Lt. Governor Brown, Business Leaders Expand 'Healthiest Maryland' Initiative in Montgomery County
ROCKVILLE, Md. (September 8, 2010) – At a press conference today at Rockville Town Square, Lt. Governor Anthony G. Brown joined Health and Mental Hygiene Secretary John M. Colmers, City of Rockville Mayor Phyllis Marcuccio and business leaders from local and state employers – including Kaiser Permanente and Marriott International – to announce the expansion of the ‘Healthiest Maryland’ initiative. The initiative, which was launched in May and now includes more than 85 members, promotes health management practices in the workplace. Immediately prior to the press conference, Brown led business leaders on a ‘health walk’ from the Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce office to Rockville Town Square, promoting one of several activities businesses can encourage to improve employees’ health.
“Governor O’Malley and I are proud of the progress we have made to improve public health in Maryland and expand access to quality care. We are better positioned than most other states to successfully implement national health reform,” said Lt. Governor Brown. “There is still much work to be done to improve the health of our state. Healthiest Maryland will encourage businesses and residents to focus on wellness and preventative care and create healthy work environments that help make the healthiest choice the easiest choice. With the dedication and assistance of their employers, Marylanders will gain the tools and guidance necessary to adopt healthy lifestyles for themselves and their families.”
This afternoon, leadership from more than 10 Montgomery County businesses gathered for a roundtable discussion at the Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce office to discuss the benefits of the Healthiest Maryland initiative. Attendees included leadership from Marriott International, the City of Rockville, Adventist Health Care and Kaiser Permanente – all of which have already enrolled their organizations in the initiative – as well as other interested business leaders from across the county. As one of the key action items recommended by the Maryland Health Quality and Cost Council to Governor Martin O’Malley, Healthiest Maryland has surpassed its initial goal to engage 75 businesses by December 2010 and is well on its way to include 50,000 Marylanders in the initiative.
“Everyone who participates in Healthiest Maryland comes out a winner,” said John M. Colmers, Secretary of the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DHMH). “Employees who take care of themselves are more productive, more productive employees boost the business bottom line and Maryland families will have a healthier, happier and more active bread-winner.”
Many of Maryland’s largest employers – including the University of Maryland Medical System, PNC Bank, Johns Hopkins University, Perdue Farms and the State of Maryland – have already enrolled in Healthiest Maryland and declared their commitment to implement policies and practices that promote prevention and wellness. Participating employers commit to making the health of their employees a top priority by increasing access to preventative services, expanding healthy food and beverage choices and promoting other workplace wellness programs.
“We are very enthusiastic about being one of the first businesses to join Healthiest Maryland,” said David Rodriguez, Executive Vice President of Global Human Resources, Marriott International, whose global headquarters is based in Bethesda. “We know that if our associates are healthier, they’re happier and more productive both at home and on the job. That’s why we’ve launched some new, innovative wellness programs to support our global workforce and motivate them to make healthy choices everyday.”
“The City of Rockville is proud to support the Healthiest Maryland Initiative,” said Mayor Phyllis Marcuccio. “As an employer of more than 540 people, we know how important it is to keep our workforce healthy through exercise and nutrition programs and support.”
Studies show that for every dollar an employer invests in the health of its employees, a return of $3 to $6 can be expected. These savings are the result of reduced health care costs, reduced absenteeism and increased productivity. Specifically, worksite health promotion programs like Healthiest Maryland have cut sick leave absenteeism by 27 percent and lowered costs associated with worker’s compensation and disability management claims by 32 percent.
“Kaiser Permanente is delighted to be a part of the Healthiest Maryland Initiative. Our involvement is a natural fit. We believe that health doesn’t just happen. It’s a partnership. Kaiser Permanente is invested in the total Health of Maryland and is committed to helping the citizens of Maryland live well, be well, and thrive,” said Marilyn J. Kawamura, President Kaiser Foundation Health Plan of the Mid-Atlantic States, Inc.
Healthiest Maryland helps business leaders to reach their goals through a self-assessment of strengths and areas for improvement in promoting employee health. The Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, under the guidance of the Health Quality and Cost Council, will provide technical assistance through online resources and help connect participating employers with accredited wellness programs, professional organizations and voluntary health associations.
“Smart businesses understand the many undeniable benefits of workplace wellness, from more productive employees to reduced health care costs. We are proud to have so many companies here in Montgomery County that have committed to making their companies true examples of health and wellness excellence,” said Georgette “Gigi” Godwin, President and CEO of Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce.
Lt. Governor Brown, in his capacity as the Chair of the Maryland Health Quality and Cost Council, launched the Healthiest Maryland initiative in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor in May 2010. Brown will continue to encourage all Maryland companies to participate in the initiative and will hold a series of events around the state to educate business owners about the initiative’s benefits. Brown leads the O’Malley-Brown administration’s health care portfolio that has made significant reforms to the state’s health care system and expanded access to health coverage to 205,000 Marylanders who were uninsured four years ago.
In addition to chairing the Health Quality and Cost Council, Brown co-chairs the Maryland Health Care Reform Coordinating Council. During the 2010 Legislative Session, Brown led efforts to pass significant health care legislation that fights fraud, waste and abuse in the Medicaid system and creates a “Medical Home” program that provides incentives to primary care practices to promote preventative and coordinated care. A veteran of the Iraq War and a Colonel in the U.S. Army Reserves, Brown also championed a legislative package in 2008 and 2009 to improve mental and behavioral health services for Maryland’s veterans.
To join the Healthiest Maryland movement, visit http://www.dhmh.maryland.gov/healthiest/howtojoin.html.