Columbia HMO's new boss looks to continued service, profit

June 02, 1994|By Sherry Joe | Sherry Joe,Sun Staff Writer

The newly installed chief operating officer for the Columbia Medical Plan said his main goal for the health maintenance organization is to continue its service to the community and enhance overall profit margins.

Alfred J. Discepolo, who began work at the Columbia-based HMO last month, is responsible for the operation and strategic planning of the medical plan, which is a subsidiary of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Maryland.

"What's necessary here is good management, continuing the great success this plan has had in this community," said Mr. Discepolo.

A native of New York, Mr. Discepolo, 51, comes to the Columbia Medical Plan at a time when it is growing. Since last year, the HMO has increased its membership by 5.5 percent to a total of 76,500 members in Howard, Frederick, Anne Arundel and Carroll counties.

The HMO has used nontraditional methods to add members. For example, under a $1.2 million contract with the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene last year, the Columbia Medical Plan was the first HMO outside Baltimore to enroll Medicaid patients as members of its

managed health care plan.

Since the program began in April, 3,000 Medicaid recipients have become members, which gives them access to all physicians who are part of the Columbia Medical Plan. Of the 3,000 members, between 1,000 and

1,200 are Howard County residents.

The HMO also is expanding in Frederick County, where a 30,000-square-foot facility is under construction in Frederick. The full-service, multispecialty medical center is scheduled to open in July 1995.

The HMO also is creating a Department of Preventive Medicine by consolidating wellness programs, health education and health promotion services.

Mr. Discepolo said that managed health care plans such as Columbia

Medical Plan should be copied throughout the country.

"This is the answer to health care reform," he said. "This organization embodies health care reform."

President Clinton supports a health care plan that includes universal coverage and a variety of services at affordable prices.

Mr. Discepolo, who replaced John Lincoln as chief operating officer of the HMO, has worked for 25 years in finance and management, including five years in the health care insurance field.

Prior to moving to his position with Columbia Medical Plan, he was vice president of financial operations at the Boston-based Liberty Mutual Insurance Co.

From 1989 to 1992, he worked as senior vice president at American International Healthcare, a subsidiary of American International Group, a New York-based insurance firm.

In a prepared statement, Sharon Vecchioni, vice president of human resources at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Maryland, said Mr. Discepolo has "extensive experience in the insurance field and managed care, as well as a keen expertise in financial management.

"His solid record of accomplishments made him the ideal candidate to handle the operations of Columbia Medical Plan."

Mr. Discepolo has seven children, ranging in ages from 7 months to 26 years. His family will continue to live in Marlborough, Mass., until they find a home in Howard County.

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