A healthy outlook

We all grumble about health care, from the crushing cost to the disappearance of it from the employee benefit package. But now Local First, armed with a $25,000 grant, hopes to diagnose the problem – and find workable remedies.

Local First is one of four organizations in the area to receive funds from the Rocky Mountain Health Foundation to assess affordable and effective health care for local, independent businesses and their employees. The yearlong study, which will be done in partnership with the Durango Network and San Juan Basin Public Health, will consist of in-depth focus groups to determine what barriers local independent businesses face in providing health care to employees. In a future phase, the collaboration will test a variety of health-care models in order to determine the best options.

"Local First is thrilled to be one of the inaugural grant recipients in Durango," Monique DiGiorgio, managing director at Local First, said. “We look forward to engaging business owners, employees and the community at-large in this dialogue.”

The overall goal of the assessment is to provide innovative health-care models that change behavior, increase quality, affordability and access to care, and ultimately improve the health and well-being of residents.

“Addressing access to health care for our local, independent business community is important work and I look forward to hearing the results,” former State Sen. Ellen Roberts, a member of the Rocky Mountain Health Board of Directors, said. “Our local, independent businesses recirculate money in our economy, and ensuring that business owners and their employees have access to affordable health care is a critical need.”