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CEOs for Health Reform

Transforming our Health System to Better Serve All Americans

Meaningful health reform will entail quality, affordable coverage for all Americans and a restructured health care delivery system. A growing number of health industry leaders understand they must reorganize their business models to realize these goals.

Recognizing that business as usual is no longer a sustainable model in health care, a diverse coalition of six CEOS from across the health care sector have come together to form Health CEOs for Health Reform (HC4HR). The coalition, facilitated by the New America Foundation, brings together health industry leaders with a unique willingness to transform their business models to create a more sustainable health system.

The group’s members are committed to moving past broad policy concepts toward detailed blueprints that reconcile the legislative goals and principles of lawmakers with the operational realities of our health care system. The coalition is built on the following three principles:

  1. Health reform is an urgent priority for our nation and should not be postponed.
  2. Meaningful health reform entails both quality, affordable health coverage for all and delivery system reform. This will require all stakeholders to move away from "business as usual."
  3. A more sustainable health system will require all health care stakeholders to offer and accept changes to their business models as part of a catalytic package that will better serve everyone.

The CEOs announced the formation of HC4HR in an event at the National Press Club. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) provided a Congressional keynote for the event, stressing the importance of health reform in our national agenda and applauding the leadership shown by HC4HR.

Introducing the coalition Len Nichols, Director of the Health Policy Program at the New America Foundation and HC4HR’s facilitator said the coalition will “focus on helping policymakers identify solutions that will ensure everyone has quality, affordable health coverage within a system that delivers high value for every health care dollar,”

“It’s time for health industry CEOs to step up and say what has to be said — that achieving coverage for all will require each of us to change the way we do business. With regard to health plans, that means giving up the right to pick and choose our customers based on how healthy they are.” said Bruce Bodaken, chairman and CEO of Blue Shield of California.

Lloyd H. Dean, President and CEO of Catholic Healthcare West, offered similar sentiments saying: “It’s time for hospitals and physicians to address the reality that healthcare costs too much and that our current ways of financing and delivering healthcare are outdated and not sustainable,”

Addressing the current economic crisis, Gary Kaplan, chair and CEO of the Virginia Mason Medical Center in Seattle, argued that “increasingly, given the state of our economy, we cannot afford not to have health care reform. It is clear to all of us we have a crisis. We have a crisis in coverage, affordability and quality."

Speaking to the need for comparative effectiveness research, Kenneth Frazier, President of Global Human Health for Merck & Co said “Merck supports a new national comparative effectiveness research (CER) effort as part of health system delivery reform. We understand that payers, providers, and patients want better evidence to make better coverage and treatment decisions, which will strengthen the uniquely American competitive health care marketplace.”

Nicholas Wolter, CEO of the Billings (Mont.) Clinic, laid out some of specifics for a successful delivery system reform such as “Payment reform, health information technology, administrative simplification, reduction in conflict of interest, and many other tactics,” and stressed that “never has the need for leadership from CEOs and others in the health care field become so essential.”

Patricia Gabow, CEO of Denver Health spoke to the issue of payment reform, arguing that "We need a payment model that will remove the enormous health care complexities that add cost as well as confusion for our patients and providers. … We need a payment model that provides the appropriate incentives to doing care, which provides real value to our patients."

Senators Max Baucus (D-MT) and Ted Kennedy (D-MA) also issued statements welcoming the group's formation. Kennedy commended "the health industry CEOs for their willingness to work together to respond to one of the most important challenges facing our country in this new century," and Baucus said, "This group certainly adds to the momentum for all stakeholders to come together and work toward comprehensive health care reform"


National Press Club, First Amendment Room
529 14th Street, NW 13th Floor
Washington, DC, 20045
See map: Google Maps


Len Nichols, PhD
Director, Health Policy Program
New America Foundation

Featured Speakers
The Honorable Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI)
United States Senate

Bruce Bodaken
Chairman and CEO
Blue Shield of California

Lloyd H. Dean
Catholic Healthcare West

Gary Kaplan, MD
Chairman and CEO
Virginia Mason Medical Center
Seattle, Washington

Kenneth C. Frazier
President, Global Human Health
Merck & Co. Inc.

Nicholas Wolter, MD
Chief Executive Officer
Billings Clinic

Patricia A. Gabow, MD
Chief Executive Officer
Denver Health

Event Time and Location

Thursday, December 11, 2008 - 4:00pm - 5:00pm

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