America's Top Business Leaders and Employers Join Forces to Advance Healthcare Reform

    WASHINGTON, May 7 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Today, nearly 40 of the
 nation's top business leaders and largest employers joined forces to
 announce the formation of the Coalition to Advance Healthcare Reform
 (CAHR). Standing shoulder to shoulder with lawmakers at a Capitol Hill
 press conference, they discussed the coalition's core principles, its
 mission and called for meaningful federal and state policy reforms by 2009
 to solve the nation's healthcare crisis.
     "As major employers, we are engaging in one of the most crucial
 domestic policy debates of our time -- fixing our nation's health care
 crisis, reducing out of control costs and ensuring every American has
 affordable healthcare," said Safeway CEO and CAHR chairman Steve Burd. "We
 are committed to being part of the solution and working together with all
 stakeholders to act now in solving a problem that threatens the future
 health of our nation and economy."
     At the current growth rate, healthcare costs will be 22 percent of the
 United State's gross domestic product by 2015, which will negatively impact
 the competitiveness of U.S. businesses in the global marketplace and be
 detrimental to American workers. By next year, the average Fortune 500 firm
 will have a healthcare bill that exceeds its net income. And today, 47
 million Americans are living and raising their families without health
 insurance.
     CAHR is a working coalition of business leaders and employers committed
 to solving this problem by advancing a set of five core principles to guide
 and shape state and federal policies. Specifically, the coalition believes
 the foundation of any reform must be based on the following: Market-Based
 Healthcare System; Universal Coverage with Individual Responsibility;
 Financial Assistance for Low-Income Individuals; Healthier Behavior and
 Incentives; Equal Tax Treatment.
     CAHR's approach to healthcare reform centers around taking immediate
 action at the state and national level to engage with all stakeholders to
 enact market-based reforms to solve the healthcare crisis. CAHR has brought
 on board America's leading businesses as well as a team of
 nationally-recognized professionals, including Jack Quinn and Ed Gillespie,
 to manage the organization.
     Joining Mr. Burd today were fellow CAHR members Art Collins, CEO of
 Medtronic, Inc., H. Edward Hanway, CEO of CIGNA, Steve Sanger, CEO of
 General Mills and Ronald A. Williams, CEO of Aetna Inc. Lawmakers,
 including Senator Ron Wyden (D-Oregon), Senator Bob Bennett (R-Utah) and
 Congressman Brian Baird (D-Washington) also participated in the event. They
 met with coalition members to praise their leadership and discuss how to
 bring all stakeholders together in advancing reform measures immediately.
     "The CEOs here today and in the coalition are critical partners in the
 effort to ensure that our nation's broken health care system is fixed,"
 said U.S. Senator Ron Wyden, a member of the Senate Finance Committee. "The
 bottom line is that whether you are the CEO of a large company competing in
 the global economy or a self-employed individual struggling to find
 affordable health care, health care reform is an urgent priority that
 Congress needs to act on now."
     "Americans want access to quality, affordable health care. For years we
 have tried a piecemeal approach to reform, but it is clear that has not
 worked. Now is the time for real solutions," said Sen. Bob Bennett, a
 member of Senate Republican leadership. "I'm pleased to join with this new
 coalition made up of some of America's top companies to push groundbreaking
 reform that will use market incentives to ensure that all Americans have
 access to health care coverage."
     In the coming weeks and months, CAHR will be actively engaged in policy
 discussions at the state and federal level. The business community can, and
 should be, in a leadership position to advance market-based solutions that
 reverse rising healthcare costs, solve the problem of the uninsured and
 dramatically improve the quality of care for every American.
     "We believe the private sector can bring innovative solutions to the
 table. Within our own companies, many of us have experienced the incredible
 results of reform by acting to reduce costs while significantly improving
 the quality of healthcare," continued Mr. Burd. "By rolling up our sleeves
 and working with all stakeholders, the business community has a unique
 opportunity to play a significant role in developing reforms that will keep
 us competitive globally, and more importantly, protect the future and
 health of our families, employees and nation."
     Nearly 40 companies have signed up as initial members of the coalition
 and that number is expected to grow in the coming weeks. The full
 membership list includes: Aetna, Inc., Alex Lee, Inc., Blue Shield of
 California, Bumble Bee Seafoods, LLC, C&S Wholesale Grocers, Inc., Cigna
 HealthCare, The Clorox Company, CVS/Pharmacy Corporation, Del Monte Foods,
 Eli Lilly and Company, General Mills, Giant Eagle, GloxoSmithKline, H.J.
 Heinz Company, Illinois Tool Works, Inc., Jax Markets, Kaiser Permanente,
 Kimberly-Clark Corporation, Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co., Kraft Foods,
 Inc. The Kroger Company, Longs Drugs, McKesson Corporation, Medtronic,
 Inc., Norfolk Southern Corporation, PacifiCare, A United Healthcare
 Company, Pacific Gas and Electric Company, PepsiCo, Inc., Playtex Products,
 Inc., Price Chopper, Raley's, Safeway Inc., Supervalu, The J.M. Smucker
 Company, United Supermarkets, Ltd., Wm. Wrigley Jr. Company.
     Quotes from CAHR's member business leaders and additional information
 regarding our core principles are attached. A web site has also been
 launched with detailed information on the coalition, its members,
 healthcare reform proposals, and healthcare news. The website address is
 http://www.coalition4healthcare.org.
 
 

SOURCE Coalition to Advance Healthcare Reform

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