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WellPoint Supports Efforts to Adopt Health Information Technology

Thursday, August 5, 2010 News on IT in Healthcare J E 4
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Company Supports Meaningful Use With Incentive Alignment and New Hospital Financing Program

INDIANAPOLIS, Aug. 5 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- WellPoint, Inc., (NYSE: WLP) announced today its support of efforts by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) on meaningful use of health information technology (HIT).  In support of meaningful use, WellPoint will align its Pay for Performance incentives with Federal programs and implement a new financing program that supports HIT for rural, critical access hospitals serving underserved communities.

"Providing information and clinical decision support at the point of care will promote higher quality, evidence-based care with better patient outcomes," said Dr. Sam Nussbaum, WellPoint's chief medical officer. "The adoption of meaningful use criteria for Health IT will create opportunities for new collaborations amongst physicians, hospitals, patients, and health plans to share information for better care coordination, prevention services, management of chronic illness and overall clinical decision making. Although the industry wide conversion to an electronic world is planned to take over five years, WellPoint is already working on opportunities to optimize the emerging infrastructure and data standards."

WellPoint has and continues to encourage the adoption and meaningful use of HIT to enhance patient safety, quality of care and the efficiency of care delivery. The Company is committed to supporting HIT by incorporating components of the meaningful use standards into new and existing programs provided through its affiliated health plans that reward physicians for actions that support high quality care.  Current Pay for Performance programs reward physicians for adoption of e-prescribing tools, EMRs, and e-commerce activities including partners such as Availity.    

WellPoint's affiliated health plans' current Pay for Performance programs reward physicians and hospitals with more than $250M in incentive payments for a variety of activities associated with higher quality care and efficiency.  WellPoint will further align its Health IT Pay for Performance measures with Federal meaningful use measures.  The self attestations used by physicians to satisfy meaningful use will be accepted for the HIT related measures, with plans to accept electronic submissions of quality information in 2012 in alignment with Federal plans.

Most importantly, WellPoint's plans will also provide HIT financing to hospitals in rural, critical access, or medically underserved areas.  Many of these hospitals cannot access capital or access capital at sub-optimal interest rates which can limit their ability to take advantage of Federal incentives.  Timing mismatches between incurred costs and the receipt of Federal incentive payments can lead to cash flow challenges and other financial difficulties.  This program, which will start in California and Georgia in 2011, allows qualifying hospitals to borrow short term funding in pursuit of satisfying the meaningful use criteria of the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act.  Based on the results of these programs, WellPoint will evaluate the expansion of this program. 

 "WellPoint believes that Health IT benefits should be available across health delivery systems nationally, particularly in rural or underserved communities where health inequalities are greatest and adoption of Health IT is often the lowest," said Dr. Charles Kennedy, WellPoint's vice president of Health Information Technology and the health insurance industry representative on the Federal HIT Policy Committee. "We have an opportunity to further extend the important work of the ONC and help increase adoption of health information technology. Our plans are providing sustainable incentives for physicians and hospitals to broadly adopt Health IT and ultimately improve health care quality and reduce unsafe and unnecessary care."

About WellPoint, Inc.

WellPoint works to simplify the connection between Health, Care and Value. We help to improve the health of our communities, deliver better care to members, and provide greater value to our customers and shareholders. WellPoint is the nation's largest health benefits company, with more than 33 million members in its affiliated health plans, and a total of more than 69 million individuals served through all subsidiaries. As an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, WellPoint serves members as the Blue Cross licensee for California; the Blue Cross and Blue Shield licensee for Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, Missouri (excluding 30 counties in the Kansas City area), Nevada, New Hampshire, New York (as the Blue Cross Blue Shield licensee in 10 New York City metropolitan and surrounding counties and as the Blue Cross or Blue Cross Blue Shield licensee in selected upstate counties only), Ohio, Virginia (excluding the Northern Virginia suburbs of Washington, D.C.), and Wisconsin. In a majority of these service areas, WellPoint does business as Anthem Blue Cross, Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield or Empire Blue Cross Blue Shield (in the New York service areas). WellPoint also serves customers throughout much of the country as UniCare. Additional information about WellPoint is available at http://www.wellpoint.com/.

SOURCE WellPoint, Inc.

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