Healthcare CEOs come out against Senate health bill

Executive looking out window
Hospital CEOs from across the country are voicing concerns with the Senate's healthcare bill. (Getty/Tom Merton)

As Republican senators gear up for another stab at passing the party’s healthcare bill, healthcare CEOs are coming out against the legislation.

Provisions in the bill, particularly cuts to Medicaid, won't resolve issues in the healthcare system and could, in fact, exacerbate them, write a group of five hospital and health system leaders in a column for The Hill.

The five executives—Anthony R. Tersigni, CEO of Ascension; Kevin E. Lofton, CEO of Catholic Health Initiatives; Lloyd H. Dean, CEO of Dignity Health; Richard J. Gilfillan, M.D., CEO of Trinity Health; and Rodney F. Hochman, M.D., CEO of Providence St. Joseph Health—urge the Senate to make “substantial changes” to the Better Care Reconciliation Act.

If that doesn't happen, they vowed to push senators in the 40 states they serve to vote against the measure.

“We invite the Trump administration and members of Congress to work together with us to create a health system that always puts people first and never forgets that each of us is only one disease or one accident away from vulnerability,” they write. “Let’s expand and strengthen coverage and access equally—for all.”

RELATED: Senate health bill a ‘death sentence’ for rural hospitals

Both the Senate’s BCRA and its House counterpart, the American Health Care Act, have been wildly unpopular with providers and industry groups, particularly as both propose significant cuts to Medicaid funding. Many providers benefited from the Affordable Care Act’s coverage expansions, particularly in Medicaid, as it cut down on uncompensated care costs.

The sentiments of those leaders were echoed by healthcare executives in Ohio, who penned a letter to Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, expressing concern about the bill, reports Cleveland.com. Those execs—Mary Boosalis, CEO of Premier Health; Akram Boutros, M.D., CEO of MetroHealth System; Cliff Deveny, M.D., interim CEO of Summa Health System; Richard Lofgren, M.D., CEO of UC Health; and Tom Strauss, CEO of Sisters of Charity Health System—raised similar worries about cuts to Medicaid.

Portman has since come out against both the Senate and House bills.

Health leaders concerned about effective reform should also look inward and examine their own boards and C-suites, according to an article from STAT. The lack of women in healthcare leadership is a problem that predates current debates on the ACA, writes Annette Walker, president of strategy for Providence St. Joseph and CEO of St. Joseph Health.

“Many people forget—or never knew in the first place—that women have led the way in bringing care to our communities,” she writes.

Providence St. Joseph has tackled this issue by offering training opportunities that allow women to build leadership skills and has made female mentors more visible. It also offers clear and transparent pathways for advancement and emphasizes STEM programs for women.