HMO QUALITY: L.A. Times Calls For Improved Measures
Noting that Gov. Pete Wilson's decisions on HMO reform bills "pleased few" people, a Los Angeles Times editorial contends that "politicians alone" will not resolve "the question of how much and what kind of health care HMOs should provide." The editorial notes that "[p]art of the problem is that there are no nationally agreed-on standards of health care quality." The Times commends the Pacific Business Group on Health for supporting "studies to measure how well various managed care plans cover procedures that the group's own physician panels deem essential." But the Times says that PBGH's effort "will succeed only if California's elected officials help by requiring health plans to disclose their success and failure rates for given procedures." California should follow New York and Pennsylvania's example and "require health plans to report their outcomes data for the 20 surgical procedures ... that have the highest mortality rates." Further, Vice President Al Gore's Quality Forum, comprised of HMO, consumer and employer groups, "should work with employers and health plans on uniform quality measures." The Times notes that the National Coalition on Health Care, chaired by former Presidents Ford, Carter and Bush, plans to "launch a campaign to identify exemplary 'best practices' for maintaining health and treating specific conditions." Employers, who provide health insurance for almost 50% of Californians, can also make a significant difference. The Times says employers now "understand they can save money in the long run through good health care and identification of inappropriate or unnecessary kinds of care and reducing errors." The editorial concludes, "As long as quality is based on medical science there's no reason why good medicine can't be good business too" (10/3).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.