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MERCY ALTERNATIVE CALLS FOR COLLABORATION TO HELP REDUCE PRESCRIPTION HEALTH-CARE COSTS

 FARMINGTON HILLS, Mich., May 17 /PRNewswire/ -- Mercy Alternative, which manages Care Choices, the third-largest provider-based health maintenance organization (HMO) in the United States, called for collaboration today as a primary way to reduce health-care costs in America, during a program which focused on cutting the cost of prescription medications.
 "Lasting health-care reform won't happen in the halls of Congress alone," said Robert Flanagan, Ph.D., president and CEO of Mercy Alternative, who spoke at the Radisson Plaza Hotel, Southfield, Mich., as a panel member in the organization's first health-care update for business, health-care, government and nonprofit leaders. "Physicians, hospitals, manufacturers, retail pharmacists, health insurers and consumers all play a role in escalating or decreasing health-care costs. It is up to us, at the local level, to create real solutions that will control health-care costs without compromising quality."
 Flanagan said prescription medication is one area of health care that offers many opportunities to reduce costs. Although prescription drugs account for 8 percent of the total health-care dollar, they can dramatically reduce costs through shortened hospital stays and eliminate the need for surgery.
 Moderated by Jim Herrington, political analyst for WXYZ-TV7, the program featured health-care professionals who deal with prescription medications on a day-to-day basis. Each panel member discussed the prescription decisions they make, ways they cut costs and the obstacles they encounter in their efforts to provide high-quality, affordable medications. The program was hosted by Mercy to focus on the issues surrounding prescription drugs and promote cooperative efforts to cut costs.
 Panelists included Karen Williams, vice president of Health Care Systems, Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association; Robert Shapiro, R.Ph., vice president of Professional Affairs, Perry Drugs, Inc.; Louis R. Zako, M.D., family practitioner and former president of the Michigan State Medical Society; Karen Ehrat, vice president and COO, St. Joseph Mercy Hospitals and Health Services; and Flanagan, of Mercy Alternative.
 Flanagan and others emphasized the need for programs that provide manufacturers, consumers, physicians and pharmacists incentives which motivate them to seek high-quality, cost-effective options.
 "One of the problems we face today is that there is no good reason for any of these groups to look for inexpensive options," Shapiro said. "Consumers with a $3 co-pay for prescriptions don't care if a course of treatment costs $6 or $60. Physicians prescribe what they feel is medically indicated. Manufacturers focus on the development of new options. Only the insurance companies and businesses are concerned with cost."
 Mercy Alternative provides health-care coverage for 150,000 individuals in Michigan and Iowa through Care Choices HMO and Preferred Choices PPO. It is a subsidiary of Mercy Health Services, the eighth- largest health-care system in the United States.
 -0- 5/17/93
 /CONTACT: Susan Lewis-Phillips of BK&M Public Relations, 313-567-4800, for Mercy Alternative/


CO: Mercy Alternative ST: Michigan IN: HEA SU:

DH -- DE006 -- 9027 05/17/93 08:59 EDT
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Date:May 17, 1993
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