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Monday, Dec 4, 2023

Health Care—Medical group closes in National City neighborhood

Financially Troubled Charter Continues to Sell Hospitals Locally

National City-based Paradise Valley Medical Group Inc., a network of 300 doctors, said it will close operations next month after an ongoing financial struggle.

“We weren’t getting enough money from the insurance companies to enable us to adequately serve our patients,” said Dr. Ira Braverman, an internist belonging to the medical group.

The medical group served some 10,000 patients in National City , an area marked by a high illness rate and an underserved population, Braverman said.

Braverman said the four internists in his National City-based private office serve about 250 patients. Most patients will need to switch to other doctors. He said, however, that health insurers have given patients few doctors to choose from.

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For that reason, Braverman said, his group began to plead with health insurers to continue seeing patients. So far, 50 patients received permission from their health insurers to stay with Braverman’s group. Braverman admits he doesn’t know what he’ll do once the group dissolves.

Dr. Theodore Mazer, chairman of the council on medical services of the California Medical Association, said half of all medical groups are on the edge of bankruptcy.

“It’s a universal problem around California,” Mazer said. Medical groups are struggling, because health plans are not paying them enough money to serve patients and meet their cost of overhead, he said.

According to a report by the California Medical Association, between 1993 and 1999, payments fell from $45 to $29, per member per month.

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Hospital Sale: Charter Behavioral Health System, which provides psychiatric care across the country, announced the sale of its second hospital in San Diego.

The financially troubled health system said Sept. 8 it sold its 80-bed acute care psychiatric unit Charter Behavioral Health System of San Diego/North in Carmel Mountain Ranch to Aurora Health Services, part of the management group Salem Service Co. in Detroit.

Last month, Charter sold its 60-bed facility in La Mesa to the Alvarado Professional Group, a local group of doctors.

Financial details of both transactions were not disclosed.

Charter said in a written statement the hospital’s transfer of ownership to Aurora will not affect patient care, nor operations or employees’ salaries.

The renamed hospital, now Aurora Behavioral Health Care/San Diego, will continue to operate on a “business as usual basis,” Charter said in a written statement.

The hospital served 3,000 patients last year, according to an Aurora spokesman.

As of last year, Charter Behavioral Health System of Indiana headquartered in Terre Haute, Ind., owned 90 psychiatric hospitals nationwide, said Alain Azcona, Aurora spokesman.

Financial troubles forced Charter to close 35 hospitals in January. One month later, the group filed for bankruptcy for 37 hospitals.

The group still hoped to “reorganize” by raising additional funding.

However, the group failed to attract investors, Azcona said.

Contact Webb at mwebb@sdbj.com.


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