Maryland Doctors To Get Rewards For Cheaper Care; In S.D., Sue To Open More Doc-Owned Hospitals

Baltimore Business Journal: CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield, the largest insurer in the Maryland, Washington and Northern Virginia market, will begin offering financial rewards to physicians who improve quality while cutting costs. Beginning on Jan. 1, the insurer plans to recruit doctors "to participate in its new initiative designed to cut down on the number of unnecessary diagnostic tests, emergency room visits and hospital re-admissions. To do so, CareFirst is putting the onus on the 5,000 doctors already in its network to revamp the care provided to their patients — particularly those with chronic diseases or at risk of contracting them — and more carefully consider where they send patients when they need to see a specialist or go to the hospital." The insurer still needs approval for the program from a state agency (Graham, 6/4).

In other news, Physician Hospitals of America "is asking a federal judge to block new restrictions that this year's health care reform legislation places on hospitals that doctors own," the Sioux Falls, S.D., Argus Leader reports. "The health care reform law includes a ban on new physician-owned hospitals and freezes those already open at their current size. That restricts free enterprise and creates an unfair classification of citizens by singling out doctors, [the executive director of the agency] said" (Walker, 6/4).

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