Tufts launches Minuteman Health

Tufts Medical Center, its New England Quality Care Alliance (NEQCA) physicians network and the Nashville, Tenn.-based Vanguard Health Systems announced Friday their sponsorship of a new payment model, the Minuteman Health Initiative.

Minuteman will offer increased transparency, allowing members to easily access their health records and enabling providers to see what services their patients are receiving in order to better manage care, said Tufts officials in a written statement. Providers will be able to channel feedback from patients to the plan to help it continually improve. Employers will have access to information about the overall health of their workers to help tailor wellness programs with their employees' providers, and members will be able to see what services cost at different providers in order to better plan for their future costs.

 [See also: Tufts docs use online care to treat patients in Haiti.]

The program has received an $88.5 million loan from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), according to Tufts. The new member-governed, non-profit health insurance option for Massachusetts residents intends to offer consumers and employers lower-cost, high-quality care with unprecedented transparency, as well as increased efficiency and satisfaction for physicians, patients and employers alike, said officials.

"This funding is fantastic news for consumers, employers and health care providers in Massachusetts," said Eric Beyer, president and CEO of Tufts Medical Center and Floating Hospital for Children. "This smart new model for health plans will further our revolutionary legacy and our focus on quality and efficiency by providing great new health insurance options to small businesses and individuals."

"Our goal is to create a smart, efficient health insurance model that keeps administrative costs low,” Beyer added. “We plan to use the knowledge we have gained from decades of experience with patients to craft this offering and meet the needs of consumers and physicians.”

Minuteman's network will include the hospitals and doctors of Tufts MC and Floating Hospital for Children, NEQCA and Vanguard-owned MetroWest Medical Center and Saint Vincent Hospital, and will seek to establish a broad network of high-quality, lower-cost providers across the state. Seventeen hospitals have already signed letters of support, and Minuteman looks forward to growing its network over the coming year, according to Tufts.

Upon receiving the necessary approval from the Massachusetts Division of Insurance, Minuteman plans to begin insuring members no later than January 2014, as required by CMS. Minuteman anticipates offering its products to individuals and small businesses through the state Health Insurance Connector and through broker sales channels, Tufts officials said.

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