By Steven Wishnia
The New York County Health Services Review Organization, the oldest health-care peer-review organization in New York, celebrated its 40th anniversary Sept. 15 at an event attended by about 175 people.
“We have laid a solid, strong, sustainable foundation and are ready to start building for the next 40 years,” Joseph B. Stamm, CEO of MedReview, NYCHSCRO’s for-profit offshoot, told the gathering. The company evaluates the cost and quality of health services paid for by its clients, who include labor unions, government agencies, and managed-care companies. It now operates in 15 states and has saved its clients more than $1 billion “post-review” since 1974, he said.
Stamm also praised his mentor, former city health commissioner Dr. Lowell Bellin. Bellin, his son Dr. Aytan Bellin told the gathering, had been inspired to fight Medicaid fraud when he read a patient’s chart and found that the doctor had prescribed an expensive set of orthotics for “foetida pedibus”—Latin for “smelly feet.”
“They helped ensure that our members received the most appropriate, high-quality care, while protecting our members’ benefit dollars,” Mitra Behroozi, director of Local 1199 SEIU’s National Benefit Fund, told LaborPress. It’s hard to quantify the amount the fund, a MedReview client for more than 20 years, has saved, she said, but it’s “tens of millions, no doubt.”
A number of elected officials presented NYCHSCRO with proclamations, including Assemblymembers Alec Brook-Krasny, Steven Cymbrowitz, Denny Farrell, Richard Gottfried, Rhoda Jacobs, and Linda Rosenthal; Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams and Queens BP Melinda Katz; and City Councilmembers David Greenfield, Andy King, and Mark Levine.
The organization also honored longtime employees, a dozen-odd who’d worked there for more than 20 years and another 25 or so who’d been there for more than 10 years—about one-fourth of its 150 current employees. “I’m not saying it’s not a hectic job, but it’s a manageable hectic job. We’re human beings,” says Helen Mutchler, executive vice president and CEO, who started there in 1983. “What’s the glue? The people. We don’t just work there. We’re part of something we care about.”
“It’s been very gratifying,” Stamm told LaborPress. “As part of this organization, I am the advocate for the poor, the frail, the elderly, the sick. I feel that every day I’m involved in doing what’s called in Hebrew chesed, good deeds.”