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National Public Radio's Linda Wertheimer to Moderate Discussion

SEATTLE, Wash. - (April 4, 2008) - As part of its work to transform health care and contain rising costs, Virginia Mason's Center for Health Care Solutions will host a regional conference at Qwest Field in the FSN Lounge Friday, April 25. The event - open to employers, human resource professionals, benefits advisors, consumer advocacy organizers, insurers and other interested parties - will focus on frank discussions about how to solve problems in the health-care industry. To register, visit the VM Works Web site or call (866) 651-7711.

The conference is in response to national indicators of the problems in health care. Health care has become unaffordable for many Americans. Half of personal bankruptcy is related to the cost of health care. Each year fewer workers receive health-care benefits from their employer. The federal government's hospital fund is projected to go broke in 2019. And, paying higher prices does not buy better care for Americans.

National Public Radio journalist Linda Wertheimer will moderate a discussion about the challenges, opportunities, obstacles and successes of creating a marketplace collaborative between employers, providers and insurers. Panel participants will include: Mikel Gray, FSA, MAAA, principal, Mercer; Rick Ludwig, MD, chief medical officer, Pacific Medical Centers; Robert Mecklenburg, MD, medical director, Center for Health Care Solutions, Virginia Mason Medical Center; Peter Morgan, executive vice president, Group Practice Division, Group Health Cooperative; Andrew Oliveira, MD, MHA, medical director, West Region, Health Care Delivery, Aetna; and Kerry Schaefer, Benefits Strategic Planning, King County.

"The crisis is here," says Mecklenburg. "If we're going to solve the problem, we must first change the rules. We'd like to share the struggles and successes we've faced in mapping out a new standard for value-based health care purchasing. We invite participants to learn the way this work can improve both the health of employees and the health of the bottom line."

Virginia Mason's Center for Health Care Solutions was launched in the fall of 2007. The program is focused on forging partnerships with regional employers and health plans to reduce health care costs while providing better, timelier care. The center will help Virginia Mason continue to align its work, offering value-added services and results as perceived by patients and employers.

Virginia Mason Medical Center
Virginia Mason Medical Center, founded in 1920, is a non-profit comprehensive regional health care system that combines a primary and specialty care group practice of more than 400 physicians with a 336-bed acute care hospital in Seattle. In addition, Virginia Mason has a network of clinics located throughout the Puget Sound area and manages Bailey-Boushay House, a nursing residence and Adult Day Health program for people living with HIV and AIDS. Virginia Mason also has an internationally recognized research center, Benaroya Research Institute at Virginia Mason.

For media inquiries only, contact:
Alisha Mark
(206) 341-1509

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