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County Officials Plan to Save Kern Medical Center With Kern Health Systems Merger

Kern County officials are preparing to publicly disclose details to county supervisors and the Kern Health Systems board Monday concerning a proposal to keep the financially struggling Kern Medical Center in Bakersfield, Calif., afloat by merging it with Bakersfield-based KHS, a public health insurance management firm, according to a report from The Bakersfield Californian.

The county-owned KMC is heading toward a $30 million loss for this fiscal year, which ends in June, and may close two departments and lay off employees soon. Kern Health Systems is a local health plan initiative established by the county that gives health benefits to low-income patients through Medi-Cal and other programs. County officials think the merger — which would combine the two organizations into one integrated service, the Kern County Health System Authority — could help the financially troubled hospital eliminate civil service rules, county procurement processes and bureaucratic systems that make operations more expensive and less efficient, according to the report.

Kern Health Systems CEO Doug Hayward told the Californian he has received the proposal from county officials and plans to help them develop it, according to the report. However, Mr. Hayward said he wouldn't support the health authority if it would prevent hospitals and health systems other than KMC from serving KHS members.

KMC CEO Russell Judd told the Californian both the hospital and health system would still contract with outside health insurance plans and providers. He said the merger wouldn't be a "money grab" or a move to drive all KHS members to his hospital, according to the report.

More Articles on Hospital Mergers:
Northern Westchester Hospital Pursues Partnership With North Shore-LIJ Health System
Tenet Acquires Majority Interest in Texas Regional Medical Center  
South Central Kansas Medical Center Announces Merger With Summit Clinic


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