Let’s Take Action on Behalf of Minnesotans–Blog by Ken Horstman, Senior Director of Total Compensation, University of Minnesota, Action Group Chairman of the Board

Let’s Take Action on Behalf of Minnesotans–Blog by Ken Horstman, Senior Director of Total Compensation, University of Minnesota, Action Group Chairman of the Board

Given the current climate of uncertainty in the marketplace, it has never been more important for employers from diverse backgrounds and business sectors to use their collective voice to ensure the affordability and accessibility of health care in our communities and workplaces. And, as a member-led coalition, The Action Group offers unique and ready opportunities for every member to contribute toward improving the health care system for their own employees — and for all Minnesotans.

In my new role as chairman of the board for The Action Group, I’m looking forward to focusing on growing Action Group membership and calling upon all members to become fully engaged in our high-value initiatives to ensure that our strength and positive influence continues to grow at state and national levels. To paraphrase: “Action Group coalition life is not a spectator sport.” We can find avenues to give everyone a chance to contribute, whether in a leadership or contributor role, in ways that provide personal and professional satisfaction. Here are just a few ideas:

  • Help grow our membership:

    Invite a colleague from a non-member organization to join you at one of our more than a dozen annual events and meetings — and attend as many as you can. When we add and hear from members, it means much more than increasing our numbers; it means we increase the diversity of thoughts and opinions that enrich conversations and lead to important marketplace change.

  • Participate in the Annual Employer Benefits Survey (and encourage others to do so):

    Our proprietary, confidential and free Survey is open to all public and private organizations that have employees in Minnesota. The Survey digs deep into what is and isn’t working for employers, and full results are available only to employer participants. I have used the Survey’s benchmarks and trends to support strategic and tactical benefit plan management for many years ­— and I appreciate saving the $30,000 (or more) I would otherwise have to pay a consultant to conduct such a high-quality Survey.

  • Attend the Annual Employer Leadership Summit (and bring a friend!):

    At this year’s 10th Annual Employer Leadership Summit, “The Time is NOW: Putting Affordable Back into Health Care,” we will be calling on local and national thought leaders and some of our most innovative members to share their best practices in tackling cost and quality issues in ways that contribute to ensuring the health and vitality of our economy and our citizens. The Summit is an outstanding opportunity to network and to learn about the latest happenings in improving the affordability of health care.

  •  Join a Learning and Action Network; put the findings to work

    Each of our Learning and Action Networks maximizes opportunities to improve the value of health care by focusing on pay-for-performance, as well as ways to address areas of overuse, high cost, and variation. Working together to develop Employer Purchaser’s Guides, then putting them to work, sends a strong, clear, consistent signal to providers, health plans, and other stakeholders about care delivery cost and quality expectations. I invite you to join the 2017 Mental Health Learning Network, a topic Action Group members identified as a top concern for their organizations. Learn more here.

  • Offer a National Diabetes Prevention Program (NDPP) as a covered benefit:

    The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) is contracting with The Action Group to engage employers and insurers to make the NDPP a covered benefit. We provide valuable support by working to make the NDPP widely available and accessible to people at high risk for type 2 diabetes, which, by the way, is one in three of American adults, or about 86 million people, 90% of whom don’t know it.

  • Introduce Advance Care Planning (ACP) to your organization:

    Our objective is to increase awareness and understanding about ACP to enable calm, informed, compassionate conversations before the need arises. The University of Minnesota works with Honoring Choices Minnesota to facilitate discussions with employees, and now offers wellness points for employees and covered family members who take the Advance Care Directive pledge. Over 700 people earned these points in the first month it was offered. Click here to see The Action Group’s Statewide ACP Call to Action.

  • Consider a Board position:

    Add your fresh thinking to that of the highly invested team that makes up The Action Group’s Board of Directors. If you are serious about improving the health care system in Minnesota, I hope you will get in touch and let us know of your interest in joining the Board.

I have been an Action Group member for 15 years, and have seen the value of uniting as a health care purchasing collective time and again. In a recent example, following two years of studying the high cost of specialty drugs and a Community Dialogue, we rolled out the concept of getting the 5 Rights Right: Right drug, right price, right place, right support, right data. The Action Group has now convened a multi-stakeholder Guiding Coalition to determine specific action items to effect change in Minnesota and nationally. In response, we’re already seeing many vendors setting specific goals to address challenges related to the rising cost of specialty drugs.

Additionally, our Specialty Drug Learning and Action Network has gained national recognition and support from several employer organizations and their members. Organizations such as the Catalyst for Payment Reform (CPR), the National Alliance of Healthcare Purchaser Coalitions (formerly the National Business Coalition on Health or NBCH), and the Pacific Business Group on Health (PBGH) have agreed to support each other and us in pursuing the “5 Rights” at local and national levels.

In the coming year, I’m looking forward to seeing current members take part in this member-led coalition, and welcoming new members who will help us set the stage for the future. Let’s roll up our sleeves and do together what none us can do alone.


Ken Horstman is Senior Director of Total Compensation, University of Minnesota, and Action Group Chairman of the Board

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