WASHINGTON, DC -- (Marketwire) -- 08/07/12 -- The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), in conjunction with the White House Business Council and the National Business Group on Health, today recognized eight U.S. organizations for their ongoing commitment to reducing health care disparities in the workplace and for supporting a diverse workforce. The eight organizations -- Aetna, Inc., American Express, Cigna, H.J. Heinz Company, Pitney Bowes, Inc. (in partnership with UnitedHealthcare), Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady Health System, Verizon and Wyndham Worldwide -- were honored at a roundtable event organized by HHS where they shared their initiatives and discussed future opportunities and challenges to reduce health disparities.
Helen Darling, President and CEO of the National Business Group on Health, who moderated the roundtable discussion, commented: "We are thrilled and grateful that these eight employers who have been recognized by us over the past two years for their innovative programs to reduce health disparities are being honored by the U.S. Surgeon General Regina Benjamin, MD, MPH. Dr. Benjamin, the White House Business Council and the National Business Group on Health know that good health for the entire population is crucial to quality of life, our standard of living, productivity and the nation's overall success. Because minorities suffer from more health problems than others and also have access to fewer, high quality, effective services, employers are recognizing that they must do much more in a focused way to ensure health equity for all employees and their families."
U.S. Surgeon General Regina Benjamin added: "We applaud each of these forward-thinking organizations for their commitment and ongoing efforts to address and lower health care disparities. They are among a select group of organizations who understand that reducing health disparities in the workplace will lead to improved health, productivity and quality of life of their employees and families. It is our hope that employers all around the country will follow their lead.
The eight employers and their initiatives included:
Aetna's commitment to reducing health care disparities is demonstrated through the company's 11 years of work to address racial and ethnic disparities in health care -- through researching, developing and delivering culturally appropriate care for its members. These initiatives include Breast Health Ethnic Disparities Initiative, Beginning Right Maternity Program, African American Hypertension Study, and ER Utilization in Minority Asthmatic Populations. A key component of the effort has been the company-supported and employee-managed Employee Resource Groups. ERGs have helped reduce barriers to collecting racial and ethnic data on a voluntary basis to help create more culturally focused disease management and wellness programs.
American Express has demonstrated its dedication to reducing health disparities by creating an integrated data warehouse to better understand health care gaps for their employee population and have demonstrated results of all ethnicities having migrated from high risk to low and medium risk categories. In addition, American Express provides an innovative wellness program that offers supportive resources, enhanced access to care and incentives to help foster healthy changes for its employees, and their families. The company is also using this data to address disparities through its use of on-site health clinics, its wellness program, and partnerships with health plans.
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