Efficient Physicians' Key To VEBA Success
The Big Three automakers -- Ford Motor, General Motors and Chrysler Group-- in one of the "slickest sets of contract negotiations in the historyof the Detroit-based auto industry" have shifted their retiree healthcare liabilities to United Auto Workersthrough establishing a voluntary employees' beneficiary association,Mitchell Seltzer, president and CEO of health care consulting andplanning firm Seltzer Rees, writes in a Detroit Free Pressopinion piece.
He adds, "So how does the UAW do what GM, Ford andChrysler couldn't do -- control the costs of health care that haveincreased at five times the rate of inflation since 2000?" Seltzercontinues, "The answer is unexpected and straightforward: efficientphysicians."
He cites data showing that 45% to 55% ofhospitals' medical staff are efficient and that those providers use 20%to 30% fewer resources than other physicians. In addition, theirpatients "have shorter hospital stays, receive the known, currentstandards of care more reliably, are exposed to fewer hospitalinfections and errors, and fewer die," he writes. Seltzer concludes,"Someone has to use this knowledge to fix a system that has becomeincreasingly unaffordable, unsafe, inaccessible and inequitable,"adding, "It may be the calloused hands of American workers that becomethe healing hands for American health care" (Seltzer, Detroit Free Press, 11/21).
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