Resolution to protect Chinese American health care
Settlement allowing physicians to have multiple
health care program affiliations still in works
Brenda Yee, Chinese Hospital CEO
By Aldrich M. Tan
April 12, 2006
The Board of Supervisors unanimously supported a resolution Tuesday
urging health care provider Brown & Toland to change an alleged
unfair business practice that would hurt the health coverage of
over 50,000 local Chinese Americans.
The resolution, sponsored by Supervisor Aaron Peskin at Tuesday's
meeting, requested the San Francisco-based medical group, which
has over 1,500 physicians, to cease requiring exclusivity for
physicians to participate in the Brown & Toland's Preferred
The exclusive requirement makes a select group of local doctors
choose between the Brown & Toland program and other health
care programs that focus on serving the city's Chinese American
community, such as the Chinese Community Health Care Association,
That requirement especially threatens affiliated physicians and
patients of Chinese Hospital, an independent hospital located
on Jackson Street in San Francisco's Chinatown that has provided
access to health care services for the Chinese community since
Brenda Yee, Chinese Hospital CEO, said she was pleased with the
"The city recognizes Chinese Americans as an important asset
and is supportive of the Chinese community," Yee said.
Launched in 2005, Brown & Toland's Preferred Network program
aims to construct an improved and clinically integrated patient
health care system of community based physicians, reported Richard
Angeloni, spokesperson for Brown & Toland.
The program includes a signing bonus that that will provide funding
for doctors to upgrade their practices with new technology.
"Patients would access an increased quality of health care,"
"Medical records could be passed right away through organized
Many of the physicians who have been invited to join the exclusive
Brown & Toland Preferred Network provide health services to
thousands of local Chinese Americans through the Chinese Community
Health Care Association and the Chinese Community Health Plan,
a subsidiary of Chinese Hospital.
Both plans provide competent, culturally sensitive and affordable
healthcare to a specifically disadvantaged group of individuals
who are not generally served by broader health insurance programs,
reported Richard Loos, CEO of the Chinese Community Health Care
"These doctors are being forced to choose between the economic
viability of their practices and their loyalty to the community,"
Signing onto Brown & Toland's program requires an exclusivity
of physicians, which would force many doctors supporting Chinese
American patients to leave related health care programs.
"So many Chinese Americans would be deprived of health services
including 7,000 children if Brown & Toland had their way,"
said Tina Kwan, a pediatrician in Chinatown.
Chinese Hospital had known about Brown & Toland's practices
since last June about the issue. The organization waited to take
action until their doctors started to ask for help.
And they did.
Doctors Rachel Shu and Pearl Yee said they expressed concern
to the Chinese Hospital about Brown & Toland business practices
six months ago when the medical group started to send out its
preferred status contract requiring all preferred doctors to resign
from the Chinese Community Health Care Association.
"It tears my heart because I'm a member of both health care
programs," Doctor Yee said.
"I felt like I was choosing one over another. How could
I turn down my Chinese patients?"
Joseph Woo, chief of medical staff at the Chinese Hospital, said
members of his staff have been solicited multiple times to sign
up for the Brown & Toland plan.
"They have been solicited with lunch meetings and even in
hospital corridors," he said.
"My doctors don't want to resign from the Chinese health
On Monday, City Attorney Dennis Herrera and the Chinese Hospital,
along with its affiliated physicians' association and health maintenance
organization, filed the lawsuit against Brown & Toland for
unfair business practices.
"It is ironic that a hospital that was created a century
ago to alleviate discrimination now faces discriminatory health
care," Brenda Yee said.
Supervisor Peskin commended Herrera for his swift actions and
the Chinese community for its hard work in bringing the issue
to the Board.
"I hope that Brown & Toland learn that the city and
government is not going to stand for an organization messing with
an institution that has taken care of generations of Chinese Americans,"
Stan Padilla, chief medical officer for Brown & Toland, said
the medical group is not asking physicians to alter their relationship
with Chinese health organizations. It continues to meet with the
other parities in the lawsuit and representatives from Mayor Gavin
Newsom's office towards a long term resolution that will be beneficial
for all patients and physicians.
"I ask you strongly not to pass this resolution," Padilla
"I'm sure you do," Peskin replied.
Chinese community leader Rose Pak said she was thrilled about
the resolution's unanimous passing.
"I hope that Brown & Toland will learn from this experience
and sign the document that we have requested them to," she
Chinese Hospital is asking for Brown & Toland to sign an
agreement acknowledging hat it will not discriminate or solicit
doctors affiliated with the Chinese Hospital, the Chinese Community
Health Plan and the Chinese Community Health Care Association.