Nationwide Health Undecided About Reform Effects

An official at Newport Beach-based Nationwide Health Properties Inc. was on the fence about the effects of healthcare reform at a recent conference sponsored by BMO Capital Markets, part of Canada’s Bank of Montreal.

“I would like to say (healthcare reform) could be neutral, it could be a little better, it could be a little worse,” said Abdo Khoury, Nationwide’s chief financial and portfolio officer.

“That is a copout,” said Rich Anderson, a BMO analyst who moderated the panel, to audience laughter.

When pressed, Khoury said Nationwide, an owner of senior housing, nursing homes and medical office buildings, could benefit if more patients become insured through reform.

Doctor tenants of its medical office buildings could gain more patients if more people are covered by health insurance, Khoury said.

Nationwide made a big medical office push in 2008, when it spent $915 million to buy 28 medical office buildings from San Diego-based Pacific Medical Buildings, including Mission Medical Plaza in Mission Viejo and St. Joseph Medical Plaza in Orange.

Medical offices are “a very resilient investment,” Khoury said at the conference.

But earlier this year, Nationwide started pulling back from its aggressive medical real estate buying, as financing became tougher and vacancies began to rise in medical space.

Nationwide’s senior housing unit, which makes up half of the company’s holdings, is unlikely to see an impact from reform, Khoury said.

UCI Medical News

The UCI Medical Center and the University of California cancer centers in San Francisco, Davis, Los Angeles and San Diego are taking part in a $10 million breast cancer project.

The Athena Breast Health Network will screen 150,000 women for breast cancer and then keep track of them for decades.

The study is in the same vein as the Framingham Heart Study, an ongoing study that started to follow patients in 1948.

Much of what doctors know about heart disease today is due to the famous study.

The Athena Breast Health Network is funded by a $5.3 million grant from the University of California and a $4.8 million grant from Pleasanton-based Safeway Inc.’s Safeway Foundation.

Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women.

Figures from the American Cancer Society show that more than 40,000 American women die from the disease every year.

More than $20 billion is spent annually on screening and treating breast cancer.

Other UCI News

In other University of California, Irvine, news, a study on “super memories” at the school’s Center for Neurobiology of Learning and Memory recently was profiled on the Mental Floss’ blog.

According to the blog, there are only four confirmed cases of super-autobiographical memory face, a condition where a person’s memory is like that of a video recorder—he or she can remember exact details of almost every moment of his or her life.

Bob Petrella, one of the people in the study, can be given a freeze frame of a Pittsburgh Steelers game and then tell you when the game took place as well as its final score, according to Mental Floss.

The study’s four participants disagree on whether the condition is a gift or a curse, as painful memories are impossible to forget, the blog said.

Besides Petrella, who is a Los Angeles-based producer for the Tennis Channel, UCI is following Jill Price, who lives in Los Angeles and has written a memoir, as well as Brad Williams, a radio anchor from La Crosse, Wis., and Rick Baron, a Cleveland resident who makes his living by entering trivia contests.

Bits and Pieces:

UnitedHealth Group Inc., a Minnesota-based managed care company with a large presence in Cypress, gave a $2 million grant to California State University, Fullerton, to help fund an initiative to boost the number of graduates from its nursing program … Biolase Technology Inc., an Irvine-based dental laser maker, said it finalized three regional distribution deals in China. Biolase received Chinese regulatory approval to market its Waterlase MD devices in China in August … Irvine heart device maker Cardiogenesis Corp. said it discussed its devices to treat angina and coronary artery disease at the Transcatheter Cardiovascular Therapeutics scientific meeting in San Francisco last month.