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Health care issues to be addressed for small businesses

REGION-The Alabama Department of Public Health and the Black Belt Action Commission are recruiting people to participate in a round table discussion in Demopolis Tuesday Aug. 2 from 6 p.m. until 7:30 p.m.

The purpose of the discussion is to get input from Black Belt residents about health care issues.

Those selected to participate will be paid $40 cash. Food and beverages will be served.

Dr. Jerry Ingram, who works closely with the program for Southeast research Inc., said they plan to research employees of small businesses in the area to find a way to address their insurance needs.

“We plan to conduct focus groups at the Chamber of Commerce with different employees from the area who are without health coverage,” Ingram said. “The Alabama Department of Public Health and the Southeastern Research Inc.’s main objective is to identify some of the barriers that workers may face in obtaining health care insurance.”

Ingram said the also plan to talk to some of the employers to put a game plan together for their businesses as well.

“We will talk to some small businesses (under 50 employees) about what some of the barriers are to providing their workers with health care coverage also,” Ingram said. “The focus of both groups will be to look at an alternative plan to participate in to help the uninsured population and small employers.”

The group will have a good idea of what needs to be done before they arrive. Ingram said they have studied some methods used in other states and will discuss how some could be used in Alabama.

“We are going to look at some of the plans that have been put into practice in other states that have helped them in the past,” Ingram said. “The key motive is if workers are healthy they are more productive and they can stay with the company longer. Healthy workers are better workers.”

Ingram said the group is excited about the potential to help people in Demopolis and the Black Belt.

“We look forward to coming to Demopolis and hope to have a very productive meeting,” Ingram said. “We also look forward to our many other engagements in the Black Belt. We feel that as the economy in the area gets better the health care possibilities will improve too.”

In the month of August the group plans to make a complete sweep of the Black Belt. On Aug. 2 the group will also travel to the Bell Conference Center on the campus of the University of West Alabama to discuss the same issues with small employers. On Aug.4, the group will be in Camden, on Aug. 9 in Tuskegee and on Aug. 11 the group will be in Marion on the campus of Judson College to again address small business owners in the area.

If you want to be considered for the discussion, please call Southeast Research Inc. in Montgomery at 1-800-546-2969 or 334-260-9124.