The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA


April 25, 2013

CEO: Highmark's claims about Geisinger value wrong

DANVILLE — A new health plan offered by Highmark misrepresents the quality of care offered by Geisinger Medical Center, according to Geisinger Health System’s CEO and authority board.

Under Highmark’s new Community Blue Premier Flex program, Geisinger Medical Center is considered a “standard value” instead of an “enhanced value” medical provider, a designation that comes with out of network care costs for plan holders.

“The impact of Highmark’s designation treats Geisigner as if we were ‘out of network’ for people whose employers purchase Community Blue Premier Flex, and forces them to pay more to receive care from Geisinger,” said Geisinger Health Systems CEO and President Glenn Steele, in an advertorial that recently ran in local newspapers.

“Highmark’s marketing materials for Community Blue Premier Flex would lead you to believe that Geisinger is not an ‘enhanced value’ provider because we are not as high quality as the providers in their ‘enhanced value’ tier,” wrote Steele. “That’s not only hard to believe; it’s wrong.”

Members of the Geisinger Authority board voiced strong agreement with Steele at their April 24 meeting.

“In the region where Highmark has introduced this product, there is no hospital, none, that has the breadth and scope of our tertiary services, our complex healthcare services,” said Kevin Brennan, Chief Financial Officer and Executive Vie President for Finance for Geisinger Health System.

Forcing regional customers to travel beyond Geisinger to find in-network care is “a real distance and a burden for people. We think that’s inappropriate, inconvenient, insensitive and we think it’s wrong,” said Brennan. “That’s why we’re coming out so strongly with Dr. Steele’s message here.”

He advised local employers not to accept the new plan as it could easily result in their employees paying more to receive local treatment at Geisinger.

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