Council News

May 8, 2011

Leadership Health Care Members Represent Nashville in D.C. (Nashville Medical News)

Leadership Health Care Members Represent Nashville in D.C. (Nashville Medical News)
by Sharon Fitzgerald | May 08, 2011

When nearly 100 members of Leadership Health Care (LHC) visited Washington, D.C., in late March, they were there to learn more about the inner-workings of Capitol Hill policymaking and its effect on their industry. What happened, as well, is those policymakers saw what Nashville has to offer – and in abundance.

Speaker and panel members who participated in the LHC Washington, D.C., trip included:

  • Ceci Connolly, senior adviser, McKinsey Center for U.S. Health System Reform;
  • Carmella Bocchino, executive vice president, Clinical Affairs and Strategic Planning, America’s Health Insurance Plans;
  • Nancy Foster, vice president for Quality and Patient Safety Policy, American Hospital Association;
  • Neil Kirschner, acting director, Regulatory and Insurer Affairs, American College of Physicians;
  • Mary Ella Payne, vice president, System Legislative Leadership, Ascension Health;
  • Kavita Patel, fellow and managing director, Delivery System Reform and Clinical Transformation, Engelberg Center for Health Reform, Brookings Institution;
  • Michael Hash, director, Office of Health Reform, U.S. Health and Human Services Administration;
  • Charles N. “Chip” Kahn, president, Federation of American Hospitals;
  • Larry Sabato, political analyst, author and director of the University of Virginia Center for Politics;
  • Farzad Mostashari, deputy national coordinator for Programs and Policy, Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT.

“We did hear from several speakers with compliments about some of the innovative activities that are ongoing in Nashville,” said LHC Director Judith Byrd. “One of the key take-aways from this event was that the entrepreneurial spirit and the people in the room are already putting into place some of these health reform models that we may see much more broadly in the future.”

Leadership Health Care, formed in 2002, is an initiative of the Nashville Health Care Council. It was founded to foster the next generation of healthcare leaders in the area through educational and networking opportunities for its members. The D.C. trip was LHC’s ninth visit to the nation’s capital.

Federal healthcare reform was certainly on the minds of the LHC members who attended the two days of panel discussions, speeches, networking opportunities and one-on-ones with members of Tennessee’s Congressional delegation. While the group was there, the Obama administration released its regulations on how accountable care organizations (ACO) might be structured.

Jim Lackey, chairman of Passport Health Communications, said the release of the ACO regs reminded him of LHC’s trip to Washington last year. The delegation was there during the voting in of healthcare-reform legislation. “People have had a year now to try to figure out how the health reform will happen. I know that there are huge concerns at the state level. I don’t think anybody quite has the answer to that,” said Lackey, a member of the Nashville Health Care Council board of directors and the board’s liaison with LHC. That’s why he went along. “They said I was the chaperone, and that’s a dangerous thing,” he quipped.

When it comes to ACOs, Lackey said, “Everybody is really anxious to see what will really happen with these ACOs. Everybody’s jockeying a little and positioning, determining what their part will be and how they’ll make money out of it. There was a lot of discussion about that.”

LHC President Melissa Waddey said, “What was really interesting was just the different perspectives from the different speakers.” Waddey is senior director of Strategic Planning for LifePoint Hospitals. She said the annual D.C. trip “gives us insight into how to participate in the policy landscape.”

Byrd echoed that sentiment: “I think it’s important for people working in the industry to have an understanding of the national legislative process. We very clearly do not lobby; but as a tool for operational challenges and implementation here in the market, understanding the health policy side is clearly a key focus area for us.”

Members of LHC represent a vast array of healthcare-related ventures, such as hospital management, outpatient care, managed care, disease management and healthcare information technology, Waddey said, noting that the discussions during breaks and meals evolved into strategy sessions. Waddey scheduled several meetings the week after the trip with fellow LHC members to discuss collaborative opportunities, particularly regarding health reform requirements, she said.

That kind of initiative is just what Lackey expects from the LHC contingent. “They are very impressive folks. They care a lot about Nashville and their companies … and to me, I feel like our generation is going to leave this next generation in good hands. … They don’t mind working hard,” Lackey said. In the last two years, Nashville Health Care Council board members have been mentoring members of the LHC board, and the program’s success means that mentoring is sure to continue, he added.

“I tell you, Nashville is well thought of, even in Washington, and they know it’s where so much healthcare is controlled,” Lackey said.

In September, LHC members head to Wall Street.

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