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