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Last modified: Wednesday, February 11, 2009

IU forms blue ribbon committee on health care costs

Feb. 11, 2009

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Indiana University President Michael McRobbie today (Feb. 11) announced the formation of a 12-member blue ribbon committee to identify ways to cut health care costs while continuing to deliver high-quality health care to employees and their families on all IU campuses.

"For the past several years, we have seen health care costs increase by 8 to 12 percent a year across the university," McRobbie said. "These dramatic increases are threatening our ability to continue providing our employees with comprehensive and affordable access to high-quality care. I expect this committee to propose measures that will enable us to reduce our costs while still providing our employees with a full range of effective and accessible health care services."

During the 2008-09 fiscal year, IU will spend approximately $146 million on healthcare benefits for its 17,300 full-time employees and their families and more than $7 million on healthcare benefits for more than 4,400 graduate assistants. All in all, for every $1 that IU pays for employee salaries, it spends an additional 20 cents for employee health care coverage.

The committee will be chaired by Dr. Thomas Inui, M.D., president and chief executive officer of the Regenstrief Institute, which is closely affiliated with the IU School of Medicine.

Regenstrief is an informatics and health care research organization that conducts research on ways to enhance the quality and cost-effectiveness of health care. Inui also serves as associate dean for health care research and the Sam Regenstrief Professor of Health Services Research in the IU School of Medicine.

A primary care physician, educator and researcher, Inui is a member of the National Academy's Institute of Medicine. He previously held positions as head of general internal medicine at the University of Washington School of Medicine and the Paul C. Cabot professor and founding chair of the Department of Ambulatory Care and Prevention at Harvard Medical School.

McRobbie said current projections show that IU's health care costs for employees could rise to more than $200 million, or nearly 10 percent of IU's budget, in just four years if nothing is done to contain costs.

"This would take resources away from IU's central mission of excellence in education and research in an already extremely difficult fiscal climate, so containing these costs is essential if we are going to continue to advance as a great university," McRobbie said.

The committee will consider creative health care benefit changes that are intended to lower the rates of increase in health care costs in both the immediate future and over a longer term while sustaining and improving the health of employees and their families at all eight IU campuses.

McRobbie said the committee should consider all potential resources, including approaches that leverage services provided by the IU School of Medicine and the university's unique affiliation with other entities, such as Clarian Health, The Indiana Clinic, Regenstrief Institute and Indiana Health Information Exchange.

The committee is expected to complete its work in six months and its recommendations will be shared with the university community.

In addition to Inui, committee members are:

  • David Daleke, associate professor of biochemistry and molecular biology and associate dean of the University Graduate School, IU Bloomington
  • Diana Ebling, medical director of the Health Center, IU BloomingtonMary Fisher, associate vice chancellor for academic affairs and professor of nursing administration, IUPUI
  • John Fitzgerald, M.D., associate dean of clinical affairs and president and chief executive officer of the IU Medical Group-Specialty Care, IU School of Medicine, IUPUI
  • Ed Marshall, O.D., a professor at the IU School of Optometry and vice president for diversity, equity and multicultural affairs
  • Kathleen McNeely, associate vice president for financial management services
  • Nasser Paydar, chancellor, IU East, Richmond
  • Bernice Pescosolido, distinguished professor of sociology, IU Bloomington, and director of the Indiana Consortium for Mental Health Services
  • Dan Rives, associate vice president for human resources
  • Steve Wantz, senior vice president of administration and human resources, Clarian Health
  • Eric Wright, professor, School of Public and Environmental Affairs, IUPUI, and director of the Center for Health Policy