Non-Profit Approved to Independently Review Health Plan Programs That Assess Doctors

WASHINGTON, D.C. (Aug. 13, 2008) – A national group of employer, consumer and labor organizations today named the nonprofit National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA), a leading health care quality organization, as an independent reviewer to certify that health insurers assess and report on the quality of physicians in an effective and fair manner.

The Consumer-Purchaser Disclosure Project , a group of employers, consumer groups and unions, is a major initiative which aims to improve health care and lower costs by holding health care providers publicly accountable for their quality of treatment. In April 2008, the Disclosure Project launched the Patient Charter—which detailed strict terms that health plans and other sponsors of physician reporting programs must meet.

With the Disclosure Project’s endorsement, NCQA is the first approved independent reviewer that can ensure that health plans follow the guidelines of the Patient Charter.

“We need a transparent system, which gives everyone access to information they know is valid and fair in order to make major improvements in our health care system,” said Debra L. Ness, president of the National Partnership for Women & Families and co-chair of the Consumer-Purchaser Disclosure Project. “The approval of an independent reviewer will help drive significant transformation in the performance of health plans and physicians, and it will improve the quality of information consumers have to make decisions about their care.”

NCQA can now begin holding insurance companies and others that measure doctors, accountable to the terms of the Patient Charter, including the following:

• Assure that doctors are rated in a way that is meaningful to patients and reflective of an array of clinical activities

• Provide ways for physicians to be actively involved in the rating process; and give prior notice before releasing the information publicly

• Ensure that all measures and processes used are completely transparent – that there are no “black boxes”

• Promote measures that are based on national standards

(SOURCE: Consumer-Purchaser Disclosure Project , http://healthcaredisclosure.org, accessed August 20, 2008)