40 of the Most Powerful People in Health Care: Part 4

A list of the 40 most powerful people in health care was released on January 5 by Becker's Orthopedic & Spine. The final members of the list includes HHS secretary Kathleen Sebelius; chairman and CEO of Johnson & Johnson William C. Weldon; and various heads of health systems.

A list of the 40 most powerful people in health care was released on January 5 by Becker's Orthopedic & Spine. The final members of the list includes HHS secretary Kathleen Sebelius; chairman and CEO of Johnson & Johnson William C. Weldon; and various heads of health systems.

Since passing the Accountable Care Act in 2010, health care has become a major sticking point in the minds of millions of Americans. With the changes that have already been implemented and the upcoming changes expected in 2013, more attention is being placed on health care and who is instrumental in its successes and failures.

On January 5, Becker’s Orthopedic & Spine author Rachel Fields posted a list, “40 of the Most Powerful People in Healthcare.”

Here are the final people to round out the full 40 person list:

Paul Ryan (R-WI), House of Representatives, Chairman of the House Budget Committee

In April 2011, he introduced a plan titled The Path to Prosperity as a counter to President Barack Obama's budget proposal. The House passed this plan by a vote of 235-193, but the bill died in the Senate later in the month. Among its key features, the plan would have reformed Medicare and Medicaid by ending the current Medicare program starting in 2022 and converting Medicaid payments to block grants starting in 2013. The current Medicare plan would be replaced with a new program — still called Medicare — involving voucher-like "premium support payments" and increasing the age of eligibility. The plan would also make several changes to the health care reform law, repealing the requirement that most residents obtain health insurance and repealing tax credits for small employers that offer health insurance.

Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary, Department of Health and Human Services

Ms. Sebelius was sworn in as the secretary of HHS in April 2009, and since then, she has led efforts to implement reforms through the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, including policies that focus on wellness and prevention, adoption of electronic medical records, recruitment of more primary health providers and expansion of insurance coverage. In September 2011, Secretary Sebelius reported that the Affordable Care Act has succeeded in expanding health care coverage to hundreds of thousands of young adults. One survey, conducted by the CDC's National Center of Health Statistics, found that the number of uninsured Americans ages 19-25 dropped from 10 million in 2010 to 9.1 million in the first three months of 2011. Upon the announcement, Secretary Sebelius also criticized politicians who support the repeal of the Affordable Care Act. "It's very disappointing to hear some people in Congress talk about repealing the law and taking away this security, "she said in a statement.

Peter Shumlin (D-Vermont), Governor of Vermont

On May 26, 2011, Governor Shumlin signed a bill that put Vermont on a path to become the first state in the country to adopt a single-payor health system. The federal health care reform law would not allow Vermont to enact a single-payor system until 2017, but the state is asking the administration to grant a waiver so that it can establish a system by 2014. Shuman has previously criticized the current health insurance system, saying his experience as the owner of a successful travel business lets him "know firsthand that the biggest obstacle to job growth is the 10, 20, 30 percent increases in insurance premiums."

Wayne Smith, President and CEO, Community Health Systems

Since Smith’s tenure as president and CEO, Community Health Systems has grown from $742 million to more than $12.1 billion in net revenue. Upon starting his role in 1997, Smith focused his attention on purchasing non-urban, non-profit hospitals. CHS merged with Triad Hospitals in 2007 and is currently the second largest acute-care hospital chain in the United States.

Glenn D. Steele, Jr, MD, PhD, President and CEO, Geisinger Health System

Dr. Steele is widely recognized for his investigations into the treatment of primary and metastatic cancer and colorectal survey and serves on the editorial boards of numerous medical journals. Geisinger Health System recently signed a definitive agreement to join with Bloomsburg Health System, two months after the system received final regulatory approval to merge with Shamokin Area Community Hospital. The system is also planning a takeover of Community Medical Center in Scranton, PA, demonstrating a nationwide trend of increased mergers and acquisitions among large health systems. Geisinger has been praised as a model of low-cost, quality health care by President Obama, who in June 2009 encouraged providers nationwide to look to the system and learn from its success.

Anthony Tersigni, EdD, FACHE, President and CEO, Ascension Health

As president and CEO of Ascension, Mr. Tersigni heads the largest Catholic health care system in the nation — even more so after the acquisition of Alexian Brothers Health System in suburban Chicago. ABHS and Ascension announced the signing of a letter of intent in April and said the goal was to complete a definitive agreement and receive necessary state and federal agency approvals by the end of 2011.

Richard Umbdenstock, FACHE, President and CEO, American Hospital Association

Mr. Umbdenstock recently criticized President Obama's recommended Medicare and Medicaid cuts, which could reduce beneficiaries' access to care and eliminate around 200,000 jobs over the next 10 years. He said the president's plan to reduce federal health care spending by $320 billion over the next decade "would mean decreased access to care for our nation's seniors and could overload emergency rooms, shut down trauma units and reduce patient access to the latest treatments," according to an AHA statement. Mr. Umbdenstock has also argued in favor of payment extensions for physicians; he testified before a Congressional panel about section 508 wage reclassifications; outpatient hold-harmless payments for rural and sole community hospitals; and reasonable cost-based payment for outpatient clinical lab tests in smaller rural hospitals.

Chris Van Gorder, President and CEO, Scripps Health

When Mr. Van Gorder was appointed CEO in 1999, Scripps Health was losing $15 million a year, and the management had recently received a "no-confidence" vote from its medical staff. Mr. Van Gorder responded to the crisis by implementing a physician leadership cabinet, building strategic alliances and pushing a more transparent management style. Through a joint venture with North American Medical Management California, Scripps Health recently formed an integrated delivery network with seven physician groups in San Diego County that is organized to respond to alternative care management agreements.

Robert M. Wah, MD, Chair, American Medical Association Board

When he assumed his board position in June, Dr. Wah wrote in American Medical News that the AMA is working hard to champion medical ethics, oversee medical education, set standards and improve quality for physicians and medical practice. "One of the central questions to be addressed is: What will the medical profession of the future be?" he wrote. "As we answer this question, we will develop the tools, technology and services that physicians will need in the future."

William C. Weldon, Chairman and CEO, Johnson & Johnson

As CEO, Mr. Weldon has engineered some of the company's largest acquisitions, including the purchases of Alza and Pfizer's consumer health product line. Mr. Weldon has instigated significant financial successes during his tenure at Johnson & Johnson, including an 80 percent revenue growth since he took over the company in 2002. Under his leadership, Johnson & Johnson has popularized the concept of a "decentralized" corporate environment, meaning responsibility is given to relatively autonomous leaders in local markets. In a 2008 interview with the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, Mr. Weldon said, "... the problem with centralization is if one person makes one mistake, it can cripple the whole organization. This way, you've got wonderful people running businesses."

Part 1 (1-10) Part 2 (11-20) Part 3 (21-30) Part 4 (31-40)

Source:Fields, R. (January 5, 2012). 40 of the Most Powerful People in Healthcare. Becker's Orthopedic & Spine.