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MMA recognizes BCBSMT's Berner with 2016 Award of Merit

Sep. 12, 2016

HELENA – In recognition of her tireless work in service to Montana’s physicians and patients, the Montana Medical Association (MMA) has awarded Dr. Monica Berner with its 2016 Award of Merit.

Berner, Senior Vice President of Montana Plan Operations and Chief Medical Officer at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Montana (BCBSMT), provides invaluable leadership championing and advancing new health care delivery models in Montana that promise to improve patient outcomes and limit the administrative burden on health care providers, according to the MMA.

“No one is more deserving of this award,” BCBSMT President Mike Frank said. “Monica has developed a strong working relationship with Montana’s medical community to improve health care delivery for all Montanans. Her determined and enthusiastic work to help us transition from fee-for-service to value-based care is invaluable to physicians and patients alike.”

The MMA established the Award of Merit in 1975 to recognize leaders who have demonstrated a commitment to service and dedication to patient care through their actions to improve health care in Montana.

“As an MMA member, I am greatly appreciative of the advocacy this organization provides on behalf of doctors and their patients,” Berner said. “In view of all the committed physicians in Montana, I am humbled to have been selected for this award, and believe that it signifies an incredibly bright future, where payers and physicians work hand in hand to improve health outcomes, as well as the accessibility and affordability of care for Montanans.”

Under Berner’s leadership, BCBSMT has heavily focused on the importance of value-based care, which includes specialty programs like Patient Centered Medical Homes (PCMH); Accountable Care Organizations (ACO); integrated wellness and data solutions; a Health Information Exchange (HIE), a clinical data clearinghouse; as well as shared and global risk. BCBSMT also collaborates with hospital systems, physician groups, and solo practitioners to support them in the work they do and to increase quality and expand choices.

Berner has also been instrumental in BCBSMT’s development of its provider network offerings, from its broad-access PPO network to focused and tiered network designs that offer groups and members more affordable, high-quality health care options.

“Monica has in the eyes of the MMA gone above and beyond her job description with BCBS to assure that physicians in Montana know that they have a reliable and trusted partner in their corner at BCBS,” said Dr. Roman Hendrickson, MMA President and BCBSMT Affiliate Board Member. “We recognize her personal sacrifices of time and effort on behalf of the physicians of Montana.

“She has for years demonstrated a willingness to understand physician concerns and listen with interest to suggestions for improvement in patient care that BCBS could assist with.”

Hendrickson said Berner was an early advocate for the Physician Leadership Training program sponsored by the MMA, and Patient Centered Medical Homes that help ensure quality and efficiency become the undisputed standard for health care delivery in Montana.

“She has repeatedly made herself available to help find innovative solutions to the changing healthcare landscape in Montana,” Hendrickson added. “She is a dependable source of up to date knowledge on emerging issues effecting healthcare delivery in Montana and the nation. We proudly recognize Monica as first a physician and then as an influential leader within BCBS.”

Berner joined BCBSMT in 2009 as a medical director after working in direct patient care for 12 years. She received her medical degree from Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas, in 1994. She subsequently completed a Family Medicine Residency at Oregon Health Sciences University and achieved Board Certification in Family Practice in 1997. Berner held a private medical practice in Aloha, Oregon, until she moved to Helena, Montana, where she cared for a wide variety of insured and uninsured patients at the Lewis and Clark County Community Health Center. She also was a staff physician at the Veteran Affairs outpatient clinic at Fort Harrison, Montana's Veteran Hospital prior to joining BCBSMT.

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