The Common Ground Healthcare Cooperative has received a $56.4 million loan from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to establish a organization to help southeastern Wisconsin small businesses and nonprofit organizations provide affordable health insurance for their employees.
The loan was provided through President Barack Obama's Affordable Care
The Common Ground Healthcare Cooperative is one of several cooperatives announced across the nation today by the federal government.
"We're honored to bring a new approach to affordable, quality health insurance to individuals, small businesses and nonprofits throughout southeastern Wisconsin," said Bob Connolly, board president of the newly formed initiative. "As a small business owner, I grew tired of the exorbitant increases in health insurance costs with no real additional value. Common Ground Healthcare is a solution to the region's cry
The establishment of the Common Ground Healthcare Cooperative comes after more than three years of research on possible solutions to the challenge of affordable health insurance in the region, Connolly said.
A team of small business, community and health insurance professionals worked together to establish the cooperative in the region, which has seen health insurance premiums increase 113 percent over the past nine years.
The Common Ground Healthcare Cooperative will be based in Milwaukee and serve the seven-county area (Milwaukee, Waukesha, Racine, Kenosha, Ozaukee, Washington and
Organizations and individuals interested in participating in the program can enroll in the fall of 2013. The organization plans to add some 30 employees over the next five years, and will also begin the process immediately of working with providers throughout the region.
The organization's long-term strategy is to keep costs affordable to members, while at the same time helping them to receive high-quality care with a multifaceted approach. First,
Common Ground Healthcare Cooperative will focus on working as partners with doctors, hospitals, agents and members so that the best health care can be provided at a reasonable
Price, Connolly said.
The cooperative will work to educate consumers on wellness such as regular exercise, eating healthy, and choosing more cost effective health care services. The focus on healthy programs, along with ongoing rewards for members who participate, is anticipated to keep overall health care costs lower.
Since the Common Ground Healthcare Cooperative is nonprofit and member governed, its financial reporting will be transparent, Connolly said. The organization will invest any surplus it achieves back into the company for the benefit of its members by keeping premium costs lower, he said.
"As we work to develop the framework for Common Ground Healthcare Cooperative and design programs for consumers, our mission is simple yet at the core of everything we do - putting your health first," Connolly said. "You'll never see extreme bonuses to our executives followed by dramatic increases in premiums. We'll invest everything back into Common Ground Healthcare to better impact our members."
Wisconsin-based health insurance executive Cathy Mahaffey will serve as the interim chief executive officer of the cooperative. Mahaffey was instrumental in the development and successful implementation of Farmers' Health Cooperative of Wisconsin.
Bob De Vita, former senior vice president and chief operating officer with Wheaton
Franciscan Medical Group, will serve as the company's interim chief operating officer.
The organization will also be governed by an 11-member board of directors, consisting of leading physicians, educators, business leaders and attorneys throughout Wisconsin, including:
* T. Michael Bolger, J.D., president and emeritus of the Medical College of Wisconsin.
* Robert Connolly, president and co-owner of The James Company.
* Dr. Susan Giaimo, visiting assistant professor at Marquette University in the Department of Political Science.
* Kevin Kane, a health care organizer for an affiliate of Families USA.
* Michelle Puzin Mooney, treasurer, an activist involved in social justice issues.
* Harry Moseley, retired director of information services at Aurora Medical.
* John Neuberger, director of client partnership at Quad/Graphics Inc.
* James Rabbitt, director of government relations, Cooperate Network, and former head of the Wisconsin Bureau of Consumer Affairs.
* Theresa Tobin, secretary, an assistant professor of philosophy at Marquette University.
* Timothy Vellinga, M.D., a cardiovascular interventionist at numerous hospitals in southeastern Wisconsin, including Aurora St. Luke's, West Allis Memorial, The Wisconsin Heart Hospital and St. Francis Hospital.
* James Wesp, vice president, a small businessman who has developed and run businesses for 35 years.
The organization will initially receive $7.4 million to finance its operational expenses for the first two years. According to Connolly, that loan amount will be paid back over a five-year period. The remaining 48.9 million will be given to Common Ground Health Care cooperative after it is demonstrated that previously identified milestones have been hit.
Common Ground Healthcare Cooperative is an independent entity from its founding organization, Common Ground. Though similar in name, Common Ground is a nonpartisan, community-based organization of 44 small businesses, congregations, nonprofits, colleges and labor unions in southeastern Wisconsin dedicated to identifying and bringing solutions to challenges facing the community.
To provide current and future information to organizations and consumers along with job postings, Common Ground Healthcare Cooperative also launched its informational website www.commongroundhealthcare.org. The company will also maintain both Facebook and Twitter pages to keep consumers updated on growth and future plans.