WASHINGTON, DC - 1/13/04

To ease credentialing for Montana 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 healthcare organizations.

As CAQH continues to launch Universal Credentialing DataSource nationwide, tens of thousands of physicians have adopted the unique system and are realizing its benefits. Universal Credentialing DataSource enables physicians to satisfy the credentialing needs of all participating healthcare organizations by entering their information one time to the uniform system. Application data can be submitted anytime through the convenience of the Web or by fax. The free, secure service also makes it possible for physicians to spend just a few minutes to periodically update their data online or by phone and 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 During this timeframe, information often becomes outdated.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 holds great promise to make the traditional credentialing data submission process a thing of the past for physicians in Montana and nationwide," said Scott Smith, M.D., chief medical officer, First Health. "The members of CAQH are not only encouraging physicians to take advantage of the system, we are also welcoming all health plans and networks to participate to make this a truly value-added tool for the medical community. We believe that Universal Credentialing DataSource is a solution whose time has come, and encourage physicians in Montana to learn more about its unique benefits."

Any healthcare organization with credentialing requirements is encouraged to participate in Universal Credentialing DataSource. All participating healthcare 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. Physicians authorize access to participating healthcare organizations and each healthcare 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 healthcare organizations that have been authorized by each physician. Healthcare organizations are automatically notified when a physician?s information changes.

"The members of CAQH are committed to working together to develop solutions that simplify the business of healthcare for physicians and their staffs," said Robin Thomashauer, executive director of CAQH. "With the launch of Universal Credentialing DataSource in Montana, we are giving physicians access to a system that speeds up the credentialing data submission process and leaves little room for data entry errors. In addition to these benefits, frequent updates help physicians ensure that health plans and networks always have their most current practice information."

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 Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Washington, D.C., West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming. CAQH will complete the nationwide launch of Universal Credentialing DataSource in 2004.

To raise awareness of the availability of Universal Credentialing DataSource in Montana, 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. CAQH member organizations provide and administer health care coverage for more than 100 million Americans.

CAQH members include: Aetna, American Association of Health Plans/Health Insurance Association of America, 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, Empire Blue Cross Blue Shield, First Health, Great-West, Group Health Cooperative, 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.

Jason Adler
(212) 445-8246

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