Schaefer names health panelists

June 05, 1993|By John W. Frece | John W. Frece,Staff Writer

Gov. William Donald Schaefer yesterday named the remaining six members of a powerful commission that will oversee health care reform in Maryland, picking people who appear to have more health-care and insurance ties than the General Assembly envisioned.

A new law requires that four of the seven members "be individuals who do not have any connection with the management or policy of a health care provider or payer."

But the attorney general's office has advised the governor that the appointees meet the criteria.

The governor last week named Johns Hopkins University President William C. Richardson chairman of the seven-member Health Care Access and Cost Commission.

The panel will have broad authority to collect information about physician procedures and fees and ultimately restrict them if they are out of line. The commission also is responsible for developing a standardized package of benefits that insurers will be required to offer small companies.

The six named yesterday are:

* Dr. Alex Azar, an ophthalmologist from Salisbury who was recommended by the state medical society.

* John A. Picciotto, senior vice president and general counsel of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Maryland, which is the state's largest health insurer.

* Harold A. "Hal" Cohen, a health care consultant from Baltimore who was the first chairman of Maryland's Health Services Cost Review Commission and who later helped create a nationally recognized health care system in Rochester, N.Y.

* Elaine W. Johnston, supervisor of policies and compensation for Baltimore Gas and Electric Co., responsible for development and implementation of employee benefits. BG&E is self-insured.

* John Dennis Murray, president and chief executive officer of Bay Mills Construction Co. Inc. of Owings. Mr. Murray is a longtime director and officer of Calvert Memorial Hospital and was runner-up for chairman of the state Democratic Party.

* Marc E. Zanger, vice chairman of Beall, Garner, Screen and Geare, an insurance brokerage firm. He was recommended by Del. Casper R. Taylor Jr., chairman of the House Economic Matters Committee. Both are from Cumberland.

The appointees generally received a favorable review by legislators who were instrumental in passing the health care reform bill, although Senate Finance Committee Chairman Thomas P. O'Reilly, a Prince George's Democrat, said the membership was not what he expected.

"We wanted it to be more nonindustry represented . . . and this seems to tip it the other way," he said. "But if the AG [attorney general] believes it is in compliance with the law, I can't say it would really be that damaging to what we're trying to accomplish."

Mr. Schaefer also named the chairmen of the panel's four advisory committees yesterday:

* Development of the standard benefits package. Co-chairs are Don S. Hillier, senior vice president for human resources for MNC Financial, and Thomas P. Barbera, a former deputy insurance commissioner and health maintenance organization lobbyist who now is executive vice president of Mid-Atlantic Medical Services Inc., a large HMO.

* Development of parameters for physicians and quality indicators for HMOs. Chairman is Dr. Joseph Mead, senior vice president for medical affairs at Mercy Medical Center and one of Governor Schaefer's personal physicians.

* Development of data on costs and practices. Chairman is Dr. Mary Stuart, director of policy analysis for the state health department.

* Outreach to small companies. Co-chairmen are Dr. James A. Block, president of Johns Hopkins Health Systems, and Alvin M. Powers, president of FutureCare Health and Management Corp., nursing home company.

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