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JOHN BURRY, JR., BLUE CROSS & BLUE SHIELD OF OHIO CHIEF, URGES CUYAHOGA COUNTY MAYORS TO SUPPORT BLUES' MERGER LEGISLATION, HELP CREATE TENS OF THOUSANDS OF NEW JOBS

 First Remarks on Issue Since House Bill Introduced
 CLEVELAND, June 24 /PRNewswire/ -- A consolidated Blue Cross & Blue


Shield Plan would groom the state for thousands of new jobs expected to result from President Clinton's healthcare reforms and save Ohioans millions in medical expenses, the chairman and chief executive officer of Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Ohio (BCBSO) said today.
 John Burry, Jr. said in a luncheon address it seems clear the President's program will guarantee health coverage for all Americans, creating access to the system for millions who are now uninsured.
 And it seems just as clear the plan will create tens of thousands of new jobs through the need to manage coverage for millions more people, said Burry in an address to the Cuyahoga County Mayors Association in suburban Independence.
 Ohio, said Burry, needs to be prepared for those jobs, because the Clinton administration will choose only a few very large and efficient companies to oversee that monumental task.
 "The result for the winning companies and (winning) states selected by the Federal government will be major new programs of job creation," he told the mayors. "The losers and the losing states, on the other hand, will face the loss of thousands of jobs."
 Burry said if Ohio is to play a prominent role in a reformed healthcare system, then it needs to demonstrate it can do the job.
 Consolidation of its three Blue Cross & Blue Shield Plans, with the ability to produce significant economic and operational efficiencies, would be a step in the right direction, he said.
 It marked the first time Burry has spoken publicly on the issue of merging Ohio's Blue Plans -- BCBSO, Community Mutual of Cincinnati (CMIC), and Central Benefits of Columbus -- since merger legislation was introduced in the Ohio House in April. Central Benefits is dropping its Blue Cross & Blue Shield affiliation.
 Burry said a single "mega-Blue" in Ohio would have a dramatically positive effect on health costs statewide because it would:
 -- Allow creation of an Ohio Small Business Cooperative, modeled on the success of the Council of Smaller Enterprises (COSE) of the Greater Cleveland Growth Association, to create affordable insurance rates for small businesses, which will be heavily affected by reform.
 -- Help improve the quality of hospital and physician care because it would have statewide access to the largest pool of provider data.
 -- Have the benefit of BCBSO's financial investigations department, or "Fraud Squad," which saves the company and its customers more than $2 million a year. Nationwide, about 10 percent of healthcare dollars are lost to fraud -- an estimated $80 billion-plus.
 -- Save tens of millions in administrative costs by getting rid of redundancies.
 -- Increase the Blues' market clout, providing the new company a chance to hold down health costs statewide as BCBSO has done in northern Ohio. (Thanks in part to BCBSO's bargaining power, Cleveland has dropped from fourth to 19th among the most expensive U.S. hospital cities, and hospital inflation here is half the national rate.)
 -- Create one of the largest and financially strongest Blue Cross Plans in the country, with more than a half-billion dollars in reserve for the protection of its policyholders.
 -- Make the new plan competitive in the battle for big corporate business, as well as primed for anticipated changes under the President's reforms.
 Burry called on the mayors to join him in supporting measures before the Ohio General Assembly to legislate a consolidation. The proposed legislation has generated considerable controversy and debate, although it is expected to be put on the back burner now until fall.
 Burry said the debate can lead to the right decision for Ohio.
 "That is why I ask you, the mayors of this great county, to keep the debate alive," he said. "I ask you to grasp the importance of this proposed merger and understand that it is in the best interests of Ohio healthcare consumers and in keeping and increasing the number of Ohio jobs."
 He pointed out that 42 states have only one Blue Cross & Blue Shield Plan and, in only two of the eight multi-plan states -- Ohio and California -- is there open and costly competition among them.
 "There are about 500 for-profit companies selling health insurance in Ohio," said Burry. "I ask you. Has that competition led to lower healthcare costs statewide? You know the answer. It's a simple 'no.'"
 He added, "There have been three nonprofit Blue Cross Plans selling health insurance in Ohio. I ask you again: has that competition led to lower healthcare costs statewide? Once again, you know the answer. It is 'no.'"
 He said Ohio will spend more than $30 billion on healthcare this year, about the same as the state's annual budget.
 -0- 6/24/93
 /CONTACT: William A. Silverman or David Eden, both of William Silverman & Company, 216-696-7750, for Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Ohio/


CO: Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Ohio ST: Ohio IN: INS SU: LEG

KL -- CL016 -- 5473 06/24/93 16:58 EDT
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Date:Jun 24, 1993
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