Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey (Horizon BCBSNJ) announced its plans to create a new company called Horizon Healthcare Innovations (HHI). The new company is expected to be formally operational in September, but has already begun work as a division of Horizon BCBSNJ, notes the insurer. The new company’s mission is to energize the transformation of health care delivery to a better system marked by higher quality and more effective care, greater collaboration and efficiency, and increased affordability, notes Horizon.

The insurer notes that its decision to establish a new company comes at an “opportune time” in order to address the quality and cost issues left out of the recently passed federal health care reform law, claiming that a number of provisions of the new law will increase health care costs and result in higher insurance premiums. The new law will add to the financial burden of many individuals and employers, who are already struggling with rising health care costs. The company is working to create partnerships with providers, employers, and health care leaders to develop new models of care that will provide patients with better quality care, increase efficiencies, and contain costs.

“As the state’s oldest and largest health insurer, Horizon BCBSNJ is in the best position to initiate collaborative partnerships between the many stakeholders who are working to improve the quality of health care and bring cost increases down to a sustainable level,” said William Marino, Chairman and CEO of Horizon BCBSNJ. “We believe that creating a new company is the best way to bring energy, focus, and commitment to improving the delivery and financing of health care, a goal we share with many of our colleagues throughout the health care system.”

Dr. Richard Popiel, who served as VP and Chief Medical Officer of Horizon BCBSNJ, will lead the new company as president and COO. “Everyone in New Jersey’s health care system understands that we cannot continue to experience spiraling costs and below average rankings across quality of care measures,” he said “We’re committed to leading a major collaborative effort among physicians, hospitals, policy makers, employers, patients, and insurers to rethink how we deliver quality care and control costs.”

Horizon BCBSNJ also believes there is a significant opportunity to improve heath care quality across the state. A 2009 Commonwealth Fund study ranked New Jersey 30th in the nation for quality of care based on measures such as prevention, treatment and avoidable hospital use and costs.
“Our goal is to energize collaborative partnerships and ignite the flames of transformation that will benefit the entire health care system – individuals, families, businesses, and providers,” added Dr. Popiel. “The time is right for innovation and rethinking how care is delivered and financed because people are focused on our health care challenges and they know we need to act. Horizon is making a major investment and we’re ready to act.”

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