NATIONAL EFFORT TO SIMPLIFY THE CREDENTIALING PROCESS FOR PHYSICIANS LAUNCHES IN IOWA

WASHINGTON, DC - 3/1/03

To ease credentialing for Iowa physicians, the Council for Affordable Quality Healthcare (CAQH) today announced the launch of its Universal Credentialing DataSource system in the state. CAQH, a not-for-profit alliance of the nation's leading health plans and networks, developed this system to help physicians more easily and cost-effectively provide required credentialing information to health care organizations. Participating health plans and PPO networks in Iowa include The First Health Network, the CCN Network and Great-West/One Health Plan.

The new CAQH Universal Credentialing DataSource service enables physicians to satisfy the credentialing needs of all participating health care organizations by submitting their information one time to the uniform system. Data can be updated anytime through the convenience of the Web or by fax. The free, secure service makes it possible for physicians to spend just a few minutes each quarter to confirm that their credentialing information is complete and accurate.

Today, physicians face the redundant and time-consuming process of credentialing or recredentialing with individual health plans once every three years. During this timeframe, information often becomes outdated. The CAQH system provides a time-saving solution that helps ensure information is up-to-date for credentialing and payment processing, and for use in health plans' electronic and paper directories.

"Universal Credentialing DataSource is a terrific example of the kind of progress that can be made when plans and providers approach problems together," said William McCallum, president and CEO of Great-West/One Health plan. "We encourage Iowa physicians to register for Universal Credentialing DataSource and get relief from the complex, redundant and time-exhaustive burden of credentialing."

Any health care organization with credentialing requirements is encouraged to participate in Universal Credentialing DataSource. All participating health care organizations pay an annual per physician/provider fee for unlimited access to completed records, in addition to a small annual administrative fee to offset system maintenance and customer service requirements. Each health care organization reviews and verifies credentialing data, and decides independently whether or not a physician meets its standards for participation.

Data collected through Universal Credentialing DataSource is maintained by CAQH in a secure, state-of-the-art data center, and is only made available to health care organizations that have been authorized by each physician. Health care organizations are automatically notified when a physician's information changes.

"For physicians, credentialing is often viewed as the 200-pound gorilla of back-office procedures," said Edward L. Wristen, president and CEO, First Health. "With Universal Credentialing DataSource, the members of CAQH are bringing physicians a powerful, yet practical solution to eliminate the redundancy and reduce the time and errors traditionally associated with credentialing."

To create Universal Credentialing DataSource, CAQH worked with providers, health plans and networks, professional associations, insurance regulators and accreditation associations. The service first launched in Virginia and Colorado in March 2002, and it is now also available to physicians in Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Washington, D.C., and Wisconsin. CAQH plans to launch Universal Credentialing DataSource nationwide in 2003.

To raise awareness of the availability of Universal Credentialing DataSource in Iowa, CAQH has mailed a registration kit to physicians in the state, inviting them to participate in the service. The kit includes a temporary ID that physicians can use to register in the system. Physicians who are affiliated with a participating health plan or network, but who have not received the registration kit, can call the Help Desk at 888-599-1771 or contact a participating health plan or network directly.

About CAQH
The Council for Affordable Quality Healthcare (CAQH) is a not-for-profit alliance of health plans and networks that promotes collaborative initiatives to help make healthcare more affordable, share knowledge to improve the quality of care, and make administration easier for physicians and their patients. Created in 1999, CAQH member organizations today provide and administer healthcare coverage for more than 100 million Americans.

CAQH members include: Aetna, American Association of Health Plans, Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield, AultCare, Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Michigan, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina, BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee, CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield, CIGNA, Empire Blue Cross Blue Shield, First Health, Great-West, Group Health Cooperative, Health Insurance Association of America, Health Net, Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield, Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey, Independence Blue Cross, MultiPlan, Mutual of Omaha, Oxford Health Plans, The Regence Group, and WellPoint.

CONTACT:
Jackie Erspamer
(952) 226-5662

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