New York, UnitedHealth Agree on Doctor Rankings
New York State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo (D) on Tuesday announced that UnitedHealth Group has agreed to accept his office's recommendations on the standards that should be applied in creating a physician ranking program, the AP/Albany Times Union reports. The insurer had planned to offer a physician ranking program to its New York and New Jersey consumers in December.
Cuomo in July asked for an explanation of the ranking criteria. He initially expressed concern the rankings would be entirely or "disproportionately" based on the insurance company's economic interests. UnitedHealth has agreed to make a set of quality standards its first standard for selecting a preferred provider, followed by cost-efficiency.
The criteria will be made transparent to consumers and physicians, according to the AP/Times Union. The agreement with Cuomo also will apply to Oxford Health Plans. Aetna, Cigna and Empire Blue Cross Blue Shield also have agreed to align their current ranking systems with Cuomo's model, which is based on nationally recognized standards to measure care quality.
Cuomo said, "We've accomplished a good thing," adding, "And I'm excited about it, and it's going to give the health care consumers of New York more confidence and a better relationship with the companies."
Reed Tuckson, executive vice president and chief of medical affairs for UnitedHealth, in a statement said, "We believe physician performance assessment programs play a key role in improving health care quality and cost-efficiency," adding, "This is good news for consumers who need information tools to help guide them through the health system and for physicians who deserve useful and accurate feedback" (Bauman, AP/Albany Times Union, 11/20).