The American Medical Association applauded New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo for taking a stand against economic profiling, and urged him to continue his efforts to protect the patient-physician relationship from deceptive ranking programs that do not work.
In what Cuomo describes as an effort to prevent potentially deceptive programs driven by financial motives and not consumers best interests, he sent letters to three health plans demanding information on existing or planned physician-ranking initiatives.
Consumers need to be aware that doctor ranking programs as currently designed may steer patients to the cheapest, but not necessarily the best doctors, letting profits trump quality, Cuomo said in a news release.
Specifically, Cuomo requested that New York City-based Empire Blue Cross Blue Shield, which has 533,271 members in the state, justify its existing Blue Precision program. In a letter, he referenced a Blue Precision Powerpoint presentation that, according to Cuomo, noted that savings are expected to be realized primarily from redirecting care.
He directed Rochester-based Preferred Care to halt the launch of its planned program until more details are provided. These details include an explanation to why cost is given more weight in patient satisfaction scores as opposed to other quality matters.
In a letter, New York City-based HIP Health Plan GHI was also warned not to launch its program without Cuomos prior consent. The letter cites a company Powerpoint presentation which noted performance measurement based on outcomes creates incentives to avoid sick patients.
In an e-mail, Empire BCBS spokeswoman Lisa Greiner noted that Empire does not offer Blue Precision to its members and it would not initiate the release of quality and cost data until it addresses the concerns of Cuomo and other stake holders. Preferred Care spokesman Mike Traphagan said there is nothing to halt, because its program was not going to be launched until May and that his company will cooperate with Cuomo, but also that similar programs have been demonstrated to help consumer decisionmaking. GHI/HIP spokeswoman Ilene Margolin said her company will cooperate with Cuomo while working to promote quality and protect consumers. -- by Andis Robeznieks
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