Source: Providence Business News
By Elizabeth Graham
Paul Martineau stepped into the role of chairman of the board of directors at the Rhode Island Business Group on Health last month. He replaces former chair Howard Dulude. Martineau joined the board in 2012, bringing with him 40 years of experience in human resources management. He currently works with Olden Street Advisors LLC, a health care, human relations and business consulting firm.
Martineau spoke to Providence Business News about his new position at RIBGH and potential changes in the health care industry.
PBN: What are your goals for RIBGH going forward?
MARTINEAU: Serving as the voice of Rhode Island Business on health care issues, our primary goal has been and will continue to be to advocate for a health care delivery system that is affordable, efficient and of high quality. Over the coming year, two secondary goals have been set to further strengthen our voice; one is to conduct a new-member recruitment campaign seeking to engage more small- to medium-sized companies. The other goal involves structuring a process to identify and develop a cadre of prospective board members.
PBN: Is there one issue that is emerging as a focus point as health care and requirements for employers continue to evolve?
MARTINEAU: Our membership is composed entirely of companies offering employer-sponsored health insurance. The issue that continues to emerge is the one of benefit mandates (proposals to expand insurance coverage). While the expansion may sound good, it adds cost for both employers and employees. Too often these costs are never calculated or communicated to employers or employees. So, yes, there is no question that affordability is a focal point that needs to be addressed. Recently, a report from the University of Pennsylvania titled “The Burden of Health Care Costs for Working Families” noted that family premiums represent almost 30% of median family income in the state of Rhode Island. Clearly, this is an unsustainable fact.
PBN: Is there any policy or legislation that RIBGH has its eye on?
MARTINEAU: This year, it is estimated that the Rhode Island General Assembly will consider more than 200 health care-related bills. While RIBGH closely monitors all health care-related legislation during the session, there is an overarching concern: none of the proposed legislation will be supported by an economic-impact statement. Last year, RIBGH began calling for the General Assembly to comply with the … Mandated Benefit Statement of Intent, a law enacted by the General Assembly [in 2013] requiring economic-impact analysis of proposed legislation creating a new mandated benefit or expanding upon an existing one. We believe that legislators need more support as they consider legislative proposals in the complicated health care space.
PBN: Do you think there will be significant effect on Rhode Island employers if the Trump administration succeeds in repealing the Affordable Care Act?
MARTINEAU: RIBGH is focused on those areas where we have greater influence and control – namely the local drivers of uncontained costs that have resulted in insurance rate increases that have historically and consistently exceeded the rate of inflation. Through initiatives such as addressing low-value care, greater transparency regarding costs and prices, capacity, mandated benefits, taxes, fees and assessments, we can better manage the more than $8.8 billion that we are currently spending on health care here in R.I.
PBN: What sort of programs aimed at employee health is RIBGH promoting right now?
MARTINEAU: Three come to mind. First, RIBGH’s health and productivity committee organizes several programs a year. This year, for example, the committee sponsored a cafe event focusing on diabetes. A June 6 wellness summit will feature Bob Kelleher, a well-known thought leader and engagement consultant. This summit will focus on the differences in needs between the generations: millennials, Gen X and baby boomers. Last year, RIBGH sponsored the first employer summit on opioids in the workplace. Representatives from the National Safety Council presented “The Opioid Crisis – Considerations for Employers.” In 2018, our well-being summit followed up on the issue of opioids in the workplace.
Additionally, we are actively promoting an internationally recognized initiative called Choosing Wisely, aimed at reducing unnecessary and low-value medical tests, procedures and prescriptions. Sponsored by RIBGH with the support of the Rhode Island Foundation, Choosing Wisely encourages patients to ask five questions of their clinician. Among them: Do I really need this test or procedure? Are there simpler, safer options? And, what happens if I do nothing?
To date, over 40 companies and several municipalities in Rhode Island have adopted Choosing Wisely, as have all of the major physician groups and insurers serving the state of Rhode Island. In our view, Choosing Wisely holds great promise to realize substantial cost savings in the delivery system by promoting informed conversation between patient and clinician.
- Elizabeth Graham is a PBN staff writer. Email her at Graham@PBN.com.