Director's Corner: Bringing Health System Leaders Together to #ProtectInnovation


On Monday, March 6, our Center team hosted a briefing at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. that brought together the voices of leaders of innovative health systems. Titled “Too Much to Lose: Protecting Patients, Protecting Progress in Health Care,” and co-sponsored by The Commonwealth Fund, Missouri Foundation for Health and the Institute for Healthcare Improvement, the event highlighted how the coverage provided by the Affordable Care Act and Medicaid has enabled health systems to improve care for the people they serve in fundamentally new ways. We were honored to be joined by four health and hospital system leaders on the front lines of health care, as well as our two keynote speakers who framed the importance of the presentations in the current national health care environment:

  • Donald Berwick, MD, president emeritus and senior fellow at the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI)
  • David Blumenthal, MD, president of The Commonwealth Fund
  • Glenn Crotty, Jr., MD, executive vice president & COO at the Charleston Area Medical Center Health System (Charleston, WV)

  • Timothy Ferris, MD, senior vice president for Population Health Management at Partners HealthCare (Boston, MA)

  • Steven M. Safyer, MD, president & CEO at Montefiore Medical Center (Bronx, NY)
  • Shelly Schlenker, vice president of Public Policy, Advocacy and Government Relations for Dignity Health (headquartered in San Francisco, CA)

Speakers at the event described programs that help pregnant mothers suffering from addiction to have healthy pregnancies and deliver babies who are substance free and that help to address patients’ needs for housing and food – all interventions made possible by the ACA and which are helping to improve health and thus lower health care costs. The leaders reflected on the ways that Medicaid coverage and the ACA have enabled progress at their institutions, from dramatically increasing the numbers of insured individuals (585,000 Medicaid patients at Dignity Health alone) to improving their financial ability to make investments in programs that connect parents with substance use disorders to behavioral health services.

In conjunction with the event, leaders of 24 health systems and organizations signed on to a statement affirming the importance of coverage as a foundation to health innovation and reading in part: “Nobody can have high quality care if they can't get care in the first place. The ACA’s expansion of coverage, including a Medicaid program with comprehensive benefits, is an essential component of those efforts.”

We were gratified to see so many prominent leaders step forward to share how their institutions have been working to improve care and health thanks to the coverage and innovation initiatives under the Affordable Care Act. With the introduction of the House Republicans’ ACA repeal bill , which also imposes sharp cuts on all Medicaid programs, we know we’ll need these voices of leadership more than ever in the fight to ensure that we protect progress, protect innovation and protect the patients that we all care for.

What are your concerns about the GOP repeal legislation? What innovation are you scared of losing? Tweet us @CCEHI with the hashtag #ProtectInnovation and let us know.