Prescription for change: Health summit planned

Diane Schwenke

Diane Schwenke

Phil Castle, The Business Times

Diane Schwenke says health insurance comes up in almost every conversation she has with business owners and managers, whether it’s at networking events, committee meetings or other functions of the Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce.

While employers want to provide insurance, many can’t afford the rising premiums. Meanwhile, plans to repeal and replace federal health care legislation has added even more uncertainty, says Schwenke, president and chief executive officer of the chamber.

That’s why Schwenke says the chamber has organized a regional health care summit to offer information about the various options and resources available to businesses as well as the latest on what could come out of Washington, D.C.

The summit is modeled after an event the Fort Collins Area Chamber of Commerce has hosted for five years, she says.

The summit is set for 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. March 8 at the DoubleTree by Hilton, 743 Horizon Drive in Grand Junction.

To attract business owners, managers and human resources professionals from across the region, the chamber will offer discounted pricing to members of Club 20 and Western Colorado chambers of commerce. Admission is $55 for chamber and Club 20 members, $75 for others. To register or obtain more information, visit www.gjchamber.org.

The summit will include a keynote presentation, breakout sessions and a luncheon panel discussion as well as exhibits, Schwenke says.

The keynote presentation will feature two officials with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce: Jeff Lundgren, chief health care and immigration lobbyist, and John Gonzales, director of the south and southwest region. The two will offer the latest information about proposals to repeal the Affordable Care Act and what legislation to replace so-called Obamacare might look like, Schwenke says.

Morning breakout sessions will cover various health care coverage options for small businesses, offering information not only about how to shop for insurance, but also such options as concierge care and self-insurance, Schwenke says. The sessions will feature employers using those options.

A luncheon panel presentation will offer information about additional resources available to employers and employees, including the Mesa County Health Department 211 system offering access to health and human services information and referrals.

Phil Castle is editor of the Grand Valley Business Times, a twice-monthly business journal published in Grand Junction. Castle brings to his duties nearly 30 years of experience in editorial management positions with Western Colorado newspapers. In addition, his free-lance work has appeared in a variety of publications, including the Washington Post. He holds a bachelor's degree in technical journalism from Colorado State University.
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