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Independence Blue Cross Announces Blue Distinction Centers for Complex and Rare Cancers(SM) in Philadelphia

PHILADELPHIA, March 12 /PRNewswire/ -- As part of its ongoing effort to give consumers information to improve health care decision-making, Independence Blue Cross today announced that four area hospitals have been selected as Blue Distinction Centers for Complex and Rare Cancers(SM).

Blue Distinction(R) is a nationwide program created to give consumers more information to make wise health care decisions and to work with their health care providers to improve the quality and affordability of medical care. Blue Distinction identifies specialty centers that offer the best practices and highest standards in cardiac care, bariatric surgery, transplants and now complex and rare cancers. Independence Blue Cross participates in the Blue Distinction program as a member of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association.

Complex and rare cancers comprise approximately 15 percent of new cancer cases each year, making it difficult for patients to locate or research facilities with oncological or surgical teams that are experienced in this specialty. The Blue Distinction designation helps identify these institutions. Those recognized as Blue Distinction Centers for Rare and Complex Cancers(SM) include: Abington Memorial Hospital, Fox Chase Cancer Center, Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania and Thomas Jefferson University Hospital.

"We are committed to working collaboratively with physicians and hospitals so that together we continually raise the quality of health care in our region-- whether through Blue Distinction, our incentive-based reimbursement program for physicians and hospitals, or other joint efforts, like the Partnership for Patient Care," said Joseph A. Frick, president and chief executive officer at Independence Blue Cross. "We are proud that we partner with the four cancer care facilities in our region that are Blue Distinction Centers and very pleased to offer our members access to the sophisticated, specialized treatment they offer to properly manage complex and rare types of cancers."

The designation is awarded to institutions that offer multidisciplinary treatment planning and complex, major surgical treatments with subspeciality training and distinguished clinical expertise in complex and rare cancer such as esophageal cancer, bladder cancer, liver cancer, thyroid cancer and 10 other complex and rare subtypes of cancer.

Selection criteria for Blue Distinction Centers for Complex and Rare Cancers are based on objective, evidence-based measurements for clinical care. All Blue Distinction Centers for Complex and Rare Cancers provide:

-- multidisciplinary team input, including sub-specialty trained teams for

complex and rare cancers and demonstrated depth of expertise across

cancer disciplines in medicine, surgery, radiation oncology, pathology

and radiology

-- ongoing quality management and improvement programs for cancer care

-- ongoing commitment to using clinical data registries and providing

access to appropriate clinical research for complex and rare cancers

-- sufficient volume of experience in treating rare and complex cancers

"It is a credit to the high caliber of medical care in our region that Philadelphia is home to four of the more than 80 facilities recognized as Blue Distinction Centers for Complex and Rare Cancers across the United States," said Dr. I. Steven Udvarhelyi, Independence Blue Cross chief medical officer. "Through Blue Distinction, we give our members the information they need to find the right care at the right time when faced with a difficult cancer diagnosis. The Blue Distinction designation helps identify options for our members at a time when peace of mind is very important."

Blue Distinction Centers for Complex and Rare Cancers were developed in strategic collaboration with the National Comprehensive Cancer Network* and input from leading clinicians and professional organizations.

Facilities must reapply every 18 months to achieve Blue Distinction status. The current recognition is in effect until approximately the end of 2009.

About Independence Blue Cross

Independence Blue Cross is a leading health insurer in Southeastern Pennsylvania. IBC and its affiliates provide coverage to nearly 3.4 million people. For 70 years, Independence Blue Cross has offered high-quality health care coverage tailored to meet the changing needs of members, employers, and health care professionals. Independence Blue Cross is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, an association of independent Blue Cross and Blue Shield Plans

Note: Designation as Blue Distinction Centers means these facilities' overall experience and aggregate data met objective criteria established in collaboration with expert clinicians' and leading professional organizations' recommendations. Individual outcomes may vary. To find out which services are covered under your policy at any facilities, please call your local Blue Cross and/or Blue Shield Plan; and call your provider before making an appointment, to verify the most current information on their Network participation status. Neither Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association nor any of its Licensees are responsible for any damages, losses, or non-covered charges that may result from using this website or receiving care from a provider listed in this website.

SOURCE Independence Blue Cross
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