SOURCE: Patient Centered Primary Care Collaborative

October 15, 2007 14:00 ET

Top U.S. Health Benefits Companies Join Physicians, Employers, Consumer Groups to Support Patient Centered Primary Care Collaborative

Health Benefits Companies Will Help PCPCC Build Trial Series of Medical Home Model Pilot Demonstrations

WASHINGTON, DC--(Marketwire - October 15, 2007) - Representatives from seven of the nation's most prominent health benefits companies -- Aetna, Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, CIGNA, Humana, MVP Health Care, UnitedHealthcare, and WellPoint, Inc. -- have joined in support of patient-care improvements led by the Patient Centered Primary Care Collaborative (PCPCC). The collaborative is dedicated to advancing a new primary-care-based healthcare model called the Patient Centered Medical Home (PCMH), in large part by creating a "critical mass of employer support."

In supporting the PCPCC, the health benefits companies have joined with a membership that already includes the four major primary care physicians' professional societies -- including the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the American College of Physicians (ACP) and the American Osteopathic Association (AOA) -- as well as national employers and their associations, quality advocacy groups, academic centers, and consumer advocacy groups. The PCPCC has gathered momentum and national attention since its formation early last year.

The companies' support came in advance of the PCPCC's Call-To-Action Summit on Restructuring and Reintegrating Health Care around the Patient, which is scheduled to take place at the Columbus Club at Union Station in Washington, DC on November 7. It was affirmed at a recent meeting hosted by the PCPCC for stakeholders in the employer-provided benefit system, where efforts to broaden access and quality of care coordinated by primary care physicians was discussed.

In addition to joining the PCPCC, the health benefits companies committed to:

    
--  Work toward the development and implementation of a series of multi-
    payer Medical Home pilot demonstrations, and
--  Contribute to the evidence in current health services research that
    suggests patients treated under a medical home model are healthier,
    experience a higher quality of care, and receive that care more cost
    effectively.
    

"Primary care that is squarely centered on each patient's individual needs is the only hope for fixing the broken U.S. healthcare system," said Paul Grundy, M.D., PCPCC Chairman and IBM Director of Healthcare, Technology and Strategic Planning. "It is for this reason that IBM and other large employers have joined leading physicians' and consumer groups -- and now the world's leading health benefits companies -- in a full-court press to fully assess patient-centered primary care and the Patient Centered Medical Home model as foundational to the rebuilding of the nation's healthcare system."

Stakeholder representatives also confirmed their belief that the principles embraced by the four primary care physicians' professional societies last March broadly describe the services a medical home model should deliver to patients. They believe that the PCMH, as defined by the four societies, provides an innovative and promising avenue through which employers, plans, doctors and consumer advocates can join in offering both a superior standard and system for healthcare delivery to patients -- and also offers a more efficient and cost-effective delivery model.

The PCMH model is based upon evidence that recipients of personalized primary care live healthier, longer lives. By restructuring traditional reimbursement practices -- which currently incentivize physician specialization -- to support this transformation and reward the comprehensive delivery of primary care, the model seeks to expand the role of primary care physicians as coordinators of the multi-faceted health needs of their patients.

The PCMH already has been implemented in several markets around the country. In the North Carolina Medicaid program, for example, independent evaluations have shown that the concept can achieve a high level of patient satisfaction -- including improved handling of chronic care patients -- and significant cost savings.

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