News and Commentary

Headlines on Deadline August 2008

A.M. Best has affirmed the financial strength ratings and issuer credit ratings of 32 health maintenance organizations, upgraded eight HMOs, and downgraded nine HMOs in its latest ratings. HMOs that have been upgraded include Athens Area Health Plan Select, El Paso First Health Plans, InterValley Health Plan, Mount Carmel Health Plan, and Upper Peninsula Health Plan. Downgraded plans include Columbia United Providers, Community Health Choice, Cook Children’s Health Plan, Inland Empire Health Plan, PreferredOne Community. These ratings are based solely upon public information. Updated ratings will be issued by the company over the next three months. . . . On 37 indicators of performance, the United States achieves an overall score of 65 out of a possible 100 when comparing national averages with benchmarks of best performance achieved internationally and within the United States in the “National Scorecard on U.S. Health System Performance, 2008,” a report issued by the Commonwealth Fund. One key patient safety measure — hospital standardized mortality ratios — improved by 19 percentage points from 2000 to 2002, and again from 2004 to 2006.

The report says this sustained improvement was coupled with several high-profile local and national programs to improve hospital safety and reduce mortality.