A growing number of health plans, employers, pharmaceutical manufacturers and healthcare systems are joining a new coalition to counteract criticism of managed care.
Sean Sullivan, founder and chief executive officer of the Dallas-based Health Care Information Institute, said the coalition will try to reverse the perception created by politicians and the media that "with managed care we have plunged into a new Dark Age from a former (healthcare fee-for-service) golden age.
"Employers didn't think it was a golden age, and we need to kill this notion (that it was). Without a managed-healthcare system, employers would no longer provide coverage," he said.
The coalition has been operating since April.
Sullivan is the former chief executive officer of the National Business Coalition on Health, a trade group for purchasing coalitions. He also founded the Institute of Healthcare Productivity and Management.
Neglecting or failing to clean up managed care's negative image could drive up premiums and leave more people uninsured because regulatory and legislative oversight would increase costs with "no compensating quality improvements" for consumers, Sullivan said.
He said ongoing criticism convinced him and other high-ranking industry officials that managed care needed a strong and consistent voice.
"I had some contact with health plan CEOs, and the question came up of who was going to defend managed care," Sullivan said. "I thought it was time to put together an effort where all stakeholders are involved."
The HCII's approach will include speaking on behalf of employer groups, conducting research on managed-care issues, addressing news coverage with healthcare reporters and publishing a quarterly "newspaper" on managed-care issues, Sullivan said. Handbooks for consumers and reporters are also in the works.
The HCII also would provide members with "advanced warning of and appropriate responses to upcoming media coverage on healthcare issues," according to HCII's 15-page prospectus.
The organization would be represented by a yet-to-be-hired physician spokesman and would have a comprehensive site on the Internet.
To date, the HCII has enlisted pharmaceutical manufacturers Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson as members, as well as Cigna HealthCare. Sullivan said three Fortune 100 companies are close to joining.
Annual membership dues are $40,000 for health plans, $25,000 for pharmaceutical firms and $10,000 for employers, Sullivan said. Dues for healthcare systems have not yet been established.
A paper comparing sentinel events among fee-for-service and managed-care patients is scheduled for publication later this year, Sullivan said.