Groups Join Alliance to Monitor Development of Health Benefit Exchange

August 29, 2012 - Sacramento Business Journal
By Kathy Robertson

The California Medical Association and the Food & Drug Council have joined a statewide alliance of business and labor leaders, health plans, providers and patient advocates monitoring developments in the California Health Benefit Exchange.

The goal is to ensure the new health insurance program for individuals and small employers will lower costs, improve quality and expand access to health care for all Californians.

The Healthcare Exchange Advocacy and Responsibility Team — known as HEART — supports a state exchange that harnesses competition between insurance plans to cut costs, enables informed consumer decisions and choice between plans that offer coordinated, team-based care.

Member organizations run the gamut from United Food and Commercial Workers Local 8, a union local in Sacramento that represents workers in major grocery chains, to Safeway Inc., the Sacramento Central Labor Council, Dignity Health, Kaiser Permanente, Blue Shield of California and the California Association of Physician Groups.

HEART was founded by Mark Blum, executive director of America’s Agenda, a Washington, D.C.-based group of national labor unions, businesses, health care providers and governmental leaders who share commitment to health care for all Americans.

“We are united by real concerns about the rising cost of health care,” Blum said. “If the (California) exchange succeeds in providing better care and lowering costs, it will transform the industry.”

Members put up funds or offer services in kind, Blum said.

CMA was urged to joined HEART by family physicians in the trade group who support the concept of medical homes as a model to maximize use of a variety of health care professionals and way to “bend the cost curve,” said Lisa Folberg, CMA vice president for medical and regulatory policy.


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