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HPEDC hosts forum on healthcare costs

The Hunts Point Economic Development Corporation held its final monthly breakfast before the summer, hosting a panel of speakers from the Bronx’s extensive health care industry. The business community’s response to rising costs was the primary topic

The panel included Maura Bluestone, president and CEO of Affinity Health Plan, Joseph Xu of Aetna, and David Alejandro of Mobile Health Management Services on Thursday, June 25.

Blustone is a nationally recognized authority when it comes to providing quality healthcare to low- and moderate-income communities.

She remembered how the civil rights movement and the War on Poverty in the 1960s created burgeoning health care programs in the Bronx and other urban areas, and related that present day concerns are about controlling rising costs.

“In a way, the problems we see in our communities has not changed from the 1960s [regarding health care],” Blustone said in her speech. “The difference is now we have inspired leadership in the White House, Congress, and the health department in Albany.”

Blustone said that the economic crisis now gripping the Bronx and the rest of the country provides the perfect opportunity to reform the health care system, making changes that would stop escalating costs.

“Both ends of the political spectrum agree that we not only need to get people coverage, but also get them access to quality care that provides the best value,” Blustone stated in her speech. “We are not getting value for our dollar [in today’s health care system.] There is enormous waste not only in the administrative side, but also on the medical side.”

She proposed focusing on prevention and wellness before people become ill, modernizing the filing of medical records by building an electronic system, and building on successful government health care programs, as solutions that may reduce costs.

Xu discussed Aetna’s New York Community Plan that provides low premium health care coverage for small businesses employers. Under the plan, individuals are insured for $300 a month and families can be covered for as little as $800 a month.

Alejandro spoke of the health concerns specific to truck drivers. Many commercial diesel truck terminals serve the Hunts Point market.

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