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PPOs participating in Medicare Advantage can satisfy federal oversight requirements if they've already received accreditation from the National Committee for Quality Assurance, according to a ruling by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. The Medicare reform law passed last year will make regional PPOs available to beneficiaries in 2006. NCQA accreditation is already being used by 50 of about 150 participating HMOs to meet federal requirements.... Though most plans cannot gauge the exact financial return from their Web sites, they consider having an online presence to be a valuable commodity, according to a new Capgemini report. "More payers view their sites as an effective way to market new products, like consumer-directed plans, not just in lowering administrative costs," says Peter Kongstvedt, MD, Capgemini's vice president. The findings result from an analysis of 97 health plan Web sites.

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