Working Group Examines Health Care Costs
McGee, Jennifer, Konde, Pamela Sosne, Nation's Cities Weekly
Recognizing the daunting challenge to cities of the escalating costs of providing healthcare to municipal employees, NLC's Working Group on Health Care met recently in Washington, D.C., to address those concerns.
Chaired by Michael Kazperzak, council member, Mountain View, Calif., the group heard from a number of speakers on the health care crisis in this country.
The working group decided that the reasons behind rising health care costs are complicated, so a comprehensive federal solution was needed, including some reform to all aspects of health care--the consumers, the medical providers, drug manufacturers and insurers.
NLC President Anthony A. Williams, mayor of Washington, D.C., appointed the working group to examine federal solutions in relation to municipalities and health costs.
After an initial meeting at the Congressional City Conference in March, the group agreed on a specific focus: Within the context of their role as employers providing increasingly more expensive health care coverage for city employees, they will recommend actions NLC can take to help control rising municipal health care costs.
The most recent meeting took place to set forth recommendations to federal policy makers on the issue of rising health care costs within the NLC policy process.
A myriad of speakers including representatives from the Administration, Congress and academia, gave presentations on numerous health related topics such as prevention and wellness, public health awareness, health information technology, pharmaceuticals and public health awareness.
Ray Scheppach, executive director of the National Governors Association, opened up the session by describing the way that the states are addressing the issue of rising health care costs, especially as states provide Medicaid funds as well.
Mike Zamore, policy advisor to Rep. Patrick Kennedy (D-R.I.), co-chair of the 21st Century Health Care Caucus, spoke about the critical need for the establishment of information technology infrastructure in the health care industry.
Karen Pollitz, project director, Institute for Health Care Research and Policy, Georgetown University, reminded the group about where it should focus, "Remember, it is not just about the cost of health care; it's about what you value."
Mark Goldberg, senior vice president for policy and strategy, National Coalition on Health Care, spoke about the importance of covering the uninsured population, because cost shifting is occurring onto the private and municipal market. …