Sonoma County Summit Sets Focus on Increasing Medicare Reimbursements
Gathering at a "health care summit" last week in Sonoma County, health professionals said that one of their "key goals" is to increase the county's Medicare reimbursement rates, the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat reports. Roughly 100 representatives from health plans, community clinics, medical groups and employers attended the three-day meeting. The summit focused, in part, on resolving "disputes among doctors, hospitals and health plans over reimbursement rates." To this end, Kaiser Permanente of Santa Rosa Medical Director Dr. Bob Schultz will lead a "lobbying effort" to persuade the federal government to change Sonoma County's Medicare designation from a rural area to an urban area, which would increase reimbursement rates. Mark Kostielney, the county's public health services director, said that such a switch would increase Sonoma's reimbursements by up to 20%.
Other issues placed on the summit's "list of priorities" included improving patient access to services, enhancing revenue for providers and payers, "finding new models for delivering health care" and "recruitment and retention of doctors, particularly specialists." Jill Sanford, compensation director for JDS Uniphase and one of the coordinators of the conference, said that the summit produced a "dozen committees" that would look at each problem. The committees are expected to present possible solutions at another summit in four to six months. Last week's meeting "certainly achieved getting some key decision makers in one room and gave us a chance to look at medical care as a system," Sanford said, adding, "It was about setting goals, not coming up with solutions. The action-planning groups will come up with a list of solutions" (Rose, Santa Rosa Press-Democrat, 1/30).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.