CEOs, Government Officials Discuss Proposals To Address Issue of Health Care Costs
Government officials and business leaders on Wednesday attended a summit meeting in Washington, D.C., to discuss ways to control health care costs and improve health care coverage, CQ HealthBeat reports. Participants at the summit included Virginia Gov. Mark Warner (D); Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (R); Sens. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and Richard Burr (R-N.C.); and executives from Verizon, Costco, Pittney-Bowes, Starbucks and Honeywell (CQ HealthBeat, 9/14).
According to Starbucks Chair Howard Schultz, Starbucks has faced double-digit health insurance cost increases each of the last four years and expects to spend $200 million on health care for its U.S. employees. He said the increases are "nonsustainable," even for companies that "want to do the right thing." Starbucks provides health insurance to all employees who work more than 20 hours weekly, the AP/Spokane Spokesman-Review reports (AP/Spokane Spokesman-Review, 9/15).
Schultz said the U.S. is "on a collision course" as health care costs rise (Pope, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 9/15). He added, "I would hope congressional leaders put this at the front of their agenda" (AP/Spokane Spokesman-Review, 9/15).
According to CQ HealthBeat, the summit participants discussed a number of different solutions, including increased use of health care information technology, "flexibility" to allow state Medicaid programs to experiment with ways to control costs and offer coverage, and wellness programs that address obesity and other conditions linked to unhealthy behavior. The group also discussed linking payments to quality incentives and providing a wider availability of quality ratings for providers.
As part of the summit, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation released a report showing many business executives support measures such as tax incentives and allowing self-employed individuals and small businesses to band together to purchase insurance. According to the survey, businesses expect health costs to increase 12% next year and they plan to ask employees to pay for one-fifth of the added cost (CQ HealthBeat, 9/14).
The survey is available online. Note: You must have Adobe Acrobat Reader to view the survey.