As you try to encourage other businesses to follow your model, what has been the response?
There’s a lot of skepticism, but we’re working on them and to the extent that we can expose it more to people from a business point of view, I think it will be successful. But I won’t lie to you, it’s an uphill battle, especially in this economy. So the challenge for us is to wrap it up in a value proposition. I firmly believe that if you don’t connect such a project to economic benefit, it’s not going to last and from a business perspective it’s not going to be sustainable.
You are also very passionate about getting African Americans to gain business opportunities in the healthcare sector.
Healthcare is one of the largest businesses in America. We’re going to add 2,000 new jobs in 2012 and we’re tripling our spend with minority vendors over the next three years. [Through] health reform, 24 million new people are going to join the Medicaid rolls. That’s a 40% increase. That means there are business opportunities in healthcare. Most people, when they think of healthcare, think doctor or nurse. Healthcare is a huge business that’s way more than being a clinical professional. There are people like me, administrators. There are accountants, there are auditors. The auditing industry of healthcare is exploding [because of] the expenses on clinical services [as well as] fraud and abuse. Case management—helping doctors to manage people—is also growing. And AmeriHealth in the best position to help them out with services because we understand the community of people they’re trying to take care of. I encourage people [not to] overlook it because it’s a huge part of our economy.
Where can minority vendors find other opportunities as your organization looks to increase savings?
Misuse of the emergency room is a huge problem. It costs us money; it costs the government money. Most people go to the emergency room when they don’t need to. If someone came to us with a proposal to educate the community about how not to abuse emergency room care, we would work with them. Everybody’s looking to save money, so if you can present an idea that can save money for a company like [this one], that is a business opportunity.