Obama: Healthy Employees, Healthy Profits

By Lindsey Ellerson

May 12, 2009 1:23pm

Obama: Healthy Employees, Healthy Profits ABC News’ Karen Travers reports: President Obama met today with business leaders to discuss innovative prevention and wellness measures they have implemented in their companies, as part of the ongoing discussions about reducing health care costs. Obama touted the efforts of companies like Microsoft, Safeway and Johnson & Johnson to improve employee health, but said they didn’t achieve results overnight. “There’s no quick fix. There’s no silver bullet,” he said. “When you hear what Safeway or Johnson & Johnson or any of these other companies have done, what you’ve seen is sustained experimentation over many years and a shift in incentive structures so that employees see concrete benefits,” to taking control of their health. While it seems quite nice that these companies take such an interest in the well-being of their employees, perhaps the reasons for the innovative measures are not 100 percent benevolent. President Obama said that when companies take steps to improve employee health and prevent disease, it is not just the workers who benefit. “[C]ompanies see their bottom lines improve,” he said. The president has directed the Office of Personnel Management to work with the Office of Health Reform, the National Economic Council, the Department of Labor, and the Office of Management and Budget to look at successful wellness and prevention plans that have reduced health care costs for businesses and improved employee health.  Obama would like these agencies to look at the feasibility of developing similar plans for federal government workers. Obama said he wanted to put a spotlight on these companies and their practices so other companies can potentially learn from them. “Now, if we can do that in individual companies, there’s no reason why we can’t do that for the country as a whole,” he said. — Karen Travers

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