7 WVU doctors named ‘Best in Class’

Physicians see patients covered by coal companies’ health insurance

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – The Coal/Energy Coalition has identified seven faculty physicians at West Virginia University School of Medicine's Morgantown campus as "Best in Class." Only about 4 percent of providers serving patients covered under the insurance plans of coal companies earned the honor.

The coalition is leading a national effort to improve healthcare and slow down runaway pharmaceutical costs.

Paul Ridgely, of Wheeling, representing ProPharma Pharmaceutical Consultants, Inc.,  and the Coal/Energy Coalition, announced that "Best in Class" certificates were recently awarded to Claudette Brooks, M.D., Laurie Guttmann, M.D., Kevin Halbritter, M.D., Mary Ann Long, M.D, Karen MacKay, M.D., Jack Riggs, M.D., and Rebecca Schmidt, D.O.

"Five coal companies have joined together to seek nontraditional solutions to the unsustainable increases in health costs," Ridgely said. "For several years, the pharmacy costs for the mine workers and their families have increased by 16 percent a year or higher. We believe that working with practitioners is the best way to improve quality and manage costs."

Increasing prescription drug costs put a burden on both the companies, whose total healthcare costs are rising, and the employees, who bear more out-of-pocket costs, he added. By working with the physicians and others who provide care to these patients, the coalition has slowed the rate of increase in costs.

Pro Pharma, which manages the Coal/Energy Coalition, reviewed the medical records of thousands of patients treated by almost 10,000 doctors and other health professionals across the country.

Only about 4 percent of the providers, including the seven at WVU, were certified as "Best in Class" in categories including appropriate use of generic medicine and following proven treatment guidelines.

Pro Pharma works with practitioners on improving quality of prescribing, reducing out-of-pocket costs for patients and managing healthcare costs.

Companies participating in the coalition are Peabody Energy, Patriot Coal, Foundation Coal Holdings, Riverton Coal Company and Pittston Coal Company.


For more information:
Amy Johns, HSC News Service, 304-293-7087
bc: 08-24-08

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