a program to better integrate the work of its doctors and to decrease unnecessary patient readmissions, 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 population.

Huntington is to receive $980,000 for initiatives to decrease readmissions and emergency room use.

The providers are all 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 federal healthcare overhaul calls for the expansion of these organizations as a way reduce unnecessary healthcare spending.

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

Blue Shield said it is 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 announced last week that it would credit $283 million off December insurance bills for nearly 2 million customers in the state as part of that promise.

The company announced a similar $167-million give-back in June; that money is being credited to insurance bills this month.

Blue Shield said it is applying an additional $10 million from each of those announcements for the healthcare grants. Officials said they received nearly 60 applications from healthcare providers across the state.

"This demonstrates overwhelming interest among providers in collaborating to reduce costs and enhance the quality of care," Paul Markovich, Blue Shield’s executive vice president and chief operating officer, said in a statement. "We're proud to support all of our grantees as they work to materially improve care and succeed under federal health reform."


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-- Duke Helfand

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