November 21, 1996
Media Contact: Gary Stephenson
Phone: (410) 955-5384
E-mail: gstephenson@welchlink.welch.jhu.edu

Eleven Neighborhood Health Centers Part of Priority Partners

Johns Hopkins HealthCare and the Maryland Community Health System (MCHS), a not-for-profit organization representing 11 neighborhood health centers throughout the state, have formed a partnership to create Priority Partners, a provider-based managed care organization (MCO) for Medicaid recipients.

"Creation of Priority Partners brings together historic providers of care to the Medicaid population and will allow each partner to continue its mission of providing high-quality health care to the sick and injured, regardless of the patient's financial status," said John D. Stobo, M.D., chairman and CEO of Johns Hopkins HealthCare (JHHC).

JHHC is the organization charged with developing Hopkins' managed care integrated delivery system and is the vehicle through which Hopkins entered the partnership with MCHS. Priority Partners is owned equally by Hopkins and the Maryland Community Health System. Each organization will have equal representation on the 12-member board of directors, while Hopkins will be responsible for managing the network's Medicaid business.

The partnership between Hopkins and MCHS to develop Priority Partners capitalizes on the strengths of both organizations, according to Pat Cassatt, MCHS president and executive director of the People's Community Health Center.

"Priority Partners combines convenience and quality," she says. "The MCHS management team, like the Hopkins team, combines proven expertise with a long track record in providing quality medical services to Medicaid patients."

In addition to offering quality and convenience, Priority Partners hopes to attract Medicaid patients by offering an expanded benefits package. Beyond standard benefits, Priority Partners will provide adult dental, an over-the-counter medication and adult vision benefits.

MCHS served some 30,000 Medicaid recipients across the state last year, while in the same period Hopkins served tens of thousands of Medicaid patients, including some 12,000 inpatients at The Johns Hopkins Hospital and the Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center. The inpatients alone represented 25 percent of Medicaid discharges in Central Maryland.

Under a new state law, most medical assistance patients in Maryland must receive their care through managed care organizations by February 1997. The enrollment process will make every effort to enroll Medicaid beneficiaries with an MCO that includes the patient's current physicians. Maryland has about 460,000 Medicaid recipients, of whom approximately 385,000 will be eligible for the mandatory program.

-- JHMI --
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