As the president of a healthcare plan in Ohio, I am used to answering for the shortcomings of our industry. When neighbors vent to me at the grocery store that medical bills are driving them to the poorhouse, it never seems to matter that our plan, SummaCare, has been named one of the nations top health plans, or that our 120,000 members consistently give us high marks for service. Im painted with the same brush as the worst actors in our industry. I understand. It comes with the territory.
But when that same broad brush is applied by policymakers, the results can be counterproductive. All health plans are not created equal. A case in point is the Medicare Advantage program, which a recent cover story (April 13, p. 6) described accurately as a favorite target of both Congress and the Obama administration. At SummaCare, we believe that competitive bidding, if done right, can weed out bad actors and benefit seniors in a way that is sustainable for the Medicare program. (And by done right, I mean not like the recent CMS adventure over its new competitive bidding program for durable medical equipment, which drove 90% of small firms out of the process.)