Originally created 11/19/96

'Clarifies' University HMO proposal



I appreciate The Chronicle's willingness to air both sides of the issues related to the Augusta-Richmond County health plan discussions. However, I would like to clarify several issues that have been raised in several articles.

It has been suggested University Health Link tried to limit the choices of county employees while offering an expensive option. Consider the following facts:

- In the consultants' review of proposals at the Nov. 7 Commission meeting, they failed to disclose to the commissioners that University Health Link's proposal was both the best priced proposal and the overall highest ranked proposal; when evaluated for low cost, technical performance, access and comprehensiveness of network, UHL received the best rating. UHL was included in more preferred provider proposals made to the county than any other provider network, but still the plan recommended to the commissioners does not include UHL and its network providers.

- At no time did we state that we would withdraw from the bid process if we could not be the exclusive network. Our strategy was to offer the most competitive pricing strategy that would at least meet the best health maintenance organization pricing offers and beat the other preferred provider organization pricing offers. Based on the consultant's analysis, our plan is estimated to save the taxpayers in excess of $800,000 per year.

- The issue relating to slander in the consultant's report referred to the chart that they distributed to the commissioners at their Nov. 7 meeting in which they referred to University as the "expensive" hospital. This statement was unfounded and prejudicial. In fact, through an aggressive discount structure the Augusta-Richmond County consultants deemed us to be the most competitively priced plan submitted....

S. Michael Schlaer, M.D., Augusta

(Editor's note: The writer is chairman of the University Health Link Board.)