TMA polls doctors about managed care

From the February 2 – 8, 1996, Austin Business Journal.

“A cross section of Texas physicians are getting house calls this month as the Texas Medical Association tries to gauge the impact of managed care on their practices.

“The TMA began it biannual survey of Texas physicians last month and expects to complete the telephone canvass by late February.

“‘It’s not just trying to find out their [physicians’] problems,’ says David Marcus, director of the TMA’s health care financing department. ‘We’re trying to understand the extent and penetration of managed care into physicians’ practices. There’s a lot that we have to check and update out information on.’

“Conducted by MTI Research, the survey will involve an initial sample of 3,000 physicians, says Donna Kinney, TMA’s manager of regulatory analysis and advocacy. Surveyors request 25-minute interviews with participating physicians and expect the final survey to reflect the opinions of 600 physicians.

“The survey will target both TMA members and non-members.

“The results will be released in a report issued in late March or early April, Marcus says.

“In the most recent physician survey conducted in 1994, physicians cited adjusting to health care reform and dealing with managed care as their greatest challenges.

“While the survey will poll physicians on a variety of factors, including salaries and the impact of Medicaid and Medicare patients on their practices, a large segment of questions will revolve around managed care, Marcus says.

“Dr. Norman Chenven, president and CEO of Austin Regional Clinic, has not yet been polled for the study. But his 112-member physician group, like most others, has felt the impact of changes in the managed care arena.

“Managed care’s most difficult impact on physicians arises when the physician must adapt to a new set of rules and regulations for each health maintenance organization, Chenven says. ARC has dealt with managed care issues by establishing its own network of physicians and managed care insurers.

“In September 1995, ARC announced it would be looking to contract with other health insurance companies after its relationship with PruCare of Austin officially ended in November. Last month, ARC signed with MetraHealth, the third largest managed health care insurer in Austin, as part of its strategy to become available to a broader employer base. ARC maintains an unbinding contract with Austin’s largest managed health care insurer, PCA Health Plans of Texas, and has talked with NYLCare about a possible alliance.

“Chenven supports managed care and says physicians’ growing pains are symptomatic of a painful transition period.

“‘I believe that managed care is the wave of the future and will, in time, provide more access to health care because it will control costs,’ he says. ‘What we’re experiencing now is a very difficult transition period. It’s straining and stressing the health care delivery system to adapt to the changes.’”

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