On My Mind

Recent headlines provide reason for hope for real progress to control costs of American health care. The big news does not focus on the political process, but on private sector innovation.

Increasingly frustrated purchasers and suppliers are taking matters into their own hands to address the most pressing health care problems. Each story will have a familiar ring to Alliance members…

In January, a group of large hospital systems announced plans to create a nonprofit generic drug company to battle shortages and high prices.

While specialty medications have received most of the attention recently, there are also problems of access and cost for routine medications like morphine and sodium bicarbonate (the medical form of baking soda). You might remember the poster child for this issue – Martin Shkreli, the former hedge fund manager who raised the price of Daraprim to $750 a tablet in 2015 from $13.50!

The effort is being led by Intermountain Healthcare, a nonprofit Salt Lake City hospital group that is known for its pioneering efforts. Success will depend on whether enough other hospitals get behind the effort and commit to purchasing generic drugs from the new nonprofit. To date, about 300 hospitals have committed with more expected to join.

Also in January, Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway and JP Morgan Chase announced plans to form an independent health care company for their U.S. employees.

Little else is known about what this new company would entail; however, the strength of the collaborators alone was enough to make a splash – and lower the stock prices of major insurers and others who benefit from the health care status quo.

The partnership took shape as Jeff Bezos, Warren Buffett and Jamie Dimon, who are friends, discussed the challenges of providing health benefits to their employees. They plan to use their collective know-how of health insurance and consumer decision-making to create a new model, which will be free from profit-making incentives.

These same principles are the cornerstones of the formation of The Alliance – where employers who were frustrated with the cost and quality of health care pooled their resources and know-how to create a new and better alternative.

And they are the foundation of our QualityPath program – where employers and providers are working together voluntarily to raise the bar on quality while controlling costs.

 

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Cheryl DeMars

Cheryl DeMars

President & CEO at The Alliance
Cheryl DeMars joined The Alliance in 1992, assuming several roles before becoming CEO in December 2006. Cheryl works with the Board of Directors and senior leadership team to establish the strategic direction of the cooperative.

Cheryl participates in a number of national and regional initiatives that align with The Alliance’s mission of controlling costs, improving quality and engaging individuals in their health. She serves on the Advisory Board of the Wisconsin Population Health Institute and the board of the Wisconsin Collaborative for Healthcare Quality.

Prior to joining The Alliance, Cheryl was a program manager at Meriter Hospital in Madison. She earned a master’s degree in social work from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Cheryl DeMars

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