Friday, May 25, 2018
Business

Physicians United Medicare HMO folding due to shaky finances

A Medicare Advantage plan that abruptly dumped a popular Tampa Bay area medical practice and sent consumers scrambling for new doctors recently is shutting down entirely at the end of the month after a judge determined that it is insolvent.

Physicians United Plan will be liquidated on July 1 under the order signed by a Leon County judge earlier this week. The Orlando-based plan — which has about 39,000 members statewide, including 1,200 in the Tampa Bay area — was running a $13 million deficit, according to court records.

In April, the company's board of directors said it needed a $30 million infusion of capital to avoid being placed in state receivership. That money never came.

The Florida Department of Financial Services will oversee the company's dismantling. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services should begin notifying enrollees of their options in coming days.

A spokesman for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services said the agency hasn't decided what to do. Enrollees might be given a special enrollment period to pick another privately run managed care plan. Or they could be moved into traditional, government-run Medicare until the next open enrollment season begins.

That's what happened last year when St. Petersburg-based Universal Health Care was seized by the state and enrollees who didn't pick a new plan by the liquidation date were put into original Medicare. Although original Medicare offers a wider range of providers than managed care plans, it requires members to pay 20 percent co-insurance, which is why many people in original Medicare carry supplemental plans. Managed care plans generally require lower out-of-pocket spending.

In March, the Tampa Bay Times reported that Physicians United had dropped a popular Valrico doctors practice from its provider list, less than a month after seniors were locked into their 2014 plan selections. Some of the nearly 200 affected patients told the Times they felt they'd been duped into signing up for the plan.

Physicians United had about 250 employees in the Orlando area, according to the Orlando Business Journal, which two years ago reported that the company was on a "growth spurt," expanding its work force and its office space.

The company's real estate arrangements appear to be part of its problem.

An investigator with the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation found on April 14 that the company had been wrongly reporting as assets $29 million that were actually encumbered to a division of Pacific Western Bank, court records show. Physicians United had put up those assets as collateral as part of a loan. On April 16, Physician United's board of directors signed an order admitting it needed a $30 million infusion of cash, the same day the company was served with a default notice from the bank.

Jodie Tillman can be reached at [email protected]

Comments
Is the Lightning’s Jeff Vinik the best owner in professional sports?

Is the Lightning’s Jeff Vinik the best owner in professional sports?

Hope of another Stanley Cup has dissolved, and soon the ice will follow. Yet even if sorrow is the price of devotion, the true hockey fans will still buy in when the next season comes around.That concept may not be unique to Tampa Bay, but it does se...
Published: 05/26/18
Five members of 69ers motorcycle gang indicted on federal charges

Five members of 69ers motorcycle gang indicted on federal charges

Last year three members of the 69ers Motorcycle Club gang were implicated in the execution of a rival gang leader in the middle of rush hour traffic in Pasco County.Now those three and two other 69ers members have been indicted on federal charges tha...
Published: 05/25/18
With makeover, ZooTampa at Lowry Park takes a page from the theme parks

With makeover, ZooTampa at Lowry Park takes a page from the theme parks

TAMPA — Behind the construction walls near the carousel at ZooTampa at Lowry Park, hammers, saws and power drills made a racket in the blazing Friday heat. A raft full of 100-pound water jugs took test trips on the new Roaring Springs ride set ...
Published: 05/25/18
U.S. news outlets block European readers over new privacy rules

U.S. news outlets block European readers over new privacy rules

LONDON — U.S. news outlets including The Chicago Tribune, The Los Angeles Times, The Orlando Sentinel and The Arizona Daily Star abruptly blocked access to their websites from Europe on Friday, choosing to black out readers rather than comply with a ...
Published: 05/25/18
Tampa Electric appeals OSHA findings for October accident

Tampa Electric appeals OSHA findings for October accident

TAMPA — Tampa Electric Co. is appealing a recent citation by federal regulators. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration hit the utility with a $76,050 fine and a "serious" violation in April following its investigation into an accident in ...
Published: 05/25/18
Fiat Chrysler recalls 4.8 million cars, warning owners: Don’t use the cruise control

Fiat Chrysler recalls 4.8 million cars, warning owners: Don’t use the cruise control

Associated PressDETROIT — Fiat Chrysler is recalling 4.8 million vehicles in the U.S. because in rare but terrifying circumstances, drivers may not be able to turn off the cruise control. The company is warning owners not to use cruise control until...
Published: 05/25/18
Federal Reserve chairman warns his agency must be free from political pressure

Federal Reserve chairman warns his agency must be free from political pressure

Associated PressFederal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell warned Friday that the Fed’s independence from political pressure must be respected if it is to succeed in controlling inflation, maximizing employment and regulating the financial system. His re...
Published: 05/25/18
Restaurants like Ford’s Garage use the experience to get you in the door

Restaurants like Ford’s Garage use the experience to get you in the door

Tim Butler’s first car was a Ford Model A pick-up truck — a pearl fawn and cherry red pick-up he got his senior year in high school from his dad, who renovates antique cars. That’s why as Butler waited for a table at the Ford’...
Published: 05/25/18
St. Petersburg man fined $507,513 in penny stock scheme

St. Petersburg man fined $507,513 in penny stock scheme

TAMPA — A St. Petersburg man was fined $507,513 and permanently barred from participating in the offering of a penny stock in a case involving a scheme to manipulate the price of Aureus, a penny stock company incorporated in Nevada, officials said Fr...
Published: 05/25/18
Broadcom’s CEO tops highest-paid list with a $103 million payout

Broadcom’s CEO tops highest-paid list with a $103 million payout

Times staff and wiresNEW YORK — Chief executives at the biggest public companies got an 8.5 percent raise last year, bringing the median pay package for CEOs to $11.7 million. Across the S&P 500, compensation for CEOs is often hundreds of times highe...
Published: 05/25/18