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 FARGO, N.D., Oct. 1 /PRNewswire/ -- Two leading health care organizations have signed a long-term agreement to serve the health care needs of the residents in northwestern Minnesota. Through this partnership, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota (BCBSM) and Dakota Clinic will offer a new preferred provider organization (PPO) product and will jointly develop an integrated service network (ISN).
 "We are pleased to build and strengthen this relationship," said Andy Czajkowski, president and chief executive office of Eagan, Minnesota-based BCBSM. "Dakota Clinic shares our commitment to high- quality, appropriate care delivered in the most efficient manner, so it's a natural for us to make a long-term commitment with the clinic."
 The long-term agreement remains in place indefinitely. The long- term agreement applies to all BCBSM's affiliated companies -- including Blue Plus -- and all health plans they offer, including Preferred Gold, AWARE Gold, and the State Health Plan, as well as new products offered through an ISN.
 "Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota has proved to be a strategic health care delivery partner," said Larry Solberg, administrator of Fargo-based Dakota Clinic. "We have developed a high level of trust with the company since we began working together nine years ago."
 Dakota Clinic signed a contract with BCBSM in 1984 when it was looking to develop a primary relationship with a health plan. "We haven't wavered from that initial commitment," Solberg said. "This agreement assures that we will continue to work even more closely together to improve the quality of health care in our service area."
 BCBSM's commitment to working with Dakota Clinic was also demonstrated earlier this year when the clinic became a member of BCBSM's Project HealthVision cardiac network -- the first network based on quality and patient outcomes. The cardiac network providers have proven records of high-quality care. The chances of death or complications are three to four times lower on the average for patients who use the network. Dakota Clinic was included in the network because of its commitment to high-quality cardiac care.
 Under the new long-term agreement, BCBSM and Dakota Clinic will bring a new PPO product to market during first quarter 1994. The PPO will provide members the best level of benefits when they receive their care through the Dakota Clinic.
 The new agreement also provides the framework for an ISN. ISNs are the cornerstone of MinnesotaCare legislation and similar to the accountable health plans in President Clinton's proposed health reform plan. An ISN is an organization that is accountable for the costs and outcomes associated with delivering a full continuum of health care serves to a defined population. It is a new kind of organization where a network of physicians and hospitals provides all needed health care services for a fixed payment. In turn, the ISN has the incentive to provide care as efficiently and effectively as possible.
 Dakota Clinic has operated in the upper Midwest for 67 years. The clinic began operations in 1926 with just five physicians. Today, Dakota Clinic is one of the largest multispecialty clinics in the United States, with nearly 160 doctors in 19 different locations throughout the region.
 BCBSM, a leader in developing innovative relationships with hospitals and physicians, is Minnesota's oldest and largest health coverage carrier. The company began operations 60 years ago. Currently, nearly 1.2 million members are covered by BCBSM health plans or plans administered by the company.
 -0- 10/1/93
 /CONTACT: Mark Heymans, 612-456-8786, Karl Oestrich, 612-456-1502, Judy Kerry, 612-456-1515, all BCBSM; or Larry Solberg of Dakota Clinic, 701-280-3300/

CO: Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota; Dakota Clinic ST: Minnesota, North Dakota IN: MTC SU: JVN

DB-AL -- MN011 -- 7855 10/01/93 14:12 EDT
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Oct 1, 1993

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