Business Leaders Get Tips for Improving Health, Reining in Costs at Health Forum

Sept. 7, 2017

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana, Greater New Orleans, Inc. and New Orleans Chamber host second Business to Business Forum on Healthcare Solutions

NEW ORLEANS – The rising cost of healthcare and potential legislative changes are causing employers a lot of concerns. That’s why Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana partnered with Greater New Orleans, Inc. and the New Orleans Chamber of Commerce to host the second annual Business to Business Forum on Healthcare Solutions (B2B Health Forum) at the Hyatt Regency New Orleans.

This daylong event gave Louisiana business owners a chance to meet with subject matter experts and learn more about potential changes to healthcare reform, how to rein in the rising costs from prescription drugs, applying Big Data concepts to healthcare and developing worksite wellness programs, among other topics. There was no cost to attend the event; it was put on as a free service from the hosting organizations.

“We know a lot of Louisiana business owners are trying to plan as best they can for every possible future while continuing to navigate within our current system,” said Dr. I. Steven Udvarhelyi, Blue Cross president and CEO. “There’s a lot of information out there, and it’s not always easy for businesses, particularly small businesses, to get access to leading experts in the field. The B2B health forum is a way we can provide that service to the employer community.”

The forum featured a series of small breakout sessions and two main sessions, including a keynote address on improving healthcare through innovations such as the Apple Watch by Dr. Richard Milani, Ochsner Health System. Attendees also had the chance to submit questions to a panel comprised of Dr. Milani, Dr. Corey Hebert, Tulane University and WDSU, and Dr. Vindell Washington, Blue Cross chief medical officer.

Michael Hecht, president & CEO of GNO, Inc., addressed high healthcare costs as an issue for economic development for our state as part of his opening remarks at the forum.

“Personnel benefits costs are typically the second-largest expense for businesses,” said Michael Hecht, President and CEO of Greater New Orleans, Inc. “For us in Louisiana, managing these costs is not just an issue of doing what’s right for our employees, but of also ensuring that our state remains a great place to do business. This forum is an excellent opportunity for Louisiana businesses to get current information on changes to healthcare policy, and then understand all of their options for offering strong benefits that remain affordable.”

The New Orleans Chamber joined as a sponsoring partner of the event this year, in response to members’ concerns. In planning for the 2017 summit, chamber president & CEO, Ben Johnson, went to his members to find out what types of issues they were most interested in.

“The unpredictability of healthcare costs is a huge concern for our members,” said Johnson. “Due to anticipated proposed legislation changes, small businesses are unable to determine future costs and budget accordingly. The value of this conference is to enable employers to stay informed.”

The information presented at today’s forum will be posted to the event website,, where these materials can be downloaded and distributed on an ongoing basis.

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana is the largest private insurer in the state of Louisiana and has been increasing its commitment to the New Orleans region through hosting the B2B Forum, joining Tulane University to create the Partnership for Healthcare Innovation, and as the title sponsor of the New Orleans bike share program, Blue Bikes, launching in fall 2017. The insurer has also recently launched the SmartShopper website, designed to make healthcare pricing more transparent for Blue Cross customers across the state.

About Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana
Founded in New Orleans in 1934, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana is a private, fully taxed mutual company, owned by policyholders—not shareholders. It is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association and is governed by a Louisiana Board of Directors.

The company and its subsidiaries provide group and individual health insurance plans, life and disability insurance, group voluntary products and administrative services to Louisiana residents. With headquarters in Baton Rouge and eight district offices around the state, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana is committed to improving the lives of its customers by providing them with health guidance and affordable access to quality care.

Learn more on the company’s website at or visit its social media hub to connect via Facebook, Twitter and more.

About Greater New Orleans, Inc.
Greater New Orleans, Inc. is a regional economic development alliance serving the 10-parish region of Southeast Louisiana.

OUR MISSION is to serve as the catalyst for wealth creation in the 10-parish region of Southeastern Louisiana. GNO, Inc. will accomplish this by pursuing an aggressive agenda of business development—marketing the region—and product development—improving regional business conditions through policy, workforce, and research initiatives.

OUR VISION is for the Greater New Orleans region to fulfill its potential as one of the best places in the country to grow a company and raise a family. The ultimate indication of success for GNO, Inc. will be the presence of a robust and growing middle class in Southeastern Louisiana.

OUR REGION is composed of the parishes of Jefferson, Orleans, Plaquemines, St. Bernard, St. Charles, St. James, St. John, St. Tammany, Tangipahoa, and Washington.

About The New Orleans Chamber
The New Orleans Chamber of Commerce was founded in 2004 to provide members with the opportunity to build mutually beneficial partnerships within the City of New Orleans. Currently the Chamber has about 1,300 members and also has the lowest dues in the region.

Our Mission is to provide the opportunities and resources that will enable businesses to prosper through networking, education and advocacy.

Our Vision is to be the leading membership organization that connects all businesses to foster opportunity, development and growth in the New Orleans community.