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Rebranding, wider focus for business health coalition

John Seelmeyer
jseelmeyer@nnbw.biz

The Nevada Business Group on Health is more than a new name for the employer group previously known as Nevada Health Care Coalition.

The new branding also reflects a widening focus for the group, which is best known for its work in negotiating deals with hospitals and other health-care providers for big, self-insured employers in the region.

“We’ve had great success in reducing our employer members’ health care costs through this self-funded coalition group purchasing model, but going forward we want to expand our scope to be the voice for all employers, large and small, in all health-related matters,” says Larry Harvey, executive vice president of John Ascuaga’s Nugget and vice president of the Nevada Business Group on Health board of directors.

Allen Meadows, who took the reins as executive director at the start of this year, says the organization will be paying more attention to wellness programs and will focus as well on education about the federal Affordable Care Act.

Composed of public-sector employers such as the Washoe County School District and the City of Sparks along with private-sector employers such as International Game Technology, the Nevada Business Group on Health was created in 1995 to combine the negotiating clout of its members.

Today, its members employ about 30,000 people.

A newly developed five-year strategic plan for Nevada Business Group on Health calls for the organization to place greater attention on wellness.

In the past, the organization promoted wellness through smoking-cessation and weight-loss classes along with other initiatives.

But now, the group is seeking proposals for healthcare organizations in the region to provide screenings and immunizations, executive physicals, employee assistance programs and technological tools for consumer health education.

Employers with self-insurance programs are required by the new federal health-care law to provide screenings and immunizations are required under the new federal health-care law, Meadow notes.

But at the same time, Meadows says, the group hopes to discover if big-group buying power might help control other health costs faced by its members.

Nevada Business Group on Health’s largest current contracts include hospital services, physician services through Nevada Preferred Healthcare Providers and pharmacy benefits.

While it’s long been involved in wellness efforts, the organization’s role as a resource on the Affordable Care Act is new.

It teamed with the Nevada Association of Employers to present a half-day workshop on the federal health-care legislation in late April, and more workshops and webinars are in the pipeline, says Ginger Paulsen, its education and programs manager.

Paulsen notes that the Reno-based group’s affiliation with the National Business Coalition on Health provides access to a deep pool of information on the Affordable Care Act.

Along with full members, the self-insured employers that work with Nevada Business Group on Health to contract for health services, more than 40 companies in the region are affiliate members of the group. That allows them access to its educational initiatives.

The president of the board of directors of Nevada Business Group on Health, Chris Syverson, director of human resources for the City of Sparks, said the group’s core mission remains unchanged even as it takes on new efforts.

“As employers we have an obligation to bring the best healthcare value to our employees and their families, and we can do so much more together as a group of employers than as just one employer or one human resource professional,” Syverson says.