Helen Darling, president of the National Business Group on Health
MH: You represent some of the biggest corporations in America and their ongoing concerns about the high cost of healthcare. How has your focus on cost shifted in recent years and why?
Darling: Well, I’m not sure it’s shifted much. In fact, it has been a major concern, at least since I joined the organization in 2001, which was right after 9/11. The economy was actually really in the worst possible shape. We’ve kind of forgotten that. There was a time when everything was in real trouble. So cost started out at that point as being No. 1. We weren’t sure when we’d recover from the financial problems then, so our members were deeply concerned because they had no customers coming through the door; they didn’t have patients, in some instances, if they were hospitals. So it was a really tough time. But, as the economy recovered and then basically went into the great recession with the financial meltdown, we have seen companies again feel that it’s an unsustainable situation, that the percentage of the economy and the amount of money they have to spend compared to their increased revenues on healthcare has become worse and worse. So, it’s more a question of proportionality, not a change in focus.