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Companies Recognized For Supporting Diversity

    WASHINGTON -- The National Business Group on Health, a non-profit association of large, U. S. employers, have honored six organizations for their ongoing commitment to reducing health care disparities in the workplace and for supporting a diverse workforce.

    The six companies -- Aetna, American Express, H.J. Heinz Company, St. Francis Medical Center's Franciscan Clinic, Verizon, and Wyndham Worldwide -- were each recognized with "Awards for Innovation in Reducing Health Care Disparities." The inaugural awards were presented at the National Business Group on Health's 2011 Business Health Agenda held in Washington, DC.

    In presenting the awards, Helen Darling, president and CEO of the National Business Group on Health, commented: "A growing number of employers are recognizing how important it is that their health care benefits and health improvement programs meet the needs of a culturally diverse workforce. These employers are to be commended for their innovative approaches to addressing disparities. They recognize that by addressing health and health care disparities, they are improving the value, quality and effectiveness of the services their employees receive through health care benefits and productivity programs."

    The winning companies and key components of their programs are:
    Aetna's commitment to reducing health care disparities is demonstrated through the company's ten 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 successfully created an integrated data warehouse to better understand health care disparities for their employee population and have demonstrated results of all ethnicities having migrated from high risk to low and medium risk categories. 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.

    Heinz has a bilingual culture of health and provides all written communications in English and Spanish as well as having translators available where possible to accommodate speakers of other languages. The company also has on-site health champions, including bilingual support leaders, who encourage participation in a wide range of wellness activities among U.S. employees of all cultures. Heinz also covers 100% of the cost of preventive screenings and flu vaccinations for all U.S. employees and their families to reduce potential barriers to early detection.

    The Franciscan Clinic is a ministry of the Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady Health System and was created to provide employees with greater access to timely, appropriate care. Prior to the opening of the Clinic many employees were forgoing much needed care because of the cost. The Clinic serves to eliminate social disparities within the organization and increase access through a medical home model increasing participation rates in use of preventive services. Attention to health and wellness also includes a focus on mental health and emphasizes education and diabetes management services.

    Verizon has the longest running focus on the reduction of health disparities and has excelled in partnering with health care vendors, empowering employees through education and supporting and partnering with Employee Resource Groups. The company's annual vendor renewal process assesses the work that health plans are doing to identify and address disparities. Verizon has implemented on-site mammography screenings to increase screening rates with minority women, aged 35 and over.

    Wyndham Worldwide's extensive "Be Well" wellness and benefits program delivers a myriad of benefits, healthy initiatives and resources which are available to all U.S. based associates and make an impact across the company's extremely diverse workforce. This includes a full-time wellness advisor who works with the Vice President of Diversity to meet the wellness needs of a diverse population, domestic partner benefits available under most of Wyndham Worldwide's benefits plans, and a wellness council comprised of a diverse group of employees to help enhance the organization's wellness programs and resources. The company also partnered with Latina Style Magazine at its Diversity Leaders Conference for 50 companies and created Employee Resource Groups where African Americans, Hispanics and veterans can voice their opinions and offer suggestions regarding company offerings.

    "Health disparities affect all employers, and failure to address them will seriously hurt the health, productivity and quality of life of their employees and dependents. And with the current economic challenges, it is becoming important for employers to help keep their employees and dependents as healthy, engaged and productive as possible. We strongly encourage other employers to follow the lead of these leading organizations in addressing the issue of health care disparities," Darling concluded.

    About the National Business Group on Health
    The National Business Group on Health is the nation's only non-profit, membership organization of large employers devoted exclusively to finding innovative and forward-thinking solutions to their most important health care and related benefits issues and to being the voice for large employers on national health care issues. The Business Group, whose 320 members include 66 of the Fortune 100, identifies, develops and shares best practices in health benefits, disability, health and productivity, related paid time off and work/life balance issues. Business Group members provide health coverage for more than 55 million U.S. workers, retirees and their families. 



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