With healthcare reform on the horizon, several insurers and provider groups in Georgia are forming integrated networks to compete for managed-care contracts.
Ten hospitals that are part of Voluntary Hospitals of America of Georgia, an Atlanta-based network of 16 not-for-profit hospitals, formed a preferred provider organization last year called the Medical Resource Network.
Last month, the network signed its first two PPO contracts, said Charles McJunkin, president of Medical Resource and VHA of Georgia. Mr. McJunkin declined to name the two employers because he said the details hadn't been worked out.
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Georgia, the state's largest insurer, signed a letter of intent in December to form a statewide network with Quality Care Providers, a primary-care physician group based in Atlanta. The network plans to offer a variety of health plans in metropolitan Atlanta, a spokeswoman said.
SouthCare Medical Alliance, which contains six VHA hospitals, also offers a preferred provider organization to employers in the metropolitan Atlanta area.
Mr. McJunkin said SouthCare's VHA hospitals chose not to join Medical Resource because, "at some point, we could be competitors," he said.
A spokesman for the Georgia Department of Insurance said HMO enrollment has been steadily growing in metropolitan areas. Last year, some 511,321 were enrolled in health maintenance organizations, or about 8% of the state's population. The state doesn't track PPO enrollment, a spokesman said.
Mr. McJunkin said most of the 10 Medical Resource hospitals already have managed-care plans and physician-hospital organizations. Medical Resource will link the local managed-care organizations to contract with statewide employers, he said.
"We plan to expand the network through contracts with other (hospitals and physicians) wherever we need them," Mr. McJunkin said.
VHA of Georgia is part of Voluntary Hospitals of America, a Dallas-based alliance composed of 29 regions and more than 800 hospitals.
In 1990, VHA got out of the national managed-care business. It had operated an money-losing health maintenance organization in a joint venture with Aetna Life & Casualty Co. (May 7, 1990, p. 5).
Since then, 22 of VHA's regional groups have formed either networks to offer managed-care contracts or are in various development stages, said Mack Haning, VHA's director of public affairs.
"One of VHA's proposed goals for 1994 is integrated delivery systems at the regional level," Mr. Haning said.
Several VHA regions, including VHA Southern New England, have joint ventures with HMOs to service managed-care contracts, Mr. Haning said. However, some regions merely provide managed-care information to hospital partners.
Mr. McJunkin said Medical Resource's hospitals don't plan to form an HMO, adding that "If we need an HMO partner, we will sign a joint venture with one."