After 5 years, United Rheumatology’s GPO is stronger than ever because of the dynamic nature of our management services organization and the collective engagement and mutual respect of over 660 member rheumatologists in 39 states. This is the simple truth.
The recent and ongoing fictional spin by American Rheumatology Network (ARN) of our demise is a fabrication to mislead and confuse rheumatology practices. Why would ARN state “United Rheumatology has recently announced the dissolution of the United Rheumatology GPO (UR-GPO)” when nothing could be further from the truth? And why would ARN continue to run these false statements on Linkedin and other media outlets after United Rheumatology’s counsel sent a letter specifically requesting a retraction and confirming that the UR GPO continues as a service offering? The answer is simple. ARN found out that United Rheumatology was transitioning distributors from CuraScript to McKesson effective September 12, 2020 and determined that making false statements would create fear in our membership that ARN could leverage for the benefit of their business.
After a five year valued relationship with CuraScript, it was time to make a change in business partners. And with that came a decision to respect and honor our agreement with CuraScript to the very end. That’s how United Rheumatology has and always will run our organization.
On the other hand, ARN saw an opportunity to mischaracterize the situation for its own benefit. A window of perceived vulnerability, so ARN’s senior leadership sent an email to every UR member trying to leverage the unknown…. “we welcome current and former UR members to the ARN-GPO”. What in fact ARN was doing was trying to create panic and fear that would cause UR members to quickly and unknowingly move to the very same distributor, McKesson, that UR was about to announce an agreement with. Not really an honest representation in my opinion.
ARN has also commented that they offer the “best value within the McKesson family”. This is another unfounded assertion by ARN, and should prompt you to ask yourself how would ARN know? UR has not shared with ARN the pricing it will receive from McKesson, and I highly doubt McKesson would share that information with ARN, so again ARN demonstrates a willingness to mislead you to your detriment for ARN’s benefit. I urge every rheumatologist and every practice administrator to compare the two organizations side by side…. pricing sheet in hand. Don’t fall for an illusion.
At UR, we understand the acquisition cost of drugs is important to every UR member, every rheumatologist, and we trailblazed and have creatively continued to address and develop partnerships across the industry to provide value for our specialty since our inception. We also recognize that we operate in fragile and tumultuous times. We need a future vision that is beyond the spread in drug acquisition to reimbursement. A future that aligns us with additional industry stakeholders. Our efforts to build bridges with the health plan payer community are significant and are a representation of our size, national scale and you….every solo practitioner, small, medium and large group.
We are proud of our Master Collaboration Agreement with UnitedHealth Group Research and Development encompassing a range of initiatives from biomarker research to the first of its kind real-world RA patient data registry. We are also proud of our Rheumatology Benefit Management Agreement with Horizon BCBS New Jersey, and the various other arrangements with industry stakeholders we are working on for your benefit. UR’s commitment is to build new bridges with strategic partners to strengthen the specialty from within. I think you all know this will not come in the end from increasing infusion margins or the number of patients infused by your practice.
At UR, you have our many years of experience operating a GPO combined with the best in class GPO arrangement we have structured with McKesson. At UR you have the opportunity for rheumatology’s collective voice to be represented in the discussion, design, development and deployment of new value-based care. A delivery system without Prior Authorization to enforce a formulary void of clinical relevance. A delivery system that rewards rheumatologists for their training and skills in managing one if not the most complex series of patient immune system conditions. A delivery system that shares savings with the very physicians that know best how to improve care while reducing overall costs. And at the same time you will be associating with an organization that has unwavering morals and ethics in how it conducts itself.
Finally, for those that have had a chance to get to know me, you know I am not really one for a war of words. I find ARN’s communication strategy a fools game so they can have that sandbox to play in. At UR, we will let our actions speak for themselves. Building a successful path forward for all rheumatologists to contribute to the improvement in care delivery and be rewarded for their efforts is where our compass points. I hope you will be with us on the journey.
Douglas K. Tardio
Stay safe, stay healthy, stay United.