By Frank Lockwood

Staff writer

HERMISTON — Cascade East, the local insurance company, has asked physicians to help stave off disaster — by conforming better to billing standards.

Cascade East, the managed care program that insures 75 percent of Wal-Mart Distribution Center's Hermiston employees and other local workers, has warned doctors that by billing unnecessary services they may force Cascade East out of existence. Cascade East plans to meet soon with health care providers to discuss solutions, however, and Medical Director Richard Johnson says that with cooperation the Cascade East can still succeed.

"In my opinion, Cascade East is potentially a viable organization that needs some fine tuning in the near future," Johnson told The Hermiston Herald.

Good Shepherd Medical Center underwrote the Cascade East project, beginning with its inception four and a half years ago. The hospital reports that, regardless of whether the company recovers or goes out of business, all the covered claims will be paid.

"There are ample reserves to cover whatever liability this company might have right now," said hospital spokesman Kelly Sanders.

(For the full story, please see the May 16, 2003, issue of the Hermiston Herald.)

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