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Report: Safeway reforming health care in-house


Washington, D.C. Companies impatient to rein in healthcare costs can go ahead on their own without waiting for federal legislation, Safeway president, chairman and CEO Steven Burd said on Tuesday, according to a Reuters report.

He said that making employees at the chain accountable for their weight, smoking, cholesterol and blood pressure, has saved millions. Burd proposed the highly praised program used by his company as a model not only to other companies, but also to the federal government.

"If you are part of a large organization, you really don't have to wait for government to do anything," Burd told the World Health Care Congress being held in Washington, D.C. "You can design your own healthcare reform.”

It costs Safeway $1 billion a year for 200,000 employees, Burd said, adding that the program had held those costs level since 2005.

Burd agrees with experts who say such chronic diseases as heart disease and cancer are responsible for most of this spending, and that such behavior as smoking, lack of exercise and poor diet are responsible for up to two-thirds of cases of cancer and heart disease.

Safeway has been running an experiment called Healthy Measures among 30,000 nonunion workers. Burd said 74% of them have signed up for the plan.

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