OLYMPIA, Wash.-Managed-care plans in Washington State have had success operating under a year-old mandate that requires them to offer alternative providers, according to a new report. The state mandate requires all plans to include "every category of providers," including acupuncturists, naturopaths, chiropractors, midwives and massage practitioners. According to a report published in the June/July issues of Alternative Medicine Integration and Coverage, Washington managed-care executives reported that consumer use of alternative providers was lower than expected, although it was predicted to grow. The executives found that alternative practitioners were easy to credential and that alternative medicine services were manageable. The managed-care executives acknowledged that access to alternative services was difficult for many consumers. While actuaries at Blue Cross of Washington and Alaska forecast cost increases of up to 11% in its nonmanaged-care plans and 2% in managed-care plans, the actual added cost of incorporating alternative providers was less than 1% overall.
IRVINE, Calif.-PacifiCare of California has made a $700,000 grant to the University of California Irvine College of Medicine to develop a new curriculum for medical students and primary-care residents. The grant follows a report by the University of California's Commission on the Future of Medical Education, which recommended that medical schools teach physicians business, technology and managed-care skills in addition to their clinical training. The new UCI curriculum will include administration, community-oriented primary care, case management, technology and clinical epidemiology courses. PacifiCare senior physicians will assist in the design and implementation of the curriculum. "Physicians who are well versed in the managed-care methods that emphasize preventive care, resource management, technology and sound business practices" will better serve their patients, many of whom are PacifiCare enrollees, said Jon Wampler, president and chief executive officer of the California plan. The most effective way for physicians to learn to practice in an evolving healthcare system is through a collaboration between industry and academia, said Ira Lott, M.D., UCI's chairman of pediatrics.