Penn Health CEO: 'Health systems should not be an insurance company'

Kevin Mahoney, CEO of the University of Pennsylvania Health System, part of Philadelphia-based Penn Medicine, sat down with the Philadelphia Business Journal's John George on Feb. 5 during the publication's 2024 Economic Forecast event to discuss an array of topics. Among the topics was health systems and health insurers linking up or healthcare providers joining the insurance business.

In April, Oakland, Calif.-based payer-provider Kaiser Permanente agreed to acquire Danville, Pa.-based Geisinger Health as part of a new value-based care nonprofit called Risant Health. In 2021, Philadelphia-based Jefferson Health also acquired Health Partners Plans, which is rebranding as Jefferson Health Plans beginning with its Medicare plans this year. Jefferson Health Plans is set to get a boost once Jefferson Health's proposed acquisition of Allentown, Pa.-based Lehigh Valley Health Network goes through, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported last month. 

University of Pennsylvania Health System has refrained from the trend, Mr. Mahoney told the Business Journal.

"I advocate for the patient and beat insurance companies into the ground to make sure our patients are getting the very best care," he told the publication. "With insurance companies, their business model is to reduce the cost of care. … Health systems should not be an insurance company, we should partner with insurance companies like we have done with Independence Blue Cross where we are partners in population health [and share accountability for the health care of patients in a specific geographic region]. These kind[s] of things are a step in the right direction."

Mr. Mahoney addressed various other topics during the Economic Forecast event, including rising costs, reimbursement rates, artificial intelligence, and the healthcare workforce. He has been a supporter of staffing ratios, taking the opposite stance of most health system CEOs. 

Read the Business Journal report here

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