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April 2, 2002

Council: To contain health costs, businesses can influence their own communities

Businesses in New York State concerned about how actions in Albany drive up New York's health-care costs can focus on some local tactics to contain health costs, according to The Business Council's health-care advocate.

"Rather than throw up our hands over state policies that can inflate costs, businesses can roll up their sleeves and pursue local strategies for shaping their own destinies," Elliott Shaw, director of government affairs for The Business Council and its health-policy specialist, told the Manufacturers' Association of Central New York (MACNY) March 27.

Many measures show that New York's health-care performance is no better than "the middle of the pack nationally," Shaw said. Nonetheless, employers here bear higher costs than those in other states in many areas, including:

"There's no end in sight for private insurance taxes, and special interest groups continue to push for more state imposed mandates and other laws that would increase cost," Shaw said. "These include new mandates that would cover infertility treatments, expanded mental health services, alternative medicine, and contraceptives."

In addition to making their voices heard in Albany, business leaders must advocate cost-containment in their own communities, Shaw said.

For example, business leaders who serve on hospital boards should not limit that work to particular institutional interests, but should also take a broad view of health-care costs and how they can be contained, Shaw said. Hospitals should be encouraged to share services, such as medical laboratory procedures, when that can contain costs for participating institutions.

Shaw said business leaders can also:

"There are growing signs of cost-containment innovations coming from the private sector, but they will need the support of many more businesses and business leaders," Shaw said.