WMU News

WMU joins health care coalition

January 27, 1998

KALAMAZOO -- Western Michigan University has joined the 14 other public universities in the state to form the Michigan Universities Coalition on Health in an effort to hold down health care costs.

"Our goal is to increase the value of health care benefit plans and services," said Robert M. Beam, vice president for business and finance at WMU. "We hope to achieve better plans and services at lower cost for the state's public universities, their employees, retirees and dependents."

"While health care costs have stabilized in recent years, they once again continue to increase faster than inflation," Beam said. "With increased cost control, we hope to keep public higher education affordable."

Membership in the coalition is intended to provide WMU with information and opportunities to limit the negative effects of increases in health care costs. The public universities group already has had a preliminary meeting with Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Michigan to develop strategies.

"We'll be working with health insurance plans, hospitals, physicians and others to improve access, cost and quality at the local level," Beam said. "The public universities, as one of the state's largest employer groups, can play an important role in bringing about market-driven health care reform."

Representing WMU on the coalition's board is Richard K. Schaper, manager of benefits in the WMU Department of Human Resources. The alternate member is Lowell P. Rinker, assistant vice president for business. The next meeting of the board is scheduled for March 25.

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