SILVER SPRING, Md., April 24 /PRNewswire/ -- George Halvorson, chairman and chief executive officer, Kaiser Foundation Health Plan and Hospitals, and John Sweeney, AFL-CIO president, are the keynote speakers at a health care forum exploring ways to preserve quality of care and protect union benefits as the nation considers alternative health care options.
Today's forum, held at the National Labor College in Silver Spring, is expected to attract labor and health care leaders from across the country.
"Kaiser Permanente's partnership with the country's labor unions underscores our commitment to bring universal health care coverage to all Americans," Halvorson said. "By working together, we want to bring quality care to the forefront of the health care debate. The fundamental focus of our national health care system should be to ensure quality care. If we can focus on quality, we can improve health care outcomes across communities."
Halvorson and Sweeney, who also is chair of the board of trustees at the NLC, will lead a dialogue in a morning session on the importance of preserving quality care and maintaining union benefits.
Sweeney said: "Our goal is not just to create universal health coverage, but high-quality, affordable universal health coverage. And that's going to require a strong government role in controlling costs and enforcing standards of care."
Dr. William E. Scheuerman, NLC president, will moderate the morning panel.
"Access to affordable, quality health coverage must be at the top of our national debate this election season," Scheuerman said. "I am especially pleased that the NLC is hosting this discussion on our campus. Thanks to the support we received from Kaiser Permanente and others, the NLC is growing as a place for sharing ideas and developing solutions to problems facing working people."
Also speaking are: David Blumenstein, national director, senior vice president, The Segal Company; and labor leaders from Service Employees International Union, American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, International Brotherhood of Teamsters, and Office and Professional Employees International Union.
Kaiser Permanente, based in Oakland, Calif., has had a unique labor-management partnership for more than 10 years that involves more than 160,000 union, management and physician employees. In 2007, Kaiser and the Coalition of Kaiser Permanente Unions, donated $450,000 to the NLC to fund the Kaiser Permanente Healthcare Institute, a program at the NLC dedicated to educating labor leaders and union members on health care issues. As part of the grant, the NLC is sponsoring an annual health care forum for leaders of unions and allied organizations.
About Kaiser Permanente
Kaiser Permanente is America's leading integrated health plan. Founded in 1945, it is a not-for-profit, group practice program headquartered in Oakland, Calif. Kaiser Permanente serves 8.7 million members in nine states and the District of Columbia. Today it encompasses the not-for-profit Kaiser Foundation Health Plan, Inc., Kaiser Foundation Hospitals and their subsidiaries, and the for-profit Permanente Medical Groups. Nationwide, Kaiser Permanente includes approximately 159,000 technical, administrative and clerical employees and caregivers, and 13,000 physicians representing all specialties. For more Kaiser Permanente news, visit the KP News Center at: http://xnet.kp.org/newscenter.
About the National Labor College
Established as a training center by AFL-CIO in 1969 to strengthen union member education and organizing skills, the NLC is now the nation's only accredited higher education institution devoted exclusively to educating union leaders, members and activists. The NLC became a degree granting college in 1997. The college is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, an independent, regional accrediting body recognized by the U.S. Department of Education.
SOURCE Kaiser Permanente