The idea to create a business coalition focusing on health was born out of the realization that employers are the ultimate payers of healthcare services – through the premiums they buy to cover their own beneficiaries, and the taxes they pay.
Employers know that to have a healthy bottom line they must have a healthy workforce. Through their benefits contracts, employers have the means to renegotiate the upside down incentives currently driving runaway costs in healthcare.
The Wyoming Business Coalition on Health (WyBCH) incorporated in February 2007, allowing the organization the ability to receive a seed grant of $16,600 from The Tate Foundation.
The original Board of Directors included:
- T. Chris Muirhead – Lead Tax Partner at Porter, Muirhead, Cornia and Howard
- George Bryce – Principal with Lincoln Financial Advisors
- Ken Cochran – President of Thunder Basin Coal Company (Arch Coal)
- Joe Coyne – Executive Director of the Converse Area New Development Organization (CANDO)
- D.L. Lobb – Group Executive of Powder River Basin Operations for Peabody Energy
- Mike McCraken – Publisher of the Wyoming Tribune-Eagle
- Jim Roden – VP of Operations for Crum Electric
- Tom Scott – Chairman of the Board of Directors of First Interstate Bank
- Linda Vosika – Owner of Bonneville Transloaders, and
- Mark Zaback – President of Jonah Bank
This group assembled for their first meeting in August 2007. A grant from the McMurry Foundation covered the expenses of the meeting’s keynote speaker – Andrew Webber, President and CEO of the National Business Coalition on Health (NBCH). Mr. Webber explained the business coalition movement, including successes and failures, and outlined various methods that business coalitions have used to make their local healthcare system more transparent and accountable.
In the months that followed that first meeting, the group decided that the creation of a business coalition had the potential to bring meaningful change to our market. Once the group agreed to forge ahead they researched potential projects that would fulfill the following criteria:
- Provide meaningful and measurable results to employers in Wyoming
- Improve the health of Wyoming’s workforce and general population
- Help WyBCH establish credibility with the local healthcare delivery system as a basis for mutually respectful dialogue and action leading to systemic change
- Attract new members to WyBCH.
The decision was made to implement Project SPUR, (also known as The Asheville Project and/or HealthMapRx) as the Coalition’s first project because of its proven ability to lower healthcare costs and improve the health status of participants.
In April of 2008, over 50 employers and several representative of the local healthcare delivery system gathered to hear about Project SPUR. That event is considered the official launch of the organization.