Healthcare pioneer Steve Burd will still have an indelible impact on healthcare reform

After 20 years at the helm, Safeway CEO Steve Burd last week announced his retirement to spend more time with family and pursue interests in health care. He will be leaving behind a Safeway that's gaining market share with each passing quarter within a highly competitive sector. 

But he shouldn't go far. As a champion of health reform and consumer directed care, Burd will likely continue to be a pioneer in the healthcare space as companies begin to implement Obamacare in 2014.

To be sure, before the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act was even signed into law on March 23, 2010, Burd was already pioneering several healthcare reforms designed to incentivize consumer directed care at Safeway. And the success of those programs, which Burd outlined in a 2009 Wall Street Journal op-ed, helped popularize a "Safeway amendment" within healthcare reform, whereby employers can provide employees reimbursement of up to 20% of insurance premiums — rising up to 30% in 2014 or 50% with special approval — if they participate in reasonable wellness programs.

"Safeway's plan capitalizes on two key insights gained in 2005," Burd wrote in his WSJ op-ed. "The first is that 70% of all healthcare costs are the direct result of behavior. The second insight, which is well understood by the providers of health care, is that 74% of all costs are confined to four chronic conditions — cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes and obesity. Furthermore, 80% of cardiovascular disease and diabetes is preventable, 60% of cancers are preventable, and more than 90% of obesity is preventable."

It's that kind of insight, that kind of personal experience in creating, massaging and implementing a workable solution to lower an employer's healthcare costs that will prove invaluable in the coming year.

And he's not alone; DSN found this video press conference on the Facebook page of the Coalition to Advance Healthcare Reform, of which Burd was a founding member, that was posted Jan. 30, 2009. Check it out. While the most recent presidential election helped polarize attitudes toward "Obamacare," this serves as a reminder as to what's at stake and how healthcare reform will impact your business. 

So what do you think? Have the predominant healthcare reform issues changed much since 2009? Does Obamacare effectively address many of the concerns outlined in the CAHR press conference? Is your company in the process of replicating incentive-driven, consumer-directed healthcare programs similar to the one that Burd set up at Safeway? Sound off in the comments section below!



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