Health care reform continues to be the buzz around the nation, and with the upcoming presidential election, reform will continue to be among one of the hottest discussion topics. Reform is aimed at bringing coverage to millions of uninsured Americans, while improving the quality of patient care provided. As a result, medical providers will be faced with cuts in reimbursement for patient services from government and private payers to help pay for the expanded coverage. This decrease in reimbursement - along with a declining residential population in our area - will present significant financial challenges for health systems like Barton. This has forced Barton to align our contracts with physician groups more competitively to sustain ourselves as a vital health care organization as we ride the wave of health care reform.
As a California nonprofit entity and under the Corporate Practice of Medicine Act, Barton Health cannot legally employ physicians. However, to provide patient care, Barton contracts with a number of physician groups to treat patients at our hospital, in our physician offices, at the community clinic and at the surgery center. By contracting with physician groups, Barton is able to provide physician staffing at all Barton affiliated facilities.
As with any contract, Barton negotiates contract renewals with physician groups on a regular basis. While in negotiations, Barton is required by law to determine Fair Market Value - nearly every health care business transaction must be based on some measure of FMV. Setting a transaction at FMV attempts to ensure the price paid will be comparable to that which would typically be paid by unaffiliated third parties. Barton Health has, and continues to pay physician groups above median pay - a highly competitive pay rate geared toward maintaining the highest quality of care in our community.
Most recently, the physician groups of Tahoe Women's Care and Emerald Bay Center for Women's Health entered contract renegotiations with Barton Health as these practices have been managed by Barton Health for several years. Barton administrators and the groups of physicians at TWC and EBCWH have been working on negotiations since the start of the year, but were unsuccessful in reaching a renewal agreement. Patients will continue to receive uninterrupted medical care provided by the physicians at TWC and EBCWH through Dec. 31, 2012 under the current agreement. It has been a pleasure working with these physicians over the years and we wish them the very best in their future practices.
In the meantime, Barton is actively recruiting highly qualified obstetrics and gynecology physicians to cover our physician offices, the Barton Community Clinic and family birthing center needs for the South Lake Tahoe area and we look forward to introducing you to them before the end of the year.
Barton is proud to continue our commitment to women's health. Recent highlights of this dedication are: Two years ago, Barton remodeled all the Family Birthing Suites into private patient rooms. In February 2012, Barton purchased the da Vinci surgical robot to improve the surgery and outcomes for women in our community. This summer, Barton broke ground on the Community Clinic to expand its services to uninsured and underinsured patients including treatment and care for expecting new moms and those in need of gynecological services.
Barton Health is committed to our patients and to the wellness of our community. As the health care climate changes, we will keep you informed to help you make the most sound health care decisions for you and your family.