On Friday June 21, 2019 Fox Valley Health Care Transformation Initiative (FVHCTI) convened a meeting at Lawrence University. Present were:
From City of Appleton: Mayor Tim Hanna
From Outagamie County: County Executive Tom Nelson
From Calumet County: County Administrator Todd Romenesko
From Appleton Area School District: CFO Greg Hartjes
From Fox Valley Technical College: Compensation Director Barb Kiefer
This meeting was nearly two years in the making. FVHC reps made three presentations:
Finkler: Health care costs are unsustainable in the Fox Valley (and elsewhere) particularly relative to tax levy limits, wage constraints, and stagnant household income.
Oemichen: A health care purchasing cooperative (Section 185.99 Wisconsin statutes) was presented as a desirable model to jointly purchase health care benefits. Several examples of successful cooperatives now operating in Wisconsin were presented.
Riemer: A public-sector-led purchasing cooperative should be constructed to offer better benefits with lower cost by consolidating bargaining power of public sector organizations.
The presentations were followed by more than an hour of discussion. There was general agreement that health care costs are a serious problem for public sector employers and employees as well as other businesses and individuals. Efforts to control those costs have largely fallen on employers, taxpayers, and employees. Despite the efforts of employers and employees to restructure benefits programs and reward prudent decisions by employees, providers continue to raise prices well beyond other goods and services as well as beyond the ability of the community to absorb them.
The meeting concluded with an agreement that the option presented by FVHC warranted further discussion. It was suggested that a planning committee be formed which would include representatives of the public sector organizations attending.
We are grateful for the attendance and input of the representatives of our major public community organizations. We are hopeful it will lead to action to address the problem of unsustainable medical care costs in our community.