American health care must change because of the high costs it imposes on the nation, the head of Catholic Health Initiatives' Nebraska network said Thursday.
"Health care is going to change, needs to change," Dr. Cliff Robertson told an audience of 60 at an Omaha Press Club luncheon.
Robertson said CHI, in which he has worked 19 years as a physician and administrator, will help direct that change.
CHI oversees 16 hospitals in Nebraska and southwest Iowa as well as behavioral health centers in Omaha and Kearney. CHI manages 93 hospitals in 18 states.
Robertson, who took over as the Nebraska network's head this year, said CHI has the capacity to develop and share best practices among physicians, the technology to use data to improve care, and the desire to develop new payment methods with insurers. This is essential to lowering health care costs and improving patient health, he said.
The need for new payment models has surfaced in a dispute this summer with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Nebraska. The insurer has asked CHI to lower the rates charged by Alegent Creighton physicians and hospitals in the metro area. CHI hospitals across the state also are embroiled in the dispute.
The insurer has threatened to remove CHI from its network at the end of August. Blue Cross and CHI are in negotiations.
The two "can do amazing things together," Robertson said. "We're going to do everything we can to bring this to resolution."
Robertson also on Thursday announced the creation of a new leadership team to oversee the network across Nebraska and southwest Iowa. The team includes Dr. Cary Ward as chief medical officer, Jane Carmody as chief nursing officer and Joan Neuhaus as chief operations officer. Alegent Creighton and CHI combined in 2012.
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