James Startare on Value of GPBCH Membership in Advancing Health Equity, Innovation

James Startare, vice president of benefits, Aramark, spoke about the different ways membership with the Greater Philadelphia Business Coalition on Health (GPBCH) has helped his organization.

Being a member of the Greater Philadelphia Business Coalition on Health (GPBCH) for the past 10 years continues to influence innovation in health equity, health transformation, and wellness in his line of work, said James Startare, vice president of benefits, Aramark.

GPBCH will be hosting a 10 year anniversary event on November 10, 2022.


Why did your organization join GPBCH?

I'm James Startare, the vice president of benefits at Aramark, and we've been a longtime member of GPBCH, and I've been a member for 10 years of the Coalition from my prior employer. It was an easy decision, I mean, 10 years ago, and it's an easy decision now to be an active member and participant of the Coalition. For the cost vs value, I call it a no brainer.

Most organizations spend millions, tens of millions, some hundreds of millions of dollars in health and welfare spend, and for the small cost for the coalition to be around individuals that have similar thoughts, similar ideas, similar challenges, again, it's a pretty simple decision to to be part of a group such as this, and the value far exceeds the cost.

I'm living proof just from things that I have done with my organization and organizations over the years from ideas, thoughts, concepts that have spawned from the Coalition. So, I'm a proud member, happy to be one, and [will] continue to be one for many years.

How do you and your team engage with the Coalition and how have they provided value to your organization?

My team and I engage with GPBCH in a variety of ways. Credit to the Coalition for having regular ongoing and frequent meetings on a variety of topics, whether it's wellness, whether it's health transformation, whether it's health equity—every time we turn around, there's another topic that's relevant for us to join a webinar, a web conference, and education session, and what we do is we try to attend as many as possible.

Unfortunately, we can't make them all because the variety is so plentiful, but we attend many, and we participate actively, and all the great opportunities we have through the various avenues the Coalition provides.

Why should other employers in the region join the Coalition?

So, joining GPBCH is something that is near and dear to me, because I've been a member for 10 years. And it's very compelling to be a member, for a variety of reasons. But the one primary reasons is, it takes one idea, one concept, one interaction, one peer-to-peer conversation, to spark an idea, spark a concept, create a thought, help embark on an initiative, whatever it may be.

When you're around so many individuals that, again, are dealing with the same challenges, the same problems, that are thinking the way you think, and are in the trenches, day in and day out, just as you are on similar topics. It's a great environment to foster strategy, to foster creativity, and for those reasons, it's extremely compelling for me and my organization to be members of GPBCH.

As health care evolves, what future role do you see coalitions having in advancing equitable health of employees and beneficiaries?

As the health system evolves, we know that we need to do better in the area of health equity. It's been a problem for so long, and it's fortunately getting the attention it needs. And as a coalition, a large coalition in a big metropolitan area with some major health systems, I see our role as a coalition as one of leverage.

We bring numbers, we bring large employers, we bring clout and influence to the city of Philadelphia and even nationally. And I think what we could do is, again, leverage and educate, and help large health systems to be more equitable, help point out where there are inequities in the data that are apparent and obvious, and help lead the charge. And again, I believe it's one of leverage and influence.

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