Whitney Young Health, Hometown Health Talk About Joining Forces
Schenectady, N.Y. (November 1, 2017) — The Capital Region has seen hospitals and doctors’ groups merge and join forces with each other in a move to thrive in a brave new world of health care.
Now the region’s two federally qualified health centers, which are mandated to provide medical services regardless of patients’ ability to pay, are considering an affiliatio
The chief executives of Whitney Young Health and Hometown Health announced Wednesday that they are talking about ways the nonprofits might share resources and combine or create programs. An affiliation could take the form of a full-fledged merger, or merely involve collaboration on specific programs, such as addiction services or behavioral health, they said.
“We have the same mission, we have the same values, we’re both caring for and providing services to the medically underserved population. We both have investments from the federal government. We both share the same IT platform and our data is hosted at the same data center,” said Hometown Health CEO Joe Gambino. “So coming together in many respects, it just makes sense.”
The CEOs described their decision to join forces as a way to “secure the safety net,” or continue to provide services for patients who limited access to health care otherwise, benefiting from each other’s best practices.
“The hope is not just to strengthen the safety net, but to grow it,” said David Shippee, CEO of Whitney Young Health. As with other recent affiliations, the driver behind the talks is an expected move toward new ways of paying health care providers intended to reward value over volume. Private and government insurers, including Medicare and Medicaid, are moving away from paying for each medical service provided. On the horizon are payment methods where the insurer pays a set monthly fee for each of its members, regardless of the amount of services each member receives.
Health care providers are more likely to survive under such systems if they have a large number of patients, so that payments for healthier people offset the costly care needed by the sickest.
Those payment systems are not here yet. And so far, both Whitney Young Health and Hometown Health are faring well on their own, the CEOs said. But at the Whitney Young offices Wednesday, they said it’s a good tie to explore whether they could combine resources to bolster or add programs.
They stressed that they do not foresee cutting staff.
The idea to affiliate, appropriately enough, arose from Shippee and Gambino’s participation in a collaborative effort among regional health providers, including three health systems and a large doctors’ group, called the Alliance for Better Health. That group came together through state incentives to find ways to improve health throughout the community and reduce costly hospital stays, especially among lower-income residents covered by Medicaid.
The health center CEOs realized they share missions, values and ways of operating, they said. There was no geographic overlap in their markets. Each had some services that the other did not – Whitney Young with addiction services, Hometown Health with countywide services for sexually transmitted diseases, for example — offering possibilities for expansion or resource sharing.
The CEOs said they expect to announce a decision on how they will collaborate or merge in 18 months.
Health centers by the numbers
Whitney Young Health
Health centers: Albany, Troy, Watervliet
2015 revenues: $17 million
2015 reserves: $1.2 million
Health centers: Schenectady, Amsterdam
2015 revenues: $11.4 million
2015 reserves: $690,617
Sources: David Shippee, Joe Gambino, 2015 financial filings
By Claire Hughes Wednesday, November 1, 2017, Albany Times Union