MEDICARE+CHOICE: Oregon PSO Receives First HCFA Approval
The Medicare+Choice program, which has received a marked level of disinterest from health plans and other health care providers, is officially out of the gate with federal approval of a rural Oregon provider-sponsored organization. Modern Healthcare reports that the Health Care Financing Administration informed Central Oregon Independent Health Services (COIHS) last week "that it was the first Medicare+Choice plan and first PSO to be certified." COIHS is co-owned by the seven-hospital Central Oregon Hospital Network and the 287-physician Central Oregon IPA, and plans to begin enrolling approximately 3,000 of the region's 30,000 Medicare members Jan. 1. COIHS has roughly 21,000 Medicaid patients in seven counties under a three-year-old contract with the Oregon Health Plan, the state's Medicaid managed care program. COIHS CEO Patricia Gibford said, "We don't expect to make a lot of money, but we do expect to make it a going concern." Central Oregon reimbursement rates are $378 per member per month for 1999, HCFA's minimum rate (Weissenstein, 11/16 issue).
Get The Word Out
In related news, HCFA's "Medicare & You" bulletin will be crowding the mailboxes of 38 million seniors across the country this month, part of a concerted effort to educate seniors about their new options under the Medicare+Choice program. The bulletin also provides important information on expanded preventive benefits -- such as mammograms, Pap smears, colorectal cancer screening, bone mass measurements, diabetes monitoring and vaccinations -- patients' rights and programs that help low-income beneficiaries with payment of Medicare costs. HCFA has also set up a phone number, 800/318-2596, and a website, www.Medicare.gov, to provide information (HCFA release, 11/17).