by Rupa Shenoy, Minnesota Public Radio
June 12, 2011
St. Paul, Minn. — Minnesota health care industry leaders are backing a bipartisan effort to create a federal Congressional Wellness Caucus.
Democratic Sen. Amy Klobuchar and Republican Rep. Erik Paulsen plan to announce the caucus Monday in Minneapolis.
Tom Mason runs the Alliance for a Healthier Minnesota, a public-private partnership that includes Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota, Medica, Medtronic, and the Minnesota Department of Health. He said the new caucus was his idea.
"I was looking for a caucus, because there are a lot of caucuses in Congress, and I didn't find one," Mason said. "So we went out and we talked to Senator Klobuchar and Congressman Paulson and said you know this could be a valuable non-partisan activity and they both were enthusiastically supportive."
Tom Mason said more businesses should invest in preventative wellness initiatives since health care costs have a big impact on their bottom lines. He said the new caucus can promote those options.
"A caucus is informal, it's not a standing committee of Congress, so they can do just about anything they want to," Mason said. "But they can do town hall meetings, they can come back and convene hearings in D.C. We just think there's not enough attention to wellness among employers. Especially small businesses are just now starting to come to the table."
Mason's organization includes Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota, Cargill, General Mills, Medica, Medtronic, Target and other companies.