April 17, 2018
A Demand for Health Care Price Transparency

Stethoscope tied in a knot around a fist full of money
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar has "thrown down a passionate -- and personal -- challenge to health care providers and drug makers, demanding they tell patients what a service or product will cost before they receive it," as reported in this new article from Modern Healthcare.

"The Action Group has long subscribed to the idea that it takes ready access to cost and quality information to build a health care system that pays for quality and outcomes, instead of for more services that do not lead to better health -- and may even cause harm," says Carolyn Pare, Action Group president and CEO. "Through our key initiatives, The Action Group is committed to advancing health care transparency in Minnesota -- and nationwide."
Registration Closes Friday! Member Meeting on ACOs

Health care costs crossword puzzle, Health insurance concept. 3D illustration isolated on white background. 
Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) have become an important and widespread part of the Minnesota and U.S. health care landscape. At our next meeting for Action Group members, we will examine the successes (and shortcomings) of ACOs from a variety of perspectives.  

Joining us will be industry experts:  
  • David Crosby, president and CEO of PreferredOne
  • Michael Phelps, president and CEO of Ridgeview Medical Center
  • Ken Horstman, senior director of total compensation for the University of Minnesota
The meeting is April 24, 2018, from 8 a.m.-10 a.m., at the Hilton Airport/MOA. Click here for a full description.   

While this is a member-exclusive meeting, if you are actively considering membership and would like to attend, please contact Deb Krause (dkrause@mnhealthactiongroup.org) for a complimentary meeting pass. 
Five Reasons You Won't Want to Miss the Employer Leadership Summit!
"Compassion is an overlooked, undervalued, essential asset in today's workplace."
Monica Worline, Ph.D., keynote speaker at this year's Summit 
Only a few spots remain for the  Annual Employer Leadership Summit:  "A NEW LENS: Purpose-Driven Solutions for Optimal Health." (Click here to view the Summit Preview.)  
Here are the top five reasons you won't want to miss this exciting event!

This event typically sells out , so register today to save your spot!  


Plan Your Summit Sponsor Visits! 
Many thanks to our sponsors for making this event not only possible, but an annual success!
Employer Benefits Survey Results Now Available

Those who participated in this year's Annual Employer Benefits Survey recently received the full results, but key findings are available to all!

High-level results from general industry and cities, counties and school districts are featured in two new summaries. Included are key insights to guide strategy and planning, as well as a high-level look at strategic data integration, mental health benefits strategies and tactics, contribution strategies, top health care innovations, and prescription drug trends. 
Those who did not take the Survey but would like to receive a copy of the full results may do so by committing to participating next year. Please contact Deb Krause (dkrause@mnhealthactiongroup.org) to learn more.  
May is Mental Health Month! Employers Can Help!

The theme for May is Mental Health Month is Fitness #4Mind4Body. Information will feature increasing understanding of how the body's various systems impact mental health based on recent research.

Mental Health America is calling on employers to make small changes that result in huge gains for overall mental health. They're simplifying the request by providing a robust toolkit that includes turnkey employee communications, among other things.

The Action Group's Mental Health Learning Network members kicked off 2018 activities last month, including working on having more data to understand network and payment disparities with the goal of improving mental health parity. We will continue exploring how to engage members and other stakeholders to measurably advance mental health in Minnesota and beyond. 

U of MN Seeking Seasoned HR Professionals

The University of Minnesota is seeking three experienced professionals to join the Office of Human Resources team. To learn more or to apply, please click on the links below. 
Learn, Network, Enjoy!   
The Action Group makes it easy for benefits professionals to continue to learn and grow in their careers. Member meetings feature topics selected by our members, and public meetings and events are open to all.  
Member Meetings:

Meetings begin with networking at 8 a.m., and conclude at 10 a.m. All are held at the Hilton Airport/MOA, 3800 American Boulevard East, Bloomington.  
Public Meetings and Events:     
April snow keeps the Capitol blanketed in white!  
Attention turned from policy to dollars this past week as budget targets began to appear.
Last week, the House of Representatives announced their spending goals for the 2018 supplemental budget. In February the state was projected to have a $329 million surplus for the current biennium, and the House targets direct nearly $210 million of that to tax relief and transportation. 

The Health and Human Services budget, a regular victim of budget cuts, will remain static with the exception of an additional $10 million to put toward the state Disability Waiver Rate System. Reforms to the state's challenges around opioids and elder abuse are to be addressed in part by a separate $50 million appropriation from the state's bottom line.
We expect to see the Senate present their budget priorities next week, and then both bodies to assemble their omnibus spending bills. Legislation related to health care cost transparency, including pharmaceutical prices and provider facility fees, are expected to be part of an eventual final package in some form.
The legislature must adjourn by May 21; the clock is starting to tick faster. Stay tuned!
  • Pharmaceuticals/opioids: Beyond the ongoing discussion about how to fund opioid treatment and prevention programs, bills making changes to the state's step therapy regulations (SF2897/HF3196) and price gag rules for pharmacists (SF2836/HF3024) are also moving forward.
  • Improving protections for seniors and vulnerable adults: Governor Dayton and Republicans and Democrats in the Legislature are putting forward a bipartisan plan to protect and enhance the health, safety, and quality of life for Minnesota's seniors and vulnerable adults (SF3437).

"There is no more powerful force than an informed consumer."

Alex Azur, HHS Secretary