After considerable effort by the Rural Wisconsin Health Cooperative, in November of 1996 the U.S. Department of Justice issued a business advisory letter that allows collaboration in negotiating with health plans and other third-party payers. As a result of this business advisory letter, RWHC Network, Inc. was created in 1997.
The Network allows members to discuss contracts with each other and jointly negotiate with HMOs and other insurers without violating antitrust laws. The existence of the Network allows managed care plans, and others, to contract with Network members in an efficient and cost effective manner.
The Network also reviews contractual language for members, offering comments and suggestions for members to consider. In addition, the Network provides education to members on contract terms and other matters related to contracting with health plans.
Membership in RWHC Network, Inc., is limited to Rural Wisconsin Health Cooperative members. Currently 27 Rural Wisconsin Health Cooperative members are also members of the Network.
New Rural Wisconsin Health Cooperative members can immediately apply for membership in the Network. To be considered for membership, the prospective member must provide primary and secondary market areas (by ZIP code) to Network staff. An analysis will be conducted to determine if the prospective member fits the criteria established in the business advisory letter. Upon completion of the analysis, staff will make a recommendation regarding membership to the Network board. The board then makes the final determination of acceptance. To date, all Rural Wisconsin Health Cooperative members seeking membership in the Network have been accepted.