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Maximizing Employer Influence for Next-Level Employee Benefits

In a concurrent session moderated by HR Policy’s Margaret Faso, panelists explored how CHROs are currently evaluating their health care programs and using data to implement changes that enable better access, affordability, and quality for their employees. The session featured Tom Plath of International Paper, Susan Kelliher of Chemours, and Garrett Hohimer of the Business Group on Health.

“No longer is health care a necessity that you manage passively. Now it is an opportunity to actively manage equitably,” Mr. Plath said in his opening remarks. He discussed the strategies used at International Paper that have resulted in decreased health care costs since 2019 and emphasized that employers need to “own their own data and leverage transparency to help reduce costs.” International Paper implemented concierge services to help reverse trends for those with underlying health issues and proactively asks for lower costs of highly utilized specialty drugs. He is also creating a fiduciary committee for oversight of the health programs, similar to the retirement program.

Ms. Kelliher said, “Our north star is to provide great care options at a great cost.” Chemours is focused on the things they can control within the complex health care system. The company starts with an open dialogue with employees where they provide consumer education and solicit feedback about what is working and not working with their plans to help inform future decisions.

Mr. Hohimer spoke of the policy issues at play surrounding the PBM Transparency bill – a broad bill where “implementation is everything,” citing a potential need to carve out small to mid-size employers due to HIPAA concerns. He also discussed the challenges employers will be faced with in compliance with the pending final Mental Health Parity rule as a result of lack of mental health care providers, the cash-only business model of current mental health providers, and the lack of integrated care networks that allow for primary care physicians to work together with psychologists and psychiatrists for comprehensive care. HRPA will put forth a CHRO Guide to help employers prepare for compliance when the bill is enacted.

Panelists also discussed the importance of ERISA preemption in companies’ ability to quickly adapt to employees needs and provide uniform benefits to employees across the U.S. HR Policy submitted comments to a House Education and Workforce RFI on ERISA, urging the Committee to “reject any attempts to weaken the federal restriction on state-by-state regulation of self-insured employers.”

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Authors: Megan Wolf

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