(KCPW News) A little-known group calling itself the Utah Coalition for Patients and Physicians’ Rights, or Utah CPR, is behind an effort to shed more light on Intermountain Health Care’s finances by running a bill at the state legislature. Spokesman Dr. Paul Winterton, a Sandy surgeon, says this would uncover IHC’s outsourcing of billing collections to “mafia-like predators” that he believes is one cause of the state’s high rate of bankruptcy.
“With transparency, you find out that, indeed, patients are being outsourced. I would think that just simply that information would make them say, ‘OK, well the jig is up, we’re discovered, we’re going to change our behavior,” Winterton says.
But IHC spokesman Daron Cowley says Utah CPR is a front group for the owners of surgical centers that stand to profit if the bill is approved. Cowley says he hasn’t seen the proposed legislation yet, and can’t comment on it directly. But he fears it would extend beyond transparency and require IHC to open its health insurance plan, Select Health, to any willing provider.
If approved, the surgical centers currently considered “out of network” would be able to attract more patients that are covered by Select Health. And Cowley says this would have far-reaching impacts for health care in Utah.
“Basically what ‘any willing provider’ legislation does is it makes it so that insurance companies can’t negotiate with providers of health care for discounts,” Cowley says. “And so what happens then is that raises the price of health care in the community.”
Utah CPR wouldn’t provide KCPW the numbers or names of the patients and physicians it represents. Dr. Winterton says the organization’s website is paid for by Provo physician Wendell Gibby, on whose behalf Senator Chris Buttars wrote a threatening letter to a judge. Buttars plans to sponsor the bill for the group.