BOSTON -- A new business coalition with a goal of reducing the number of avoidable emergency room visits by 20 percent over two years and saving about $100 million will formally launch next week by hearing from the head of a similar effort underway in Missouri.

The Massachusetts Employer Health Coalition -- spearheaded by Associated Industries of Massachusetts and the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation with an assist from the state Health Policy Commission (HPC) -- plans to work with doctors, hospitals and health insurers to "shift as many avoidable [emergency department] visits as possible to high-value, lower-cost settings to relieve crowded EDs, reduce the cost of care, and improve quality."

The group, whose members are facing rising costs and stalled health-care cost containment talks on Beacon Hill, is planning a Dec. 11 kickoff breakfast. Louise Probst, the executive director of the St. Louis Area Business Health Coalition, an employer coalition supporting more than 60 self-insured employers, and the head of a regional health improvement collaborative in Missouri, will give a keynote address.

The HPC reported last year that 42 percent of all emergency department visits in Massachusetts in 2015 were avoidable and that the use of emergency departments (EDs) for non-urgent medical conditions is "a state-wide concern."

--State House News Service