Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited
USA - Leadership Health Care Delegation visits Washington
Article Type: News and views From: Leadership in Health Services, Volume 21, Issue 3
Keywords: Leadership policy, Decision-making, Healthcare reform
The sixth annual Leadership Health Care (LHC) Delegation, US Health Care Reform & Election 2008, travelled to Washington, DC early in the year to explore the key healthcare industry issues headlining the national policy agenda.
With a backdrop of the presidential election in November, the 80 LHC delegates who participated found the nation’s capital offered a dynamic setting to gain perspective on healthcare policy decision-making at the highest levels.
In addition to providing one-of-a-kind educational and networking opportunities for delegates, the event also served to showcase Nashville’s status as a robust healthcare industry capital.
“The delegation, now in its sixth year, offers participants a chance to become more informed and engaged in the discussions around current and potential healthcare policy decisions that will impact the industry”, said Caroline Young, Nashville Health Care Council Acting President and LHC Executive Director. “The delegation also underscores and, in some cases, introduces Nashville’s significant healthcare industry presence to the people who shape our nation’s healthcare policy”.
Delegates were welcomed to the capital by congressional representatives from Tennessee, Democrats Marsha Blackburn and Bart Gordon, and Republican Senator Bob Corker at a reception and dinner.
Neil Heatherly, LHC chair and CEO of StoneCrest Medical Center, HCA, Inc., commented that he particularly appreciated the opportunity to speak with the Tennessee congressional delegation. “It’s always helpful to say hello and meet key staffers to keep the lines of access open”, he said.
Rick Weissenstein, Senior Vice President and Healthcare Analyst for the Stanford Group Company, offered background and insight into issues involving healthcare and their impact on the 2008 presidential election.
Teresa Sparks, LHC Vice Chair and CFO of Symbion, commented that Weissenstein, in addition to being a very entertaining speaker, shared helpful insights on what will be necessary to truly change the healthcare picture.
A briefing with Rep. Jim Cooper (D-Tenn.), was followed by a panel discussion entitled “Health care industry outlook 2008”, featuring the insider views of Andy Bressler, Managing Director and Senior Research Analyst for Banc of America Securities; Dean Rosen, Partner, Mehlman Vogel Castagnetti, Inc.; and Lambert van der Walde, capital markets advisor to the administrator of Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). Burk Lindsey, Managing Director of Raymond James Health Care Investment Banking, moderated the panel.
The opening discussion was followed by another panel centring on the uninsured and the politics of healthcare reform with Robert E. Moffit, PhD, Director of the Center for Health Policy Studies at the Heritage Foundation; Jeffrey E. Tieman, Director of Covering a Nation for the Catholic Health Association; and Jennifer Tolbert, Principal Policy Analyst, Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured for the Kaiser Family Foundation. Paul Keckley, PhD, Executive Director of the Deloitte Center for Health Solutions, moderated this panel.
The morning’s final panel, entitled “Business responds to rising health care costs”, was moderated by Sandra Foote, Principal and Senior Vice President of Capitol Health. Panellists included Kate Sullivan Hare, Director of Healthcare Policy for Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.; Maria Ghazal, Director of Public Policy for the Business Roundtable; and Annette Guarisco, Executive Director for Federal Affairs for the General Motors Corporation.
Heatherly said this particular panel was extremely helpful in showing how businesses are responding differently to increasing healthcare costs. He said that “consumer-directed healthcare” offers more choices and financial incentives to make healthy lifestyle choices.
Sparks added: “It was interesting to see how companies are structuring their benefits with the flexibility to meet changing employee needs”.
The group also visited Capitol Hill and the Senate Caucus Room, to hear addresses by high-profile speakers, including Herb B. Kuhn, Deputy Administrator of CMS, who outlined the centre’s priorities for 2008.
Heatherly commented that Kuhn “provided tremendous insights into the ‘era of quality measurement’ that is on the horizon”. He said that CMS is leading a “quiet revolution” to assure that healthcare is safe, effective, timely, and patient-oriented as the patient transitions from passive payer to active purchaser within the system.
Mary Hobeika, a first-year student at Vanderbilt’s Owen Graduate School of Management, attended the meeting as the recipient of a scholarship from LHC. A practising nurse for 12 years, Hobeika returned to the classroom for a graduate degree to give her a better understanding of the business of healthcare.
“It was a great learning experience”, she said of the Delegation, “and I’m very thankful to have been chosen to participate. Ultimately, I realise that I can’t get my arms around how decisions are made and problems are solved without an understanding of how business and government relate to healthcare. I want to be one of the people who are part of the change and attending the conference helped me to understand the elements of the struggle”.