Opinion | Tamara Pogue: Collaboration on health care will benefit everyone
Peak Health Alliance CEO
Recently, a Summit community member sent our team at Peak Health Alliance an email about his wife, who had had been struggling with health insurance for years until she finally became eligible for Medicare. He told us that while he and his wife no longer needed to find health insurance, he wanted to thank us for working hard for the community and to keep it up.
Indeed, small gestures like these serve as important reminders as to why we do what we do.
As the CEO of Peak Health Alliance, I’ve been working to set the record straight about where Peak Health Alliance stands in light of negotiations ending in some parts of the state and proceeding in others. It’s important for the Summit County community to know a few things.
Most importantly, Peak Health Alliance’s plans are as strong as ever and are not going anywhere. Backed by Bright Health and Rocky Mountain Health Plans, members can be assured that their network and benefits aren’t changing.
It’s also important to know how much we continue to be grateful for the work of St. Anthony Summit Medical Center, particularly CEO Lee Boyles, whose leadership was essential to Peak Health’s success in bringing Summit County locals better, more affordable health insurance and higher-quality care.
It’s true that differences remain between some hospital systems and Peak Health Alliance. It’s important that people around Colorado understand those differences when it comes to the role purchasing alliances play when seeking lower costs and higher quality care for communities.
First, we know that alliances do in fact play an important role in ensuring transparency and accountability. For example, when the same procedure costs $2,700 10 miles away from a facility that charges $650, the patient often has no ability to know those fees up front or that a lower-cost option exists.
We also know that in some parts of the state, nonprofit hospitals enjoy enormous revenues, allowing for new buildings, advanced services and, in some cases, the salaries to match. But in other communities, hospitals are struggling to survive — facing closure in a community where its jobs sustain the economy.
Thorough access to data and a transparent approach to collaboration between carriers, providers and local leaders combined with a purchasing alliance model can help close these gaps — first through analysis of hospital and local data to understand cost drivers, then to build the plans that benefit patients and providers by prioritizing local care and making it more attractive to those who currently seek care elsewhere due to cost.
In a time of drastic changes in the industry, it’s understandable that business as usual feels like a safer stance. But In my travels around the state, individuals and community organizations tell me a different story: Business as usual is costing their livelihood, and they need relief.
My organization shares the opinion of many in health care that the shifting landscape requires an almost daily reassessment of strategies and tactics. Where some of us differ, though, is whether we benefit by navigating these changes together.
Peak’s expansion into neighboring Lake and Grand counties, with the help of Centura Health, is an example of the collaboration, transparency and accountability this industry needs because the ultimate benefits redound to communities who need help — and we’re all better for it.
After all, as that Summit local’s message to our team reminds us, a little perspective can go a long way. The Summit community supports our mission to create and advance locally led health care solutions. As we grow, the hard work will be facing our differences head-on, where they have their best shot at resolution: At the table together, working hard for you — our community.
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