May 22, 2018
Summit Views Hot Health Care Topics Through New Lens

At The Action Group's 2018 Employer Leadership Summit, we explored the role of purpose in creating vibrant, high-performing and healthy organizations. With the help of esteemed speakers, panelists, innovators and sponsors, we looked through a new lens to tackle the tough issues of our time.

How can we bring our best work to life and our best life to work? What can employers do to address the alarming rate of obesity and the opioid epidemic? Can we live more abundantly by defining and embracing our purpose? What does the unrest in the health care industry mean for Minnesota employers? And how can we think differently to break the mold and accelerate health care marketplace change?

To view Summit presentations, photos, materials, quick poll questions and more, please click here. New articles related to Summit topics can be found below.
Allan Baumgarten to Share Market Insights with Action Group Members

The Action Group's June member meeting, The Changing Landscape for Health Care in Minnesota: Data and Insights for Employers, offers an opportunity to hear market insights from Allan Baumgarten, an independent analyst and consultant whose work focuses on health care policy, finance and local market strategies. He is the author of Minnesota Health Market Review, a nationally recognized annual report analyzing key trends. 
Registration is now open for this not-to-be-missed MEMBER-EXCLUSIVE meeting on June 21, 2018, from 8 a.m.-10 a.m., at the Hilton Airport/MOA. Click here for a full description.  

While this meeting is for members only, if you are actively considering membership and would like to attend, please contact Sue Jesseman ( for a complimentary meeting pass. 
The Problem with Prescription Drug Prices
When a drug price can increase 100,000%...for no reason

In 2001, Acthar, a drug used to treat infantile spasms, sold for about $40/vial. Today, it's more than $40,000 -- an increase of an astounding 100,000 percent. Detailed in this May 6, 2018, 60 Minutes feature, blame falls on an "absolute opaque system of pricing for our country."

"Story after story, whether it's about Acthar, the EpiPen, Daraprim, or any of the countless others, adds urgency to the need for employers to demand change," says Carolyn Pare, Action Group president and CEO. "Because employers are often writing the checks for these costly drugs, they are leading our Specialty Drug Guiding Coalition comprised of health plans, provider organizations, pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs), specialty pharmacies, and manufacturers. By working together and sharing ideas and expertise, we are setting and meeting goals to keep drug pricing in check."
New Survey Summary Now Available!

Annual Employer Benefits Survey participants recently received the full results, but summaries of key findings are available to all. A new version, designed to complement Summit topics, has just been added to the library, too.

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 ( to learn more.  
Minnesotans Share Mental Health Stories in Powerful Science Museum Exhibition

Good mental health is an important aspect of everyone's life. Like physical illness, mental illness is not a "choice" or a personal flaw but a medical condition that requires care. The National Institute of Mental Health reported in 2014 there were an estimated 43.6 million adults aged 18 or older in the United State with a mental illness in the previous year -- 18.1 percent of all U.S. adults. Yet misunderstanding of mental illness often leads to lack of treatment and needless suffering. That makes mental health a personal issue, a social issue, and an economic issue.

Mental Health: Mind Matters, the Science Museum of Minnesota's newest traveling exhibition, is designed to create a safe place for important conversations about mental health.

"I don't think you'll find someone who hasn't been touched by mental illness," says Sue Abderholden, executive director of NAMI Minnesota, a consultant on the Science Museum exhibition, and advisor to The Action Group's Mental Health Learning Network. "People don't realize how hard it is to live with mental illness -- what courage it takes. I'm really hoping that the exhibit promotes empathy and understanding."

The Action Group's Mental Health Learning Network members are 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.  
Learning Opportunities at your Fingertips!

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. If you missed the April member meeting on ACOs, or attended and would like to have the slides, please log into the Member Center from the homepage and select Member Meeting Presentations. 
Public Meetings and Events:     
Springtime at the Capitol 
The Legislature adjourned for the biennium late Sunday night, concluding one of the most challenging regular sessions in recent memory.
The Legislature combined all of the supplemental spending and policy initiatives for each state agency into one bill, Senate File 3656. While this is not entirely uncommon
in the second year of a biennium, this bill weighed in around 990 pages -- arguably one of the largest bills ever crafted. Governor Dayton objected to the proposal almost immediately for both its format and content, preferring to act on more singular bills that did not contain as much new policy language.
A number of provisions The Action Group has been tracking this session were included in SF3656, including the creation of the Minnesota Health Policy Commission, a study on how to improve the Minnesota Health Records Act and its role in coordinating care; a study into geographic rating areas for small group and individual insurance costs; and increased transparency around facility fees and pharmaceutical expenses. It remains to be seen if the Governor will sign the bill, but all signals to date indicate he will not.  
Governor Dayton has nearly two weeks before he is required to act on SF3656, so for now the health care industry is watching and waiting. Regardless of his decision, it is clear that price transparency and consumer costs in health care will be an overriding topic as we head into the 2018 election cycle.  
That being said, some bills were passed on their own and signed into law this year. Included among them are:
  • House File 3196: Reforms to state laws around pharmaceutical step therapy protocols.
  • Senate File 3480: Requires primary care cost transparency through public posting of average costs and reimbursement rates at provider locations, updated annually. 

"The underlying problem we have with prescription drugs in this country is that every single actor has the potential to make money when drug prices go up."
From the 60 Minutes report: