Health System Divestiture Hearings

    State Rep. Doug Hart is hosting a series of public meetings during December and January on HMO reform.

    The Rockford Republican specifically wants to hear opinions on a bill he introduced in September to force health care systems to divest their managed-care companies. Lacking the support to move that bill this year, and with the Legislature moving toward adjournment, Hart wants to begin laying the groundwork for possibly taking up the issue in the next legislative session and also toward refining his proposal.

    “I hope these meetings will provide greater insight into necessary reform in this area,” Hart said. “Perhaps there are other remedies I should be exploring or maybe there are ways I could modify this.”

    Hart first introduced the bill in September in the wake of the Spectrum Health-Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan dispute over reimbursement payments. He believes health systems’ ownership of managed-care companies represents an inherent conflict of interests.

    Spectrum Health is the majority owner of Priority Health, one of the largest managed-care companies in Michigan with nearly 370,000 members.

    Opponents to Hart’s proposal say the integration of hospitals and HMOs help to generate continuity in care for patients and efficiencies in how care is delivered.

    Hart also plans to pursue legislation that would require hospitals to adhere to the Michigan Freedom of Information and Opens Meetings acts that now only apply to public governmental bodies.

    The public meetings are scheduled for:

    • 7-8:30 a.m., Monday, Dec. 16, BrandyWine Restaurant, 2844 East Beltline, near Three Mile Road
    • 5-7 p.m., Jan. 7, Duba’s Restaurant, 420 East Beltline NE
    • 5-7 p.m., Jan. 13, Damon’s, 3850 Alpine Ave. NW

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