Vanderbilt University Medical Center still plans to grow its affiliated network of physicians as the official split from Vanderbilt University nears, but not through the acquisition of other health systems.
Vice chancellor for Health Affairs and Dean of the School of Medicine Jeff Balser said the system would focus on collaborative affiliations with providers throughout the Southeast, according to the VUMC Reporter. The Vanderbilt Health Affiliated Network currently compress 3,400 physicians and more than 50 hospitals in the region.
Expanding the VHAN was a central goal for the system after VUMC and Vanderbilt University announced an operational split last November. The legal separation is expected to occur in early 2016.
"As the national health care economy restructures to fewer health systems, we have a choice — leading such a system or being part of someone else’s system," Balser said. "We want to lead our system and control our destiny. We believe that health care should be delivered in a certain way."
The split from the university is expected to give the hospital administrative flexibility to partner with regional providers. VUMC leadership hopes to reach an additional 1 million lives in the Southeast by 2020, the Reporter said.
Hospital stocks already had fallen a long way from their spring peaks. On Thursday, they took another tumble after executives with insurance giant UnitedHealth Group said they may not return to the insurance exchange market in 2017. That's a sharp turnabout from last month, when the company said it would add 11 states to its exchange lineup. But now execs say they expect to take a $500 million bath on their insurance exchange business in 2016, and they have scaled back their marketing of those products.
“We cannot sustain these losses,” Chief Executive Officer Stephen Hemsley told analysts on a conference call. “We can’t really subsidize a marketplace that doesn’t appear at the moment to be sustaining itself.”
The news delivered an early-morning blow to the shares of Middle Tennessee's hospital companies and there was no recovery during the day. Heading into the last few minutes of trading, HCA Holdings was down 6.1 percent while Community Health Systems was off 8.5 percent and LifePoint Health was giving up 5.6 percent. Shares of surgery center and physician services company AmSurg (Ticker: AMSG) also were down more than 5 percent.
Combined, those drops wiped out $2.4 billion of the market value of the four local companies — $1.7 billion of that number in HCA alone. Industry peers Tenet Healthcare and Universal Health Services also didn't avoid the red ink.
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