Summit Adds Momentum to Health Care Affordability Debate–Blog by Carolyn Pare, Action Group President and CEO


What do you get when you gather a diverse lineup of nationally renowned subject-matter experts and innovators, health care industry sponsors with a passion for helping employers respond to the health care cost and quality crisis, and attendees anxiously searching for answers to the affordability conundrum? You get an action-packed Action Group Employer Leadership Summit where the best and the brightest in the business advanced the health care affordability debate.


Health care affordability is top of mind for all. But cost is driven by many variables—technology, wellness, legislation, clinical quality, patient safety, performance measurement, waste, and payment practices—to name just a few. When we developed the agenda for this year’s Summit, we knew there would be no easy answers, but felt it was essential to explore some of these issues and consider together how we might move forward in creating a health care system that works for every American.

“Health care reform is really about simple execution with a high degree of collaboration, rather than a large, grand strategy,” said keynote speaker Andy Slavitt, (former) Acting Administrator for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services under President Obama. “Keeping people healthy and great patient care is what ultimately cuts costs. We have to focus on the things that are constant: patient care, affordability and quality.”


“You did a wonderful job on a very interesting and valuable Summit! Kudos on a putting together a really stimulating and thought-provoking day, full of opportunities to network and to learn from each other. The conference materials were informative and inspiring. As always, it was a top-notch Summit!”   
Gretchen Taylor, M.P.H., R.D., Minnesota Department of Health

Brenda Schmidt of Solera Health discusses real solutions for stopping diabetes in its tracks

Even with the uncertain future of health care in the U.S., the Summit was infused with the like-minded thinking that everyone deserves to live the healthiest life possible. At The Action Group, this is why we foster partnerships that lead to proactive, collaborative strategies concentrated on better, more affordable health care solutions for all. A summary of our current initiatives can be found here (e.g., specialty drugs, mental health in the workplace, diabetes prevention, All-payer Claims Database, Employer Benefits Survey…).


“We all know the system needs to shift away from high-volume to high-value care, but there’s no way any one of us can change the world by ourselves. The Action Group is uniquely positioned to harness the collective power of employers, health care providers, health plans, policy makers, and others, to address payment reform and reward those who deliver optimal care to patients.”
Practicing physician, Minnesota Health System

The member-led Action Group is much more than a health care purchaser coalition; we are part of a movement to create a better health care system. We are continuously helping tackle complex issues of importance to all employers: Health policy, price transparency, value-based benefits design, improved quality and patient safety, and eliminating low- and no-value care.


“The Summit was an excellent forum for us to share with employers how to open doors for employees and their family members to gain the information, technology, and support they need to make life’s most critical choices—whether and where to receive care.”
Tyler McIntosh, Grand Rounds

We didn’t solve everything in a day, but the time we spent together enlivened conversations and reignited relationships so we can all keep moving forward, making health care better, together.

The Summit Photo gallery, presentations and materials can be found here.

Quoteworthy insights from Summit speakers:

“Medical costs are borne to a large extent by business, and they are rising at an alarming rate as a percent of GDP. When Warren Buffett called medical costs the ‘tapeworm of American competitiveness’ he was alerting CEOs to the fact that they are missing the bigger issue: Medical costs are swallowing their profits. Using a purchaser dashboard will help us focus on the total cost of care, which we must never lose site of.”
Helen Darling, Strategic Advisor on Health Benefits and Health Care
“Health care has become remarkably polarized in Minnesota. This is disappointing since we have been the hub of innovation for a long time. It’s up to the people who are writing the checks for health care—YOU—to put pressure on politicians to work together to keep health care affordable and accessible for all Minnesotans.”
Manny Munson-Regala, Principal, Root Cause Consulting
“About $750 billion is wasted on unnecessary care every year in the U.S., but when you’re a patient with good insurance, you don’t really care. This is complicated by misleading advertising and by cultural norms that reinforce the belief that more care is better care. With Choosing Wisely, we’re empowering consumers to follow a practical decision-making process that leads to reductions in unnecessary care.”
Dom Lorusso, Director of Health Partnerships, Consumer Reports

Carolyn Pare is the Action Group’s president and CEO

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