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History of Torrance Health IPA

Torrance Hospital IPA was conceived in the early 1980s at a time of dramatic change in health care delivery in California. At that time, for the first time, insurance companies were given permission to negotiate directly with doctors for both fee-for-service and HMO contracting.

In Southern California, particularly the South Bay, there were two options for patients who wanted a lower premium yet quality care: Kaiser Permanente and the Redondo Beach Medical Clinic, later to become HealthCare Partners. Doctors in the South Bay were looking for a local alternative to these two organizations that would better meet their needs.

At that time, HMOs were equated with "gatekeeper" medicine, meaning that all referrals for specialist care or testing had to be approved by the primary care physician and the organization. It was extremely cumbersome, time-consuming and ineffective and in the eyes of many people, resulting in lowering the quality of care to patients.

Mr. George Graham, at that time the President and CEO of Torrance Memorial Hospital, asked a group of doctors to consider forming an independent practice association, or IPA. Member doctors would continue to practice from their own offices, yet be loosely organized into an IPA called THIPA. With the guidance of leaders at Torrance Memorial Hospital, a group of doctors (Mark Lurie, Mike Falvey, Gerry Wasserwald, Robert Bloomfield, Donald Campbell and Norman Panitch) met to plan how to organize the physicians into an entity that could contract with the various health plans (i.e., CIGNA, BlueCross/BlueShield, Secure Horizons and others) to provide excellent patient care to their members.

Doctors who joined became part of the electorate of the organization and elected a Board chaired by John Stewart, MD, a general surgeon. Today, the THIPA Board consists of half primary care physicians and half specialists with the president of Torrance Memorial Medical Center as an important ex officio member.

Over the last 25 years there have been only four presidents of THIPA: John Stewart, Warren Hoffman, Stephen Lemkin and Norman M. Panitch. Torrance Health IPA has evolved from zero patients to over 50,000 commercial patients and close to 5,000 senior patients. Currently, Torrance Health IPA is one of the major contributors to admissions at Torrance Memorial Medical Center and uses Torrance Memorial Medical Center exclusively for virtually all of its services

Torrance Health IPA is unique among all other IPAs in that we offer direct patient access to most specialists, and two clinical facilities: a Senior Wellness Center and a minor emergency center. Torrance Health IPA is currently planning to establish its own urgent care center and implement other innovations, including electronic medical records that will provide better coordination of patient care.

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23326 Hawthorne Blvd., Suite 200
Torrance CA 90505
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