National Leaders Share Perspectives, Solutions to Health Care Challenges

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Experts Discuss How to Lower Health Care Costs and Improve Quality at Sept. 20 Forum Sponsored by MemorialCare Health System Presidents’ Partnership

Health industry experts and corporate executives will lead a forum Sept. 20 on how wellness activities, health benefits alignment and lowering medical risk factors can help reduce health costs and improve the health of their workforce. The event from 7 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. at Long Beach Memorial Medical Center is sponsored by The Presidents’ Partnership of MemorialCare Health System and features leaders from health care, insurance and business sectors.

“Employers are grappling with health insurance costs, which are expected to increase an average of 7.2 percent next year,” explains Barry Arbuckle, Ph.D., president and CEO, MemorialCare Health System in Southern California and past chair, California Hospital Association. “The Presidents’ Partnership event helps business leaders gather information and insights about stemming unsustainable rises in health insurance costs. This forum delivers on employee wellness, population health management, integrated care and benefits realignment to help employers identify opportunities to improve quality and reduce costs.”

Joining Dr. Arbuckle are Paul Markovich, executive vice president and chief operating officer for Blue Shield of California, a 3.3 million member not-for-profit health plan serving commercial, individual and government markets; Daniel Walker, president and chairman, Farmers & Merchants Bank, with over 100 years in business and strong employee retention; and James Leo M.D., medical director of Best Practice and Clinical Outcomes for MemorialCare Health System, known for bringing evidence-based medicine to the bedside and implementing innovative employee wellness initiatives. Moderating the discussion is Randy Gordon, president and CEO of the 1,000-member Long Beach Area Chamber of Commerce.

Keynote speaker David Kirchhoff, president and CEO of Weight Watchers International, will address obesity, a critical factor in rising health costs. Skyrocketing numbers of obese individuals accounts for nearly 30 percent of the rise in health care spending over the last 25 years. The U.S. is facing an epidemic of lifestyle-related chronic conditions, such as heart disease, diabetes and cancer. Forty-five percent of the population suffers from conditions that could be prevented or better managed. Kirchhoff’s business philosophy is grounded in the belief that obesity prevention is achievable and realized through smart governance, industry support and community empowerment.

“MemorialCare’s Presidents’ Partnership informs and engages employers large and small on issues they all face, seeking solutions to address health care challenges and costs,” adds Dr. Arbuckle. “Working in collaboration, MemorialCare can help businesses identify the impact of health reform, create a healthier workforce, stem escalating health benefit costs and advocate for better care in our communities.”