Health Care

Mercy, Summa CEOs Tell How They Saved Medicare $26M

Editor’s Note: The following is a letter to the editor io-signed by Michael Connelly, president and CEO or Mercy Health, Cincinnati, and Thomas Malone, president and CEO of Summa Health, Akron. The two systems are partners in Health Innovations Ohio. The letter was distributed to news organizations across Ohio.

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio — At Mercy Health and Summa Health, we have big ambitions for the future of health care. We believe we can transform what many see as a bloated, costly and inefficient system, providing better care at lower cost.

In recent days, we have proven we can do just that. The Accountable Care Organizations that we operate, Mercy Health Select and NewHealth Collaborative, combined to save Medicare nearly $26 million in 2014 while improving the quality of care for nearly 100,000 Medicare beneficiaries.

Yes, that’s right – we returned money to the taxpayers. Not only did we provide quality care, but we kept patients healthier so they avoided costly hospital visits.

We are the only health care systems in Ohio to earn rewards through the Medicare Shared Savings Program. Our portions of shared savings will be used to reinvest in our care networks, providing support that helps patients all over the state, from Toledo and Akron to Cincinnati.

This is only one of the dozens of ways that Mercy Health and Summa Health are making health care in Ohio more effective for patients and more efficient for the taxpayer. Among the others: We are adding behavioral health experts in primary care offices, and we are hiring care coordinators to work directly with patients, making sure they make appointments and take the proper medications.

The Medicare Shared Savings Program is one example how government and the private sector can lead, finding innovative ways to produce better health care value for patients and for taxpayers.

Another substantial opportunity is in Ohio Medicaid. We need more accountability from Medicaid, including innovative agreements between providers and managed care plans. This is already occurring in pediatric care, with one example known as Partners for Kids at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus.

Our model of providing better care at lower cost, proven in Medicare, could augment the state policy direction for adults enrolled in Medicaid.

With Medicaid accounting for more than one-quarter of the entire Ohio budget, making Medicaid more efficient would be of immense benefit to Ohio taxpayers. At Mercy Health and Summa Health, we are effectively positioned to lead those changes.

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.