Earlier this week, Leadership Health Care (LHC) launched a new Lunch and Learn series, aimed at bringing together a smaller group of LHC members for an intimate discussion on a trending health care topic. The first event featured Rita Johnson-Mills, CEO of RJ Mills Enterprises and former CEO, UnitedHealthcare Community Plan of Tennessee. During the discussion Johnson-Mills discussed her career path, advice she has for future leaders in the industry and some thoughts on the impact an aging population will have on health care in the U.S.
Johnson-Mills opened the discussion talking about the unique perspective she was able to bring to her work with Medicaid recipients, having grown up on Medicaid as one of 12 kids of a single mom in poor, rural Missouri. She spent the majority of her career in Medicaid administration—including time with the state of Ohio’s Department of Health, the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (when it was known as the Health Care Financing Administration) and with UnitedHealthcare, retiring in 2017 as CEO of UnitedHealthcare Community Plan of Tennessee.
“In those roles, I was focused on making health care happen for people who aren’t necessarily equipped to do that for themselves,” said Johnson-Mills. “Having been one of those people growing up, I came to those roles with a very valuable perspective.”
She went on to talk about some of the lessons she learned throughout her career that would benefit emerging health care leaders. Most of those lessons focused on the importance of building relationships and surrounding yourself with the right people.
“I challenge each of you to invest the time and energy in forming a personal board of directors,” said Johnson-Mills. “Choose a group of people in your life who aren’t afraid to tell you the truth about how you’re showing up and who will hold you accountable.”
Johnson-Mills then discussed how she sees the aging population as the biggest health care issue facing the U.S. She noted that as people are projected to live longer, there is a significant increase in dementia/Alzheimer’s and increased overall health care costs. Due to this, there is a need for more focused attention around the aging population by the health care industry.
“We need to recognize that soon seniors are going to be the majority of the population,” said Johnson-Mills. “And we need to examine how we as an industry are meeting their needs.”
This Lunch and Learn series discussion is part of ongoing programming for the Council’s Leadership Health Care initiative, offering members insights into key industry-related topics. For more information about Leadership Health Care, visit www.leadershiphealthcare.com.