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SAFEWAY CHAIRMAN URGES HEALTH CARE REFORM 'NOW, BEFORE THE CRISIS GETS WORSE'

 SAFEWAY CHAIRMAN URGES HEALTH CARE REFORM
 'NOW, BEFORE THE CRISIS GETS WORSE'
 WASHINGTON, June 9 /PRNewswire/ -- In testimony today before the Senate Committee on Finance, Peter A. Magowan, chairman, president and CEO of Safeway Inc. (NYSE: SWY) urged Congress to pass comprehensive health care reform "...now, before the crisis gets worse."
 In his testimony, Magowan stated that reform must simultaneously address all three parts of the health care crisis: rapidly rising costs, inadequate access to coverage, and inconsistent quality. He said, "We run the risk, if we settle for partial reform, of just changing the mix of problems."
 Magowan told the committee about Safeway's experience with rising health care costs. "Last year, Safeway's cost of providing health coverage to our U.S. employees and their dependents was almost $225 million. That was more than four times our net profit for the year," he said.
 Appearing on behalf of the National Leadership Coalition for Health Care Reform, a broad alliance of businesses, unions, consumer groups and associations of health care providers -- Magowan urged Congress to act quickly:
 "Every year we delay effective cost control, health care spending in this country jumps 12 to 13 percent. Every year we delay universal coverage, more Americans join the tens of millions already living on the edge, without health insurance. And every year we delay initiatives to improve quality, more of us risk mortal harm from substandard care."
 The coalition, of which Safeway is a leading member, has proposed a plan for health care reform that would:
 -- guarantee every American health care coverage (through a combination of employer-provided coverage and publicly sponsored insurance);
 -- control health care costs (through annual spending targets and fee schedules to ensure that targets are not exceeded);
 -- and improve the quality of care (through expanded research on the effects of alternative technologies and procedures and through the development of national practice guidelines.)
 The plan also calls for constraints on malpractice litigation, the development of more efficient delivery systems and insurance reforms to make health coverage more affordable for small businesses.
 In addition, Magowan said the proposal would simplify the administration of the health care system by establishing standardized benefits packages, universal coverage, uniform rates and claims forms, and electronic billing. The result would be a system that is "...less cumbersome and frustrating for health care professionals and patients alike."
 Magowan emphasized the need for bi-partisan unity to fix the health care system. "The coalition's plan is in fact a hybrid of competition and regulation...and the reason is very simple: This was a plan that was put together by pragmatists. It was not designed for ideological purity; it was designed to work," he said.
 -0- 6/9/92
 /CONTACT: Brian Dowling or Peggy Rhodes of Safeway, 202-637-6830/
 (SWY) CO: Safeway ST: IN: REA SU:


RM-DG -- SF005 -- 8355 06/09/92 12:07 EDT
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Jun 9, 1992
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