“EP149: Overpaying for Healthcare vs Full-Day Kindergarten & Raises for Teachers, with Richard Steinhart, Former School Board Officer”
by Stacey Richter

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This is a great demonstration of a pretty key economic principle – if you have one dollar and you spend it on overly expensive healthcare, you do not have that dollar anymore to put toward more productive uses like paying teachers or funding education. Today I speak with Richard Steinhart, a former officer who endeavored to curb wasted dollars frittered away in the name of healthcare, dollars that took important cash away from education and teachers.


Mr. Steinhart has had a distinguished career as an entrepreneur, investor and executive in the healthcare industry. He has been instrumental in starting or investing in many technology-based companies, several of which have developed products that have become the standard of care in their respective markets.

Currently Mr. Steinhart sits on the Board of Directors of Actinium Pharmaceuticals, Inc., a New York-based biopharmaceutical company developing innovative targeted therapies for patients with cancers lacking effective treatment options.

Mr. Steinhart is also a member of the Board of Directors of Atossa Genetics, a clinical-stage Seattle-based drug- company that is developing novel, proprietary therapeutics and delivery methods for breast cancer and other breast conditions.

Earlier in his career Mr. Steinhart was the Sr. Vice President and CFO at MELA Sciences, a company that received FDA approval for and marketed the world’s only non-invasive Melanoma detector. Prior to MELA Sciences, he was a General Partner and CFO at CW Group, Inc., the country’s first venture capital firm focused solely on medical technology and biopharmaceutical companies.

Mr. Steinhart has also had significant experience in municipal government. He introduced the first mandatory Health Saving Account (HSA) insurance coverage for municipal works in the state of Connecticut. By working with union representatives and insurance company executives, Mr. Steinhart was able to craft a program that delivered high quality affordable healthcare benefits to union workers, while at the same time saving his local municipality millions of dollars in premiums. This program has been widely emulated by many of the 169 towns and cities in Connecticut.
Mr. Steinhart currently live in Ridgefield Connecticut with his wife and two sons. He can be reached by e-mail at Richard.Steinhart@comcast.net


00:00 Richard’s time as an officer and member of the school board in Ridgefield, Connecticut.
02:55 The healthcare benefits when Richard started working on the school board.
04:30 Contemplating HSA insurance plans in a municipal union.
05:20 How Richard came to negotiate with the union for the school district’s insurance plan.
08:30 “Consumerism enters into the equation.”
09:35 “It empowers people to make choices, it empowers people to shop for their services and allows for greater transparency.”
14:40 The difficulty of exacting change.
16:00 Starting with the administrators, then expanding out.
16:50 Trading off salary dollars for healthcare dollars.
18:30 Taking the emotion out of the discussion and treating it like an educational opportunity.
20:00 Assuaging fear of change.
23:45 The lack of incentive to know what the numbers are when it comes to insurance.
26:00 Richard’s advice to other public entities.
27:00 “I think we have an obligation to take care of our population, but we also have an obligation to do it cost effectively.”
28:15 “Think of it sort-of as reinsurance.”
29:35 Understanding the “Why.”
31:15 Putting their money where their mouth was by giving prospective raises.

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