The mission of MCPIPA is simply stated as, “Physicians cooperating to deliver high quality care to our community.”   The values of MCPIPA continue to surround providing high quality, lower cost health care through a highly integrated joint arrangement.


MCPIPA has a rich history dating back several decades.  The setting in Grand Junction in 1971 was an economically depressed community with approximately 60 physicians and three hospitals located 250 miles from two major medical centers in Salt Lake City, UT, and Denver, CO.  Medicaid paid $3.80 for an office visit, so most physicians did not bill Medicaid, but saw the patients for no reimbursement rather than waste resources on the billing process.  The physicians were frustrated with the lack ofpreventive services for those without the ability to pay, and with their presentation in the late stages of disease, when little could be done to help them.

The catalyst for change was a small group of physicians who met for lunch once a week to discuss the Clinical Pathology Conference from the New England Journal of Medicine.  The group was referred to as the “Friday Noon Chowder and Marching Society” and was attended by a dermatologist, two general practitioners, a general internist, an orthopedist, a psychiatrist, a radiologist, and a general surgeon.

These physicians formed a local non-profit HMO which became Rocky Mountain HMO which is now Rocky Mountain Health Plans (RMHP), and a non-profit IPA, which became MCPIPA.  The early physician leaders recognized the critical issue of access, and devised the plan for a partnership between RMHP and MCPIPA to share funds between lines of business and pay physicians similarly for Medicaid, Medicare and commercial business. This financial risk-based arrangement between these two entities still exists today, and continues to facilitate equal access to member physicians for patients, regardless of payer source.

These doctors also believed in the concept of managed care, which was a new concept at that time.  They believed that if a patient is provided access to medical services and if doctors are given accurate, timely information on the cost of those services, an appropriate balance between quality and cost would be struck.  As a result, for the past 40 years, residents of Mesa County have enjoyed universal access for commercial, Medicaid and Medicare patients, and managed care medical services that set the standard for high quality at a lower cost.1

1 Historical Information obtained from an article by Roger Shenkel, M.D., A Few Physicians Can Make a Difference.  Colorado Academy of Family Physicians News, pp. 26-27, Fall, 2010